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Okay, my loyal readers and those newbies to the group, here is the final chapter of my Fan-isode: It’s About Time. I have REALLY enjoyed writing this and it benefited me probably more than all the readers because it helped to keep my thoughts of House, Cuddy, Wilson and gang alive for the summer. I know we have another 7 weeks so I am considering doing another one, but we’ll see what happens.
Now this being my version of a House episode I’ve done my best to keep this all In-Character and House-like, so much so in fact that I have even ended it with a music montage. This is my suggestion to enjoy it to the fullest. Open another window in your browser. Cut and paste or click on the following link: www.playlist.com/playlist/additem/129993745 . It should automatically take you to where the song I’ve chosen is and begin playing it. You may listen to the song before reading this chapter, but I suggest pausing the song until the final scenes of the fan-isode. I have clearly marked the place where you should push play. Should this link not work for you do a search at Playlist.com or Grooveshark.com for the Jack Johnson song, “Better Together.” Trust me: having the song playing while you read the last bit is way cool. Well, it is for me……
Disclaimer: I still don’t own House or anything to do with it. My emails to David Shore and Fox about a trade of the show rights for my firstborn have gone unanswered.
It’s About Time
House was still brooding about the fact that Cuddy had wanted to drive home with Wilson instead of him as he rode up in the elevator to Jacob’s room. He kept hearing Nolan’s calm voice explaining all the logical and valid reasons why Cuddy had made that choice, but he could still feel her tensing up when Harani had approached the table and see the fear in her face when she thought their secret would be revealed. House’s mind was telling him that what had started as a private secret shared between two lovers had morphed into Cuddy being embarrassed to be seen with him. Forget about a missing thigh muscle or a latent addiction, House’s psyche was his biggest foe. When the elevator doors opened on a waiting Foreman, House’s countenance was so dark that even Foreman was startled by it.
“You get kicked out of the clubhouse?” Foreman asked as House stepped out of the elevator and started to stomp towards the patient’s room. Foreman figured House’s mood had to have something to do with Cuddy. Foreman knew only too well that look. Foreman saw it daily in the mirror after he became the de facto boss of the department and stomped on whatever budding relationship he had with 13. It was the stupid “What-in-the-hell-do-I-do-now” look of love.
House stopped for just a second to glare at him. He then continued on.
“Chase and Taub are in with Jacob and his parents,” Foreman continued.
House still said nothing.
Foreman smiled. “Look, relationships aren’t easy.”
This comment froze House in mid-step. He slowly turned around and walked back to where Foreman still stood by the elevators. House stared at Foreman and at the smug smile Foreman had on his smug face. And he knew. House knew that Foreman knew about him and Cuddy. House flashed through the past two days to try to determine what gave it away. He had been so discreet. He had done what Cuddy asked and acted as he usually did. Oh crap, he thought. The operating room. House closed his eyes and replayed the scene. He now remembered that when Cuddy had left the room and he had looked down into the OR, Foreman had been standing on the far wall, examining the kidney biopsy. He could have seen anything at that angle. Damn.
“Who else knows?” House asked, resigned. He wasn’t going to try to deny it as Foreman obviously had proof; maybe not physical but at least visual.
Foreman’s smile went to from smugness to genuine happiness. House was surprised.
“No one else. Congratulations, House,” Foreman offered sincerely. “I think it’s about time. And it’s way better than vicodin, right?”
House wasn’t sure how to react to this new level of interaction. He had felt some friendship towards Foreman when he and Chase had taken House out for drinks and karaoke. At the time, House had thought that he could make some type of connection, but, as usual, the effort and fear of failure overwhelmed him and he didn’t pursue it. He wondered what to do now. He was too tired to put on the act so he responded honestly.
“Waaaaay better,” House said emphatically and actually smiling. The two stood there and realized that maybe, just maybe, they could be friends. Someday. House ducked his head, pretending to study the floor at his feet. He made eye contact again only to ask for a favor. “Can you not tell anyone? Yet. Cuddy doesn’t want….” He ducked his head again and Foreman knew instantly what was troubling House.
“Sure,” Foreman said. “I never intended to tell anyone else.”
House looked at him. “Thanks.”
“It’s not because of you,” Foreman said, hitting the nail on the head. Some days, his deductive reasoning was as great as House’s. House’s look told Foreman he thought differently and Foreman wasn’t entirely convinced of it himself. “Just give it time.”
House nodded but said nothing. Then both men became uncomfortable with their new connection and simultaneously turned and walked silently to Jacob’s room.
Jacob’s mom stood by her son’s bed. She looked like a frazzled mess. Her eyes were rimmed with red from crying and tears still threatened to overflow at any moment. She held onto Jacob’s hand and just stroked the back of it. She barely even reacted to House when he entered the room. She turned for a moment at the distraction, but not recognizing House or seeing him as a doctor she turned back to her boy.
Jacob’s dad sat on the couch in the room. He looked about as together as his ex-wife did. He hadn’t left the room since he arrived that morning. A tray of half-eaten food sat on the table next to the couch. He just stared at his son in the bed. Occasionally, his eyes darted to his ex-wife, but they quickly returned to his son.
House stood in the doorway, taking in the scene. Taub was checking the flow of the IV and Chase was looking through Jacob’s file. Hoping it finally contained the latest blood work for Jacob, House limped over to Chase first. Both Chase and Taub turned at the distinct sound of the cane. Chase simply handed the file over to House.
“Blood tests are still coming back, House,” Chase said. “They finally got the computer program running again.”
