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HOUSE M.D. FIC: Three Months, 3/3

Title: Three Months
Author: Flywoman
Fandom: House M.D.
Rating: PG-13 for language and sexual references
Pairings: No noncanonical pairings
Warning: Character death

For additional notes, see Chapter 1: March Goes Out Like a Lamb.

Chapter 2: April Is the Cruelest Month



The first time was an accident. He hadn’t heard House calling weakly from the bedroom. By the time he roused himself for a midnight check, the bedding had to be changed and House, tight-lipped and clearly mortified, scrubbed and dried down. Wilson shuffled downstairs in his slippers to push the soiled sheets into the washer. When he returned to look in on House, it was well past one in the morning, and his friend was snoring lightly on his side.

Wilson swayed next to the bed for a few seconds, exhausted, wondering whether he’d be able to hear House the next time. He lay down to close his eyes for just a minute and consider the question. When he opened them again, sunlight was streaming through the window, and House was staring fixedly into his face.

Wilson yawned widely and rubbed his eyes. “Need to go to the bathroom?” he asked. House nodded grimly, and the two men stumbled to the toilet together. They got through the day without either of them mentioning anything about the events of the night before.

That evening, Wilson helped House arrange himself as comfortably as possible against the cushions and then crawled into bed beside him. House didn’t wish him good night, but he didn’t kick him out, either.

Now when he woke in the night, Wilson was comforted by the familiar scent of House’s body, the sounds of his steady breaths. Every once in a while he opened his eyes to silence and knew that House was lying there awake, rigid, clenching himself against some unvoiced need. On those occasions, Wilson knew better than to speak. He just slid out of his side of the bed, padded around to House, and slipped him some Vicodin, holding the glass of water while he swallowed. Then he helped him hobble to the bathroom.

Once, on an especially bad night, he rubbed House’s lower back with his left hand, drawing smooth, firm circles with the flat of his palm, until his friend finally snapped at him to knock it the hell off unless he wanted House to prove all those rumors about the two of them right.

*

The next time Chase visited, there was a decided swing to his step. “You seem chipper-er,” House greeted him. “Has Dr. Cameron welcomed you back into the fold-s?”

Chase winced. “If you’re going to be disgusting-“

“All right, all right, settle down,” House muttered, sounding sincerely sheepish. “Wilson brought home a morphine pump yesterday, and I’m still titrating the dosage. So has she come“ - Chase looked daggers at him - “around to your point of view?”

Chase relaxed visibly. “No, but something’s different. She was really freaked out before, but now it looks like she might be thinking it over.”

House nodded. “Be patient,” he advised. “And try shaving once in a while; the Miami Vice look does nothing for you.”

“Bloody hypocrite,” Chase replied amiably. “And yeah, I’m referring to both of those bits of advice.”

*

“You haven’t been playing your piano this week,” Wilson observed the next evening as they slouched on the couch together watching the Discovery Channel.

House grimaced. “Bench hurts my back.” He would have sounded as if he were confessing to a personal failing, had he been the kind of guy who ever confessed to such things.

The next day, Wilson went out and bought two straight-backed chairs, carefully measured to match the height of House’s piano bench. House watched him carry them in and arrange colorful cushions for added lumbar support, then limped over and levered himself onto one.

“Are they all right?” Wilson asked, suddenly bashful. “I think this might be the first furniture I ever picked out personally.”

House smiled. “I like what this says about you, Wilson.” He trailed his fingers across the keys in a tentative trill, then broke into what Wilson eventually recognized as the first few bars of “Lean On Me” before segueing into “Feelin’ Alright” with a slightly embarrassed expression.

He used the chairs for almost a week before the piano fell silent for good.

*
Wilson found the book one evening facedown across House’s chest, rising and falling with his soft snores. He slid it out of House’s limp hands and started leafing through the pages with a thoughtful expression on his face. A few seconds later, House woke with a snort and fumbled with the reading glasses that had slid down his nose.

“What are you doing? Give me that.”

“Huh. Not your usual poison.”

House reached for the book, forcing himself to sound casual. “It’s nothing. Gimmee.”

Wilson backed away and broke into an incredulous grin. “Nothing? You’re actually reading a book called, let’s see, ‘Step by Step: Sermons for Everyday Life,’ written by a Unitarian minister, and you claim that it’s nothing? I’d better call Hell and warn them that they’re freezing over.”

“He’s my father,” House said flatly.

