Docstoc

The Pregnant Days

Document Sample
The Pregnant Days Powered By Docstoc
					                       The Pregnant Days
                            T.M.K.06




Published: 2012
Categorie(s):
Tag(s): "House m.d."


                                           1
Chapter     1
Previously on House: the Present Days
This is the sequel to my story The Present Days. I recommend that you
read that first (if you already have, you can skip this and go to the first
chapter of the real story), but in case you don't want to do that, here is a
recap of some relevant things that took place there:
   After a phone call House disappeared for a couple of weeks to Japan
and when he returned he had a child with him. On his return he saw
Cuddy in her office and gave her an explanation:
   "But back to the story," House sighed. "When I was fourteen my father was
stationed in Japan. While there I met this doctor, who really inspired me to be-
come a doctor myself. He was the go-to-guy. When no other doctor knew what
was wrong with the patient they called on him. The thing was that that was the
only time they did go to him. Other times they ignored, ostracized him because
he was a hinin, a buraku – one of the untouchables. Once I finished medical
school I went back to Japan for a year. I was not licensed to practice there, natur-
ally, so I got a job in the morgue of the hospital where he worked. I spent a year
doing autopsies under his supervision, finding out what really had killed the pa-
tients. He was my mentor. Once I came back, we didn't really keep in touch,
just enough to make sure that if needed we could reach each other. He was the
one who phoned me."
   Cuddy was listening to House in absolute silence, she barely dared to breath.
House rubbed his temple and went on explaining.
   "His son and daughter-in-law were in an accident. They had been on their
way to the hospital because Noriko's contractions had started. They were hit by
a drunk-driver. The son died instantly, but Noriko was still alive when she was
brought in. She didn't survive but they managed to save the baby. Noriko's par-
ents had disowned her for marrying a buraku and as Benjiro was an only child
Akira was left with the baby. He is not young anymore and his wife passed away
two years ago, taking care of a baby would not have been easy, nor could he be
sure for how long he would be around for her. Also he wanted something better
for his granddaughter than what she was likely to have in Japan – even with the



                                                                                  2
recent improvements on the status of burakus. He called me because I'm the
only one who could help him, the only one he could ask."
   "Who in his right mind would give you a child?" Cuddy stared.
   "Hey, I'm not that bad!" House pretended to be insulted. "I'm a doctor, I have
a steady job, I have friends and family – at least on paper I have – and frankly, I
may suck as an option, but not as badly as the other one she had."
   House adopted the child and thus he now has a daughter, Aiko. He
asked Cuddy to help and in return, one night in his apartment, he also
offered to help Cuddy:
   "I'm not being disgusting," House huffed. Then he got serious. "Look Cuddy,
I have now had Aiko for fifteen days. I didn't have time to want her or not want
her before she was mine. I didn't have a choice. But I will kill anyone who tries
to take her away from me now. So I can understand your yearning for a child
now, at least a little. I know we are not friends in any conventional sense of the
word, but conventional or normal has never quite worked for me anyway. In an
unconventional but still a very real sense, we are friends. So as a friend I'm ask-
ing that as you are ovulating now do you want to do something about it?"
   Cuddy stared at him trying to process what he had just said. "I'm not sure
I'm ovulating," she finally told him trying to make some sense out of this
strange conversation. "I know it's about the time I should be, but since I gave up
trying to conceive, I haven't monitored it. I haven't taken my temperature, nor
have I done the test."
   "Then you just have to trust me: you are ovulating," House told her. "You
don't tear up in front of me if you can help it, unless there is a hormonal reason
for it."
   "Maybe I am," Cuddy shrugged. "It doesn't really matter. I gave up on that
dream."
   "Why?" House asked. "Just because you miscarried once, is no reason to think
you were never meant to be a mother. Yes, you don't have a lot of time before
your biological clock ticks time out, but you can still give yourself at least anoth-
er chance. Even if you don't want to accept my offer, don't let fear rob you off
your dream. Afraid is not you!"
   "Oh, that is where you are wrong, House," Cuddy smiled sadly. "Afraid is
very me. That is why I have a career but no life. I would have thought, you of all
people, would have recognised that."
   "But even though you focused on your career, you eventually tackled the life
issue, too," House pointed out. "And on your own; you didn't wait till you were
lucky enough to have someone hand it to you. You did something to get what
you wanted. Maybe I didn't completely agree with the way you chose to find a




                                                                                   3
father for your child, but you went after what you wanted. Are you chickening
out before you have even properly started?"
   "I don't know," Cuddy sighed. "When you put it like that, I suppose I gave
up too easily. But the treatments are rough."
   "I'm offering you an alternative to them," House reminded her. "If you can-
not stomach the idea of having me in your bed – or actually it would be my bed,
but you get the idea – then I'm sure Wilson left a turkey paster in the kitchen
somewhere. Mind you, I'd much rather wield my own than his!" The last sen-
tence House said wiggling his eyebrows at her suggestively.
   In the end they did it the "natural" way and Cuddy ended up preg-
nant; in fact she ended up very pregnant. After having had her first ul-
trasound she stormed into House's office with the picture:
   "What is going on?" Blythe had just walked in and naturally wondered what
Lisa was yelling about, though she was not surprised to find her yelling at
House. Greg seemed to have a knack for getting people to yell at him. Cuddy
turned to look at Blythe.
   "Your son knocked me up with triplets!" Cuddy cried in distress.
   The effect of her words was immediate. Wilson, who had taken the picture and
was preparing to sit down to examine it, missed his chair and found himself on
the floor, Chase rocked his chair too far and ended up on the floor as well. Fore-
man had just poured himself a mug of coffee and he missed with the pan and it
ended up on the floor broken and splashing his trousers with hot coffee. Cameron
dropped the file she had in her hand and stood at the white board like a deer
caught in headlights. With deep satisfaction House surveyed the havoc Cuddy's
statement had created and he said: "Way to go Cuddy!"
   Blythe was the only one unaffected, besides House. She walked to Cuddy, took
her in her arms and said: "Oh, Lisa my dear," then Blythe turned an accusing –
if slightly twinkling – eye to House and admonished: "Gregory, how could
you!"
   House's mother, Blythe, is separated from her husband and thinking
of divorcing him. She found out about the abuse her son had been sub-
jected to as a child and could no longer stay with her husband:
   "What is it, Mother?" House asked as he took Blythe to sit on the couch.
   "I had an argument with your father," Blythe revealed. "And the end result
was that I told him to go home."
   "Alone?" House questioned carefully.
   "Yes, alone," Blythe confirmed. "I'm not sure what else will happen now, but
I could not have him near me now."
   "What was the argument about?" House asked, though he had a cold feeling
in the pit of his stomach telling him that he already knew.



                                                                                4
   "Well we started with Aiko, of course," Blythe sighed. "I truly cannot see
what his problem is with her, but he has one. Anyway, that is irrelevant now.
We didn't stop there. He finally told me what had happened between you two
during the three weeks I was with my mother when she was ill. I'm sorry Greg. I
should have known, I should have seen."
   "How? If neither one of us told you anything how were you supposed to
know," House told her. "You're not clairvoyant; you don't read minds, though
sometimes I suspect that you do. If I didn't tell you about the baths and sleeping
out, how were you supposed to know?"
   "He should have told me," Blythe said. "He behaved like what he had done
was just normal. Just part of bringing up a boy. That it was something all boys
needed. But if it was that normal; that much of no big deal, why did I hear of it
now! Why not when it happened? Why, if that was what he was planning to do,
didn't he talk it over with me before I left? He must have known he was wrong.
He must have known it was not right thing to do. You were a child! I could,
maybe, understand his actions had you been a teenager. Once you had taken a
proper interest in sports it could have made sense to toughen you up as he put it.
But not when you were a child."
   "I'm sorry mother," House didn't know what else to say.
   "You have nothing to be sorry about," Blythe caressed his cheek. "I saw how
you had changed, but I thought it was because you felt I had abandoned you.
And I had, hadn't I? Then when we found out that you had pneumonia, I
thought all your listlessness had been because of that. And that's another thing;
how could your father have forgotten that you ended up in hospital with pneu-
monia! But even when that had cleared up, you were changed. And I didn't
really see it. I'm your mother! And I didn't see. I thought you had changed be-
cause of the illness; that you had grown out of your childhood. And though I was
right about that, I should have seen why! I should have seen then, what I see
now: how you avoided your father ever since; how you never wanted to be alone
with him again. How you actually feared him till you grew old enough to stand
up for yourself."
   "He's my Father," House pointed out. "How could you suspect him of any-
thing? It wasn't like he had given you any reason to before, or even since. You
didn't abandon me; you left me with my father, you husband the one person you
should have been able to trust with anything."
   "I told John off today, for thinking that he is always right though he often
isn't," Blythe gave a rueful, almost bitter laugh. "I pride myself of being a judge
of people; of being able to tell almost instantly if they are lying. The Fates must
really be laughing their heads of right now."




                                                                                 5
   Finding himself with unexpected responsibilities, House got a Nanny
for his daughter, a physical therapist for himself (for pain management)
and a house big enough for his family:
   Cuddy looked at the house. It was huge but it was in proportion. It did not
look cumbersome or contrived. Though the main part of the house was two stor-
ies high, the ground floor seemed to be L-shaped and the part that faced the other
street was on one floor. There was a huge Japanese Chestnut tree on the front
lawn seemingly sheltering the entrance to the house. It was difficult to say for
sure from the front but Cuddy thought that the house probably had a fenced back
yard. The neighbourhood, the yard, the tree were perfect for Aiko, but what in
the name of all that was holy was House going to do with such an enormous
house!
   "Are you out of your mind House?" Cuddy wondered out loud.
   "Probably," House agreed with her. "In fact I'm probably a whole lot more
out of my mind than you can even guess right now. But reserve your judgement
till the end of this tour, because regardless of my mental state I still want your
opinion of this property."
   "Fine, I'll look it over for you, but I will be very, and I mean very surprised if
I end up recommending the purchase to you." Cuddy shook his head.
   They toured the house. The real estate agent told them that it had been re-
cently remodelled to operate as a bed and breakfast place. For that reason it had
also been made handicap accessible with a lift to the second floor. Upstairs they
found six bedrooms, two big ones at each end of the corridor both with en suite
bathrooms and four smaller ones in between with two shared bathrooms. Down-
stairs they found one more bedroom with toilet and a shower near it though not
en suite. Most part of ground floor was taken up by the living room, dining
room and kitchen which also had room for a small breakfast corner. Through the
kitchen there was access to a small self-contained flat obviously meant for a
housekeeper or a cook. The flat had a spacious bedroom, nice living room and a
very small kitchen, mostly meant for making breakfast or evening snacks. From
the main part of the house it was also possible to descend to the basement where
they found a small gym, a steam room with showers and a Jacuzzi.
   Once they had toured the main house they went through the living room to
the side entrance which lead to the annex or granny-flat as the agent called it. It
was obviously the part of the property where the owners had intended to live.
The annex was a two bedroom flat with a spacious living room that had a win-
dow alcove big enough to serve as a small dining area. The kitchen was not very
big but well fitted. The flat had its own front door which gave to the other street.
Outside they did indeed find a fenced back yard suitable for children and dogs.




                                                                                   6
   When the tour was over the estate agent left them alone saying she would be
back in half an hour to get the key but that till then they could have the house to
themselves.
   "Do you have a plan for taking care of the triplets while you work?" House
asked Cuddy.
   "Well, I'm only just getting used to the idea of having them so I haven't really
given it much thought. Why?"
   "When we assumed that you were going to have only one baby, I had no in-
tention of being closely involved in his or her life," House revealed. "Sure I
meant it when I said that I would help, but you would have been the child's only
parent. I would have been more like an uncle or something. But now there are
three of them and the situation is different. I really need to be more involved be-
cause you really need the help. That also means that Aiko will be even closer to
them than originally planned. If we are going to co-parent the kids, we need to
be closer to each other. And I mean that literally. No way can it work if we both
live where we live now. Besides, even though you do own your house it is not
big enough for three kids."
   "Are you asking me to live with you?" Cuddy wasn't sure how she felt about
that possibility.
   "Hell no!" House replied instantly. "Even if we were madly in love with each
other we couldn't live together. Not you and I. We are too different in many
ways and way too similar in some other. If we lived together one of us would
murder the other within six months if not sooner."
   "Then what are you talking about," Cuddy was puzzled.
   "I would like for you to move into this house," House said.
   "How would that help?" Cuddy didn't feel particularly enlightened. "If you
stay where you are living now, we will be even further away from each other
than we are now and if you move to live in here as well then how is it different
from living together?"
   "I was thinking of moving into the granny flat," House stated.
   "I see," Cuddy said to win time to think because she surely did not see.
   "Yeah, I know, a most unconventional solution," House squirmed a little.
"See, the idea I have is that you, Kasumii and the kids would take over the upper
floor, mother would live in the housekeepers flat – or if she doesn't end up divor-
cing Dad then we get a housekeeper. I will live in the granny flat and the ground
floor is common ground. That way I have my own space, you have your own
space and when we cannot stand each other we can retreat into our corners. I
know it would not be easy, but I cannot see how else we could be parents to the
kids."