“What’s up with this hospital and it’s ancient, useless equipment?” House asked rhetorically. “If Cuddy needs more money to upgrade everything all she has to do is ask me to pad some insurance claims.” He leafed through what he had. More cysts had been found on Jacob’s liver, but the one biopsied had proved to be harmless. Two cysts, one blown, had also been found in Jacob’s stomach, as House suspected. Measurements had shown that Jacob did indeed have hemihyperplagia. Jacob’s left side measured just over 2 centimeters bigger than his left. His internal organs seemed to all be abnormally large in general.
“Well, well, well,” House said as he finished reading. Jacob’s mom and dad finally came out of their own little worlds and realized that House wasn’t just another visitor to the room. They both looked at Taub questioningly.
“That’s Dr. House,” Taub explained. “He’s the head of the department and our boss.”
Annie let go of Jacob’s hand and walked over to House. She was a pretty woman, with dark blond hair and bright blue eyes. She looked up at him, those blue eyes begging him to tell her the answers to all the questions. House turned away. He didn’t like not having an answer in general, but despised it when the relatives looked at him that way.
Nathan, stood up as well, and joined his ex-wife in front of House. He spoke first. “Do you have any other information on our son? He had a seizure about 20 minutes ago, but they’ve been coming so often now.”
“I don’t have to see the seizure to believe you,” House said. He turned to Taub, who still stood by the IV. “When was the last dose of Depakote?”
“An hour ago. The seizures aren’t becoming more severe, but they are increasing,” Taub said.
House nodded. “Give him some Tegretol after the next seizure and see if that stops them.”
Taub nodded and left to go get the drug from the pharmacy. House looked back at the parents. “I’m sure the good doctors have told you we’re waiting on blood test results before we continue so I’m afraid controlling the seizures is about all we can do right now.”
“We just wait?” Annie said.
“Yep,” House replied.
Annie turned away. “I can’t believe this is happening,” she muttered. “Why did Jacob eat that granola bar?” She said randomly, her mind processing all the information it had been fed. “He know better than that.” She turned towards her husband and a big on anger flared on her face. “He shouldn’t have even been at that police station.”
Nathan turned to her. Regret and guilt washed over him, but it was replaced with his own anger as Annie turned away. “Look, I said I was sorry,” he said. “You told me your interview was on the 25th. I had it written down for the 25th. I never would have left him if I didn’t think you were minutes away.” His voice rose in volume as he finished.
Annie whipped back around to him. “I told you it was moved up to the 19th. I told you!” She came to stand inches from his face. “If you hadn’t taken the shift Jacob wouldn’t have been left alone!”
“If you hadn’t decided that you wanted to stay in that big house I wouldn’t have to work extra shifts!”
“We BOTH agreed we should try to keep the house for Jacob’s sake. No kid should be raised in a one-bedroom apartment!”
House stood there and watched the argument escalate. He made no effort to stop it or separate them. He was fascinated by the argument’s progression. One accusation of misunderstanding followed another one until finally Foreman stepped in. He put reassuring hands on Annie’s and Nathan’s shoulders and led them to the couch. He had them sit down.
“Look, you are both worried about your son,” he told them quietly. “I know you two normally get along well. I’ve seen your concern for your son.”
Annie stole a poison-laced glance at her husband, who sat there starring at his hands.
“You need to hold it together,” Foreman continued.
“Yeah,” House said. “And honestly, the kid’s cysts were on the edge of bursting anyway. The anaphylactic shock from eating the nice policeman’s granola bar just shortened the countdown. He was lucky the coppers had him just down the street from our fine hospital.”
This fact did nothing to help ease the tension. House shrugged.
“Okay, I’m heading to the ol’ lounge chair of thought,” he said. He began to leave the room when he saw Jacob gasp. He stopped and looked at the boy. The parents were still caught up in their anger and missed it. House watched Jacob. His breathing returned but two seconds later he gasped again. Chase noticed it this time. House started limping for Jacob’s bed. “Get me a 6 mm tube!” He yelled out as he pulled Jacob’s bed away from the wall. Just then, Jacob lunged upward, his lungs gasping for air. The alarms on his oxygen levels starting beeping, filling the room with noise and panic. Chase grabbed an intubation kit from the cabinet and brought it over to House, who now was standing at the head of Jacob’s bed. House carefully pulled Jacob’s chin towards him. He propped open Jacob’s mouth and gently slid in the laryngoscope until he had a clear view through the vocal chords. Chase had the tube ready and House took it from him, then inserted the tube down the throat through the vocal chords. He pulled out the placement tube then the laryngoscope. Chase was there with a bag and took over, screwing the bag to the tube now protruding from Jacob’s mouth and squeezing it evenly.
Nurses soon filled the room, bringing in a ventilator so that Chase wouldn’t be at work all night breathing for Jacob. The parents stood in shock at what had happened. Only 30 seconds had passed. They turned to House, who stepped out around the bed and grabbed his cane from the side rail.
“Well, now,” he said casually. “We probably don’t need those blood tests now. I’m thinking his alpha-fetaprotein levels will be elevated.” He turned to Foreman.
“Paraneoplastic syndrome?” Foreman asked.
House nodded. He looked at the parents. “Your son was just in respiratory distress. If combined with the seizures it points to a brain issue. Paraneoplastic syndrome happens when cancer cells somewhere in the body trigger misplaced responses in the immune system. The brain, while trying to fight off the invasion, mistakenly activates, or in this case, deactivates other body systems.”