Wilson frowned and sank down on a corner of the bed. “What? But this guy’s name is-“ he checked the spine. “-William Murry.”

“Yeah, and being married to my mother is the only way that he could possibly have played a role in my conception.”

“Oh.” Wilson blinked. “OH. Are you sure?” He bent closer and lowered his voice, as if anyone else were around to hear them. “How do you know?”

“I’ve suspected since I was twelve.” House waved him away wearily. “He’s an old friend of the family. I don’t know for sure, strictly speaking. But… it fits.”

“You never said anything before,” Wilson said, almost accusingly.

“Yeah, and I didn’t know that you had another brother for… how many years was that?”

“Touché,” Wilson admitted. He finally handed House the book. “Well, how is it?”

“Trite. Idealistic. Ridiculously naïve.”

“Well, one out of three isn’t bad,” Wilson shrugged. House looked at him. “Oh, come on. You’re not just reading some random book on self-redemption because you’re afraid of dying. You’re trying to get to know this guy. To figure out where you came from, what you might have in common. You know… you could just call him.”

“And say what.” It was not a question. “Hi, this is Greg House. I think I might be your long-lost bastard son from when my daddy was away in the war. And, well, I’m dying of cancer, so I thought that this might be a good time to start playing catch and going fishing together.”

“That’s one way,” Wilson said, raising his eyes to the ceiling.

“I’m not calling him.” House gave Wilson a keen glance. “And neither are you.”

“But-“

“To the Moon, Alice!”

*

“I’m scared,” House admitted. He shifted restlessly against his pillow, eyes darting everywhere except at Chase, who cautiously edged his chair closer to the bed.

“What of?”

“Death,” House said. “Duh.”

“I thought you didn’t believe that there was anything after death.”

“I don’t,” House said, scowling. “It isn’t rational.”

Chase frowned. “Belief in life after death? Or your lack of belief?”

“Being afraid of nothing,” House corrected him impatiently. He gave himself a hit of morphine and slumped back, breathing more easily.

Chase thought for a few seconds, knowing that he had an opportunity here and wanting very badly not to fuck it up. “It’s human to want one’s life to have had some meaning,” Chase said. “Once we’re gone, we’ve lost the chance to make our mark.”

House regarded him steadily, the question that he would never ask lurking in his bloodshot eyes.

Chase placed his hand firmly on House’s, knowing that his mentor’s first reaction would be to jerk away. “You have made a difference,” he said. “To your patients. To all of us.”

“I’ve been a miserable bastard,” House said bluntly.

“Yeah,” Chase said. “I’ll admit to occasionally cursing the day you were born. But you know what? This world is still a better place for having had you in it.”

House blinked, swallowed, looked away. “Thanks,” he said roughly. “Do me a favor and… don’t tell Wilson we had this conversation.”

Realizing that he’d been dismissed, Chase relinquished House’s hand. “Sure,” he said, pushing his chair back away from the bed. “I’ll see you later.” He walked down the hallway and found Wilson in the kitchen drying the dinner dishes.

“How’s he doing tonight?” Wilson inquired in a low voice.

“You might want to give him a few minutes before you go in there,” Chase confided, clapping the older man on the shoulder. “G’night.”

*

One morning in late May – he’d lost track – House reached for his morphine pump and discovered that he no longer had the strength to depress the button. His attempt to recruit his abdominal muscles to the effort only left him gasping in pain. This woke Wilson, who squinted up at him, followed his eyes to the pump in his hand, and reached across his belly to push down on his thumb. The pump hissed in release, and House hissed in relief.

When he trusted himself to speak, he said, “Wilson,” in a carefully neutral voice, “it’s time.”

Wilson’s eyes widened, but after a few seconds, he nodded and cleared his throat. “Okay.”

“You can call Cuddy,” House said. “You shouldn’t be alone after-“ Wilson was staring at him in surprise and what looked suspiciously like gratitude, so he amended quickly, “Besides, unless the Hindus are right, this is probably my last chance for a lap dance.”

*

“Cuddy is stuck in meetings this morning, but she can get over here after lunch,” Wilson reported. He sat down on his side of the bed, looking lost now that his errand had been accomplished.

“Good,” House said. “I have time for a bath and a shave.”

For the last week, House had been too weak to walk. Wilson carried him to the bathroom in his arms as if he were a child, long limbs dangling. Once House was done on the toilet, Wilson ran him a bath at just the right temperature and settled him into it. House sighed as the warmth permeated his skin, alleviating the dull ache in his abdomen that persisted despite the morphine. He held as still as he could while Wilson wet and lathered his face, ran the razor over its sunken planes.

