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Propensity For Obsession

Chapter Text

May 21, 2017

7:00 AM

The cab driver smiled at Doctor Allison Cameron as he lifted her bag and placed it carefully in the trunk.  Shutting the trunk, he scurried to close the door as she climbed in.  A sigh escaped her as she settled against the back seat.  Taking such an early flight probably wasn’t the best idea.  However, since the hospital was paying for the flight, beggars couldn’t be choosers.  As it was, she had to pay for her stay at the hotel and all her expenses.

The cabbie got in, started the engine and pulled away from the curb, smiling at her in the rearview mirror as he maneuvered the cab between two cars.  She grimaced slightly as car horns blared.  The driver ignored the sound and sped forward narrowly missing another car as it attempted to pull away from the curb.

“Never thought I’d see you again, Jackie!” the driver grinned.  “We had some good times, huh?”

Allison frowned at him.  “I think you have me confused with someone else.  My name isn’t Jackie.”   And I’m not telling you what it is , she thought.  She glanced down at his name and photo taped to the bottom of the plastic glass partition.  Aaron Eston looked at her in confusion when she glanced back up at him.

“You sure you aren’t Jackie?” he asked as he watched her in the rearview mirror.  “You sure do look like her.”  

A car slowed in front of them.

“Please watch the road!” Allison implored as they sped up on the car stopped at a red light.

Aaron glanced at the car in front of them and stomped on the brakes causing her to slide forward and brace her hand on the back of the front seat.  She shook her head and slid back.

Aaron looked back at her again.  He shook his head.  “Huh, I guess you aren’t her.  Maybe it’s the hair.”

Allison lifted her hand to touch the ends of her hair.  She was still getting used to it being shorter.  The pale blonde strands barely touched her shoulders.  

With Aaron’s attention on the San Francisco traffic, Allison looked out the window.  She barely registered the scenery as it flashed past.  Her mind kept going back five years.  She could still see the black and gold urn that contained the cremains of her former boss, Doctor Gregory House.  Five years later and the pain was still palpable.  As the cab approached the Omni Hotel, she wondered again if attending this medical conference was a good idea.  Signing up for it had been a spur of the moment decision, like cutting off all her hair.  She looked up at the massive brick building and loneliness crept over her stealing all the warmth from her.  She opened the cab door and stepped out onto the sidewalk.  Even though the sun shone, the air was cool and she shivered.  Maybe she would run into someone she knew while she was here.  Paying Aaron, she watched as the hotel porter took her bag.   Maybe , she thought as she followed the young woman carrying her bag into the lobby of the hotel.

***

Since she arrived a day early, Allison decided to take the walking tour the hotel offered.  She had to rush to change her clothes but she made it to the lobby just in time to follow the last person out.

The tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly.  Allison bought a few souvenirs and took countless photos with her phone.  There were two doctors from Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital on the tour.  Allison learned that her ex-husband, Doctor Robert Chase, was the head of the Diagnostics Department and Doctor Eric Foreman was still Dean of Medicine.  They reminisced about her time working with them and Doctor House in Diagnostics.  They also spoke of Doctor James Wilson, House’s best friend, who died of cancer several months after House died in a warehouse fire.  Allison also learned that Doctor Lisa Cuddy, the former Dean at PPTH, was now married and working at Mercy in Manhattan.  Allison told them about her time as the head of the Emergency Department at Lake Forest Hospital.  She enjoyed working at the smaller community hospital.

When they returned to the hotel, the three of them went their separate ways with promises to keep in touch.  Allison knew they probably wouldn’t do more than exchange holiday cards but she was glad to hear about Robert and the others she worked with all those years ago.  

Near the winding cherry wood and marble staircase, a table was set up with brochures for all the seminars.  Allison looked over them and felt a jolt of shock.  Doctor Eldon Chance was presenting a seminar on Neuropsychiatry.  His photo was on the front of the brochure.  With shaking hands, she picked it up and shoved it into the pocket of her jacket.

Once in her room, she locked the door and made her way to the bed.  She sat down and pulled out the brochure.  She smoothed the wrinkles from it and looked at the photo.  It was House.  His face was thinner, his hair was greyer and he was clean-shaven but it had to be him.  Was he alive?  She got out her phone and pulled up the list of seminars and signed up for Chance’s panel.  She looked at the brochure again and ran her finger over the picture.  She had to see him for herself. She’d know for sure, then.

***

It was late on Sunday night when Eldon Chance gave his car keys to the attendant at the Omni Hotel.  He wasn’t presenting until Tuesday afternoon but he decided a few days at the hotel would be a welcome distraction.  Some time alone, away from distractions, was what he needed.  He walked into the hotel lobby and was halfway to the check-in counter when he saw her.  His breath caught and his heart began to hammer in his chest.  Her back was to him but he was certain it was her.  The chin length blonde hair, the long legs, the slender waist and small but curvy ass.  It was Jaclyn Blackstone.  She was back in San Francisco.  Slowly, he crossed the lobby until he stood behind her.  He reached out and touched her shoulder.  She turned and looked at him.  Her eyes widened and all the color drained out of her face.  Eldon released his breath.  This wasn’t Jaclyn.  She was beautiful and bore a strong resemblance to his former lover but it wasn’t her.  He started to back away, apologizing as he did.  The woman reached out and grasped his arm.  Eldon frowned slightly at the tight grip of her small hand.

“House?”    

Chapter Text

Eldon Chance looked down at her hand and she loosened her grip to more of a caress. She seemed startled, and appeared to come to the realization that he wasn’t who she thought, either.

“Oh! I’m so sorry. I thought you were someone I knew,” she said.

He gave her a gentle smile, and she smiled back. She was beautiful, that was for certain. She looked a little older than Jaclyn but she had a confidence about her that Jaclyn lacked. He wondered if she was a doctor herself, there for the conference, but she had already headed up the stairs towards the elevator.  When he was done checking in, the woman was nowhere to be seen so he shrugged and picked up his bag. As he headed toward the staircase, he saw the list of presenters and panelists.

The woman he’d just met was listed as a panelist on Emergency Medicine and was representing a hospital that he’d never heard of from somewhere in Illinois. He took the brochure and went up to his suite.

 Once he was comfortable with a stiff drink, he took out his laptop and did some research. His mind was whirred as he Googled the woman in the lobby.

Dr. Allison Cameron, head of Emergency Medicine at Lake Forest Hospital outside of Chicago, Illinois. Formerly employed at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital both as head of the ER and a member of Dr. Gregory House’s Diagnostic team.

“Interesting,” he said as he took a long sip of his drink and set it back down. He paused his research on her for a moment to Google Dr. House and when the man’s picture came up, he took a breath.