                                                                                 7
   "So we would be parents to the kids," Cuddy repeated. "What about us? What
would we be to each other?"
   "Friends?" House suggested. "At least when I'm not getting too much on
your last nerve."
   At the beginning of this new story House's daughter, Aiko is six
months old and Cuddy is five months pregnant. They have not yet
moved into the new house as it is being furnished and partly redecorated
– mostly the nurseries and the granny flat. House's mother Blythe is liv-
ing upstairs from her son for now, and will move in to the new house
with him once it is ready. She hasn't yet made up her mind about di-
vorce, but she is definitely staying in New Jersey, as she doesn't want to
be far away from her grandchildren. She is the only one who knows for
sure that House got Cuddy pregnant the traditional way; others have
been more or less told that House just made a donation and there was no
actual sex involved. The main reason for this lie is that the hospital board
is not too happy about Cuddy's pregnancy and might get difficult on her
if they found out that she had had sex with one of her employees.
   The new characters that were introduced to PPTH in The Present Days
are:
   Kasumii Tanaka, Aiko's Nanny, 21 years of age, Japanese but as her
mother is married to an American has dual citizenship. House treats her
like she was his niece or something and he often calls her an infant.
   David Grey, 29, House's physical therapist, an Englishman, can hold
his own with House most of the time, in love with Kasumii. They are
dating.
   Dr. Akira Higa, Aiko's paternal grandfather, sixty something, probably
65. Lives in Japan but is expected to come and visit his granddaughter.




                                                                           8
Chapter    2
The Mother of all Monsters
House and Wilson were having coffee with the ducklings when the
phone rang. Cameron answered it and apart from identifying herself she
didn't have time to say anything before the person on the other end had
her say and hung up.
   "What was that?" Wilson asked.
   "I'm not sure," Cameron looked startled. "It was Miss Hill, she said to
tell Hercules to get his butt down because Agath-something and Galen
and … and Scythes or something were making their mother cranky."
   "Agathyrsus, Gelonus and Scytha?" House clarified.
   "Yes, those were the names," Cameron confirmed. "That was all."
   "Wilson? Care to go?" House suggested though obviously not expect-
ing a favourable answer.
   "No, no, no," Wilson declined vigorously gesturing with his hands. "I
don't mind dealing with the Queen of Hearts; all she needs is a tub of
frozen yogurt with everything on top and someone to listen to her rant-
ing and in fifteen minutes or so she calms down enough to not to want
everybody's heads but if it's Echidna, it's definitely your territory…
Hercules."
   "Coward," House accused as he got on his feet and started for the
door. "When Mom and Kasumii come back with Aiko tell them I'm in
Cuddy's office. If I'm not back in half an hour, send in a rescue team."
   "Will do," Wilson promised as House limped out of the room.
   "Echidna?" Foreman wondered.
   "Greek mythology," Wilson explained. "Echidna was the Mother of all
Monsters and some legends say that Hercules fathered three children
with her: Agathyrsus, Gelonus and Scythes."
   "Didn't Hercules defeat the Mother of all Monsters?" Chase asked.
   "Well apparently there is defeat and then there is defeat," Wilson
shrugged.




                                                                        9
   "While all this mythical lore is very interesting," Cameron mused –
very unconvincingly, "I'd still like to know what Hercules and Echidna
have to do with House?"
   "Nothing really," Wilson agreed. "It's just a code to explain what mood
Cuddy is in currently. Apparently something big has set her off this time
since the Queen of Hearts is usually her worst mood. For the Mother of
all Monsters to appear it takes something big. Or at least in Cuddy's
mind it has to be big. And since it was House who got her pregnant and
brought on these mood swings, he is the one who has to deal with them.
Besides, he is the only one who can deal with Echidna, everyone else
runs for cover."
   House limped his way into the ante-room of Cuddy's office. Miss Hill
was waiting for him.
   "About time," she told House. "I'm expecting her to start breaking
things any minute now."
   "What set her off?" House asked.
   "Two smug idiots from the board," Miss Hill told him. "They don't
know how lucky they were to escape with their lives. I could see how
close Dr. Cuddy was to exploding even while she escorted them out with
utmost courtesy."
   "What did they want?" House queried.
   "I didn't get a chance to find out, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was
about her maternity leave and the new Head of the Hospital," Miss Hill
mused.
   "Temporary Head," House pointed out as he raised his hand to knock
on the door.
   "Don't knock!" Miss Hill warned him immediately.
   "What?" House turned to look at her in puzzlement. "Aren't you the
one who just last week forced me to come back out and enter again only
after knocking on the door?"
   "Yes, I am," Miss Hill nodded. "But that was a normal situation. Now
it's Echidna on the other side of that door and you don't give even the
slightest impression of weakness to the Mother of all Monsters. Just go in
and be your normal crude, rude and socially unacceptable self."
   House had to laugh. Miss Anna Hill was something else. She was 47
years old – not that she gave him any points for being a year older than
her; after all, girls always mature faster than boys and she barely ac-
knowledged that House was an adult at all (but then, there were others
who had that same doubt, too). She wasn't very tall, about the same as
Cuddy sans the high heels – Miss Hill favoured no heels or only very



                                                                         10
low ones – she was what most regard overweight these days, but House
thought she just looked soft maybe even cuddly (and that, if anything,
was a lie!). Her short hair was dark ashes with a liberal sprinkling of sil-
ver grey. Her full name was Anna Shirley Hill and she had smiled wryly
when she revealed that, asking if she needed to explain anything about
her mother's favourite books. House had declined the offer. Later she
had told him that she had been born "strawberry blond and svelte, which
just goes to show that even babies lie" – a sentence that had sealed her
fate: there was no way House was going to let anyone else get the job as
Cuddy's new assistant. Fortunately he did have a say in that, as Cuddy
had allowed him to be in on the interviews. He had promised that if he
had a say in the hiring he would not cause any firing – or quitting either.
He doubted, though, that even he could make Miss Hill quit no matter
what he did. She might not quite have his number, but she had her own:
she knew who and what she was and one insensitive jerk was not going
to rock her world one way or the other. She liked Cuddy and that was
that as far as she was concerned. Because of the Trips and what they
meant to Cuddy she was also willing to put up with House – and to put
him in his place every once in a while, too. She was exactly what Cuddy
needed.
   House was still smiling as he barged into Cuddy's office ready to face
the monsters. Cuddy was walking back and forth in her office muttering
to herself and snapping a rubber band. House could practically see the
fumes coming out of her ears. At his entrance Cuddy turned to give him
a glare worthy of any Gorgon and she snapped at him just one word:
"What?"
   "Just one question," House stated. "Kiss or slap?"
   "What?" Cuddy stopped her pacing and stared at him blankly.
   "You are stressing again," House explained. "There is steam coming
out of your ears and nostrils. You need to calm down. So which will snap
you out of it faster: if I kiss you or if I slap you? Or if you prefer I could
do spanking too."
   Cuddy retreated to behind her desk, fast. She was absolutely sure
House would neither slap nor spank her, but she was just teensy bit
afraid that he actually meant that kissing part. Certainly she was not tak-
ing any chances: "I'm fine," she insisted. "I'm not stressing, just angry."
   "Ok," House drawled. "I think you actually have calmed down a notch.
Too bad, I think I would've really liked spanking you."
   "I bet," Cuddy scorned. "But that was never an option, nor will it ever
be."



                                                                           11
   "Aww," House whined in disappointment.
   "Live with it," Cuddy snapped. "So what was the real reason you came
to see me?"
   "That was it," House shrugged.
   "You wanted to know if you could either kiss me or slap me?" Cuddy
asked sarcastically.
   "Well, sort of," House grimaced. "Basically I heard you had visitors
and that the visit didn't go that well. I wanted to know what happened."
   "Forbes and Taunton came by to tell me that they have found my re-
placement," Cuddy gnarled.
   "Temporary one, I presume," House stated mildly. "After all, your con-
tract is still valid and the board needs to be unanimous if they want to
fire you – and even then, they need a reason."
   "They did say that the man will be hired for six months with an option
for another six months, should I like to stay home," Cuddy was nearly
spitting the words out of her mouth. "But he is 35 years old, married
with two kids, has an excellent resume and I cannot imagine he would
have agreed to take this position for six months or even a year if he
hasn't been promised something more!"
   "What is his specialty?" House asked.
   "He is not a doctor," Cuddy revealed. "He would be just the Head of
the Hospital. The Dean's position they are planning to offer to Wilson."
   "I see," House did indeed see the master plan that Cuddy, too, was
suspecting. "They figure that they can demote you to a mere Dean of
Medicine and have their guy as the Head of the Hospital. Do they really
think that you would fall for that? Or do they think that pregnancy has
softened your head or that motherhood will do that?"
   "Apparently," Cuddy fumed. "I have no problem with Wilson being a
temporary Dean of Medicine, he is good. I can even handle having
someone else as the temporary Head of this hospital. Not easily, I admit,
I have worked too hard to make this place what it is, but I chose to get
pregnant so I better handle it. But if they think that they can replace me
permanently, they better think again."
   "We knew they were going to try something," House reminded her.
"That is why you have been keeping Stacy posted. Just call her and tell
her about this latest development and she will tell you what you need to
do to make sure you don't inadvertently create any loopholes into your
contract. Once we have that covered we just need to wait and see. Once
the Trips are born and you come back, then we can fight it. Until then we




                                                                       12
just make sure we have all the ammunition and the opposition has
nothing."
   "That simple?" Cuddy said with deep scorn and disbelief, though she
did calm down.
   "Yes, for the moment it is that simple," House stated. "Sure, I expect
the fight to be pretty fierce once it commences but right now, we just sit
tight. You cannot cancel the Trips so there is no way you can stop some
things from happening. We just need to make sure that it's temporary."
   "We?" Cuddy asked a little uncertainly. She was still finding it strange
that she and House were on the same side most of the time.
   "Yes, we," House confirmed. "Did you think I would let you deal with
this alone? I like you as a boss and I don't want to learn to manipulate
someone else. Sure, I have to do it for awhile, but I can handle a tempor-
ary inconvenience. I'll just make sure it's temporary."
   "And how are you planning to do that?" Cuddy asked rolling her eyes.
   "Well, I'm a doctor," House pointed out. "I know a lot of interesting
things about the human body and all sorts of medicines. I'm sure I can
come up with all sorts of interesting things that leave no trace."
   "Nice idea," Cuddy dismissed him. "But you cannot murder people
just because they do things you don't want to. Besides, the real culprits
are Forbes and Taunton, not the new guy at all. Well, maybe not at all,
but definitely not that much."
   "He wants your job," House shrugged. "That is guilty enough for me.
Besides, I didn't mean murder, just an inexplicable allergy or something."
   "No, House," Cuddy shot his idea down. "Don't start planning any-
thing like that. We will find some other way of dealing with this all."
   "Yes we will," House confirmed. "But not now and not by stressing
you into miscarriage. So come here," House limped to Cuddy's couch
and sat down. He patted a place next to him: "Come on, plant your butt
here and give me your feet. Your unreasonable irritability is partly due
to your refusal to wear sensible shoes. Your feet are killing you again,
aren't they?"
   Cuddy walked to the couch a little apprehensively, this Nice House
was still a new acquaintance to her and she was not hundred per cent
sure he was to be trusted. But her feet were killing her and the idea of sit-
ting down, taking off her shoes and putting her feet up was too tempt-
ing. She sat down and gave her feet to House who took off her shoes and
– to her utter bliss – started to massage her feet. She moaned.
   "Don't do that," House warned her with some laughter in his voice.
   "What? Why?" Cuddy was lost.