Annie’s and Nathan’s faces had drained of all color. “So Jacob….” Annie said, her voice trailing off.
“Probably has cancer,” House said. He didn’t sugar coat it or over-emphasize it. Right now it was just another piece in the puzzle and meant nothing more than that. He needed to think. “Bring the blood test results and the body scans to my office. My Lounge Chair awaits.” He turned and walked out, leaving the parents standing in the middle of the bustling room and Foreman walking over to reassure them things weren’t as bad as House made them seem.
House had all the scans displayed in the light boxes that lined the wall of his office. The blood work had come back and showed slightly elevated AFP levels, which indicated the beginnings of cancer, possibly. They had time to look for it. All the cysts in the kid’s abdomen made the hunt harder. What was a cyst and what were the beginnings of a tumor? House had looked over the scans a hundred times. He couldn’t come up with anything that would tie it all together: the cysts; the hemihyperplagia; the seizures; the respirtory distress; the paraneoplastic syndrome; cancer. That many clues lead to ten times as many possibilities. Trying to figure out what would go wrong next was frustrating House to no end.
And he was slightly pissed off at himself. Every time his brain started to follow a logical path the doubts set in motion earlier that evening from his dinner with Cuddy scuffed across the top of the path, making it harder to follow. House’s life-long feelings of self-doubt and basic lack of self-worth now not only threatened his personal life. He was used to that. But now, his professional life seemed to be affected. He had always been the cockiest guy in the room when it came to medical issues, but lately more and more doubt had crept into his brain. If a serious relationship with Cuddy, with anyone, was going to damage that it might not be worth it.
He sat down in his light yellow lounge chair and propped his feet up. Leaning back, he closed his eyes. Images of Cuddy flashed through his mind. At first, he tried to push them out in order to concentrate on the case; on the little boy whose body was slowly shutting down. However, the images of Cuddy were powerful and infinitely more enjoyable. He decided to allow himself a few moments with his memories of the last few days.
“So, are you trying to figure out how to save the boy or how to escape this place and get to Cuddy’s house?” came Wilson’s voice from beside the chair.
House opened his eyes and saw his friend standing there. Looking at his watch, he realized he had been asleep for almost two hours. He closed his eyes again. “I’m trying to figure out when you are going to eventually move all of your things into the spare bedroom because it’s more convenient for your new roommate. I give it one month of cohabitating bliss,” he said.
He missed Wilson rolling his eyes. “Look, it’s not a big deal to me. Seriously. So I switched the stuff over because it was important to Sam.” He paused. “See, in a relationship you make compromises for your partner; especially when you don’t have a preference on it.”
“Oh, well, I hope you prefer your own liver now ‘cause you don’t have much left of that to compromise,” House opened his eyes to see Wilson’s reaction. His reactions to conversations always made conversations more enjoyable.
“Fine talk, Wilson,” House said, standing up and walking over to his desk, where the file was open. He sat down. “But I bet you $100 Sam still isn’t putting the milk in the back of the refrigerator or using coasters on a regular basis.”
The look on Wilson’s face said he would not be taking that bet. “No, not all the time, but it doesn’t matter,” he said, deflated.
“It does to you,” House stated simply.
A silence filled the office. House leafed through the papers in the file.
“What are you doing here?” House finally asked.
Wilson took a seat in the chair across the desk from House. “Foreman paged me for a consult. He said the boy might have cancer.” House nodded. “Do you know where yet?”
House shook his head. “No.”
“Okay, let me look over the scans and pick one or two cysts to biopsy. Maybe we’ll get lucky and hit the tumor on the first try.”
House nodded and pushed his chair back. “Did Cuddy make it home by seven?” he asked before Wilson could leave. “She needed to be home by seven.”
Wilson looked closely at House. “Yeah, I got her home by seven. Rachel was still awake so she was able to bathe her and spend time with her.”
House gave a quick nod. Wilson stood to leave.
“She wanted you to take her home,” Wilson said softly.
House looked away. “Apparently not enough to let Harani know we’re together.”
“She’s not a very open person anyway about her personal life. She likes to keep those things separate. You know that,” Wilson said.
“Well, she picked the wrong boyfriend then.”
Wilson put his hands on his hips. “I don’t think so. It’ll work out. You two will figure it out. I don’t know the entire reason for her wanting to keep this secret, but I don’t think it’s because of you; of who and what you are.”
House didn’t respond so Wilson began to leave the room. He turned at the door. “And seriously, I don’t know why you haven’t shouted out the news to the world by now anyway. If you want the world to know tell them,” Wilson said. “It’s not in your nature to be subtle.”
House turned to Wilson and made sure he had eye contact when he responded, “Because it matters to her to keep it secret.”
Wilson paused then nodded his head. He turned and left House staring after him.
Forty-five minutes later Chase came to the office to tell House that Jacob had loss sensation in his appendages. There was no doubt he had cancer somewhere in his body and now there was no doubt that their luxury of time had vanished. Chase and Taub started to prep Jacob for the biopsy.
House was hungry. His dinner date had been hours ago. Unfortunately, it was the middle of the night and the options for eating onsite at the hospital were slim; coin-vending machines or the refrigerator in the doctor’s lounge. He headed for the lounge.
House scrounged through the refrigerator and again lamented the fact that he didn’t have access to Wilson’s food any more. Aside from his best friend’s rejection, the loss of his best friend’s culinary talents was the hardest part of moving out of Wilson’s apartment. Foreman found him in the doctor’s lounge where he himself had gone to find something to eat.