“Everyone has a twin somewhere,” he muttered as he studied the picture. It explained why the woman looked at him like she’d seen a ghost. There was such an uncanny resemblance that he could understand why she’d mistake him for that man. Her initial reaction to him was made even more clear when he noted that Dr. House had passed away five years prior.

His eyes began to burn after staring at his laptop for so long, so he snapped it closed and decided to call it a night. Allison Cameron’s face burned in his mind as he lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. She both intrigued and haunted him. He barely even knew her, and yet, he couldn’t get her out of his mind. The words he’d said to his daughter, Nicole, echoed in his brain.

“We have a propensity for obsessive or compulsive behavior.”

He wasn’t sure which category his interest in Allison Cameron fell into.  He dreamed of Jaclyn that night, but at some point, she became Allison Cameron which made it only that much more intense and erotic. He wanted, no, needed to see her again.

***

Eldon was up early, having eaten something of a continental breakfast in his room before heading downstairs to the conference. There were several panels going on at once. He wondered which one Dr. Cameron was in, and if he’d get a chance to sit in. He’d have to find out and hoped it didn’t conflict with his own. He looked around.  He’d left some books at the office.  Where the hell was his assistant, Lucy?

“I’m here, I’m here!” she said as she made her way through the crowd and shoved the books in his hands. “You forgot these before you left yesterday.”

“Oh, thanks. I noticed they weren’t in my briefcase.”

“Because you forgot them,” she said with a roll of her eyes.

Eldon smirked back at her but then his attention was diverted elsewhere. Lucy followed his gaze to Allison Cameron who was checking in and getting her nametag.

“Whoa..isn’t that….”

“No,” Eldon interrupted, as he continued to stare.

“Are you sure? Because she sure looks like her.”
“It’s not.”

Lucy studied Eldon’s face. She’d seen that look before and it was never a good thing. “Eldon….Eldon!” she shouted, to get his attention.

He shook his head as if to clear it and looked back at Lucy, annoyed. “What?”

“No. Just...no.”

“What?”

“Either hit that or don’t...but stop staring. It’s embarrassing,” she told him.

“I’m not going to hit that .”

“Why not?”

“I don’t even know her.”

“So then get to know her.”

“She’s probably from out of town. What would be the point?”  He wasn’t going to admit that he’d already done an internet search on Dr. Allison Cameron and knew where she lived and worked.

Lucy shrugged.  “One night stands can be hot. And if you never see her again then it won’t be awkward because you’ll never see her again. Now get a move on. The panel is starting and you’re on in five minutes.”

 He waited for his introduction and then went up to the podium. “Hello everyone, I’m Doctor Eldon Chance and I’m a Clinical Neuropsychiatrist here in San Francisco.”

As he talked, he scanned the audience until he saw a pair of green eyes that seemed to burn through him.

Oh God, am I in trouble, he thought to himself as he continued to talk. He wondered if she was there for the panel or for him. Part of him hoped it was because of their encounter in the lobby. If that was the case, she seemed to be as curious about him as he was of her. That could be interesting. If she believed that he was Dr. House and he believed she was Jaclyn...at least at first….

He wrapped things up and when he looked again, he saw that she had left, probably to her own conference. He quietly excused himself and went to find the room she was in. He got sidetracked a few times by other doctors wanting to talk to him and it annoyed him. He was missing Dr. Cameron’s panel and it made him feel anxious.  The need to see her again was overwhelming.

He entered the room just in time to see someone to raise a hand and ask her a question. “Rumor has it that you worked for the late Dr. House.”

Allison smiled sweetly. “It’s not a rumor, it’s a fact.”

“How was that experience? Working for one of the most brilliant medical minds of our time?”

Eldon noticed how her expression went from amused to sad and nostalgic almost immediately as she thought about how she was going to answer the question.

Interesting , he thought once again.

She took a breath before she spoke. “It was exhilarating, exhausting, frustrating and yet incredibly rewarding. Dr. House’s methods were unorthodox at best but he was almost always right. He was the last resort and if you were lucky enough to have your case chosen by him, you were in excellent hands.”

She was in love with him , Eldon surmised as she continued to talk about what it was like working for House on his team. He could tell she was still very sad about his death since she stopped to collect herself a couple of times. However, when she glanced up and their eyes met yet again, he gave her an encouraging smile and a nod which she returned.

 Once everything was wrapped up, he went back outside into the lobby.  Dr. Cameron came out soon after and found him in the crowd.
“Dr. Cameron,” he said with a smile, “we have got to stop meeting like this.”

Allison smiled at him.  “We do?” she asked.  “It’s kind of hard to avoid each other, don’t you think?”

Eldon’s smile broadened.  “Do you have dinner plans?”

“I do now.”

He laughed.  “You’re forthright.  I like that.”

She looked around.  “I’ve heard Bob’s Steak and Chop House is good.  I have a reservation there at six.”

“How convenient,” he laughed.  “Would you care for some company? Mine, for instance?”

“Very much.”  

He offered her his arm and felt a spark of sexual electricity when her hand lightly gripped his arm.  “I’m Eldon Chance, by the way.”

“I know.  You do look a lot like my former boss, House.”  She cleared her throat.  “I enjoyed your seminar.”

“Thank you,” he said as they reached the entrance to the restaurant.

Once they were seated, Allison leaned forward slightly.  “Why did you decide to pursue Neuropsychiatry?”

“Well,” he began.  “I’m fascinated by the way the brain works and especially how brains affected by neurological diseases work.”

She leaned back when the server approached the table.  He watched her as she ordered the salmon and substituted the potato that came with the dish for roasted brussel sprouts.  She also ordered a glass of Reisling.  Eldon ordered the ribeye, rare, with a baked potato and a glass of Merlot.

Once the server walked away, he took a sip from his water glass.  “Why did you leave Doctor House’s team?” he asked.  “Is your specialty Emergency Medicine?”

She looked down and chewed on the inside of her lip.  Eldon watched her with interest.  She didn’t want to answer the first question which meant she left under less than ideal circumstances.   Did House do something to her?  Did she do something to House?

“No,” she said finally.  “My specialty is Immunology.”  She smiled and ran a hand through her hair.  “We’re going to be talking about medicine a lot.  I’d rather talk about something else.”

They spent the rest of dinner talking about movies, books, California and Illinois.  When the server put the check on the table, Eldon reached for it and Allison pulled her wallet out of her bag.

“No, please let me pay,” he said.  “I did invite you, after all.”

“Okay, but I pay for the next one.”