He had Wilson dress him in the sky-blue shirt and a fresh pair of pajama bottoms.

*

Wilson brought him a can of chocolate Ensure for lunch, but House irritably waved it away. “It’s almost worth dying not to have to drink that shit anymore,” he sniped.

“All right,” Wilson said. He stood by the bed for a moment, hesitant. “What about Stacy?”

House closed his eyes. When he opened them again, Wilson was still there. “We haven’t spoken in weeks.”

“I know,” Wilson said.

“Of course you do,” House sighed. “Probably been giving her the play-by-play every evening, too.”

Wilson did not deny it. “I think that you should tell her. Even if you don’t want her here.”

“You think I should do a lot of things,” House said mildly. Wilson waited. “All right. Get the phone. You’ll have to dial.”

Wilson withdrew tactfully as soon as Stacy answered. “Wilson?”

“No, it’s Greg,” House corrected, wincing at the quaver in his voice. “Wilson’s phone, though. Easy mistake to make.”

“Greg,” she breathed. “Is today the big day?”

“You’re not an idiot,” House said. “It’s always been one of your best qualities.”

“Do you want me there?”

“If I say no, will Wilson wait until I’m unconscious and then smuggle you in here anyway?”

“Not this time,” Stacy said.

He closed his eyes against traitorous tears. “Thank you.”

“So we’re all right?” Stacy asked.

“Yeah. We’re all right.”

“I love you,” Stacy said.

“Good-bye, Stacy.”

*

House was dozing when the front door slammed and Wilson’s voice rose in what sounded like protest. He tried to straighten up, wiping the drool clumsily from his chin, before his visitors barged into the bedroom. It was Cuddy, with Cameron and Chase right behind her. “Foreman is on a flight from LA,” she reported. “He should be here by dinnertime.”

“I said that I wanted to rest in peace,” House complained feebly. “You’re all fired.”

“Too late,” Chase responded, stepping around Cuddy and over to the bed so that he could lean down and give House a gentle, deliberate hug.

House looked up and batted his eyelashes at Chase as he withdrew. “Wait! This might be my last chance to kiss a boy before I die,” he squeaked in a passable imitation of a nine-year-old girl. Chase blushed to his hairline.

“Sorry, you’ll have to settle for me instead,” Cameron said, and bent down to brush her lips against his freshly shaven cheek.

Wilson finally appeared, his face livid, his knuckles white where he grasped the doorframe. “House, I’m so sorry, I-“

House gave him a keen glance. “All right, go out and play now,” he grumped at his former fellows. “Mommy and Daddy and your other Daddy need to talk in private for a minute.”

As soon as the door had closed behind a still-pink-faced Chase and a sullen-looking Cameron, Wilson turned on Cuddy. “What the hell were you thinking, bringing them here? And Foreman? You think that House is just going to wait around the whole day for a transcontinental flight?”

“I’m not dead yet,” House informed him. “Nor have I lost my powers of speech.”

Cuddy, meanwhile, looked embarrassed yet put-upon. “It’s not like I sent anyone engraved invitations. Chase and Cameron have been watching me like a hawk all week. They were already outside the building when I got here, and Foreman called my cell to say he’d booked the flight.”

“Unbelievable,” Wilson said, throwing up his hands.

“Consider this House’s fault for refusing to surround himself with morons!”

“Still lying here,” House said. He fixed his gaze on Cuddy. “Do me a favor,” he said. “Go check on those two lovebirds and make sure they’re not pecking each other’s eyes out.” She looked from him to Wilson, on the verge of a Parthian shot, then closed her mouth and left the room without a word.

“I’ll send them away,” Wilson said, running a hand up the back of his neck and rumpling his hair. “I’ll call Foreman and tell him to catch the next flight home.”

“Wilson, do I seem angry about this?” House’s eyes narrowed. “That’s it, isn’t it? You’re pretending to be morally outraged on my behalf – hell, you probably even believe it. But really, you’re just jealous because you think that you’ve earned this and they haven’t.”

Wilson stared at him incredulously for a second, mouth working in silence. Then his face crumpled, and he sat down hard on the corner of the bed. “Wow,” he said, unable to look at House. “You’re right.” He took a deep, shaky breath and held his head in his hands. “I’m a terrible person.”