                                                                          13
   "Moan like that," House clarified. "It's a massive turn on, especially
since I don't need to wonder if you make the same noises during sex: you
do."
   "Shut up House," Cuddy tried to snap but it came out as an almost
shamefaced apology. "I thought we agreed not to even mention it at
work just in case somebody overhears."
   "The only one who could hear is Miss Hill and she'd go to her grave
before betraying you," House shrugged. "But you are right, better safe
than sorry. I don't think you are cut to be a house-wife, with a capital let-
ter or without. We need to make sure you can keep your job since we
now have a house and kids and roots and everything right here. Besides,
I hate changes."
   "So shut up!" Cuddy smiled.
   "Ok," House finished one foot and took the other one. "Are you com-
ing to the house later today?"
   "I don't know if I can," Cuddy mused. "I have tons of paperwork."
   "I thought that was why you had an assistant," House pointed out. "To
help you with your paperwork. And you cannot say that Miss Hill isn't
fully qualified to deal with it."
   "Why do you call her Miss Hill?" Cuddy asked. Usually House didn't
use any kind of titles unless it was something like The Evil Nurse Brenda.
   "She told me to," House muttered.
   "And of course you always do as you are told," Cuddy scorned the
idea.
   "In her case I better, since my name is Gregory not George!" House
shuddered in mock fear.
   "She is not a dragon!" Cuddy defended her assistant. "She is the
sweetest person I can think of."
   "To you she is," House stated. "Because she likes you and you are her
princess. Me, I'm the big bad wolf that the princess needs to be protected
from."
   "You are mixing your fairytales," Cuddy told him. "The dragon never
guarded the princess against a wolf. Not even in Shrek. Mind you, Shrek
was an ogre and you do have similar traits that he did; at least until he
found love."
   "Cameron! When did you get here?" House nearly jumped with exag-
gerated surprise.
   "Stop that House," Cuddy had to laugh though. "I have not turned into
Cameron just because I see that you have softened a lot since Little Love




                                                                          14
came into your life. And it's nothing to be ashamed of! You know it isn't.
Aiko could melt a heart of stone and yours was never that bad."
  "Yeah, ok," House muttered like a five year old boy who had been
caught doing something nice to a girl. "I suppose I have to admit that
Aiko has changed me a little."
  "Just a little," Cuddy smiled knowingly. "But back to the house; was it
today that Gail needed the last approvals?"
  "Yep," House nodded getting up from the couch and putting a pillow
under Cuddy's feet so that she could still rest for a moment. "Once she
has those she can make the plans for the move and we can put your
house on market."
  "Well, you were right about Anna being able to do most of my paper-
work so I guess I can make the time to come to the House," Cuddy
agreed. "Come and get me when it's time to leave. I'll probably forget
otherwise."
  "Ok," House promised. "And you? Are you calm enough to go on with
your day without eating anyone? Because there really is no room for
anyone else in there with the Trips."
  "I'm fine, thank you," Cuddy confirmed.
  "Good, see you later then," House limped out of her office.
  "Mission accomplished," he told to Miss Hill on his way out.
  "Good," Anna nodded. "I'll tell Santa to note it down on your nice
column."
  "Miss Hill, you are an evil woman," House shook his head at her on his
way out.
  "Of course," Anna accepted and went on with her work.




                                                                       15
Chapter    3
What's in a name?
"So what was it?" Wilson asked as soon as House limped back into his of-
fice. House didn't reply immediately since Aiko was back and he needed
to greet her first. House sat down in his chair and Kasumii gave Aiko to
him to hug and hold while she got Aiko's bottle ready.
   "Tell the others to come in here, too," House asked Kasumii as she
went to the other room to warm the bottle. "Hello there, Little Love,"
House greeted his daughter. "How was your walk today?" Aiko made
some experimental sounds in response and House pretended to under-
stand – or maybe he did understand Wilson was never quite sure. Those
two had a connection that seemed to be almost telepathic. He watched
them exchange a few more comments but then his curiosity got the bet-
ter of him.
   "What happened with Cuddy?" Wilson repeated his question.
   "Forbes and Taunton," House answered. "We need to plan so wait till
everybody's here."
   "They are up to something aren't they," Wilson sighed.
   "Yeah," House nodded. "But then we expected them to be. Fortunately
they don't know what they are up against."
   "Is Lisa ok?" Blythe asked as she walked into her son's office with the
team following her.
   "Yes, Mom," House reassured her. "She is fine, but a couple of the
members of the hospital board think they can stage a coup now that she
is about to go on maternity leave."
   "Why would they do that?" Foreman wondered. "Dr. Cuddy has made
this hospital what it is today, they cannot be unsatisfied with her work!"
   "That is not the point," Wilson sighed. "It's a question of power and
who has it. Besides, Forbes and Taunton have always been a little scep-
tical about the abilities of women. They probably think that if Lisa has
done a good job then just imagine what a man could have done in her
shoes."



                                                                       16
   "No man could walk in her shoes," House growled as she accepted
Aiko's bottle from Kasumii. "Those heels are killers!"
   "I assume you mean that figuratively as well as literally?" Blythe
smiled at her son.
   "Absolutely," House asserted. "She is good because she is good.
Gender has nothing to do with it. Except that I don't think a man could
keep me even that much in line as she can."
   "So, how are they planning to oust her then?" Chase puzzled.
   "They are making Jimmy here take over the post of the Dean of Medi-
cine and they are bringing in a wonder-boy to take over the administra-
tion," House explained. "They are probably figuring that Cuddy will
quietly accept demotion to a mere Dean once she comes back from her
maternity leave since that would be the motherly thing to do in their
opinion."
   "And if she won't think of it on her own they will lean on her to make
her," Wilson suspected.
   "Surely they cannot do that?" Cameron insisted.
   "Can you think of any reason why not?" House questioned. "Other
than your usual moral outrage?"
   "But if they are on the board their first priority must be the good of the
hospital," Cameron refused to let go.
   "I presume that they think the good of the hospital requires more
power to them," Foreman pointed out. "If they get their man on the
Head's seat, they can better control the hospital."
   "That would make sense if Cuddy wasn't so good at her job," Cameron
insisted. "Nobody else needs more control of the hospital, she has it all
covered."
   "It is possible that they feel she might be distracted once she has chil-
dren," Blythe suggested kindly. "It has always been that way, women are
expected to concentrate on their family and the job is supposed to suffer
for it."
   "Except that anyone who knows anything about Cuddy would be in-
sane to think she would neglect this hospital for any reason at all," Chase
argued. "Sure, she didn't expect to end up with triplets once she decided
to have a child, but she will not be alone with them."
   "And if she suspected that she wasn't able to do her job, she would be
the first one to suggest changes," Wilson stated.
   "I don't think it fair anyway," Kasumii mused as she took Aiko from
House to burp. "They should give her a chance to show that she can do




                                                                          17
her work and take care of her family not just assume that she isn't a su-
perwoman and start acting behind her back."
   "You said it," House agreed. "It's not fair. Besides I don't really care
what their motivation is, I just want Cuddy to stay. I'd hate to have to
train another boss."
   "So what do we do?" Foreman asked.
   "We gather information," House said. "Information is power. We need
to find out everything we can about the wonder-boy and his two
stooges. And Wilson, you better call Stacy and get instructions from her.
You cannot object to the hiring of this guy since he obviously is highly
qualified, but you need to make sure that the minutes of the Board meet-
ing clearly state that he is hired only for the duration of Cuddy's mater-
nity leave. And there may be some things that you need to make sure are
stated in his contract. But Stacy will know."
   "I'll call her as soon as I can," Wilson nodded. "Or perhaps I'll talk with
Cuddy first, so that I know what they have already dealt with. I presume
Cuddy is calling Stacy too?"
   "Yes of course," House assured him. "What is the point of asking a law-
yer to help you with something if you don't keep her posted all the
way?"
   "So let's gather information then. What's this guy's name anyway?"
Chase queried.
   "I don't know," House confessed. "Didn't come up in the conversation,
but I expect Wilson has it."
   "Me?" Wilson was surprised. "How could I know his name when this
is the first I heard of the plan at all?"
   "I think Greg means that since the board meeting is tomorrow they
must have sent a memo of this man to you," Blythe suggested. "If he is as
qualified as Greg thinks he is then surely his sponsors have sent every-
one his resume."
   "You could be right," Wilson accepted. "I'll go and check. Though they
might have left me out of the loop entirely, if they mean to make me the
Dean, since it could make me biased and all."
   "But hiring someone to be the Head of the Hospital is a separate issue
isn't it?" Cameron asked. "Though you need to excuse yourself when
they decide what to do with the Dean's position, surely you need to be
there when they choose the Head, as you two do need to work closely
together."
   "Let's hope they share Cameron's view of this," House mused. "So go
Jimmy, run like the wind! And bring us the information."



                                                                           18
   Wilson rolled his eyes at House but came back within five minutes. He
had indeed received a memo about the wonder-boy.
   "His name is Sheridan J. Rawls," Wilson revealed.
   "He's gay?" House frowned.
   "No he isn't," Wilson gave his friend a glare. "He has a wife, Ruth, and
two children."
   "I know that, Cuddy said so. It just means he is still in the closet,"
House shrugged.
   "What makes you think he is gay in the first place," Foreman sounded
exasperated.
   "Duh! Sheridan," House marvelled. "I have never known a man whose
name is Sheridan and who isn't gay. Talk about name being an omen!"
   "He hasn't chosen his name himself," Cameron reminded him.
   "But when he got old enough he would have changed it or started to
use his middle name," House elucidated. "That is unless he was a
Sheridan."
   "I have to admit that the only two Sheridans I have ever known were
gay," Blythe gave some support to her son. "Though I think the other one
might have been bisexual. But that is a very limited sample so I don't
think it fair to make assumptions before we even meet the man."
   "It could make things easier, though," Kasumii piped in. "I'm fairly
sure that the men who object to Dr. Cuddy because she is a woman, are
not exactly going to be thrilled with a gay man either."
   "That is true," Wilson nodded. "I don't think I have ever met two more
homophobic men than Taunton and Forbes."
   "That's one point to us then," House gloated.
   "Only if you are right," Foreman reminded him. "I have met men who
have truly embarrassing names, but who keep using them because it has
been in the family for generations and they feel that denying it would be
dishonouring their ancestors."
   "Oh please," House groaned. "Don't go giving our victim any redeem-
ing qualities like honour. We need to squash him and squash him good.
Humanising him will just hinder us. Besides trying to find the good in
people is Cameron's job."
   "Foreman is right," Cameron voiced. "For all we know he is a nice hon-
ourable man who doesn't know that Forbes and Taunton are using him
to oust Cuddy."
   "Yeah, and if you watch enough reruns of Gilligan's island they will
actually be rescued," Chase muttered.




                                                                        19
   "It's not an unreasonable assumption," Cameron insisted. "How do we
know what those two have told him? He could very well be coming here
without any idea of the power games that are going on behind Cuddy's
back."
   "True," House agreed with Cameron making everyone stare at him. "It
is possible that he has not kept his name because he is gay but because
he is an utter idiot. There is no way he does not know what is going on,
not if he has any kind of brain in his head and his resume suggests that
he does have a brain. Power games are par for the course in Hospitals, in
any Boards or similar bodies, come to that. Besides, there is no way he
would have accepted Forbes and Taunton's offer without doing some re-
search himself and anyone could have told him that Cuddy will never
voluntarily relinquish any of her power to anyone. Except temporarily
and even then only if she has no choice."
   "So what is wrong with him if he is willing to come into this situ-
ation?" Chase wondered. "He knows he has a fight in his hands, he can
only count on two members of the board for support and he has no way
of knowing that he will have a job six months from now. He cannot even
be sure he will get a favourable recommendation since when the fight is
for power it tends to get dirty."
   "We have to find that out," House said. "Hopefully it is something that
will make him go away quietly."
   "There might be nothing wrong with him," Foreman pointed out. "He
may be waiting for an opening in another hospital and experience here
will give him the necessary edge over whatever competition he has for
that position."
   "But I don't think Forbes and Taunton would have hired him if they
thought he had no intention even to be anything but temporary," Wilson
doubted.
   "Rawls may not have told them," Chase offered. "He may know
Cuddy's reputation and know that there is no way this is anything but
temporary, so he may have decided to make use of this opportunity and
just let Forbes and Taunton go hang themselves."
   "I hope that is the case," Cameron was already smiling. "It would make
things so much nicer."
   "We definitely need to take that possibility into consideration, too,"
Blythe stated to her son who was looking scornful. "But for Lisa's sake
we have to be prepared for the other alternatives as well. Besides, it is
possible these Forbes and Taunton have a plan B as well. And Rawls
may be just the point man or even a decoy. We need to keep Stacy posted