Thrilled that she wanted another date, he got up. “Deal,” he said as he pulled her chair out.

He walked her up to her room, made plans to see her the next day and left once she closed and locked her door.  He took the elevator to the next floor and slowly walked to his room.  Inserting his key card, he opened the door.  He stepped inside and stopped short at the sight before him.

“What the fuck?!?”

Chapter Text

D rose from the bed as Eldon shut the door and locked it.

“What the fuck are you doing in here?” Eldon demanded.

“I came to tell you that Jackie’s back, Doc.  She nearly got you fucking killed and she’s back.”

Eldon ran his hand over his forehead and groaned.  “She isn’t back, D.”

“I was out this morning and saw her.  I say we get rid of her once and for all.”

“Jesus, D!  It isn’t Jaclyn.  The woman you saw just resembles her.  Her name is Allison Cameron.  She’s a doctor.  She’s here for the medical conference.”

“You sure about that, Doc?” D questioned as he stared at Eldon from beneath lowered brows.

“I’m positive.  We had dinner together and I just left her.  It isn’t Jaclyn.”

D moved to the door.  “Don’t get sucked in again, Doc.  You got fucked over in a big way last time.”  He opened the door and disappeared.

Eldon locked the door though he knew if D wanted to get back in no lock would stop him.  Then he thought of Allison.  He pulled his phone out and texted D.

Don’t even think about going near Doctor Cameron, D.

A few tense moments later, D texted him back.

Whatever you say, Doc.  Just remember she isn’t Jackie.

Eldon sank down on the bed and put his phone on the bedside table next to the shiny black chess knight which he took out of his other pocket.

No, Allison wasn’t Jaclyn, but he’d be damned if she wasn’t a dead ringer for her, just like he seemed to be for Dr. House. He intended to get to the bottom of that. He wanted to help her, as she seemed haunted by a man who invaded her thoughts. He just hoped she’d be receptive to that and accept his help for what it was.

***

“Good morning,” Allison said with a smile when Eldon bumped into her down in the lobby. He noticed she looked tired, if the dark circles were any indication.
“You okay?” he asked, looking concerned.

Allison shrugged. “I didn’t sleep well last night, but then I usually don’t in a strange bed.”

He nodded. It seemed reasonable to him. He often didn’t sleep well in hotel beds either, no matter how comfortable.

“What about you? How did you sleep?”
“I slept,” he said with a cheeky grin. “So what’s on the agenda for today?”

“I’ve been asked to sit in on an Immunology panel and I’ll be discussing advances in Emergency Medicine later today.”
“Nice. Any plans after?”

“Are you asking me out again, Dr. Chance?” she asked, but she had a flirty smile and she even gave her head a shake, tucking her hair behind her ear, which he assumed was a habit from having longer hair.

“Yes. I thought we might talk some more.”

“About?”

“Whatever you want, Allison. Of course we don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to,” he assured her.

“Naturally.”

“I just want to help. You seem...troubled. Sometimes just talking about it is enough to get things out of your head. I’m assuming you’ve never talked to anyone about Dr. House.”

She shook her head and then checked her watch. “How about we meet back here at the end of the day? I think the last panel ends by five.”

“Good. I know a perfect place we can talk and have a drink.”
“Okay. Have a good day, Eldon,” she said with a smile and then walked into the nearby ballroom where her panel was being held.

 At the end of the day, as promised, they met in the lobby. “If you don’t mind, I’m just going to go and change clothes,” she told him.

“No, that’s fine. I was thinking of doing the same.”

“Great. So we’ll meet back here in twenty minutes?”
Eldon nodded and they walked to the elevators and she got off on her floor first. He went to his room, tossed his jacket on the chair and unbuttoned his shirt as he went to pick out something more casual to wear. He chose a blue polo shirt and a pair of black khakis.

She wasn’t in the lobby yet when he came back down, but when he saw her, his breath stopped.

She wore a black leather jacket, slim black pants and a white satin top, and she had her hair parted to the side for a change.  She looked so similar to Jackie that it made him light-headed.

“Are you ready to...Eldon?” she asked him, cocking her head to one side. Now it was her turn to look concerned.

He nodded and gestured to the doors. “Yeah, let’s go. We can take a cable car. The lounge is just up the street.”

“Oh, great. I haven’t had a chance to ride one yet.”

“It’s something you have to do at least once when you come here.”

They waited for the car to arrive and then climbed on, grabbing a hand rail. “Hang on,” he whispered in her ear as their hands touched. The electricity was not lost on either of them and when the car jerked a little, Eldon’s hand landed on her waist to stop her from falling. “It can get a little jerky around corners.”

“So I see,” she said, her mouth suddenly dry. His hand never left her hip and when it was time to step off, he took her hand and assisted her.

“So what did you think?” he asked as they headed for the Marriott hotel. He was still holding her hand and she made no move to let go of his. His long fingers, like House’s were interlaced with hers.

“It was certainly an experience.”

“Yeah, just don’t forget to hang on tight,” he said as they went inside and to the elevators. “The lounge is on the top floor. I made a reservation.”

“For a lounge?”
“It’s quite popular but don’t worry, it’s quiet. I’ve been here before.”

They stepped into the elevator and there was an awkward silence on the way up. Allison kept her gaze up at the digital numbers as they went higher while Eldon’s gaze was fixed on her. She was grateful when the doors opened and her heartbeat quickened when she felt his hand gently on the small of her back, guiding her to the hostess podium where he spoke softly to the young woman. She smiled at Eldon and nodded, then guided them over to the large floor to ceiling window which held a panoramic view of the city. He gestured for her to sit on the red leather couch and he took the seat next to her. They each ordered a glass of cabernet and a meat and cheese plate to share.  She sipped her wine and looked out over the city.  He would need to start very simply with her.

“Okay,” she said as she put her glass on the table.  “If you’re going to shrink my head, get started.  House has haunted me for years now.  I do want to move on I just don’t know how.”

Eldon nodded.  He turned slightly so he faced her and took her hand in his.  “When did you realize you were in love with him?”

She laughed ruefully.  “I can see nothing gets past you.  The first time I saw him.  He was sitting behind his desk with his feet on it and he looked up at me when I walked in.  One look from him was all it took.”  She looked at him.  “Your eyes are the same color as his.  I can see some of the differences between you now.  He was usually scowling and your face is softer.” She tilted her head but held his gaze.  “Your eyes don’t have pain and misery in them.  His did.”

Eldon nodded.  “Why?”

“He had an infarction in his thigh that was misdiagnosed.  They ended up cutting out a huge chunk of his right thigh.  He lived in constant pain.”

“How did he manage the pain?”