“Anything good?” Foreman asked as he watched House close the refrigerator door.
“Not a thing,” House replied sadly. He turned and looked at Foreman, an evil smile creasing the corners of his mouth. “Come with me. Tonight we shall eat like kings!”
Foreman followed House obediently out the door and into the elevator; all the way to the cafeteria.
The front doors were locked. House rattled them a few times. “Why would anyone close the cafeteria at 11:00pm?” he complained.
“Visiting hours are over at 9pm,” Foreman reminded House, implying that the hospital is generally empty after that time.
“What about the night shift? Those poor schmucks working in the ER?” House continued. “No wonder Cameron was so thin.”
“Look, I’ll run down the street and pick up some burgers,” Foreman offered. He was that hungry.
House turned to Foreman and flashed him the “I have a secret” smile. “Never! Men of medicine deserve more than a 99 cent cheeseburger!” He reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out a keychain with two keys. He dangled it in front of Foreman. “Wallah!”
It took only a second to figure out where those keys came from. “House…..”
“See, sleeping with the boss is even better than I thought,” he said as he slipped one of the keys into the door. Turning it, they heard the deadbolt slid open. House pulled open the door and gallantly held it open for Foreman. He motioned Foreman in with a broad sweep of his arm.
“This is not a good idea, House,” Foreman said, staying where he was.
“Fine, go get your crummy cheeseburger, but I also happen to have a key to the walk-in, where, according to my latest surveillance photographs, a large box of Rib eye steaks is being stored for the donors’ luncheon on Monday.” House lifted his eyebrows and waited for Foreman’s response. “You do remember that I completed most of the classes to earn a Cordon Blue Cooking School certificate.”
“What class didn’t you complete?”
“Didn’t quite get through the flambé section of the “Cooking with Wine” class. I had too much fun with the flambé part. And the wine part as well.” A shrug of the shoulders indicated that House wasn’t going to dive into that story right then. He again motioned for Foreman to join him in the cafeteria. Foreman let out a huge sigh and walked through the doors into the cafeteria. “Wise choice, young man,” House said.
Within minutes, House had the walk-in open and was gathering his pots and pans. Foreman watched as House diced onions, mushrooms and garlic precisely and quickly. Butter melted in the pan and slices of red potatoes were in boiling water to be pre-cooked. Soon the cafeteria was filled with the amazing smell of grilling steak and carmelized onions. The potatoes went into a hot skillet of melted butter and onions and spices that House refused to reveal. The scent was amazing. Only 30 minutes passed before House was putting a plate filled with perfectly prepared Rib eye steak and Potatoes Lyonnaise. House handed over a steak knife and fork to Foreman as he placed a second plate on the counter. Foreman had brought in two barstools from the dining room and House sat in the one next to Foreman. Each man sliced into the steak, barely needing the steak knife at all to cut the tender juicy meat. Foreman thought it was the best steak he had ever eaten in his life. He scooped up a forkful of potatoes and announced that he now knew House really could do everything.
Foreman continued to eat as House smiled. “Yes, my son, your life would have been much easier if you only learned this sooner.” He watched Foreman take another huge bite. “Well, to be honest, I can’t do everything. I’m not so good at that menstruating thing.”
“No, that’s my area of expertise,” came a voice from behind them. Foreman dropped his fork in a panic as he recognized the voice. He whipped around on his chair like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. House simply turned around slowly and smiled at the sight of his lover standing in the doorway of the kitchen.
“Hello, Cuddles,” House said. Cuddy turned her evil eye towards him, willing him to not use pet names or affections. House shook his head. “No need to hide,” House said. “Foreman figured us out.”
Now it was Cuddy’s turn to whip her head around towards Foreman. Foreman just gave her a sweet smile. Cuddy rolled her eyes. “Fine. I don’t care how. Please, don’t…,” she started to ask him to keep it quiet, but stopped.
Foreman interpreted that as her being unwilling to ask for that big of a favor. “I won’t tell anyone. I wasn’t going to,” he said.
Cuddy looked at House and he nodded. She turned back to Foreman. “Thank you,” she said quietly. She finally saw the plates of food in front of them. Her angry look returned. “House! Are those the steaks for the donors’ luncheon?” she nearly screamed. House’s attempt at an innocent smile answered her question. “Seriously?”
“We were checking for food-borne parasites. E-coli can get anywhere.”
Cuddy wasn’t buying it. Then a second realization hit her. “And how did you get in here. The cafeteria is locked up this time of night.”
House answered by fishing the keychain out of his pocket. He dangled it from his index finger.
“Are those my cafeteria keys?” Cuddy asked, not even trying to hide the exasperation in her voice.
“Not exactly. But, FYI, don’t go the hardware store near your house. The key guy pays absolutely no attention to the “DO NOT COPY” stamped on the keys,” House said, putting the keys back into his pocket.
Cuddy just stood there. She was at first shocked that House would violate their personal relationship like that by stealing her keys and copying them. Then again House would have done that before they even had a personal relationship and a distant memory was nagging her that he had already at one point. She was still trying to figure out the best way to proceed when Forman’s pager went off. He looked at it, grateful to have the distraction.
“It’s Chase. He said the second ‘cyst’ Wilson biopsied was a small tumor,” Foreman relayed.
“Where?” House asked.
“Jacob’s liver,” Foreman replied grimly.
“Hepatoblastoma,” House said. He suddenly wasn’t hungry anymore. What was going on with Jacob? “Any ideas?” he asked Foreman.