                                                                       20
and we need to make sure we don't inadvertently give up any ground
we have."
   "Spoken like a true military wife," House approved. "We need a de-
fence and a strategy for all possible scenarios. Though I still say it's
Rawls who Forbes and Taunton want replacing Cuddy. And I still say
Sheridan is gay."
   Later that day Cuddy, Blythe and House were at the new house with
their interior designer Gail. They inspected the rooms that were ready,
the women made final choices for curtains and colours and what not bor-
ing House nearly out of his mind. Finally they had given their seal of ap-
proval for everything and Gail was able to give them the final schedule.
   "Good, I can confirm the movers then and have the men in to do the fi-
nal fittings so that Dr. and Mrs. House can move in next week-end and
you, Dr. Cuddy can move a week later. Is that acceptable?" Gail asked.
   "Works for me," House nodded. "You did inform the movers, that
some of my things will stay in my old flat and some things from Dr.
Cuddy's house will be taken into there as well, since Dr. Wilson is taking
over my lease?"
   "Yes, they wanted me to remind you to mark those things clearly, but
other than that, no problem," Gail confirmed. "They will do all the pack-
ing and moving and all you need to do is to pack those personal items
you don't want them to handle and then get yourselves here and settle
in."
   "Thank you," Cuddy accepted the plan. "That is acceptable."
   "You did remind them that one of the items from my flat is a piano,"
House wanted to make sure.
   "Yes, I did and I was told they will make sure they have experienced
men moving it," Gail stated.
   "Good," House said. "Then I'm fine and we will start the moving next
week-end. Mother?"
   "Yes, that will be perfect," Blythe agreed.
   They finalised the plan and then Gail left them alone in the house.
   "So Cuddy," House turned to her smiling his mischievous smile. "How
long do you think before either one of us has to get a shovel and dig a
shallow grave in the back yard for the other one?"
   "I'm pregnant, I can't do any digging," Cuddy pointed out dryly. "I
would need to ask Wilson for help."
   "Children!" Blythe admonished them with a twinkle in her eye.
"Neither one of you will do any digging or murdering either. I'll make




                                                                       21
sure of that. My grandchildren deserve to have two parents and you will
provide them with that even if it kills you."
  "Well, Mom, that rather was my point," House recognized.




                                                                    22
Chapter    4
Willing to change
A couple of days later, Wilson was at House's flat helping him pack
some things that he didn't want to leave to the movers. Blythe was going
to do most of House's packing, the clothes and things like that, but there
were a few things House didn't want his mother to see – and it wasn't
just the porn. House had told Wilson to get a locked box from the upper
shelf of his bookcase and place it on the coffee table. The two men were
sitting down looking at it.
   "So," Wilson said, not knowing what else to say but feeling that
something had to be said.
   "So," House replied. He was fiddling with the key that would open the
box.
   "What are you going to do," Wilson asked close to exploding.
   "I'm not sure," House shrugged. "It has been there for so long and
knowing that it was there … "
   "But you cannot have it anywhere near your kids," Wilson tried to
point out.
   "Don't be silly," House scoffed. "It is a locked box and if I take it with
me to my new place I will keep it on the top shelf there, too. The kids are
more likely to get to my Vicodin and what other medicine we may have
in the house sooner than they get to this. And once they are troublesome
teenagers and decide to do drugs they will get them easier from some-
where else than from Daddy's secret stash."
   "But its still morphine," Wilson worried. "You would hate yourself if
something happened to the kids because of it."
   "I will hate myself if they drink kitchen cleaner, bang their heads on a
table or whatever it is kids always end up doing to hurt themselves,"
House mused. "This is not a direct danger to them in any way. That is
not the reason I think of leaving this behind."
   "But you are thinking of leaving it behind," Wilson wanted to be sure.




                                                                          23
  "Yeah," House sighed. "I think it may be time. I'm not saying that I
won't need morphine again; I still have chronic pain and there is no reas-
on to assume it won't get worse again, just because I have had it good
ever since Aiko came into my life. But I believe I need to stop secretly
self-medicating. Before if I got it wrong or if what I took disagreed with
something someone else gave me, it didn't matter. The only one who was
going to suffer was me. Now, if something happens to me Aiko is the
one who will suffer most and Cuddy and the triplets need me, too."
House shook his head banging the key to the table next to the box. "I al-
ways knew that responsibility is a bitch! Take it away Wilson. Take it
away."
  Wilson didn't need telling twice. He took the box and the key and
went out to lock them in his car for the time being. He would dispose of
the items later, at work. He returned to House's flat.
  "You did the right thing," Wilson told his friend.
  "Yeah," House scorned. "And I feel so good about it, too. You know
this feeling of righteousness, virtue; almost holiness is what I live for. It's
so me."
  "Stop that House," Wilson found his friend somewhat exasperating,
though he did feel a little like smiling at his disgusted demeanour. "It
doesn't make you any less an ass just because you do the right thing just
once in a while."
  "Jerk," House insisted. "I'm not an ass. I'm a jerk."
  "Fine! Have it your way," Wilson sighed.
  Blythe had been home to her husband when House and Wilson had
disposed of the box. She came back the next day bringing more of her
things with her. She also said that she had arranged to have the rest of
her things shipped at a later date.
  "That almost sounded like you're not going back?" House wondered.
"How would that work with your marriage counselling? Or is Dad mov-
ing here too and you are going to find a new one here?"
  "No, we are not getting anywhere with the counselling so I'm starting
the divorce proceedings," Blythe revealed. She refused to look at her son,
though, in stead she concentrated on Aiko who was happily exploring
her grandmother's face with her little hands.
  "After only four meetings?" House asked. "That does not sound like
you. I don't mean to interfere since it's your marriage, but are you sure?"
  "No," Blythe sighed. "But I don't know what else to do. John is not co-
operating. He is basically waiting for the therapist to tell me to get over it




                                                                            24
and go back to my husband. He is not talking about anything he is not
participating; he just sits there and grunts."
   "That sounds like him," House acknowledged. "He probably thinks
that the whole thing is old news and going over and over the same
ground is just pointless since he cannot change anything he did
anyway."
   "I know that, but things need to change now," Blythe distressed. "I
don't want to go over the same ground over and over again but he isn't
willing to go over it even once and I need to know how he feels about it.
If he regrets it if he knows that what he did was wrong. Just once. I lived
a lie for over forty years; I cannot just shrug it of. I know he can live with
what he did, he has been doing it all this time; I know he doesn't need to
talk about it, he didn't. But I need it. And if he isn't willing to do even
this for me, then there is no marriage. At least not one I want any part
in."
   "Are you expecting to shock him into co-operating with the divorce
papers?" House wondered.
   "If this does shake him enough for him to want to talk, want to really
work with me, I'm willing to put the divorce on hold," Blythe finally
looked his son in the eye. "But I am not counting on it. This is not a scare
tactic. Until we have really dealt with this, with what he did to you, I will
not go back to him. And if he never wants to deal with it, then why stay
married to him?"
   "Ok," House was still worried, but he had to trust that his mother
knew what she wanted. "It is your marriage and your husband. You are
the only one who knows what is best for you. You will go on seeing your
personal therapist, though?"
   "Yes," Blythe nodded. "I still need help in sorting out my own feelings.
Especially now, I suppose."
   "Good. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you," House
told his mother.
   Later that day – or actually it was more night by then – House walked
back and forth in his office. The patient of the week was between
seizures and the team was waiting for test results to get more informa-
tion. But for now House was not worried about the patient. He stopped
at the phone a couple of times even picking up the receiver but setting it
down every time. Finally he made up his mind. He sat down at his desk,
took the phone and dialled. After four rings his father picked up.
   "Dad, it's Greg," House said.
   "Called to gloat," John House queried.



                                                                           25
   "No," House replied neutrally. "It's not important enough for me to
gloat about."
   "Then why are you calling?" John' voice sounded bitter. "Surely you're
not asking after my health."
   "No, not that either," House stated. "I actually don't really want to talk
to you at all, but Mother is too important to me to not try to do this. She
needs more from you than you are willing to give."
   "She has a funny way of showing it," John scoffed. "If she needs me,
she should not be divorcing me."
   "I didn't say she needs you," House clarified. "I said she needs
something from you. There is a difference. Though if you can give her
what she needs, she may end up needing you, too."
   "You are saying that she is not sure about the divorce?" John surmised.
   "She is sure that the divorce is the only thing she can do, since you
have refused everything else," House pointed out.
   "I haven't refused anything," John was getting angry.
   "Except trying to work on your marriage," House scoffed.
   "I don't see how having her tame therapist ask the same questions over
and over again is working on the marriage," John nearly exploded.
   "And have you answered any of the questions yet?" House asked.
   "No, of course not," John huffed. "They are private things, none of his
concern."
   "But Mom doesn't want to talk about them in private," House re-
minded him. "She needs the therapist there to keep things neutral. And
has she in any way indicated that she has no interest in finding answers
to those questions?"
   "Well, no," John growled. "But we don't need any therapists or any-
thing. Our parents stayed married all their lives without any therapists
putting their noses in things. Marriage is between two people, you don't
invite others to meddle in it."
   "You do, if you don't know how to go on alone," House said trying to
hold on to his temper. "Besides, does it matter? Your wife needs someone
else there. You promised to be there for her no matter what. You weren't
there for her most of your married life because of your job. Now you
have a chance and you refuse?"
   "What do you know about marriage?" John threw in for lack of any-
thing else to say.
   "Not much," House admitted. "But I do know that you are making
your wife unhappy. I don't really want to talk to you about your mar-
riage – or anything, come to that – but Mom is unhappy. You are the



                                                                          26
reason for it. I needed to do something. I have had my say now. If you
want to go on being a coward, fine. Do as you please. This is as far as I'm
willing to go to meddle in this."
   "That's it?" John huffed. "You call to chastise me about my marriage
and then you hang up? You are not even telling me about my
grandchildren!"
   "I wasn't aware you were interested in my daughter," House noted in a
dangerously quiet voice.
   "I was talking about my real grandchildren, the ones that have not yet
been born," John barked.
   "Yes, I rather suspected that you were," House scorned. "They are none
of your concern."
   "Are you denying me my grandchildren!" John wasn't sure he could
believe his ears.
   "I suppose I am," House flipped. "You see, you don't get to pick and
choose. And since you reject one, you reject them all. I don't expect to be
calling you again."
   House hung up. He already regretted having called his Father.
Though he didn't know what else he could have done; somebody had to
try and shake some sense into John or Blythe was never going to get
proper closure to her marriage. Well, he had done all he could or was
willing to do. Time to go home and relieve Blythe from baby-sitting
duty.
   Next morning when Kasumii came to House's flat to start her day's
work as Aiko's Nanny; she found father and daughter in the same bed
again. House had, again, made a safe nest for Aiko and he was sleeping
curled around it with his hand on Aiko's chest. Kasumii smiled ruefully.
She was fairly sure she was going to win the bet about House being will-
ing to let Aiko sleep in the new nursery once they moved into the new
house. Kasumii was absolutely convinced that there was no way Aiko
would end up spending her nights away from her father for quite a few
months yet. Shaking her head at her boss Kasumii went into the kitchen
to get Aiko's morning bottle ready and a little later she shook House
awake and gave the bottle to him. Kasumii got Aiko's bath ready while
House fed the baby and once that was done, he bathed her and then gave
her to Kasumii to dress while he had his own shower and Blythe – who
had come down from the upstairs flat – made them breakfast. After that
the adults ate the pancakes while Aiko sat on House's lap and made con-
versation with them. Of course, most of her statements needed transla-
tion but House was happy to act as an interpreter for his daughter – and



                                                                        27
Blythe and Kasumii felt that he actually did understand everything Aiko
had to say. It was weird, but they could not shake the feeling.
   They got ready for work and got to the hospital at House's usual late
hour only to find that the Queen of Hearts was reigning that day and the
hospital staff had been waiting for House with baited breath to calm
Cuddy down.
   "I can't believe that none of you are smart enough to go and get her
some frozen yogurt!" House sighed at them in exasperation. "Didn't you
even have the smarts to ask Wilson?"
   "He has been busy with his patients," Miss Hill responded. "And we
already tried the yogurt. She wasn't having any. She wanted blood.
Yours preferably."
   "Her preference or yours?" House asked as he limped into the she-
lions den.
   "I rather think that was the one thing this morning that we completely
agreed on," Miss Hill smiled sweetly at him.