Looking down, she rubbed her thumb over the back of his hand.  That touch sent a frisson of desire through him.

“He was addicted to Vicodin,” she said softly.  A sigh escaped her.  “I coerced a date out of him.  We were at a very nice restaurant, all dressed up.  I was so excited.  Then he told me that I don’t love, I need.  The only reason I liked him, wanted him, was because he was what I needed.  He was damaged.”

“Was that true?”

She looked up at him and he saw a slight sheen of tear in her eyes.  “I didn’t think so at the time, but now…” She bit her bottom lip.  “Maybe he was right.  I married my first husband because he was dying of cancer and convinced myself I loved him.  I met House, saw how much pain he was in and wanted to heal him.  I married my second husband to make House jealous.”

Eldon sat quietly for a moment.  He knew there had to be a deeper reason for all the things she did.

“We all do things that seem to make sense at the time,” he told her.  “But the choices we make are all part of our own special brand of damage.  Even the most well-adjusted people have something that compels them to do things.”

“So, I’m normal?” she asked with a slight laugh.

“I think you need to control your surroundings, including the people around you.  It could be a result of something from your childhood or just an innate need.  Something tells me you couldn’t control House, though.”

She nodded.  “No one controlled House except his Vicodin.”

“Why did you leave him?”

Again, that shuttered look came into her eyes and some of the color left her face.  “I was married to another member of the team,” she said carefully.  “House blew up our marriage.”

Eldon looked at her.  He knew there was more to it than that but he didn’t press her.  “He couldn’t blow up your marriage if you truly loved your husband,” he commented.

She ran her left hand through her hair.  “I can’t go into details about what happened but I didn’t love Robert; not the way he deserved to be loved.  House knew that and exploited it and us.  He was very good at that.”  

Eldon looked out at the lights of the city.

“You know, you’re very easy to talk to,” she said softly as their server brought them another glass of wine and another cheese and cracker plate. “I feel like I could tell you anything.”

“You can.”
“You’re a good listener. I guess that comes with the job.”

He smiled and nodded. “You need to let go of Dr. House. You’ve been clinging to a ghost. An illusion.”

“It keeps me company sometimes.”

“Illusions are dangerous. They have no flaws.”

Allison chuckled. “Oh, believe me, House had many flaws.”

“But you were willing to overlook them because you loved him that much.”

She nodded but didn’t say anything more and he decided to give her a break.

“My turn to share,” he told her.  “You look like someone I convinced myself I was in love with and she nearly destroyed me.”

Chapter Text

He told her about Jaclyn and his destructive obsession with her. Allison sat quietly and listened. When he was done, he sighed deeply and took a very long sip of wine.
“That’s not as fucked up as my sad story,” she finally said as she processed everything. “At least she’s still alive. It’s normal to carry a torch.”
“Normal maybe, but not healthy. Something tells me you don’t believe Dr. House is dead.”
“I don’t know what to think. I mean, I attended his funeral. It was all… I don’t know. Strange, I guess.”
“What was strange?” he asked.
“His best friend was up there, giving the eulogy and then someone’s phone started ringing. It turned out to be a phone in his pocket, which he claimed wasn’t his phone. He flipped it open, looked at whatever was on the screen and his face….he quickly wrapped things up and took off like a bat out of hell.”
“What do you think it was?”
“I don’t know, but not long after that, he left town and nobody knew anything until his death several months later.” Allison took another sip of her wine. “I like to think House is still alive somewhere. Living off all the money he saved up over the years and in some other country, surfing the medical forums and anonymously giving medical advice.”
“You know the five stages of grief, Allison. Which one do you think you’re stuck in?”
She snorted a laugh. “I know I’m still not past the acceptance stage. That’s always been a hard one for me to get past.”
A single tear slid down her cheek and she quickly wiped it away. “Damn that man!” she hissed. “I’ll never be able to get him out of my head. You can try to analyze it all you want but it won’t do any good. Every time I see a man limping, or hear someone who sounds like him, I always look for House. It’s like a psychosis, like you thinking I was Jaclyn. At least she’s still alive so you’re not obsessing over a ghost. She could always come back, but House never will. Of course, he was never mine to begin with.”
She drained her wine glass and reached for her purse. “I said I’d buy this time,” she reminded him when Eldon attempted to reach for the bill. She covered his hand with hers to stop him and they looked at each other. His gaze was intense and it made her heart pound in her ears. She took out some cash and placed it on the table.
“I’m leaving in the morning. I have to get back to the hospital,” she told him softly. “The weekend is always crazy there and right now we’re short staffed.”
Eldon looked defeated. “I thought you’d be here for the entire conference; that we’d have more time.”
“I wish we did, Eldon. I really do. You’re very handsome and incredibly kind. Sexy, too.” She smiled and stroked his hand. “But I’m not into the one night thing any more. I wish we had more time together but we don’t. I’m sorry. I see now you’re nothing like House. I wish we’d met under different circumstances.”
Eldon nodded. “So do I.”
They walked out together and took the cable car back to the hotel. Neither of them spoke on the elevator up to her floor. He got out when she did and walked her to her door. They stood looking at each other for a moment then Allison sighed and reached up to kiss his cheek. Eldon closed his eyes and leaned into the soft feel of her lips against his skin. Pulling back slightly, she looked at him, her eyes dark with desire and need. Eldon stepped forward, closing the gap between them and let his lips softly brush against hers. She drew in a sharp intake of breath and he took advantage to deepen the kiss. Her hands slid up his arms to grip his shoulders as he slipped his arms around her small waist. His hands slid up her back and he buried his fingers silky blonde hair, holding the back of her head as they continued to kiss each other with a passion that left him aching with need for her. Her lips were soft yet firm, and she was kissing him back with the same feverish urgency he was showing her. Jaclyn never kissed him like that. While kissing her was nice, it was nothing compared to the passion that Allison Cameron was creating within him. He could feel her taut nipples through his shirt as she rubbed against him and knew she wanted him just as badly. Finally they broke apart both panting.
“I should go,” she whispered.
He nodded and reached out to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. Then she was gone and he heard the lock click into place.
Allison leaned against the back of the door and let out the breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. Nobody had kissed her like that in a very long time. She chastised herself for comparing Eldon to House but she couldn’t help it. The similarities between the two men were eerie. She took off her leather jacket and undressed for bed. It was a warm night and the room was a little stuffy so she didn’t bother with her nightshirt and climbed between the cool white sheets of her bed.
Rolling onto her side, she opened the bedside drawer and took out the framed photo she kept of herself, Foreman, Chase and House that was taken one Christmas and set it on the table.
While she gazed at the picture, her thoughts went to Eldon Chance and her hand slid down her body beneath the covers.
She closed her eyes and let her mind take her back to earlier that evening. The smoldering glances they exchanged and the gentle touches. Eldon’s hands were soft and smooth. Doctor’s hands.
She always imagined House’s hands to be soft as well, except maybe a his fingers a little rougher, having played piano and guitar for years.
Then her thoughts drifted to Eldon’s soft, smooth face as she kissed his cheek and then to the kiss that followed. Her fingers slid down to the inside of her thigh as she imagined they were Eldon’s, or maybe House’s, exploring her body. She shuddered as her fingers continued to probe her most intimate spots. Imaging both men in bed with her, on either side, kissing and fondling her sent her over the edge and she arched her back and cried out. She then fell into a blissful, dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