Foreman shrugged. “None,” he said, sounding defeated. “Hemihyperplagia rarely presents as an isolated condition, however. There’s a big bag of disorders and syndromes it could be connected with.”
House nodded. “Start there. Keep testing until you find something, anything. Until then we’re just waiting for the next shoe to drop.”
Foreman nodded and then looked at Cuddy. She no longer looked angry and if her anger returned it would be directed at House now anyway. It was time to escape. Foreman stood to leave, but stopped in mid-stride. He turned around and quickly grabbed his half-eaten plate of food and fork and knife. If he was already in trouble no sense in leaving this good food behind. He left the kitchen quickly, knocking the open swinging door closed as he rushed by. Cuddy watched until the door stopped swinging before she walked over and sat on the now vacant barstool.
House stared at her. He was waiting for the consequences of his latest breech of hospital or boyfriend etiquette; he wasn’t sure which. Plus, he had no idea of the consequence. Cuddy returned the stare. He knew she was analyzing the severity of the wrong with all the other factors: damage to property; public knowledge; personal violations; third party repercussions. He cocked his head and waited.
Cuddy looked at him. Damn, he was sexy when he was doing bad things. She had always had a soft spot for bad boys. Finally, she smiled. Lucky for her, she thought she may have found one of those rare creatures: the reformed bad boy. Well, almost reformed. “I should be furious with you,” she said, laughing.
“But you’re not?” House asked.
“Yes. And no.” She looked at the mess House had left. She could see he hadn’t been wasteful and was actually quite tidy in his cooking. “You used only two steaks?”
House nodded. “They were the biggest and best ones, however.”
“No one will know. Clean up the mess and give me the key duplicates and we’ll call it even.”
House let out a low whistle. “Wow, sleeping with the boss does have its privileges.”
Cuddy tried to muster up some indignation, but was too tired. She shrugged her shoulders instead. “Don’t push it,” she said finally. House nodded.
“What are you doing here?” House asked.
“Couldn’t sleep,” she replied simply. House had noticed that she still wore the same pale pink sweater and black slacks she had worn on their date. He figured she hadn’t made it to bed yet.
Cuddy smiled. She didn’t want to mention the fact that House had called her daughter by her real name. “I called my ‘emergency babysitter.’ She’s a college kid that lives down the street. She comes over and just sleeps in the spare room when I have to come in during the night.” She saw House begin to speak. “And yes, I waited until she arrived before I left Rachel. No kids wandering the streets for me, thank you very much.” House smiled at the fact that she had anticipated and defeated his unspoken teasing remark.
“Worried about Jacob?” House fished. “You just heard the latest yourself.”
Cuddy shook her head. “Nope,” she said. “I was worried about you; about us.”
“Well, we’re fine,” House said, standing up. “Things couldn’t be better. Unless you want to jump my bones more. I promise I will NEVER tell anyone about us ever if you want that.”
Cuddy grabbed a hold of his hand and kept him from walking away. She pulled on his hand so he would sit down again. Now she knew why House had looked like a puppy who had been kicked to the curb when she told him she wouldn’t ride home with him. She had ridden home with Wilson and taken care of Rachel, never forgetting the look of rejection she had seen in House’s eyes as he left the restaurant. Even dredging through some necessary paperwork she had brought home from the office couldn’t help her extinguish the feeling that she had been unfair, but she couldn’t figure out why. Finally, she just called her neighbor to watch Rachel and headed to the hospital. The thought that she wouldn’t want to be associated with him on such a personal level couldn’t be furthest from the truth and she needed to make him know that. “I know you are worried that I am embarrassed to be seen with you.”
“Wilson called you.”
“No. He didn’t.” She looked up into his bright blue eyes, now shadowed in doubt and anxiety. “I’m not embarrassed to be with you. It’s what I’ve wanted for a very long time. It’s just….”
“You think I’m going to embarrass you,” he said softly.
“Not exactly. Actually, I kind of expect that,” she hesitated, trying to figure out the best way to explain what she was feeling. “I came to your house that night only to tell you how I felt; how I’d felt for a long time. I didn’t think of the repercussions that admission would bring.” She watched House’s face fall again. His self-doubt still had him thinking there was no way a woman like Cuddy would want to be with a man like him. She placed a calming hand on his arm, still gripping his hand with her other one. “I was hoping you would respond exactly the way you did. It was finally just the two of us, without the hospital, without the friends or your team. I didn’t want to lose that feeling.” She could see House’s eyes soften with understanding as she continued. “I wanted to keep you and me in that special world I had finally found and I thought that if we told people it would strip all the magic away.” House said nothing. He just looked down at their clasped hands and then back at her. She had one more thing she wanted to say. “I know you better than anyone, I think. I know that in certain areas I am stronger than you,” Cuddy continued.
“Like menstruating,” House said, the glint returning to his eye.
“Shut up,” she said. “And there are certain areas where you are stronger.”
“Shut up. We’re not always going to be equal. The two halves in this relationship might never match-up, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t going to work. And you. You need to stop expecting yourself and us to fail. We need to keep looking for the success.”
House had heard every word. He had analyzed and processed each thought and meaning and he had felt the truthfulness in every sentence. Cuddy was right. He needed to stop expecting things to fail because…..
House’s thought process stopped. He looked at Cuddy as the puzzle pieces finally fell into place. He knew what was wrong with Jacob.