                                                                      28
Chapter    5
RoughHousing Cuddy
House made his way into Cuddy's office where Cuddy was sitting at her
desk and doing paper work, though it looked more like she was chewing
the papers than actually working on them.
   "So you got your precious butt here after all," Cuddy snarled. "Is it
really too much to ask for you to come to work on time just once?"
   "Yes," House replied simply leaning on his cane and assessing Cuddy.
   "I know you are a brilliant doctor and you nearly always save your pa-
tients, but you are still working here!" Cuddy ranted. "You have no right
to assume that you can dictate your own hours or work only when it
pleases… "
   "Cuddy, shut up," House told her.
   "What?" Cuddy gulped. She had just been hitting her stride and
House's calm order took her totally by surprise.
   "The last time you saw your doctor what tests did she take?" House
asked.
   "Just the usual," Cuddy frowned. "She wanted some more, but I didn't
have time for useless tests."
   "I thought so," House nodded. "Come along then." House limped to
Cuddy and took her arm starting to drag her towards the door.
   "What are you doing," Cuddy glared. "Let go of me!" She tried to
struggle against the surprisingly solid grip on her arm.
   "Cuddy my dear," House smiled in less than reassuring way. "You
have a choice. Either you will follow me quietly to your doctor's office or
I will kiss you silly."
   "You wouldn't… " Cuddy thought better of her words just before they
all got out of her mouth.
   "Was that a dare I heard?" House stopped and turned to smile at
Cuddy. He still had a long way to go before he got to reassuring.




                                                                        29
   "No," Cuddy insisted quickly. "Nothing of the sort. I was merely going
to say that I don't need you to escort me to my doctor. I'm fine and I have
work to do."
   "Nothing you have on your desk is as important as this," House de-
cided as he dragged Cuddy past Miss Hill's desk. "Miss Hill, Dr. Cuddy
is going to visit Dr. Jordan and it will be up to Dr. Jordan to decide
whether she can return to work today."
   "Very well, Dr. House," Anna accepted – much to Cuddy's indigna-
tion. "I will hold the fort."
   "Thank you, Miss Hill," House smirked as he dragged Cuddy out into
the lobby and towards the lifts. They gathered some anxious looks but
nobody interfered, or even asked what was going on. Cuddy stopped
fighting accepting that either she agreed to see her doctor of House
would in all likelihood really kiss her silly – and in front of an audience,
too.
   Dr. Jordan was with a patient, but though they had to wait for fifteen
minutes House did not let Cuddy run. He had decided that Cuddy was
going to see Dr. Jordan, and see her she would. Fortunately there were
no other patients waiting, so once the current client came out of Helen's
office Cuddy and House were able to go in.
   "Dr. Cuddy is here for full physical and any and all tests you think she
needs," House announced as she marched Cuddy in.
   "Happy to hear that," Helen acknowledged. "But I'm not sure why you
are here, Dr. House."
   "Being too big for his breeches," Cuddy muttered.
   "Are you sure you want to bait me now, Cuddy?" House asked.
"Considering the mood I'm in?"
   "I just don't appreciate your strong-arm tactics," Cuddy sighed. "I'm
perfectly capable of coming to see my doctor when I feel the need. I don't
feel the need right now."
   "That is because you are being irrational right now," House replied.
   "Interesting though this conversation is," Helen was beginning to feel
like she was in a tennis match. "Could you either have it somewhere else
or postpone it until after I have examined Lisa?"
   "Sorry Helen, but I really don't have the time for this," Cuddy was still
fuming a little. "Nor is there any need for an additional visit, the sched-
ule we set up is good."
   "But we did agree that you could come by any time you want if you
feel the need," Helen reminded her.
   "But I don't feel the need," Cuddy huffed. "It's House."



                                                                         30
   "So why do you feel she needs me now, Dr. House?" Helen sighed
with exaggerated patience. The tennis match had just turned into a
Kindergarten outing.
   "She is having tantrums all over the place, more frequently than she
used to," House replied. "Her blood pressure is probably sky high again
and she is scared."
   "Am not!" Cuddy glared at him.
   "Are too," House countered making a face at her.
   "Am … What makes you think that I'm scared?" Cuddy demanded
angrily.
   "Because I am," House told her calmly and seriously.
   "Oh," that confession took the wind out of Cuddy's sails and she didn't
know how to reply or what to do.
   "So," House raised his eyebrows. "Are you letting Jordan do her job or
do I need to stay and make you?"
   "I… I'm … " Cuddy sighed in defeat. "Fine. You can go and do your
clinic duty. I'll stay here with Helen and … Whatever. But we will talk
later!"
   "Of course," House nodded as he limped out of the office. "You know
how to find me."
   "That I do," Cuddy muttered. "After all I do spend half my days hunt-
ing you down."
   "Aww, that was mean," House threw Cuddy a pouting look before he
closed the door.
   "Lisa, are you quite sure Dr. House is a doctor?" Helen wondered. "Or
even an adult?"
   "He is not an adult," Cuddy sighed. "He is an eight year old in a man's
body. But he gets away with it since he really is a doctor. A brilliant
doctor."
   "I suppose he has to be if he can get away with everything I have
heard of him," Helen mused while Cuddy was getting ready for the
examination.
   "And you haven't even heard the half of it," Cuddy revealed. "But he is
brilliant enough to get away with pretty much anything."
   It was over an hour later that House saw Cuddy come down and walk
to her office. Surprisingly enough House had decided to do his clinic
duty, though part of the reason might have been that from the clinic he
could see when Cuddy got back. He dumped his last file on the desk and
limped into Cuddy's office.




                                                                       31
  "You come with me, Miss Hill," House ordered as he walked through
the ante-room. He entered without knocking, half expecting to feel Miss
Hill's heavy hand on his coat tails pulling him back. It didn't happen. He
turned to give her a questioning look.
  "This is not business," Miss Hill pointed out. "I don't monitor your con-
duct in private."
  Before House could ask for clarification they were in and Cuddy
turned to look at them.
  "What do you want," Cuddy frowned. "And since when have you two
been this buddy buddy?"
  "We aren't," Anna replied. "But when it comes to your well being I
would allay myself with the devil himself."
  "He is worse," Cuddy sighed but came over to sit on the couch while
they took the armchairs.
  "So, did you allow Dr. Jordan to check you out thoroughly?" House
asked.
  "Yes," Cuddy glared at him. "She didn't give me a choice. Helen said
that if I didn't co-operate she would call you."
  "Seems that she, too, is willing to work with the Devil when need be,"
Anna smiled.
  "Smart woman," House approved. "So what were the results?"
  "I don't eat well enough apparently. Not that I'm malnourished as
such, just needing more vitamins and some minerals plus I need to eat
more regularly. Spread the meals more evenly over the day," Cuddy ex-
plained. She didn't really want to tell all this to House – or Anna – but
she was fairly certain House would find a way to find out what he
wanted, whether she wanted or not. "I'm stressed, so I got a new pre-
scription for a mild sedative, and I was told to take a nap during the day
since, apparently, I don't sleep enough either."
  "Did she give you a dietary plan?" House asked. Cuddy nodded and
House extended his hand towards her: "Gimme!"
  "It's on my desk," Cuddy said.
  "Miss Hill?" House turned to Anna. "If you would take charge of it and
see to it that Cuddy follows it to the letter?"
  "Certainly," Anna accepted the duty. "What about the naps?"
  "I think I'll need to see to them," House mused. "She is not going to
agree to them quietly."
  "Especially not when you two plan my life like I wasn't even here,"
Cuddy huffed.




                                                                        32
    "Lisa," Anna leaned closer and took Cuddy's hand. "If you don't take
care of yourself, then somebody else needs to step in. We are not here as
your employees, we are here as your friends. You are not alone in this.
Accept the help we offer. Well, I'm offering, I'm not so sure Dr. House is
giving you any options. He's an obstinate bastard."
    "You could still ask me," Cuddy grumbled.
    "Whenever we do you just say you're fine," House pointed out. "Or
then you just snap our heads off. Why do you think you have gained the
nickname of the Queen of Hearts?"
    "I'm called that?" Cuddy wasn't sure what to think of it. Sure the idea
of being able to order House's head brought to her on a platter was
rather appealing most of the time – especially now that the triplets were
making her more and more uncomfortable. But still, the Queen of Hearts
had been pretty unreasonable and that did not appeal.
    "When they are not calling you the Mother of all Monsters," Anna re-
vealed as she stood up and went to get the dietary plan from the desk.
"But I blame Dr. House for that, since the monsters really are his."
    "How many times do I have to tell people that I had no way of know-
ing we were going to end up with triplets!" House growled.
    "My guess would be: the rest of your life," Anna told him as she
headed out of the office. "I'll get started on this and leave you two alone.
I'll make sure you will not be disturbed until you have finished your
conversation and Dr. House has convinced you to take those naps."
    "You were right," Cuddy muttered as the door closed after Anna. "She
is a dragon."
    "She just likes you," House smiled. "So are you going to take those
naps?"
    "I suppose," Cuddy relented. "If only because I don't really want to
find out what you would do if I didn't."
    "Good," House nodded. "I'm glad I don't have to come up with
something drastic – though it might have been fun."
    "Not for me, I'm sure," Cuddy doubted. She bit her lip a little uncer-
tainly but then decided to ask what was on her mind: "Did you mean it
when you said you are scared?"
    "Of course," House shrugged. "How could I not be scared?"
    "But you are so wonderful with Aiko," Cuddy wondered. "You know
you can do this. Why would you worry?"
    "I'm not so sure about that wonderful," House gave a short laugh. "Aiko
is a baby. They have never bothered me till they get teeth. But she will
get teeth, in a matter of days possibly. Where will I be then? What do I



                                                                         33
know about children? I'm not even sure I ever was one. The idea of tak-
ing care of Aiko, of trying to raise her into a decent human being, trying
to not screw up too badly has me petrified. And now there are going to
be three more! Yeah, I know I will have help. Mother will be there, Dr.
Higa, Kasumii – who actually has the training for the job -, you, Jimmy,
my team even Grey. Yes, I'll get help, but I'm the one who has the re-
sponsibility. If I screw up, Aiko is the one who will pay the price. As will
the triplets for any mistakes that I make with them. You bet your ass I'm
scared!"
   "Oh," Cuddy was at loss for words again. "I never thought that you
could feel like that. That you are actually feeling everything I feel."
   "It's easier for me," House suggested.
   "How so?" Cuddy was puzzled.
   "I'm not the one who is actually pregnant," House itemised. "Plus you
worry about other things as well. You fear that the idiot who will be in
charge during your absence will hurt your hospital. You worry about the
hospital, your doctors, your nurses – all the people working here, and
you worry about your own job. And, of course since you are you, you
are also feeling guilty, because you feel you are letting the hospital down
because you decided – selfishly – to have a baby. And you feel guilty for
the parasites, since you worrying about the hospital might put them in
danger due to your blood pressure and all that. Which is the real reason
why you didn't want Jordan to do a thorough examination before I
forced you: you feared she was going to find something."
   "Don't be silly," Cuddy demanded. "I'm a doctor. I know that ignoring
a problem does not make it go away. If I feared for my babies, the ration-
al thing would be for me to go to my doctor and see if something really
was wrong and how to fix it."
   "But you are not being rational," House reminded her. "Pregnant wo-
men often are not. You know, with the hormones and all that. You are
not called the weaker vessel for nothing, you know."
   "Weaker vessel!" Cuddy practically screamed at House. "I'd like to see
how a man would handle a pregnancy!"
   "Ah, now there's my Cuddy," House approved.
   "Oh, you," Cuddy made a face at him. "You know, sometimes I really
wish I was the Queen of Hearts and could just tell somebody to behead
you."
   "I know," House acknowledged. "But you can't because you will need
me with the kids. I don't know how we will do it, but somehow we will




                                                                         34
manage. We have to. We cannot cancel them so this is the show and we
are the players."
  "With our exits and entrances?" Cuddy smiled ruefully.
  "We'll try to keep the exits to a minimum," House responded. "Except
for now, I really need to go and see if my team has finally figured out
what is wrong with our patient."
  "I know," Cuddy sighed. "Thank you. For caring."
  "I'm not going to say anytime," House warned her. "I'm afraid of creat-
ing a precedent."
  "Oh, just shut up and go!" Cuddy told him with an exasperated laugh.