House rolled his eyes, although the effect was lost since Wilson couldn’t see it. “Wilson. You’re a terrible shot. A terrible poker player.” He paused thoughtfully. “A terrible husband.”

“Thanks a lot, this is really helping,” Wilson said in a muffled voice.

“What you are not,” House said firmly, nudging him with his foot, “is a terrible friend.”

Wilson looked up at him at last. “You’re welcome,” he said, his lips curving in a tremulous smile.

House held his gaze for a few seconds, then broke the mood by allowing his hand to drop down and dangle against the side of the mattress and saying, “Wilson. Reach under here.” His friend raised his eyebrows, crouched down beside the bed, and squeezed his hand between the mattress and box spring, finally retrieving two envelopes. One was addressed to “J. Wilson” and the other to “L. Cuddy.”

“Give that one to Cuddy. Don’t open them until… after,” House instructed him. Wilson slowly turned the envelopes over in his hands.

“House,” he said, “is there a third envelope that I should know about?”

House said nothing. “Well?” Wilson prompted.

“My wrists are too weak to write,” House whined.

Wilson looked at the ceiling. “You could always call.”

“Call my mother, the human polygraph?” House said, sounding horrified. “They’d get here before Foreman.”

“Tell you what. You dictate, I’ll write.”

House made a face. “She’ll never be able to read your writing.”

“Might be the best thing for everybody, don’t you think?” House had to concede that it just might be.

*

House dozed on and off for most of the afternoon while the others lounged around the living room, talking in low voices, and taking turns to check on him and deliver a dose of morphine. Just before 6 pm, Cuddy’s cell phone rang, and she excused herself and went into the kitchen to answer it.

Chase and Cameron were sitting on opposite ends of the couch, with Wilson between them. As the afternoon wore on, he had become more and more anxious, the inactivity and anticipation keying his nerves to an almost unbearable pitch. Now he fidgeted, jiggling one leg up and down until Chase reached over and placed a hand on his knee. “You all right, mate?”

“Yeah,” Wilson said, fishing out his handkerchief and mopping his forehead. “It’s kind of hot in here, isn’t it?”

His two seatmates exchanged glances before Cameron said kindly, “It could be cooler. I’ll turn the thermostat down.”

Cuddy returned, closing her cell phone. “That was Foreman. He was getting off the plane and wanted to know if he could be picked up from Newark in about half an hour.”

“I’ll go,” Cameron volunteered.

Seeing his chance, Chase said quickly, “I’ll come with.”

“Robert,” Cameron said, her voice sounding strained, “I’ve got this one.”

“You drive like shit when you’re upset,” Chase pointed out. “Besides…” he gave her a beseeching look. “It’s Tuesday.”

Cameron rolled her eyes at that but grabbed her bag and headed out without another word of protest, Chase hard on her heels.

As soon as the door had closed behind them, Wilson exhaled a heavy breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, leaned forward, and rubbed his eyes. “Cuddy,” he groaned, “This is crazy. I’m… I’m not sure that I can do this.”

She gave him an encouraging if sad half-smile and put an arm around his shoulders. “Yes, you can. You won’t be alone. And… I know that this isn’t the first time.”

“This is different,” Wilson sighed, shaking his head. “This is… God, Lisa, this is House.”

“I know,” she said. “And I know that you love him and that you’ve been doing everything that you possibly could for him. And James… you’re almost done.”

That broke him. He shuddered soundlessly for a few seconds, covering his face with his hands. Cuddy sat and stroked his arm consolingly until he finally turned to clutch at her and hide his eyes against her shoulder. She smoothed his hair, staring off into space, her own face wet.

*

When Chase and Cameron finally returned with Foreman behind them, they had flushed faces and were holding hands. Cuddy took in the sight of the two of them with narrowed eyes and pursed her lips to shush them, jerking her chin towards Wilson, who had fallen asleep with his head on her shoulder. Cameron broke away from Chase with a stifled exclamation and hurried to the bedroom to check on House, but when she found him resting more or less quietly, her indignation evaporated.

“Foreman’s here,” she told him softly.

House licked cracked lips and tried to croak a response. Cameron quickly raised the glass of water to moisten his mouth, then gave him a dose of morphine, watching closely as the telltale tightness eased around his eyes. “Tell him… thanks for coming.”

“You can tell him yourself,” Foreman said, appearing in the doorway. He crouched down next to the bed, trying not to betray his shock at the sight of its skeletal inhabitant. “How are you doing?”