December 16, 2017

Eldon opened his briefcase and took out his dictaphone. “Allison Cameron is a thirty-eight year old, right handed female, working in Emergency Medicine in Lake Forest, Illinois. Her medical speciality is Immunology and she used to work for Dr. Gregory House at Princeton Plainsboro. Doctor House is deceased, although she refuses to believe he’s really dead. She admits to being in love with him though she gave no indication her feelings were returned. After some more discussion, it turns out she believed I was Dr. House, for a brief moment, as there is a strong resemblance.
And yet, she bears a striking resemblance to Jaclyn Blackstone. However, there’s a confidence about her that Jaclyn never had. Both are highly intelligent women.” He hit STOP on the dictaphone and sighed. Allison Cameron was becoming an obsession. He had yet to decide if it was a good obsession. He wanted her, and he was reasonably sure she wanted him. Hadn’t she said that?
It had been months since he’d seen or heard from her. They exchanged a few emails not long after she returned to Chicago but then there was nothing. He hoped it was only because she was busy and not because she’d written him off as some passing fancy.
Still, he had to know. Something deep down compelled him to go see her. He knew that feeling well; recognized it. Instead of stuffing it down like he usually did, he decided to act upon it.
“I’m going out of town for awhile,” he told his ex-wife, Christina. “I trust you’ll keep Nicole out of trouble.”
“For how long?” she demanded.
“I don’t know. A few days, maybe a week. My practice is closed until the beginning of January.”
“Are you alright? Are you in some kind of trouble?”
Eldon shook his head “No, it’s just some business I need to take care of.”
“In Chicago? Who do you know in Chicago?”
“A doctor I met at the medical conference back in May.”
“I see, well be careful. There’s a lot of crime over there.”
“Every city has crime.”
“And trouble seems to find you, Eldon.”
“I’ll be careful.”
***
Eldon’s plane landed late at night. He figured that Allison was most likely at home, and felt compelled to do a drive-by. He already knew where she lived, since he looked up her address, so once he rented a car, he drove to Lake Forest.
It was dark, and as he drove through the suburbs of Lake Forest, he pulled up to her home on Edgefield Lane. There were a few lights on inside and a car was in the driveway. He parked across the street and shut the engine off. He felt like a burglar, watching her house like he was. It wasn’t like it was something new to him. He’d done it before. Part of him wanted to go knock on the door but he didn’t want to scare her. She’d be shocked to see him as it was once he let her know he was in town. Honestly, he didn’t know how he’d be received and that excited him. He hoped she’d be glad to see him. They had a connection, after all. It didn’t matter to him that she compared him to Dr. House. He certainly understood about obsessions.
When he saw a few lights go out, he decided to call it a night and go on to his hotel.
***
Once he was back in the city, Eldon decided to send Allison an email. He could say he was in town meeting up with an old college friend and ask if she wanted to have dinner with him. Luckily, he did have an old friend who once lived in Chicago. Allison didn’t need to know he now lived in Canada. He opened his computer and sent the email. Then he waited.
Allison only had fifteen minutes for lunch so she sat down and ate at her desk while she perused her emails. One of them stood out from the rest and her heart rate quickened as she clicked it open and read it. She hadn’t heard from Eldon Chance in months, but that was partly her fault; she’d simply been busy. Dating and men were the furthest things from her mind when she had an ER to run and worked over sixty hours a week.
Now Eldon was in Chicago visiting a friend. It was convenient since she had vacation time coming. She’d found another doctor, Hilary Kitson, to pick up the slack for the holidays while she was away and they clicked right away. Allison knew she’d picked the right doctor for the job.
“You seem in good mood today,” Hilary said as she observed the spring in Allison’s step. Hilary was older, in her late forties, British, and resembled British actress Eileen Atkins.
“Am I?”
Hilary smirked. “Something happen over lunch?”
“An email from an acquaintance.”
“I see. And would this acquaintance happen to be of the male persuasion?”
Allison merely smiled. “Yes, as a matter of fact he is. He’s a doctor in San Francisco.”
“Very nice. Tell me more.”
“I don’t know him that well. We met at a conference when I was there back in May. I haven’t spoken to him much since. He’s busy, I’m busy...”
“Whatever you say, darling, but when a woman smiles like that about a man, she knows more than she’s letting on.”
Allison laughed. “Is that so?”
Hilary selected a file from the desk and opened it. “Quite.” Then she left to go see the next patient.
When Allison had a spare moment, she fired off an email to Eldon to let him know she was swamped and didn’t know what time she’d be off work.
When Eldon read the email, he smiled. While he wasn’t sure if she really was that busy, or simply being evasive, he couldn’t just sit around his quiet hotel room and wait. Checking his watch, he saw that it was getting late and he was hungry so he grabbed his jacket and had dinner in town before deciding to cruise by the hospital where she worked.
When he drove past, he saw that it didn’t look very busy so he parked and went in. An older woman was at the desk in the ER.
“Good evening,” she said as she looked up. “If you’ll take a seat in the waiting room someone will be with you shortly.”
“I’m actually looking for Dr. Cameron.”
“Oh, I’m afraid she went home some time ago.”
Eldon gave her one of his most charming smiles. “Will she be in tomorrow?”
“Yes, and so will I. I can let her know she missed you. Your name?”
“Dr. Eldon Chance.”
Hilary smiled at him and took his offered hand to shake. “Doctor Hilary Kitson. You can see her tomorrow. She’ll be in then.”
“Great, thanks, and it was nice to meet you, Dr. Kitson.”
“Indeed. The feeling is mutual, Dr. Chance.”
She watched as he got into his car and drove away, smiling to herself. So, Dr. Allison had an admirer, did she? And what a fine specimen he was.
The next morning, Hilary was grinning like a cheshire cat when Allison arrived with a tray of coffees for them. She stopped short when she saw the older woman and narrowed her eyes. “Okay, what’s going on? Do I have something on my face?”
“No, of course not. It’s just that I had the pleasure, and that’s exactly what it was, a pleasure, of meeting your handsome Dr. Chance.”
Allison blinked with surprise as she set the tray down. “What? He’s here? When?”
“He came by last night. I told him you’d be in first thing in the morning so I would imagine there’s probably an email or phone message waiting for you as we speak.”
“Oh, what time did he come by?”
Hilary thought. “It was probably around nine P.M. Doesn’t he have your home phone number?”
Allison looked sheepish as she shook her head. “I never gave it to him. I guess I figured I probably wouldn’t see him again and then we emailed each other so I never thought much about it.”
Hilary made a tsk tsk sound and shook her head. “Well you best do that, hadn’t you?”
“Yes, Doctor,” Allison said with a comedic roll of her eyes, which made Hilary shake her head and laugh. Still, it was nice to see the younger woman happy about something for once.
She knew the late Dr. House, met him a couple of times over the years, and sometimes consulted with him. He was quite rude, arrogant and standoffish but brilliant just the same. However, he was always polite to her so she could never say anything bad about him. After learning that Allison worked for and with him, she figured it was probably one of the main reasons she got the job. The poor girl seemed infatuated with the man, and it was quite sad.
Upon meeting Eldon Chance, Hilary suddenly understood. There was definitely a resemblance. She just hoped it wasn’t the only reason Allison wanted to be with him.
Allison checked her email and her messages but there was nothing from Eldon. She figured he might be sleeping in. It was still somewhat early and if he was on vacation visiting a friend, why would he be up? Closing her laptop and taking one last swig of her mocha latte, she threw on her scrubs and went to work.