                                                                      35
Chapter    6
Entremes
Wilson and House were winding down in House's office at the end of
their working day. House's patient had been diagnosed with Reye's syn-
drome and since no new patient had presented themselves that day,
House had sent his team home. Kasumii had just got all of Aiko's things
put in place and organized for the next day and had gone to have a word
with Grey about their date and House was entertaining Aiko with Mr.
Panda while they waited. Wilson had strolled in – as usual – and was
waiting with them.
  "I hear you got Cuddy to see her doctor today," Wilson opened the
conversation.
  "Yeah," House admitted. "She was stressing again, so somebody
needed to do something."
  "You have been awfully nice to her lately," Wilson mused. "Not that I
complain, she needs that now that she is pregnant, but it's not quite you."
  "Worried?" House smiled.
  "A little," Wilson said. "I'm worried about what is going on in your
head, what spectacular prank you are hatching. It's not that you cannot
be nice when you really want to, but usually there is a twist, or at least a
price. You haven't even been particularly obnoxious in the clinic."
  "Can't be," House told him. "Cuddy doesn't need any more stress. No
matter how much it goes against my nature, I have to think of her. It
wouldn't matter so much if she was pregnant by anybody else or if she
wasn't pregnant with triplets, but however much I might like to deny it, I
am partly responsible for this situation and I have to behave
accordingly."
  "But surely that does not mean you need to be nice at the clinic?"
Wilson wondered – though he wished he could bite his tongue and not
give House any ideas, but he needed to know.
  "I haven't been completely nice, since that would stress Cuddy more,"
House smiled ruefully. "But I have been careful about who I send to



                                                                         36
Cuddy and who not. A couple of complaints a week will keep her from
wondering if I'm up to something big but is not stressing her too much.
Also I do still leave a few annoying patients for her to finish up – though
I haven't topped that MP3 player guy yet."
   "What MP3 player guy?" Wilson was immediately interested.
   "Didn't I tell you about him?" House was surprised. "A young guy had
an MP3 player stuck up his ass and he couldn't get it out. I made him
wait till my shift was over and then told Brenda to tell Cuddy that there
was a patient waiting for her. She yelled at me for half an hour the next
day."
   "Why would anyone stick an MP3 player up his… ?" Wilson was
mystified.
   "I suppose it was the shape or the pounding base-line," House mused.
"Not really my area of expertise."
   "Strange," Wilson shook his head at the thought. "But back to the ori-
ginal subject. You are telling me that you are really being genuinely nice
to Cuddy?"
   "Well, I don't know about genuine," House drawled. "But yeah, I'm
minding my manners till she gives birth. At least around her. Once she
stays home and we have Gay Sheridan in charge, things will change."
   "So you are saving up your bad behaviour for the new man?" Wilson
asked.
   "Do you object?" House queried.
   "No, not really," Wilson admitted. "If the new guy really is after
Cuddy's job then we need to do everything we can to shift him, but he
might be innocent."
   "Then it will be good training for him," House shrugged. "If he sur-
vives my treatment, he will be up to dealing with just about anybody. If
he isn't innocent – and I'm pretty sure he cannot be – then he will get the
full treatment, no holds barred, and he will be toast before his contract is
even up for renewal."
   "You are really gathering up steam for him, aren't you?" Wilson was
beginning to feel extremely sorry for Sheridan – guilty or not.
   "Yeah," House gloated. "It's going to be fun."
   "You do realise that Sheridan won't give you any slack?" Wilson re-
minded House. "He is not Cuddy and you will be in deep trouble a lot
sooner than you would be with her."
   "If he can find a way to blame me for them," House smirked. "He
doesn't know me like Cuddy does, so he won't just blame me on




                                                                         37
principle. It will probably take him quite some time to even suspect such
a distinguished doctor as me."
   "You are not distinguished anything!" Wilson scoffed. "You wouldn't
know distinguished if it got up and bit you."
   "True, true," House admitted. "But Sheridan doesn't know that. All he
knows is that I'm a world-renowned diagnostician. And I don't plan on
letting him know any different, at least not for quite some time."
   "You know, I almost feel sorry for him," Wilson shook his head. "And I
don't even know the guy!"
   "He'll survive," House scoffed. "And if he doesn't he has no business
trying to be a hospital administrator anyway!"
   "So you are going to be nice to everyone till Sheridan gets here?"
Wilson still wondered.
   "To Cuddy," House clarified. "I'm being nice to Cuddy."
   "So all others are still free game?" Wilson queried.
   "Of course," House gave him an innocent stare.
   "But you haven't… " Wilson started to feel a little uncomfortable.
"Surely I would have … " Wilson stared at House who was giving him
his best it wasn't me look. "You have done something to me! Haven't
you? I just haven't realised it yet. It's like those flowers again? What did
you do? If it's something like that again, so help me… I'll … I'll."
   "Relax Jimmy," House said most unconvincingly. "I haven't done any-
thing at all."
   "Yeah, right," Wilson stood up. "What is it? Is it something in my of-
fice? Or, no you wouldn't have sent flowers to Cuddy in my name, or
anything. You are being nice to Cuddy, so it cannot involve her in any
way. I need to find out what you have done!" Wilson stormed out of
House's office barely avoiding collision with Kasumii and Blythe who
were on their way in.
   "What did you do to James?" Blythe asked her smirking son.
   "Nothing," House revealed. "Nothing at all. And that's the beauty of
it."
   Once they got to House's flat Kasumii went into his bathroom to
change for her date and House and Blythe settled in to their evening
routine. When Kasumii got out of the bathroom she found House on the
couch with Aiko playing fish. It was currently Aiko's favourite game –
and it actually provided a lot of entertainment for casual observes, too.
House made a creditable imitation of a goldfish with his face crossing his
eyes, hollowing his cheeks and opening and closing his mouth. He did
that a couple of times and then Aiko did her best to imitate him. She was



                                                                         38
actually getting good at it for a 28 week old baby. And then they laughed
together – or whatever it was that passed for laughter for each of them.
Aiko, actually got closer to real laugh with her squeals of delight, House
more barked, though sometimes – and Blythe really loved those times –
when they had played long enough, House did laugh for real hugging
Aiko and telling her she was a clever girl. Kasumii observed them for a
minute and then she stepped further into the living room.
   "So, how do I look," she asked with slight edge of sarcasm in her voice.
   "You are asking me?" House played surprised and innocent to the nth
degree. "Surely I have no right to tell you what to wear."
   "You got that right," Kasumii agreed with a small glare, though there
was a smile in there somewhere as well. "But that has never before
stopped you from sending me to change my clothes to whatever it is you
think I should wear."
   "Well, you look delectable," House told her. "It's a good thing you are
going out with a reserved and passionless Englishman. Any red-blooded
American would skip the meal and go for you."
   "Well isn't it a good thing, then, that you are not red-blooded," Kasum-
ii countered having got used to House slighting her boyfriend.
   "Oh, I'm red-blooded all right," House insisted. "You're just not my
type, Infant."
   "And I sure am glad about that," Kasumii agreed. "You would be the
pits as a boyfriend."
   "That's because I'm not a boy," House stated just as there was a knock
on the door.
   Blythe who had been watching the bickering between those two with
amusement went to let Grey in: "Come in David and rescue my son, will
you. He is heading for a beating by his Nanny."
   "Richly deserved I presume," Grey said as he stepped in. "Wow!" He
took in Kasumii's appearance. She did indeed look delectable in slim
black pants and a sleeveless tunic in her favourite light pink.
   "She's not on the menu until after dinner," House threw from the
couch earning a glare from Grey.
   "I see what you mean Blythe," Grey observed. "You really should be
more careful, House. If you alienate both your Nanny and your Physical
Therapist, where will you be then?"
   "In position to hire new ones," House replied glibly.
   "Sure, you being so fond of interviews and all," Grey scoffed. "Besides,
you know perfectly well that there is no replacement for Kasumii."




                                                                        39
   "That I do," House replied with surprising seriousness. "And as long as
you remember that, too, we have no problems."
   "With you, there are always problems," Grey replied dryly. "But have
no fears, I may love Kasumii to distraction, but I'm awfully fond of your
little fish, too." House looked down at Aiko, who, now that her father's at-
tention was distracted, amused herself by practising her fish-face.
   "I just hate it when Alfa-males start marking their territory, even when
they are mostly in agreement about it," Blythe said to Kasumii. "You look
lovely, so take your man and have a lovely evening."
   "I will, thank you Blythe," Kasumii smiled. "Come on David, you can
finish your – what is it called? Pissing competition? – with Dr. House
later." She dragged her date out of the flat saying good night to House
and Blythe.
   Blythe closed the door after them and then she walked slowly to her
son.
   "Your… John called me today," Blythe said as he sat down.
   "Oh," House paused for a moment to try and gather his thoughts. He
didn't want to say the wrong thing, just in case his father hadn't men-
tioned his call. "What about?"
   "He wants to come here and talk," Blythe explained.
   "Talk? I rather thought that is what you two have been trying to do for
quite some time," House observed.
   "True," Blythe acknowledged. "We have tried, but he hasn't been will-
ing. I don't know why, but now he at least wants to understand why I
want help with that. He said that the main reason he has been unwilling
to work in the counselling is that he has not been able to understand why
we need outsiders to talk. He said that if he can understand my reasons
for needing the therapist there, he will try again. And he is even willing
to come here to do it."
   "Do you think he is moving here? Now that you have stated that no
matter what happens with your marriage you want to be closer to your
grandchildren?" House wondered.
   "I think that he is considering it," Blythe mused. "That is if there seems
to be any hope for our marriage."
   "He has been part of your life for fifty years," House pointed out. "Do
you really think that even if you end up divorcing him, you will be able
to leave him behind completely?"
   "What do you mean?" Blythe was a little confused.
   "It's a big chunk of your life," House said. "If you just throw him out, it
makes your marriage almost like garbage. And it wasn't, not all of it. Yes,



                                                                           40
there was a huge lie there, but that does not invalidate everything. I can-
not see how you could not have him in your life in some capacity no
matter what happens."
   "But what about you?" Blythe wanted to know. "If I keep seeing him,
or even if I stay married to him, how will that affect you?"
   "I already told you once; the abuse was not a defining moment in my
life," House reminded her. "Sure, it was a defining moment in my rela-
tionship with my father and that did affect things later on, too, but I
would not have been much different from what I am even if the abuse
hadn't happened. I know that sounds strange and I'm sure had it gone
on for longer the outcome would have been very different, but it didn't
and other things were more important in shaping me to what I am than
that. If you need him in your life, I can live with it. Even if it means that I
have to meet him from time to time."
   "And your children?" Blythe asked. "Surely you don't want him to be
their grandfather?"
   "I would never leave him alone with them for sure, but other than that,
it depends on him," House stated. "Provided that he accepts that Aiko is
no different from the Trips, I have no problem with him being a grand-
father to my kids. Though, of course we would need to agree on rules
and boundaries."
   "You are very generous," Blythe said.
   "No, this is not generosity," House denied. "This is indifference. But I
do want you to be happy, so I'm ok with everything that helps with
that."
   "Thank you," Blythe had tears in her eyes as she gave him a kiss. "I
don't want to hurt you, you know."
   "I know," House nodded. "You never have."




                                                                            41
Chapter    7
Meet Sheridan
The move had gone well – even House's precious piano had survived
and Blythe was very happy with her new quarters. Wilson had moved
into House's old flat at the same time. Kasumii had not yet moved in
with House and Aiko as it was decided that she would stay with Cuddy
till she moved, too, just in case. Blythe didn't want Cuddy living alone
now that she was pregnant – and though House would rather have died
that voiced an opinion, he was in complete agreement with his mother.
Their move was scheduled to happen the next week-end, and House was
expecting interesting things to happen then!
   House had barely got to his office on Monday morning when his
phone rang. Seeing that it was Miss Hill calling he almost didn't answer,
but since it was most likely about Cuddy, he eventually decided to take
the call.
   "Thought you might like to know that Sheridan J. Rawls is in the
building," Miss Hill went right to the point. "Get your crippled butt
down here, now." Then she hung up – as tended to be her custom with
House. Though House hated obeying Miss Hill, he didn't need telling
twice this time.
   Miss Hill was waiting for House when he got out of the elevator.
   "What is going on?" House asked. "You don't usually come out of your
domain to meet me; quite the contrary in fact."
   "Well, I couldn't risk letting you go into Dr. Cuddy's office un-
primed," Miss Hill explained as they walked towards Cuddy's office and
the ante-room. "Rawls is not here to meet with Lisa, nor to have a tour of
the premises or to meet the people; he is here to take over from her."
   "Now?" House was taken aback. "But how could that be? Cuddy hasn't
resigned, nor does her maternity leave start for a few weeks yet!"
   "The board has appointed Rawls as the Assistant Head for now," Miss
Hill explained with utter disdain. "Apparently they feel that will smooth
over the transition."