“I’m dying,” House growled. “Get up, you look ridiculous.” He stared at Foreman as the younger man straightened up. “So how’s California? I see you’ve gotten a tan.”

Cameron and Foreman exchanged glances, and she swallowed a near-hysterical giggle. “I’ve missed you, too,” Foreman said. “By the way, Marty sends you his best.”

“Marty can go fuck himself,” House rasped genially.

“I’ll make sure to relay the message,” Foreman replied, rolling his eyes.

“Good. And also tell him…” House inhaled sharply, trying to catch his breath. “Tell him I hope that he realizes how lucky he is to have you.”

Foreman’s jaw dropped, but before he could say anything, House closed his eyes, feigning sleep, and Cameron took her colleague by the arm and pulled him away.

*

When Wilson woke up, Cuddy took a head count and ordered pizza. The five of them sat around munching it, although it felt like dry cardboard in their raw throats, while Wilson explained how the next few hours were likely to work. He seemed to have recovered from his earlier panic and instructed them with quiet confidence.

“I’ll disable the safety on the morphine pump,” he said. “One of us should volunteer to keep track of the time. The rest will take turns delivering a dose about every ten minutes. It will take a while for the drug to build up in his system. Once it does, his respiration will become depressed. Don’t be alarmed if it looks like he’s struggling to breathe. He won’t be in pain, and it shouldn’t take more than a few hours.”

The others nodded solemnly, Cameron’s eyes looking particularly large in her pasty face. They followed Wilson into the bedroom, where House was waiting for them.

“Let’s get this show on the road,” he said, clearly intent on avoiding any last-minute melodrama.

Wilson nodded, then rolled up his shirtsleeve. “I’ll keep time,” he said, his voice almost steady. “One dose every ten minutes.”

Cuddy reached for House’s hand and held it.

“Sorry… that your hundred million dollar investment… didn’t pay off for that long,” he said to her.

“Me too,” she said. She laid her fingers softly against his cheek for a second. Then she released his hand and reached for the pump.

*

It didn’t take only a few hours. House’s dulled blue eyes closed quickly, and his breathing soon became labored, with long pauses between sudden, struggling sucks of air, but he lingered on, jerking his head weakly from side to side. Occasionally he moaned, a sound so distressingly like that of a dying animal in pain that Cameron covered her ears. They all became increasingly exhausted and frazzled as the night wore on with no prospect of reprieve.

*

He is sitting on a bus. A beautiful blond woman boards and takes the seat across from him. She hands him his cane, then opens her purse to pull out a vial of pills. Suddenly the bus’s brakes squeal. Everything is illuminated. House watches helplessly as the woman’s smooth flesh melts away, revealing a grinning skull beneath.

*

Since he wasn’t operating the pump, Wilson sat on the other side of the bed, legs stretched out in front of him, eyes focused on his wrist as if his timepiece were some kind of talisman. At one point, Cameron noticed that he was holding House’s hand, and quickly turned her face away, biting her lip. A little while later, Cuddy squeezed into the remaining space on the near side, carefully repositioning the pump, and curled up next to House’s shoulder. If she sobbed, she did it silently; the only sounds were the faint ticking of Wilson’s watch and the harsh rattle of House’s breaths.

*

A young man with Indian features, wearing a white coat over a striped polo shirt and faded jeans, smiles at him. He produces a stethoscope from his pocket, adjusts the earpieces, and presses the bell over House’s heart. Holding it there, he removes the instrument from his ears and passes it over to House. Puzzled, House listens to his own chest but hears nothing at all. Still smiling, the young man removes a revolver from his other pocket, then puts the muzzle into his mouth and pulls the trigger with a deafening roar.

*

Chase and Cameron sat on the floor, slumping against each other for support. He was rubbing his fingers together unconsciously, as if telling the beads of an invisible rosary. She had the pale, patient face and humbly clasped hands of a medieval saint. Foreman paced with a restless energy the others had rarely seen before, circling the room like a panther cornering its prey.

*

He is at a party, up on a platform, his arm around Chase’s shoulders as if he were proudly presenting a long-lost son to the crowd of onlookers. He leads a toast, raising his glass to his former fellow, and downs the fiery contents with a grimace. Then he brings his other hand to Chase’s throat and squeezes. Chase scrabbles at his fingers, eyes bulging, tongue protruding grotesquely, as House mercilessly forces him to his knees.

*

No,” House groaned indistinctly, his bony fingers contorting into claws.

“What’s happening?” Cameron whimpered.