Chapter Text

Allison was so busy that she didn’t even notice that Eldon had been watching her from the waiting room for the past fifteen minutes. He merely stood back and watched her work.
Hilary got her attention and gestured his way, which made Allison look over at him and she smiled when their eyes met.
She put away the file she held and walked up to him, still smiling. “Eldon. You’re here.”
He took both of her hands in his and they were warm and dry. “Didn’t Dr. Kitson tell you I came by last night?”
“Yes, she did, and I meant to email you but it’s been a crazy morning as you can see,” she said as she gestured to the chaos behind her.
Eldon nodded. “It’s fine. I understand. Are you able to get away? Even just to get a coffee?”
“Yeah, I think that can be arranged. Give me just a minute.”
She walked over to Hilary and they exchanged a few words before she came back. “I have thirty minutes.”
“Great,” he said and they headed out of the department. “What’s going on out there?” he asked, pointing to the construction outside.
“We’re expanding. I’ll be moving to the new building sometime next year. They want me to head their Immunology Department. I couldn’t say no.”
“Is Doctor Kitson going, too?”
“She’s an Endocrinologist so she’ll have an office over there but she likes the ER so I think she’s going to stay there. I might put some time in there still, but I’m stepping down as department head.”
“That’s exciting.”
Allison nodded. “Yeah. It’ll be a big change but it will mean less stress and regular hours. I’m working sixty hour weeks and I’m getting burned out.”
“I’m surprised you’re not already.”
“I have vacation time coming up so that will be good.”
They entered the hospital cafeteria.
“Any plans?” Eldon asked as they moved through the line and ordered coffee.
“I have two weeks. I imagine I’ll be sleeping the first week,” she laughed as they found a table and sat down. “After that, who knows. What about you? Where does your friend live?”
“I have a confession to make, Allison. I’m not visiting a friend here. I came to see you. My clinic is closed for the holidays so I decided to throw caution to the wind on the chance that you just might want to see me again. It’s been awhile.”
She sat back and looked a little surprised. “You came here to see me?”
“Is that alright?” he asked with a touch of nervousness.
She smiled. “Of course it’s alright. How long are you planning to stay?”
“Until you get tired of me,” he grinned. “Listen, I won’t keep you, but I would like to take you out tonight, after you get off work.”
“I’m off at five-thirty. Where did you have in mind?”
“I thought I’d leave that to you.”
“The John Hancock building has a lounge in it. Nice city views. Pretty high up though, and if it’s foggy you won’t be able to see anything at all,” she told him.
“It’s a clear day. Might be nice tonight.”
“True. Where are you staying?”
“The Marriott downtown. I can pick you up if you want to go home after work and change.”
She smiled. “Really?”
“I understand the need to wash the hospital off of you at the end of the day.”
“Yeah. It’s a date then.” She finished her coffee and slid a piece of paper to him. “Write down your number. I’ll text you when I’m ready.”
He wrote it down and passed it back to her. “I’ll see you tonight then.”
***
It was a clear night but cold. Snow from an earlier storm still covered most of the ground. Allison stood in front of her closet and bit her lip as she looked at the dress she’d chosen to wear. It was a white on white striped dress, very low cut with short sculptured sleeves and two straps that tied in a bow over her collarbone. It showed a lot of her cleavage but it did fall to her knees and she could wear the over the knee black suede boots her mother got her last year for Christmas. She had a pair of jet black earrings, too. Taking the dress out of the closet, she carefully laid it on her bed and got out the box containing the boots. She glanced at the clock. Eldon was coming to get her at seven so she still had half an hour to finish dressing. As she went into the bathroom, her stomach fluttered and her hands shook slightly. She hadn’t been this nervous since her date with House all those years ago. She shook her head. Eldon wasn’t House. The more time she spent with him the more differences she could see between the two men. Taking a deep breath, she began to apply her make-up.
Eldon pulled up outside Allison’s house at five minutes before seven. He shut off the car. He was actually excited about this date with her. There wasn’t the same element of danger that he felt when he was involved with Jaclyn. Of course, Allison didn’t have a homicidal cop for a husband. He got out of the car and shivered slightly in the frosty air. Straightening his suit jacket, he walked up to the front door where a holiday wreath glittered in the light. Reaching out, he pressed the bell. Inside he heard footsteps and then the door opened. Allison smiled at him and he tried not to gape at her. She looked breathtakingly beautiful. Her pale blonde hair was parted down the middle and hung in silky waves to her chin. Her green eyes were made up to look smokey and mysterious while her perfect lips were a pale shade of pink. She wore a black wool coat buttoned up to her throat and a white scarf looped around her neck.
“Hi,” he smiled.
“Hi.”
He stepped back to allow her to close and lock the door. The he pulled her gloved hand through his elbow and walked with her out to the car.
***
They arrived at The John Hancock Building and took the elevator up to Architect’s Corner. The panoramic view of Chicago's skyline was breathtaking.
“I never get tired of this view,” Allison sighed as they made their way to a table by the floor to ceiling windows. She unwrapped her scarf and stuffed it into the pocket of her coat. Eldon unbuttoned his wool overcoat and draped it over the back of his chair. He looked up as Allison removed her coat. His heart stuttered in his chest and he found it hard to breathe. Beneath her coat she wore a low-cut white dress that showed off her cleavage and dipped lower to show the moles scattered across her lower chest. His mouth went dry and he noticed a scar above her left breast and wanted nothing more than to run his tongue over it.
“Eldon?” Allison questioned.
Her voice snapped him back. “The view is incredible,” he told her.
Her smile told him she knew he wasn’t referring to the skyline. He moved around the small table and pulled out her chair. She put her hand over his.
“I want to sit next to you,” she whispered in his ear.
Nodding, he slid the chair next to the one he planned to sit in. She sank down in it and he took a moment to collect himself.
A server came over and they ordered two Sky High martinis and the cheese filled soft pretzels. Eldon put his arm along the back of her chair and leaned close to her. She sank back against him and sighed.
“This is nice,” she told him. “I haven’t been out on a date in a long time. I’m glad you came to Chicago.”
“So am I.”
Their drinks and pretzels arrived and they talked about their lives and jobs. It seemed as if they just sat down when the server came to tell them the bar was closing. Eldon paid the bill and helped Allison into her coat. The elevator was empty when they got in. Eldon pressed her against the glass wall and kissed her. She responded eagerly. He tasted the inside of her mouth and sighed as her tongue brushed against his. She strained up against him running her fingers through his soft hair. The doors opened and they reluctantly broke apart.
As they were driving back to Lake Forest, it began to snow again. Allison turned slightly in her seat. “Stay with me tonight,” she whispered.
He nodded and tried not to speed.