                                                                       42
  "The board? How can that be," House was puzzled. "Wilson didn't
warn us in any way!"
  "He didn't know," Miss Hill told House curtly when they reached her
desk. She didn't sit down nor did House enter Cuddy's office. They
stood there watching through the glasses how Cuddy interacted with
Rawls and a woman he had with him. Cuddy sat at her desk and could
see House and Anne from there but the others didn't as they were facing
Cuddy. "This time they suddenly decided that as Dr. Wilson was going
to be the temporary Dean, he should be excused. Conflict of interest all
of a sudden. And they actually haven't done the appointing yet. There
will be an emergency meeting tonight, but apparently Forbes and
Taunton have secured the majority already. Something about another of-
fer to Rawls that made it necessary to secure him to this post now."
  "Sure," House doubted. "I bet there was no other offer, but Sheridan
wanted to get his foot in. Damn! Like Cuddy doesn't have enough stress
as it is. The last thing she needs is this wanna-be at her heels trying to
learn all the secret hand shakes and all."
  "I know," Miss Hill nodded. "Not that Dr. Cuddy is stupid enough to
teach him, but still, it will be difficult."
  "Are those idiots trying to make her miscarry?" House spat.
  "I don't think they have given that even a thought," Miss Hill ob-
served. "This is just power games, pure and simple."
  "Nothing pure or simple about them," House ground. "But at least that
decides the matter: Sheridan is not innocent. He wants Cuddy's job."
  "Which means we have to make sure he won't get it," Miss Hill
insisted.
  "Absolutely," House declared. "Sheridan is toast!" He made a fist with
his hand and Anna met it with her own. It was a pact; and it earned a
very worried look from Cuddy through the window – though she didn't
know what it was about, but Anna and House in agreement over
something – anything – was not good news. House gave Cuddy a very
un-reassuring smile before he turned to Miss Hill: "He may want
Cuddy's job but he is not getting it."
  "No he isn't. But I do think I know how he expects to get it," Miss Hill
said a little smugly.
  "How?" House wanted to know.
  "Well, first of all, you were wrong: he is not gay," Miss Hill started.
  "Interesting, I'm sure" House admitted. "But what has that got to do
with this and why are you sure he is not gay?"




                                                                       43
   "He is having an affair with his assistant," Miss Hill stated. "Or at least
I'm fairly sure he is. I only talked to them together for five minutes, but
there was a vibe there. Just look, even from here you can see it."
   "Assistant?" House repeated. "That's not his wife with him then but an
assistant? He is bringing his own with him?"
   "Yes, he is," Miss Hill said. "And I'm told to show her the necessary
ropes."
   "I don't envy you," House observed. "But what does his assistant have
to do with him getting Cuddy's job?"
   "Now that is the interesting part," Miss Hill admitted. "The assistant's
name is Janelle Forbes."
   "Forbes?" House perked up immediately. "As in … ?"
   "Absolutely," Miss Hill gloated. "And I'm willing to bet my shirt on it
that Daddy dearest has no idea that his precious girl is sleeping with her
boss."
   "Forbes is the epitome of puritanity and old-fashioned morals," House
agreed. "If he had any idea of those goings on, he would do his utmost to
stop it."
   "That is my impression of him, too," Miss Hill agreed. "Mind you, I
cannot absolutely swear to the affair, it is just my impression, but I have
learned to trust them. But my instinct is not enough to convict them, we
need proof."
   "That may not be so easy to come by, you know," House mused. "They
must know what they are risking if they get caught now." House shook
his head: "What is it with these unfaithful husbands? Half my clinic pa-
tients either have them or are them! Most divorces that I see are due to
the husband's infidelity – the only exception may well be my parents!
Mind you, I'm not complaining if it helps us with getting rid of Sheridan,
but it is getting a bit monotonous. Are there no unfaithful wives around
anymore?"
   "Actually, now that you ask," Miss Hill was starting to look like a cat
who got the cream and just might share it with another cat – if asked
nicely. "There is an unfaithful wife in that office, too."
   "Explain!" House ordered.
   "Ms. Forbes may have kept her maiden name after marriage, but that
does not change the fact that she is married," Miss Hill paused for max-
imum effect. "And she is married to Wilfred Taunton Junior."
   "Miss Hill, have I ever told you that I absolutely adore you?" House
queried.




                                                                           44
   "No, you haven't," Miss Hill replied. "And no you don't. But that's ok. I
can live without your adoration. Now get in there and help Dr. Cuddy
deal with those idiots. Just make sure you don't let your temper tip your
hand! We still need someone to take over during Dr. Cuddy's maternity
leave and Sheridan may be an arrogant slime ball, but at least his refer-
ences are good. He can do the job as long as we make sure he doesn't
stay in it."
   "Aye, aye, Ma'am!" House saluted and limped into Cuddy's office –
after knocking on the door, naturally.
   "Ah, Dr. House," Cuddy was being her absolutely most gracious self,
which usually meant she was hanging on her temper by a very thin
thread. "I'd like you to meet Sheridan J. Rawls and his assistant Ms.
Forbes."
   "Yes, Miss Hill was kind enough to inform me that they were here,"
House was being equally gracious – which ought to have made any sane
person extremely worried, and since Cuddy was very sane, she did get
worried. House did spare her a – genuinely – reassuring look. He was
not going to rock her boat, just Sheridan's and that time wasn't here yet.
"I hope you don't mind my interrupting your meeting?"
   "Not at all," Sheridan J. Rawls was definitely nothing if not gracious
himself – only in his case it was a practised manner. He was blond,
brown-eyed and suave. Not quite as tall as House, but he certainly was
very well groomed. In fact House had a fleeting thought wondering if
Sheridan might have Athlete's foot in his nose! He didn't voice that
thought, though, so Sheridan was able to go on with his sentence
without delay. "I wanted to meet you anyway, Dr. House. This is my as-
sistant Ms. Forbes."
   Miss Forbes was obviously the pampered daughter of a wealthy fam-
ily. She complemented her boss in every way from grooming to sleek
red-hair and somewhat hard green eyes. She was stunning, but House
didn't find her appealing in the least. There was something about her
that reminded him of the woman he had once cured of the plague – he
rather thought she, too, had been a read-head? He could easily see the
five-letter word that was practically tattooed to Ms. Forbes' forehead.
And it wasn't a pet name.
   "Pleased to meet you," House decided to borrow a leaf from Grey's
book and he kissed Ms. Forbes' hand, with enough elegance to make
Cuddy stare. This was House! What the heck was he up to now?
   "Dr. House," obviously Grey knew what he was doing when he went
around kissing ladies hand, Ms. Forbes nearly blushed! And she sure



                                                                         45
was no shrinking violet. There was a definite hard edge to the young
lady. "I'm so thrilled to finally meet the legend in person. I hope your
daughter is now well?"
  "Indeed, thank you for asking," House replied. "Though I'm sure the le-
gend part of my reputation is just the papers exaggerating. I was just do-
ing my job." At those sanctimonious words Cuddy had a sudden fit of
coughing, though she knew she was the only one who recognised the
blatantly false modesty House was radiating. "Now, Mr. Rawls, Ms.
Forbes, do you mind very much if I borrow Dr. Cuddy for just a tiny mo-
ment? I need her opinion on something medical, you know. If you don't
mind?"
  "No, no, of course not," Sheridan was happy to give his permission
and Janelle was perfectly willing to accommodate the charming Dr.
House, too.
  House escorted Cuddy to the ante-room and they turned their backs to
the glass walls so that the two people in the office could not see their
faces.
  "That was some display there," Miss Hill approved in a quiet voice.
  "Thank you, Miss Hill," House accepted the compliment. "And I think
you were right. At least there was a sudden surge of possessiveness com-
ing from dear Sheridan when I soft soaped Ms. Forbes."
  "That was my impression, too," Miss Hill agreed.
  "While I'm happy to see you two in agreement over something,
whatever it is," Cuddy interrupted them. "What was it you wanted to see
me about House?"
  "Nothing," House confessed. "I just thought you needed a break from
those two before you exploded."
  "Oh," Cuddy was a little disconcerted. "Well, you may have been right
about that, so thank you. Not that that will help much. I'm stuck with
them until I go on maternity leave."
  "Surely not for 24/7?" House observed. "I mean, if the board decides to
hire him as your assistant for starters then make him assist. Give him all
the stupid jobs that you don't want to do or you find boring or stressful.
Keep him away from all the important stuff by giving him all the routine
things you normally have to do yourself. Start transferring the Dean's
duties to Wilson; that ought to give you a few hours a day away from
them. And transfer Miss Hill to Wilson, too, for the duration of your
leave."




                                                                       46
  "I would really appreciate that," Anna told Cuddy. "If I stay here, Ms.
Forbes will make me do all the work and take all the credit herself.
Besides, I might end up murdering either of them."
  "You think I could do that?" Cuddy hadn't had time to think since
Sheridan had arrived with his assistant that morning without any
warning.
  "Have you already offered to show them round the hospital?" House
asked.
  "No, not yet," Cuddy frowned. "I was going to do that but then you
arrived."
  "Good, let Miss Hill do that and you use that time to call Stacy and
check what you need to do now. I'm fairly sure that if the board hires
Sheridan as your assistant then you will be his boss; I don't see how they
could give him any kind of independent position as long as you are the
Head of the Hospital." House pondered.
  "I'll go in and tell them that the consultation will take longer than Dr.
House originally thought and I'll offer to show them around," Anna told
Cuddy suiting action to words. House escorted Cuddy out into the lobby
and they withdrew into an empty examination room.
  "You think that would work?" Cuddy was a little unsure.
  "Check with Stacy," House suggested. "Though I don't see how it
could not. Just find out what needs to go to the minutes of the meeting
this time and I'm sure we can circumvent this manoeuvre by the enemy
too."
  "But if Wilson is not going to be in the meeting, how can we make sure
the meeting goes as we want it to go?" Cuddy wondered.
  "I'm sure Wilson is not the only one who wants you to stay in your
job," House shrugged. "We'll just give him the necessary information to
pass onto someone he thinks can act on our behalf. You do know that
neither Forbes nor Taunton is that well liked."
  "It could work," Cuddy nodded.
  "Of course it will," House stated. "Then we just need to make sure we
keep Sheridan busy and out of your hair till your maternity leave. Which
reminds me; if we want to keep Ms Forbes out of Miss Hill's hair you
need to get Wilson a bigger office for his stint as the Dean. His current
room is barely big enough for him. No way can he have an assistant in it
as well."
  "There is a room in your corridor which could be redecorated to work
as the Dean's office," Cuddy remembered. "I'll get to it as soon as I have
called Stacy."



                                                                        47
  "Do that," House encouraged. "And try not to worry. We have this
thing covered. Nobody is taking your job away from you."
  "I hope you are right," Cuddy sighed. "But just for the record, even if
someone does take my job away from me, the Trips are worth it."
  "Say that again in ten years time, when they have turned your hair
grey with their antics and you have yelled yourself hoarse at them for
getting into any and every prank humanly possible," House smiled. "In
fact, if they take after me at all, they will probably get into pranks you
would not have believed humanly possible at all!"
  "Oh, God!" Cuddy closed her eyes in despair. "You just had to remind
me that they are yours, didn't you!"




                                                                       48
Chapter    8
Sunny side up
"So what is the situation?" Chase wanted to know as House got back to
the department of Diagnostics.
   "They want to appoint Sheridan as the Assistant Head till Cuddy goes
on maternity leave," House explained.
   "That doesn't sound very good," Cameron frowned. "That's like telling
her to teach her job to him and then step aside and let him take over –
probably for good!"
   "I believe that is the idea," House agreed. "But as Sheridan's assistant is
a Ms. Forbes, can you wonder?"
   "You mean she got the job for her boss because of … Why?" Foreman
wondered.
   "Miss Hill suspects that she is sleeping with him," House said. "And I
have to say I got some serious vibes from him when I made a mild pass
at Ms. Forbes."
   "He could have been just protective," Chase pointed out. "You know,
like you are with Miss Tanaka."
   "Kasumii is an infant," House dismissed the idea. "She needs someone
to look after her. Ms. Forbes is a shark. Besides, the vibes I got were most
definitely not Platonic."
   "So what is the plan?" Foreman queried. "If Ms. Forbes is having an af-
fair with the married Mr. Rawls, then I suppose her father will be more
than willing to kick him to the curb for messing with his daughter – no
matter how anyone else might view the situation."
   "That would be my guess," House nodded. "And should it happen that
Janelle can make Daddy Dearest take her side and believe in the star-
crossed- lovers crap she probably will try to feed him, I'm fairly sure her
father-in-law will not buy it."
   "Her father-in-law?" Cameron was puzzled.
   "Ms Forbes decided to keep her own name even after her marriage,"
House paused for a dramatic effect. "To a Mr Taunton."