Wilson looked wearier than she’d ever seen him. “Morphine dreams,” he said, trying to sound reassuring. He took House’s pulse, then nodded at Cuddy to administer the next dose.

*

He cannot move or even feel his limbs. When he looks down, his wrists and ankles are in restraints, anchoring him to the iron bed frame. He looks around, uncomprehending. He is trapped in a darkened room with dingy padded walls. Old vomit crusts the corners of his mouth. The air is thick and dank, oozing into his lungs like mist rising off an evil-smelling sea. He begins shouting obscenities, ineffectually flailing against the moldering mattress.

The door to his cell creaks open. It’s Cuddy, dressed scantily in the skintight skirt of a succubus. She brandishes a huge syringe with a sly smile, then plunges it into his thigh. He howls, writhing in agony, and she quickly swings her leg over him and sits squarely on his chest. She puts one finger secretively to her lips and then clamps down on his mouth with her other hand. He struggles frantically, using all his strength in a futile attempt to buck her off.


*

“He wants to die,” Cameron said suddenly.

Foreman rolled his eyes. “Well, no shit, Sherlock. What have we been doing here for the past twelve hours?”

She was unfazed. “No, what I mean is – maybe he’s trying to die, but he can’t, because his mind is too-“ self-consciously “-too fucked up from all the morphine. Maybe if he could concentrate more, he’d be able to go on his own.”

Wilson started on the other side of the bed. “He squeezed my hand!” They all stared down at the slack-jawed face, sought a flicker of awareness behind the fluttering eyelids. Wilson bent his tousled head closed to his friend’s ear. “House? Can you hear me? Is that what you want? Should we stop the morphine?”

“I felt that,” Cuddy whispered. She used her free hand to brush impatiently at her eyes. “Who would ever have guessed that he’d be the one asking us to take him off the opiates?” She reactivated the safety and handed the pump to Foreman, who placed it on the floor.

*

The door opens abruptly. Wilson enters the room in shining silver armor, with a blazing sword. The succubus shrieks in rage just before her head is lopped from her shoulders. Wilson slices expertly through the restraints and hauls House to his feet. They stumble out of the doorway together as the walls collapse around them.

When the dust clears, he is standing on a lush green field with a tamped-down path before him. The sunlight is warm on his face, but a cool breeze blows softly against his skin. He’s wearing a t-shirt and shorts, and his leg is whole. Not believing his good fortune at first, he begins to run, rejoicing in the play of muscle and sinew and bone.


*

The tension in House’s muscles eased, his hands going limp and trusting like a child’s. His jaw slackened; his eyes stared straight ahead, unseeing. The space between his inhalations stretched out until Wilson started to wheeze and realized that he had been holding his own breath in empathy.

*

As he finds his rhythm, figures appear on either side of the path. Some he recognizes as their faces flash by: old classmates, professors and mentors, former patients. There is his first fellow, freckled and feckless. Stacy stares at him suggestively, twirling a golf club in her hand. Cuddy raises a blissful face, an infant cradled at her breast. The three Cottages cluster together, dressed in tall boots and plumed hats like Dumas’ Musketeers. And finally Wilson again, still in his armor, the metal reflecting House’s rapturous face as he flies by.

His breathing becomes ragged, but his legs are still going strong, left, right, left, right, carrying him on, away from the crowd of onlookers, into the open plain beyond. He flings open his arms, wanting to embrace the world. His heart feels as though it might burst with joy.


*

“Time of death,” Wilson whispered, “eight twenty-seven a.m.” Cuddy gently smoothed House’s eyes shut and kissed his forehead. Cameron burst into tears and hid her face against Chase’s neck. Foreman knelt and embraced both of them, lips moving silently as if in prayer.

*

House’s former fellows left the apartment together, eyes bloodshot and clothes disheveled, but exuding a sort of sad serenity and a quiet sense of accomplishment. Cameron clung to Chase’s hand, while Foreman, on his other side, slung an arm across his shoulders. The plan was to stumble back to Chase’s apartment for coffee and showers before taking Foreman to catch a flight home to see his parents before he returned to the West Coast.

Wilson and Cuddy waited until the others had gone before pulling out their envelopes in unspoken agreement. Cuddy found that hers was written in blue ink in House’s decisive hand, but the ends of words trailed off shakily, particularly in the postscript.