Chapter Text

Eldon pulled into Allison’s driveway an hour later and turned the engine off.  It was a little scary in some places on the drive back but he got her home in one piece and let out a deep breath of relief.

“Well, that was interesting,” Allison chuckled. “They weren’t forecasting any snow.”

“It’s a good thing I rented an SUV because we’d probably be in a ditch somewhere. It’s been a hell of a long time since I’ve driven in the snow,” he said as they got out of the car.

Allison reached for his hand and squeezed it. “You did fine.”  She let them in and turned on a few lights. “How about a drink? You seem a little shaky.”

“Yeah, that would be great.”
“I have brandy, scotch, wine…”

“Brandy would be perfect.”

She gently touched his cheek and gave him a smile before going to the kitchen to get their drinks.  She returned a few minutes later with two snifters of brandy and handed him one.

“This is a nice house,” he said as he took a seat next to her on the sectional sofa. Allison stretched out luxuriously, like a cat, on the long seat, her dress riding up her legs just a little.  Eldon felt his mouth go dry once more and his heart race.

“Thank you. It somehow fell into my lap.”

I wish you’d fall into my lap , he thought to himself and then shook his head as if to clear it. But he couldn’t help it. She looked absolutely ravishing lying there. He put his glass on the coffee table, leaned over and kissed her. He could taste the brandy on her tongue as it slid against his in a slow, heated kiss. God, but he wanted her, and she was more than willing to allow him to move on top of her as the kiss deepened.

Her arms wrapped around his neck, pulling him to her as he devoured her neck and shoved her skirt higher so it was around her waist.

“Mm...Eldon...more,” she sighed when his hand covered her breast and his hot mouth placed kisses across her throat and lower, stopping to lick that scar over her left breast that he spotted earlier.

After a few minutes, he realized that the couch was not nearly big enough and in one swift move, he picked her up, playfully swung her over his shoulder, grabbed his glass and carried her up the stairs.

“First door on the right,” she whispered. Her mind was whirring with a million thoughts. The first, that House never would have done this, or been able to. The second, that he wasn’t the romantic Eldon was.

 He found her bedroom but didn’t bother to turn the light on. He put his glass down on the side table and carefully placed her in the middle of her bed. The light from the street lamp outside was more than enough for him to see her spread out on the bed before him like an angel in her white dress.

He took a long sip of the brandy before moving to the foot of the bed. She still had her boots on so he slowly unzipped one and pulled it off, and then the other. He then tucked his fingers into the waistband of the silky tan nylons she wore and pulled them down her legs. He lifted one of her legs and began placing kisses along her calf and then the inside of her thigh before doing the same to her other leg. All the while, Allison laid there, watching him with her eyes dark with desire.

 He reached for his brandy glass and took another sip before dipping his finger in the warm liquid and brushing it over her lips. She took his finger into her mouth and gently sucked on it, causing a deep growl in the back of his throat as his excitement grew.

She sat up and began unbuttoning his shirt. He shrugged it off while she unbuckled his belt and unzipped his pants. Once he got out of those and his boxer briefs, he unzipped the back of her dress and pulled it from her, leaving her in a blue lace bra and panties.

His hands gently caressed her breasts through the lace and then he quickly flicked the clasps with his fingers and the bra slid off her shoulders.  She looked so beautiful in just her lace underwear, but they were also in the way so he slowly pulled them down her hips and she arched up to help him remove them.

“Eldon,” she moaned as his fingers traced patterns across her smooth stomach. It was as if he was memorizing her body, taking everything in, the way he looked at her so intently.

He took another long sip of the brandy and then moved in between her legs. Allison gasped when she felt his tongue and the slight, stinging sensation from the liquor. Her hands buried in his hair as she squirmed under him. It was all so overwhelming. His fingers and his tongue were doing amazing things to her and all she could do was enjoy the sweet torture.

She was mumbling something unintelligible as he continued to get his fill of her. His tongue was relentless in its pursuits to bring her to the edge. In his mind, there was no better way to show a woman how much he wanted her.

“Oh my God, Eldon! Yes!” she cried out as she hit her first peak and felt like she was falling.

He grinned against her skin as he placed kisses across her stomach, between her breasts, stopping to take a hard nipple in his hot mouth before his lips found hers once again.

When their bodies joined, Allison cried out again, her nails digging into Eldon’s back as he moved, his pace slow and steady at first. He felt so good that her second orgsasm washed over her like a warm wave, leaving the ripple effect behind and her whole body went limp. However, she didn’t stay that way for long. Something was building up deep inside of her again as Eldon moved faster, harder. He grabbed her leg and wrapped it around his waist, allowing him to go even deeper than before. His lips slid down her neck and nibbled at her throat as he fought hard not to finish too quickly but it was a losing battle. He needed to take care of her first, so he reached down and began to stroke her with the same rhythm. He knew she was close and he lost himself when she cried out one last time, gripping the sheets and arching her back.