Cuddy recognized that look on House’s face well. House had had his epiphany. Something she had said helped provide that last clue that House needed to solve his mystery. She only hoped he had heard what she had said before his brain light had switched on. She looked at him, but he now stared through her. She didn’t want to compete with this process. She didn’t need to compete. This was part of who House was and she loved this part as much as the other parts.
She patted his arm. “Go. I know you’ve figured it out.” She expected him to let go of her hand and walk out without saying anything as usual. She didn’t expect him to stand up and pull her into his arms. He leaned over and covered her mouth with his. His lips crushed against hers as his tongue dove into her mouth. He clutched her tighter and kept kissing her as he lifted her up so that her feet were hanging a good six inches off the ground. His continued his kiss for another few seconds before he lessened the pressure, placing tiny little kisses around her mouth as he gently lowered her back to the floor. He let go of her, steadying her with his hands on her hips as she regained her balance.
Nuzzling her neck he whispered, “I’ll keep this a secret for as long as you want me to.”
She brought her hands to his face and pulled his head back so she could look deep into his eyes. “I’m going to wait here at the hospital until you’re done,” she said softly. “So you can take me home on your bike.”
House smiled and kissed her again, this time with less fervor, but with more love.
Only then did he walk quickly out of the room, saying nothing else, and leaving her standing in the middle of the empty hospital cafeteria kitchen.
House found Wilson and his fellows in the Diagnostics Department conference room. Foreman had found them gathered them there and so they had watched him eat his Rib eye. He had refused to share. House came in with a triumphant burst of energy.
Everyone turned towards him and away from Foreman. Foreman smiled at him.
“Thanks for the delicious dinner,” Foreman said to House. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough to go around so no one else will know what a great cook you are.” He slowly drew a finger across the plate, licking the last remnants of sauce and juices from it.
“What punishment did Cuddy reign down on you this time?” Taub asked. “Foreman said she caught you in the kitchen.”
House nodded. “That she did, but I figured out the case before she could dispense the punishment. I promised to let her punish me later like the bad, bad boy I am.”
Both Foreman and Wilson wore knowing smiles. Chase caught them both before they could hide them away. He looked at Wilson then Foreman. What did they know? He began to play the recent conversation from five seconds ago back in his head, but House’s booming voice interupted his thoughts.
“Hello?!” he yelled. “I just said I figured out the case.” He looked around the room. “Come one and all. Let’s do this with the parents. They deserve to know, don’t you think?” He turned and walked back out of the room and like baby ducks behind their mother the four men got in a line and followed House down the hall to Jacob’s room.
Jacob’s parents sat on opposite sides of the room. Annie stood by Jacob’s bedside while Nathan sat on the couch. Obviously, they hadn’t patched up their differences yet. House looked at both of them, waiting for their full attention.
“I’ve got good news and bad news,” he announced. He looked around at his team to see their reactions and noticed that Wilson was not among them. House looked out into the hallway. Wilson was now arriving at the room door. House waited until he walked into the room and positioned himself next to Foreman. House nodded, pleased to have a full audience.
“As I said…. I’ve got good news and bad news!” He turned and looked at the mom and then the dad. “Normally, I would let you decide which you wanted to hear first, but I’ve got it all worked out in my head so I can maximize the drama value of it. Okay? Good.” House took a second to clear his throat and then began.
“The bad news is that your son does indeed have cancer,” he said. He astonished everyone by actually sounding somewhat compassionate about it. “He has Hepatoblastoma; liver cancer. The biopsy showed that one of the cysts was in fact the beginnings of a tumor. But as Dr. Wilson will explain this bad news isn’t really all that bad.” He turned to Wilson. “Dr. Wilson?”
Wilson had been looking at House when he received his instructions. Wilson turned towards the mother first. “Dr. House is right,” he said. “The tumor is very small and we should have no problem getting all of it out during surgery.” He turned towards the dad. “Once that’s done we’ll only have to give a short series of low-level chemotherapy to make sure we’ve got all the cancer cells.” He turned back to the mom, making eye contact with her. “Your son has an excellent prognosis. The odds are almost 100% in your favor.” Wilson watched as Annie reacted to the news that her son would live. The overwhelming relief seemed to freeze her in place before she took in a big gasp of air and began to cry tears of happiness. Wilson then looked at Nathan, whose own relief was evident on his face. Nathan looked at his son and then his ex-wife. They shared a moment of mutual hope, but made no effort to go to each other.
“Will there be more cancer?” Nathan asked. “Is it just cancer?”
“Oh, no,” House said, returning center stage. “That’s the good news. Sorta. Hepatoblastoma, which is already one of the top cancers that affect young children, is also more likely to appear in kids with Beckwith-Widemann Syndrome.” House turned to his team and watched as realization flooded over their faces. He never ceased to absolutely adore that moment when his genius was undeniably proven. He looked back to the mom and dad, alternating his attention between the two. “Beckwith-Widemann syndrome is an overgrowth disorder present at birth. It’s rare and hard to diagnose as not all the characteristics are noticeable. Although, in Jacob’s case four of the five major characteristics were present: nevus flammeus or a port-wine stain, there on his forehead; the Hemihyperplagia; enlarged internal organs; and I’m guessing neonatal hypoglycemia.” He looked at the mom. “Did the pediatrician have you give sugar water to Jacob while you were still in the hospital after his birth?” Annie only took a second before nodding. “Yup, but there again many newborns have low blood sugar after birth and they don’t have Beckwith-Widemann. Everybody wrote the other symptoms off as genetics or angel kisses.”
“Will more stuff happen in the future then? Because of this…syndrome?” Annie asked.