“Lisa-

Stacy is going to tell you that I am leaving PPTH a sum of money for the purpose of establishing an endowed Chair of Diagnostic Medicine. I know that you will have your own ideas, but I urge you to consider Dr. Robert Chase for the position. It’s been a long time coming – he’s a lazy bastard by nature, much like someone else we both know – but he’s definitely ready.

Leave Cameron in the ER, though. It suits her. Plus you don’t want to open yourself up to any more sexual harassment lawsuits.

Yours,
Greg House

P.S. By the way, I did mean to call the next day. Would have, if they hadn’t kicked me out of med school. Thanks for never holding it against me. That was big of you. And yes, I am referring to the size of your ass.”

Cuddy started laughing, then weeping, snatching a tissue out of the box on the bedside table to scrub at her eyes. Wilson opened his own envelope, blinking against the blur of tears.

“Wilson-

If you’re reading this, you’re probably feeling incredibly guilty. Do us both a big favor and knock that shit off right now.

Stacy will tell you that I am leaving you some money in my will. If my calculations are correct, it comes to the sum of all of the lunches, loans, and sundry expenses you’ve incurred over the years that you’ve known me, plus interest.

I am also leaving you my apartment. You can sell it if you want to, but for pity’s sake, please find yourself your own place and quit moving in with your patients.

Your friend,
House”

Cuddy blew her nose on the sodden tissue and turned to Wilson. “I’ll sit shiva with you,” she offered.

Wilson chuckled painfully, feeling like there was ground glass in his windpipe. “House would hate that,” he said, wiping his eyes.

Cuddy reached across House for his hand and squeezed it. “We won’t tell him.”

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
fleurione
Aug. 27th, 2010 01:06 am (UTC)
MMPH, well I've read this before but it doesn't stop how *ing powerful it is. I started crying at the point of Stacy's "I love you" but then I've always been a sucked for Stacy. However, that kinda opened the floodgates ;) Well done on a superbly well-written fic; I enjoyed all of the character portrayals and the weaving in and out of the episodes.
flywoman
Aug. 27th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
Thanks so much; it's great to hear from you on this. And I'm really glad that someone else appreciated Stacy; the scene you mentioned is the one that first gets me going, too. I enjoyed their dynamic on the show, I felt strongly that she and House should be able to resolve things somewhat before he died (although it might take that for it to happen!), and I just had so much fun writing their dialogue in this story despite the sadness of the context.
fleurione
Aug. 27th, 2010 01:47 am (UTC)
I love Stacy. I love House and Stacy. I love seeing that House can love Stacy. "Failure to Communicate" is one of my favourite episodes ever. There's nothing I don't love about House/Stacy (yes, even their canon resolution!) and I really think that how you have portrayed them here is perfect, both dialogue-wise, and with Stacy's love for House continuing despite it all and their knowing it wouldn't work, and House loving her enough to make sure they're okay at the end -- she is the only one, really, that he reaches out to make the effort of a goodbye for (the others come to him, although his responses are heartfelt) (Wilson would be there anyway, clearly that's the other important one) (and while we're on Wilson, I loved him in this, and I loved his holding House's hand, and I loved (despite myself) that it didn't end with declarations of love between them). ohhhhhhh so good.

Edited at 2010-08-27 01:49 am (UTC)
flywoman
Aug. 27th, 2010 02:10 am (UTC)
One can certainly see in that episode why they fell in love with each other. I don't really believe her when she says she left him because he didn't give her enough space (although I don't doubt that it was true). I prefer the interpretation that he couldn't forgive her and made both of their lives miserable after the operation, and she finally decided that the constant reminder by her presence was not helping anyone.

In this story, I really wanted them to be okay with each other at the end, and yet I didn't want her at his bedside because I felt that would throw off the whole dynamic of his PPTH "family," and those scenes were already very firm in my mind. I'm glad that the solution I hit on rang true.

And yes, for me, Wilson always would be there anyway, would insist on being there, and of course they love each other. But I couldn't stand the thought of writing anything too sappy, even in this situation, because imo, it just wouldn't be like them. And while I wanted the prospect of death to change House and his relationships, a little bit, it was absolutely essential that they remain recognizable.

Again, thanks so much :).

justjuly4
Sep. 1st, 2010 09:21 am (UTC)
thank you
Dear Flywoman,
I am greatly impressed by your story. Both the plot and the style of writing made it one of my favorites. I've read it by parts because I couldn't help crying...