Eldon collapsed on her, his arms wrapped securely around her as they lay together, collecting themselves. He kissed the side of her neck, nuzzling her ear as she sighed, contentedly.

Allison felt good; relaxed and drowsy. She was barely aware of Eldon pulling the covers up and over them so she wouldn’t get cold and wrapping his arm across her stomach to keep her close.

***

Eldon opened one eye, and then the other. It was still snowing and the sky was grey. Stretching, he realized that Allison wasn’t in bed next to him and he listened for a few minutes. He heard the water running in the ensuite bathroom and got up. She was in the shower and she smiled when he opened the door and stepped in behind her.

“Good morning,” he murmured against the back of her neck as he kissed it.

“Yes, it is,” she agreed, turning around to face him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled up at him. “Sleep well?”
“Mhm,” he nodded as he continued to kiss and nuzzle her ear. “You?”

“Mhm-hmm,” she hummed as his hands slid down her slick back and grabbed her ass, giving it a playful squeeze. “Unghh,” she grunted when he pressed his morning erection against her core. “Again?” she giggled. “Did you sneak some Viagra?”

“Don’t need that when I’ve got you, Dr. Cameron,” he said as he lifted her off her feet, shoved her against the slick wall of the shower and pressed inside her.

“Eldon! I’m gonna fall…”

“Then hold on,” he chuckled as he slid in and out of her with powerful strokes. Allison was glad he was holding her up because she surely would have fallen. Her legs were shaking as she held onto him for dear life.

With the hot water pulsing down on them, she couldn’t ask for a more erotic encounter. For an older man, Eldon Chance certainly had stamina, skills, and brought an intensity that she never anticipated.

 Her orgasm hit her hard and she cried out while Eldon kissed and nipped at her neck. He reached out to turn the water off and, still joined with her, carried her back to bed.

***

December 25th, 2017

The snow was falling outside, covering the ground quickly as Eldon and Allison sat close to each other on the couch, holding each other, exchanging kisses back and forth as they listened to Christmas music on satellite.

“Mhm, this is nice,” she sighed as he nuzzled her ear. They were stretched out, feet on the coffee table, legs intertwined. The fireplace roared in the corner of the room and the lights of her Christmas tree twinkled and blinked.

“This is probably the nicest Christmas I’ve had in awhile. I usually spend Christmas Eve with Nicole and she spends Christmas day with Christina.”

“I’ve spent it alone the past few years and that’s how I wanted it. But now…”

Eldon looked at her and she smiled back at him.

“But now?” he urged.

“I can’t imagine spending Christmas alone anymore. These last few days have been amazing, Eldon. So thank you.”

He smiled and kissed her temple. “No, thank you .”

Chapter Text

May 21, 2018

Allison sat in her office and read the email from Eldon.  A year had passed since they first met at the conference in San Francisco.  She shook her head as she remembered how she thought he was House and he thought she was Jaclyn.  Now they both realized what they thought they wanted from those two was what they found with each other.  She read the email again and sighed.  Eldon was bringing his daughter next month to meet her.  It was a huge step in their relationship.  Since he showed up last winter, she’d been to see him twice and he’d come to see her once.  They talked on the phone each morning and each night.  They sent emails to each other throughout the day and texted each other.  This relationship was like no other for both of them.  Allison loved Eldon more deeply and intensely than she’d loved any other man.  She knew he felt the same way about her.  Still, she was nervous about meeting Nicole.  His daughter was so important to him.  What if Nicole didn’t like her?  She’d expressed this concern to Eldon but he assured her that Nicole already liked her.  Eldon told her Nicole already dubbed her ‘clean’.  Allison had to Google the word and was pleased to see it meant nice, excellent, worthy of envy.  Eldon and Nicole would spend two weeks with her in June as part of Nicole’s graduation present.  Allison knew his ex-wife wasn’t exactly pleased about it but she reluctantly agreed.

Neither of them talked about living together or even marriage until Allison read his email.

Once Nicole graduates, I thought I might transfer my practice to Chicago.  She applied to Northwestern and was accepted.  We’ll tour the campus and I thought I’d look for a house or maybe talk to you about alternative living arrangements.  

Allison wanted to be with him but after all her other failed relationships she was scared.  He always told her to talk to him about anything so she picked up the phone and dialed his number.  He answered on the third ring.

“Hi, Allison.”

“I just got your email,” she told him.

He laughed softly sending a frisson of desire through her.  She loved his laugh.  “You read my email and the alternate living arrangements is giving you pause,” he said.  “What about that is causing you concern?”

Allison sat back in her chair.  “I’ve never been in a relationship that lasted.”  She paused.  “I love you but…”

“You’re scared,” he finished for her.

“Yes.  What if I’m mixing up what I felt for House with what I feel for you?” she asked quietly.  “What if you’re mixing up what you felt for Jaclyn with what you feel for me?”

He was silent for a moment.  “I can tell you with absolute certainty that what I feel for you is like nothing I’ve ever felt for any other woman and that includes my ex-wife.”  He paused and she could hear him shuffling papers.  “I found an old conference flyer from 2004.  You and the other members of House’s team were on a panel about infectious diseases.  House wasn’t there and you had dark hair but I went to that panel out of curiosity.  I realize now that you didn’t remind me of Jaclyn, she reminded me of you.  I found a video of the panel on YouTube.  You looked at me several times.”

Allison tried to remember the panel he was talking about but back then they went to so many, most of them in New Jersey.

“Where was it?” she asked.

“Princeton Plainsboro, January, 2004.  It was held in the auditorium.”

She thought for a moment and then it all came flooding back.  She’d been working for House for about three months.  Doctor Cuddy, the Dean of Medicine at that time, ordered them to present at the panel.  She vaguely remembered seeing a man who looked a lot like House sitting in the front row.

“I remember.  Well, sort of remember.  I was terrified and you kept nodding at me and smiling.  I thought at the time you were House.”

“I’m not Greg House; never was, never will be.  And you aren’t Jaclyn; never was, never will be.  I’m okay with that.  Are you?” he asked.

She smiled.  “Yes.”

“So we can talk about where we want to go with this relationship when you’re ready,” he told her.  “I already know what I want but I am willing to abide by whatever you choose.  I just want you to be happy.”

Allison’s breath caught in her chest.  No one ever told her that before.  Her first husband didn’t, Robert didn’t, and House certainly never did.

“I am happy,” she replied.  “I’m very happy with you.  I want you to be happy, too.”

“Oh, I am,” he assured her.

“So our propensity for obsession, as you put it…”

“It turned out to be the best thing for both of us,” he told her.