House’s attention had been drawn down the hallway. Out of the corner of his eye he had seen the elevator doors open, but no one exited the elevator. House’s curiosity was piqued, but he was not quite done yet. He turned back to the task on hand. “Oh, see, I forgot to say ‘I have bad news, good news and good news.’ Because BWS is a growth disorder, kids with BWS have a significantly increased risk of cancer and benign cysts. But the good news is that tumors usually occur before the age of four. After that the risk drops by half until the age of 8. And then the odds of developing cancer drop even lower, even if he’s already had it, to less than 1%. You’ll need to continue to do an abdominal ultrasound and check his blood to measure his AFP levels every three months until he’s eight. After that you two can monitor him for symptoms, but it’s highly unlikely cancer will ever be an issue again.” House paused and took another look towards the elevators. The doors were still open. He couldn’t see anyone in them, but just as he turned away he caught a glimpse of the pointed toe of a black high-heeled shoe. He smiled. He needed to get on that elevator. He now didn’t take the time to relish the fact that he was right again. He quickly finished his diagnosis. “As far as his Hemihyperplagia, the difference in growth will be most evident during his growth spurts, with one side growing faster than the other initially. As he matures, the two sides may even out more. His leg may never be the same length as his other, but he seems able to deal with that okay now so it shouldn’t be an issue.”
House looked around the room to see if anyone had a question to ask. Everyone seemed up to speed so it was time for him to leave. He started to walk out of the room, but he stopped at Wilson and made eye contact with him before speaking. “We kept expecting something worse to happen as Jacob’s condition deteriorated, not ever deciding to wait and see. Everyone overlooked the small things and tried to find bigger indicators, but the smaller things were just as important.” House turned back to the Annie. “And so his two halves don’t match up. Maybe they will someday, but even if they never do they’ll still work together just fine.” He turned and walked out of the room towards the elevator.
The room was silent as everyone processed the final verdict. Foreman walked over to the bed and picked up the chart to start writing down what House had just said. Taub noticed the IV was nearly empty and proceeded to change it out with a new one. Wilson walked over to the mother to talk her through the next few steps while Chase took the initiative to head out to the nurse’s station to schedule the OR for Jacob’s surgery. As he walked out of the room he watched House approach the elevators. Chase suddenly realized that the doors had been open long before House got there. He watched curiously as House stopped in front of the open doors and cautiously peered into the elevator. As the elevator doors began to close a long feminine arm with a silver spangled bracelet snaked out from the elevator and grabbed a now grinning House by the shirt, yanking him into the elevator. The doors closed shut behind him.
Chase stood there for only two seconds before his brain processed what he had seen and what it meant. He had seen that bracelet before; on the arm of his boss’s boss.
“No way!” he said loudly, his outburst drawing attention from the other doctors in the room behind him. He turned back to his co-workers. “No WAY!” he repeated. He looked directly at Foreman. “So THAT’s the wagon he’s on!”
Foreman had put the chart back and turned to leave just as House had been pulled into the elevator. He had seen the same thing Chase had. He didn’t say anything. He just smiled. Foreman turned to Wilson. Wilson, correctly assuming Chase had just figured out House’s secret, too, gave Chase the conspiring look of one in the know. None of the three said anything; all agreeing silently to stay silent.
Taub turned from the IV he had just replaced. He saw the three men staring at each other. “What?” he said.
Just then the Emergency Stop Alarm for the elevators went off; filling the outside hallway with a large clanging din.
“Oh, great,” Taub said as he took off his latex gloves. “The elevators are stuck again.”
For unknown reasons to Taub, his declaration set off a wave of laughter among his co-workers as they all walked out of the room, leaving him confused at their mirth and grumpy at having to now use the stairs.
House had Cuddy pressed up against the wall within seconds of being lured into the elevator. She only had a second to smile wickedly at him before he covered her mouth with his. He kissed her passionately, the rush of finally completing his latest medical puzzle combining with the endorphin rush of Cuddy’s nearness sent him into a high he never remembered experiencing with any amount of vicodin. He could feel Cuddy’s hands on his chest. He hoped Cuddy knew what she was doing. Their secret would not remain a secret for long if the elevator doors opened on the two of them making out.
Just then Cuddy’s hand left his chest and reached out to the wall next to them. It found the Emergency Stop button and slammed against it. The alarm started screaming and the elevator car lurched to a stop between floors.
House pulled away from Cuddy to see her smiling seductively; her eyes clouded with desire. Putting her hand back on his chest she grabbed his t-shirt and started to pull House back towards her. She reached up to meet his mouth, but House stopped.
“Cuddy…?” House whispered against her lips. “Someone is going to call maintenance eventually.”
“Then it’s a good thing the Dean of Medicine already called the head of maintenance and told him the elevators had been acting up, but that everything could wait until morning. Boss’s orders.”
House now returned Cuddy’s seductive smile. “I knew sleeping with the boss had its…,” he began. He was cut off by Cuddy yanking his t-shirt off over his head and then pushing him against the opposite wall as her mouth reclaimed his.
Neither was bothered by the sound of the alarm and after another minute they didn’t even notice it.