Thanks for Stacy, Wilson, Cuddy and the team. I think you managed to show the best qualities of their characters. You were convincing in character portrayals.
Your story is sad, but it's peaceful, kind sadness like warm tears falling down your cheek...
I liked that House/Cuddy scenes didn't overweight House/Stacy parts. I believe that House and Wilson loved each other but it was the love which shouldn't be declared. I feel concerned how Wilson would cope with House's death, but I hope Cuddy would help.

I'll start reading your Single man story today.
Sorry for possible mistakes, English isn't my mother-tongue.
flywoman
Sep. 1st, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
Re: thank you
Thanks very much!

I love these characters, and I wanted the prospect of House's death to bring out the best in them without changing them beyond recognition. This was especially true for House and Wilson, who clearly love each other on the show but express it in subtle, couched, or entirely unspoken ways.

I'm also glad that you appreciated the House/Stacy parts. We're shown how important she was to House, and yet after mid-S2 it's almost like she never existed.

As for your English, the metaphor of warm tears falling down your cheek is a lovely one. Thanks very much again for your comments.
(Deleted comment)
flywoman
Oct. 20th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC)
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Like House himself, I was desperate not to drift off into emotional crap.

Honestly, I chose this particular timeline mainly because those were the people I wanted to have around House's deathbed, and I didn't wait to write the fic - I started watching the show this year, and I had only gotten through S5 when I started working on this story. But this coincidentally allowed me to do what you so nicely articulated, in terms of bringing out the best in the flawed characters I loved before the writers started distorting them, sometimes beyond recognition. At the same time, I was also able to allude to many of the incidents that I did like from later seasons.

Thanks very much again for reading and commenting. This remains my favorite of the stories I've written to date, and I love getting the chance to discuss it ;).
zebra363
Jun. 27th, 2012 11:26 am (UTC)
I'm glad to have discovered this very well-written story via the March rec on hw_reqs.

The line that affected me the most was

He used the chairs for almost a week before the piano fell silent for good.

I was hoping for a little more House-Wilson emotion, but I take your point from your comments above that you felt it was more in character to keep it understated.

This line is excellent:

House’s former fellows left the apartment together, eyes bloodshot and clothes disheveled, but exuding a sort of sad serenity and a quiet sense of accomplishment.

I didn't realise that the process of dying from a morphine overdose was so lengthy, and am glad Wilson had some support, and that it was House's idea that he should.
flywoman
Jun. 28th, 2012 08:34 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for letting me know that you enjoyed this story! It was one of my first House M.D. fics. Maybe if I'd written it later, it would have been different, but I still think that fundamentally House and Wilson show how much they care about each other through their actions, not their words or the overt expression of emotions.

The morphine overdose was based on my personal experience with a close friend, and it really does take a long time if performed as instructed. I'm glad that you appreciated the implication that House allowed the rest to be present as support for Wilson rather than himself.
cuddyclothes
Jun. 29th, 2016 01:16 am (UTC)
Thank you for this gem of a story.
I just finished reading this. I'm guessing I didn't before because it's a death fic. BUT IT IS SO.FUCKING.GOOD. This last chapter was so beautiful. And so real. It takes people an incredibly long time to die. You sketched out the time vividly. I could see all of them lounging around, exhausted, while House gasps. So, so sad.

Count me among those who are so glad Stacy is in this story. I loved her chemistry with House and you wrote both of them perfectly.

Thank you for pointing me towards this in your interview.
flywoman
Jun. 29th, 2016 05:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you for this gem of a story.
Yes, you didn't read it before because it was a deathfic. But I am so glad that you finally got around to it because of my interview!

If the last chapter feels real, it is because it is based on personal experience; writing it was very cathartic.

I love the Stacy and House dynamic and always wanted more of a resolution to their relationship, so I'm really happy to hear that you think I wrote them well <3.
daasgrrl
Jun. 29th, 2016 02:29 am (UTC)
Wow, I haven't read a House fic in years, but after reading your interview I thought I would for old times' sake, and it was (obviously) sad but amazing. I love your way with dialogue - it's very sharp, and you don't waste words, either. Excellent 'juggling' of everyone's storylines, too, plus that last-minute revelation about Wilson's part in House's surgery. Great fic - I haven't missed House, exactly, but I've missed the style of writing associated with it, I suppose *g*
flywoman
Jun. 29th, 2016 05:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much - very glad to hear that my interview prompted a (re)visit! As for not wasting words, I think of it more as "lazy," but I'm happy to accept that compliment ;). This was one of my first House fics and was inspired by personal experience, so despite some flaws I see from this distance, it is still very dear to my heart.
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