[ Please play song now: www.playlist.com/playlist/additem/129993745 ]
Jacob smiled at his parents as he groggily came out of the anesthesia. His smile was slightly lopsided and completely loving. The doctors had managed to remove all of the tumor. Things looked great. His dad smiled back and ruffled his hair. Nathan looked across the bed at his ex-wife. She looked haggard and tired, but the smile she wore showed her true feelings. Nathan reached over the blankets and grabbed a hold of Annie’s hand. She smiled at him and returned the squeeze. No matter what issues they had to deal with they would always be there for their son. He knew that without a doubt. With time the three of them could figure out a new rhythm; a new schedule. With his free hand, Nathan handed Jacob a large bag he had brought into the room. Jacob looked up at his dad and mom in wonder. They helped him open the bag and pull out a large remote-controlled dinosaur and a bag full of batteries. Jacob’s hoarse shout of glee told Nathan that his gift was a success. Annie looked affectionately at her ex-husband and knew things would be okay. She squeezed Nathan’s hand with affection, they watched the delight in her son’s eyes as he examined his new toy.
Wilson unlocked the front door of his apartment. He had put in a long day following his long night. The bright side was that it had been a successful day. Sam was sitting on the couch reading a magazine. She had a glass filled with ice and water on the coffee table. Condensation from the glass dripped slowly down the side of the glass and onto the wooden table. Wilson said nothing as he walked over, picked up a coaster from its holder in the middle of the coffee table and put it under the glass. Sam looked up and smiled at Wilson. “Oh, sorry, James,” she said, returning to her book. “I forgot.”
“No problem,” Wilson said. He set his briefcase down next to the couch and sat beside Sam. “Did you call the landlord about the leak in the shower?”
Sam looked up at James. “Oh, I completely forgot.” She glanced at the watch on her wrist. “I bet he’s still awake. Why don’t you give him a call now? You’re home tomorrow and can wait for him. I want to finish this article.” She didn’t wait for a response, but simply returned to her magazine.
Wilson looked at his girlfriend for a few seconds. She continued to read her magazine, unaware of his scrutiny. He wanted to believe that she had changed for him; was willing to continue to change and work through things. He thought of House’s monumental efforts to make changes to be with Cuddy. House had battled huge demons to win Cuddy’s attentions. Wilson knew that these little behavior quirks of Sam’s shouldn’t matter to him, but if putting out a coaster is no big deal to Sam why didn’t she do it for Wilson? Wilson had seen some effort in Sam to not take him for granted, yes, but maybe all the little things she still selfishly did were a greater indicator of her character. Maybe House was right about that, too. At that moment Sam looked up from her article. She smiled at him, completely oblivious to his inner contention. She slowly put the magazine down and leaned over to Wilson. She stroked his cheek as she leaned in and gave him a soft kiss. She continued to kiss him as she pushed him down on the couch. Wilson returned the kisses, burying his concern for another day.
House sat in the armchair across from where Cuddy and Rachel were sitting on the floor in the living room. He had come over that evening after lounging around the apartment. He had dropped off a tired and worn out Cuddy earlier that day after a delightful morning, which included a walk on the beach at sunrise. Cuddy had called in sick to work to spend the day with Rachel. Eventually, Cuddy had called House to come over and be with them. House happily obliged and although he and Rachel weren’t best buddies, she at least accepted his presence.
Cuddy had gotten a farm set out and was setting it up for Rachel to play with before she had to go to bed. Cuddy had some office work to do before she could call it a day. House looked at the picture of domesticity in front of him and had a slight moment of old time panic. It was soon followed by a calmness which until recently, had been almost unknown to him. He certainly wasn’t ready to start playing house, but sometimes; for brief moments; he welcomed the comfort it brought.
He was trying to get a new application to work on his iphone and was muttering words under his breath in frustration. Cuddy stood and sat on the couch, shuffling through the mess of paperwork. Rachel set up the horse and cow in the barn then picked up the tractor. Standing up, she looked over at House, who was involved in his iphone. Cuddy, sensing her daughter’s movement, looked up from her paperwork and watched her little daughter walk over to where House was sitting. Rachel stood by his chair for only a second before House saw her. He looked at Rachel standing there. There was silence.
“Hi,” House said.
“Hi,” Rachel responded. She didn’t say anything else. She just held out her hand which held the tractor she had brought over. He looked at the tractor and then at the little girl’s big brown eyes. Slowly he took the tractor from her hand.
“Thanks,” he said softly.
Rachel nodded and turned around, walking back to her farm set and sitting down to play once again with the animals. House looked amazingly at the tractor in his hand. He then glanced over at Cuddy, who had witnessed the whole moment. She sat grinning from ear-to-ear at House, the look of happiness and love evident in her eyes. House returned her gaze, still shocked at the depth of emotion that small gesture had brought. He slowly smiled back and then stared at the tractor in his hand as Cuddy went back to her paperwork.
Later that night, House lay in bed next to Cuddy. He rolled over onto his left side to get a better view. He gently stroked Cuddy’s bare shoulder with one finger. He softly outlined her bottom lip next. She stirred and turned toward him, giving him a sleepy smile, then nuzzling in closer to his body as she slipped back into sleep. He thought about Jacob and his diagnosis. He knew that the two sides in this relationship were uneven as well but that the diagnosis and treatment were the same. In time, the sides could even out and then eventually there would be no reason for problems at all. House kissed Cuddy’s shoulder and wrapped his arms around her. He fell asleep quickly and slept soundly until morning.
FADE TO BLACK
Okay, fellow House fans. That’s all. I truly hope you liked it. I will be going over and fine tuning it this month. I will also reformat it so it’s in seven acts; just like a House episode. (Well, most of them are in seven acts.) I’ll repost it on FanFiction when I’m done. Until then, goodbye and thank you so much for reading!