                                                                           49
   "She is married to Taunton's son?" Foreman exclaimed.
   "Yep," House gloated. "So basically all we have to do is to give them
enough rope and then watch them hang themselves! Preferably with
some photographic evidence."
   "That is good," Chase mused. "And it makes our job pretty easy."
   "Not necessarily," Cameron frowned. "They may be discreet."
   "Nobody is that discreet," House dismissed. "You certainly weren't."
   "Neither I nor Chase were – or are – married," Cameron glared at
House. "Rawls and Ms Forbes have much more to loose."
   "But not that many places to go," Foreman pointed out. "If you want to
be discreet you cannot check into any local hotels or anything. I'm fairly
sure their affair so far has been conducted in their office and the occa-
sional business trip. If they believe that nobody suspects them here, they
are bound to carry on. We just need to catch them."
   "I like the way you think Foreman!" House approved. "It seems I have
been able to teach you something after all."
   "Too bad it's nothing I really wanted to learn," Foreman observed
dryly. "But catching them will still be a problem."
   "We have time to figure that one out," House assured him. "Right now
we need to be on our best behaviour and let Rawls believe that Cuddy is
running a tight and problem-free ship."
   "She is running a tight and problem-free ship," Cameron stated.
   "True," House nodded. "If you take me out of the equation."
   "He has a point," Chase observed. "If House behaves himself, then it's
a problem-free ship, but he rarely does, so… "
   "But for the next couple of weeks I will," House declared.
   "Can you?" Foreman doubted.
   "Yes," House promised. "It's important for the family that I do. Besides,
I can fortify myself by thinking of all the fun I will have once Cuddy is
on maternity leave and I have a free hand with Sheridan."
   And indeed the rest of the week was problem free – unless you coun-
ted the egging of Sheridan's car. But most of the hospital did not see that
as a problem, though everyone did wonder how it had been done and
who was behind it. All the usual suspects were accounted for, after all.
Or so everybody thought. They did fail to make some connections some
might have thought obvious.
   That morning Cuddy had felt too fragile to drive to work so she had
taken a cab. Due to that she never found out that Sheridan had parked in
her space until a security guard came to tell her that her car had been
vandalised.



                                                                         50
   "My car?" Cuddy was puzzled. "How would you know that? I didn't
drive here in my car today."
   "Well, I'm sorry but one of my men came to tell me that the car on your
parking space is covered in eggs. I just assumed it had to be your car."
   "He must have meant a car next to my space," Cuddy said getting
ready to go out and see the damage.
   "Egged you said?" Sheridan – who was sharing Cuddy's office for the
moment as the board didn't see the need to assign him an office of his
own since he was going to take over from Cuddy anyway. Cuddy was
not happy with the situation, but fortunately she found plenty of things
to do all over the hospital while Sheridan did all the boring, routine stuff
in her office. If any important donors or patients came by, Anna made
sure they found Cuddy – where ever she might be.
   "You sound worried?" Cuddy turned to Sheridan.
   "It must be my car!" He exclaimed.
   "In my parking space?" Cuddy asked sharply.
   "Well, it's closer to the doors and since you didn't need it today, I was
sure you wouldn't mind," Sheridan shrugged – lying through his teeth.
   "You arrived before me," Cuddy remarked dryly.
   "Did I?" Sheridan frowned. "I was quite sure you were already here
when I arrived."
   "Well, I don't know whose car it is then, if it isn't Dr Cuddy's," the se-
curity guard interrupted them. "But it definitely is covered in broken
eggs. It's a real mess."
   "Do you know who did it?" Cuddy asked. "Was he caught on security
tape?"
   "No, he wasn't Ma'am. The cameras sweep by that spot every three
minutes and we didn't see anything anywhere on the parking lot. One
minute the car was spotless, three minutes later it was covered in eggs."
   Cuddy and Sheridan followed the guard to the crime scene and it was
a sorry sight indeed. Sheridan's electric blue Mercedes had been spotless
only that morning; now forlorn eggshells were scattered all over the car
with half-dried yolks and egg white running haphazardly down the
sides and windows. It looked like a flock of pigeons had flown over the
car bombing it with eggs.
   "Well, it rather looks like parking on my spot was not a very good idea
today," Cuddy observed as she took in the damage – trying very hard
not to laugh out loud. Whoever it was who had got Sheridan had her full
approval, she only wished she could have been in on the planning. Her
usual suspect was – naturally – House.



                                                                          51
   However, as the day wore on, all the usual suspects were accounted
for. House had been in Wilson's office, with Miss Hill and Wilson, which
took him out of the equation. Wilson, naturally, would have given him
an alibi for just about anything, but nobody thought Miss Hill would
condone childish pranks like the one done to Sheridan. There was just
that air about her that made it impossible for one to think she would
have stood quietly by while House and Wilson did something like that.
   Blythe and Kasumii had been taking Aiko for her daily walk in the
park – not that anyone really suspected them, but there was just the
slightest possibility that House could have ordered Kasumii to do
something like it. But she was taped on another security camera at the
time of the incident leaving the hospital premises with Blythe and Grey,
too, for the jogging park where they often took Aiko for an outing in her
pram.
   The ducklings had been having lunch in full view of half the hospital,
and though they had been sitting outside, they had not left their table at
all until they had finished their lunch and they most definitely had not
been out of view during the three minutes when the incident had to have
happened. Besides, with all the security cameras that were regularly
sweeping the parking lot there was no way anyone would have gotten to
the car, thrown the eggs and escaped without being caught in at least
one of the cameras! Nobody had been on the parking lot at the appropri-
ate time! And that included trained squirrels, monkeys or remote control
toy helicopters. No matter how hard the security tried, they could not
come with any suspects or even any clues as to who had done the deed.
Of course, Cuddy did have a sneaking suspicion that they weren't trying
too hard. Which was sort of heart-warming, but, on the other hand, she
really couldn't allow something like this happen in her hospital. Besides,
since nobody had any idea who it had been, there was not way of know-
ing for sure the intended victim had indeed been Sheridan and not her.
So all in all she was happy that she had taken a cab that morning and
Sheridan had made a "mistake" in his parking.
   Of course had the security bothered to make a truly thorough and un-
biased search for the perpetrators they might have found out that Dr
Cameron had gone to the cafeteria kitchen to get two dozen eggs for a
virus culture just that morning. And that she had actually used only
three.
   Also had they bothered to check the table where Drs Foreman, Chase
and Cameron had had lunch they would have found out that though Dr
Cuddy's parking space was not visible from it, the security camera that



                                                                       52
swept that area was. And had they asked other people who were lunch-
ing near by at the same time they would have found out that on the time
of the egging Dr Chase had been on his mobile phone to someone.
   The most important piece of information the investigation missed
might have been the fact that though Dr House and Wilson and Miss Hill
had been completely truthful about having been in Dr Wilson's office,
they had failed to clarify that the office in question was Wilson's new,
Dean of Medicine, office, which just happened to be located just about
right above Dr Cuddy's parking space.
   One other thing the security missed was that when Miss Hill was
asked about the incident and the whereabouts of Drs House and Wilson
her answer could have been interpreted in at least two ways. When the
situation had been explained to her and they asked her if she knew any-
thing about it, her response had been: "Do I look like someone who
would cover a childish prank like that?" The security assumed the an-
swer to that question was no, when in fact it ought to have been Hell Yes!
   Later that day the conspirators met in House's office.
   "It seems we got away with it," House reported.
   "Well I have to say it was a well planned attack," Wilson congratulated
his friend.
   "Indeed, it was," Miss Hill agreed. "But it would not have worked had
not all followed the instructions so well."
   "Right you are, Miss Hill," House acknowledged. "Chase, Foreman and
Cameron, good reconnoitring. And you got the timing of that camera
completely right. Nothing was caught on tape, not even the very last egg
hitting the car."
   "Thank you," Foreman accepted on all their behalf.
   "We were more than happy to help," Chase nodded.
   "Absolutely," Cameron agreed. "When I saw that man parking on
Cuddy's space, as cool as cucumber, I was truly ready to give him what
he deserved. I just hope he learned his lesson."
   "If he didn't, we'll just repeat it," Miss Hill pointed out. "Only next time
we might try tomatoes. Just for a change, you know."
   "Do you think your throwing arm is as good with them as with eggs?"
House asked her – letting the ducklings know who actually had done the
honours.
   "I'm sure, but I think, next time I might be willing to share the fun,"
Miss Hill smiled.
   "Thanks, but I don't know it would work," House declined. "As the
window is not quite in the right place, it would be a little awkward for



                                                                            53
me. My leg would be in the way were I to try and lean out of the win-
dow far enough to get a good aim."
  "Dr Wilson?" Miss Hill queried.
  "I don't know," Wilson shrugged. He had refused this time fearful of
someone witnessing the event, but he had been tempted. "I'll have to de-
cide if the opportunity rises again."
  "Chicken," House jeered at him, though in good humour.
  "I am a head of a department and I will be the temporary Dean of
Medicine," Wilson argued. "I do have to maintain some dignity."
  "You have House for a friend," Miss Hill observed dryly. "How much
dignity do you expect to have?"
  "As much as I can keep," Wilson sighed. "Which I know very well isn't
much."




                                                                     54
Chapter    9
Night prowling
Cuddy moved into the house on Friday. Not that she knew it at the time;
she had been under the impression that the move would take place on
the Saturday, but House, Blythe and Kasumii had watched her stress
over it all ever since the move was decided and they came to the conclu-
sion that it was best to surprise her with it. It was best for her, and it was
best for the movers; chances were that someone would have been moved
to murder had Cuddy been present when the men packed her things (the
not personal items that Cuddy hadn't already packed with Blythe and
Kasumii's help), wrapped protective mats round her furniture and gen-
erally got everything ready for the move – and then reversed it all at the
house under the watchful eye of Gail, the interior decorator.
   Once all the furniture and other things were in place and Gail had
gone over the house and done the last checks – placing fresh flowers in
vases and things like that – and she and the movers had left, Blythe and
Kasumii unpacked the boxes that had been marked private with a black
marker. The boxes that had been marked private with a red marker they
left for Cuddy to unpack. Those were the things Cuddy didn't want any-
one else to see. House, of course, had tried to divert those boxes into his
flat, but Blythe had been alert for some devilry from him so that disaster
had been avoided. Of course, had House not been at work when the
move took place he might have succeed in his dastardly plan, but now
the boxes were safely in Cuddy's room.
   Once the move was complete, Blythe called House at work and House
took Cuddy for a walk with him and Aiko (who was with him at work)
and made a full confession. It was a good thing he had taken her out of
the hospital, because – even with Aiko there – she had yelled at him for
fifteen minutes about privacy and her right to make her own decision
and his gall and presumption and nerve in making decisions on her be-
half about things that should not have been any of his business and that
he need not look so innocent she knew he was the one who egged



                                                                           55
Sheridan's car, and though she completely adored that action, he was
still a doctor and a professional and she could not and would not con-
done such conduct from her doctors in her hospital, and God he was an-
noying and how dare he make her yell at him when Aiko was there, and
there better be not a single scratch in any of her things and if someone
had dared to unpack her personal items for her she was going to strangle
House and to Heck with having a father for her kids, they would be bet-
ter off without him anyway, since all he would teach them was dis-
respect and all sorts of stupid pranks and how to be a right royal pain in
he ass! And darn it if Gregory junior wasn't kicking her in the kidneys
again! And it was all House's fault. All of it.
   "I thought he was supposed to be Trey?" House observed from his seat
at the pick-nick table. He was sitting down holding Aiko in his arms
(and Aiko was taking in the whole scene with wide eyes and interested
silence; adults could be really funny sometimes – it was a good thing she
was safe in her father's arms or it could almost get scary). Cuddy had
paced the ground in front of him, but having thrown her last accusation
at him she, too, had blobbed down on the bench.
   "When he isn't kicking my kidneys he is," Cuddy replied accusingly.
   "I see," House nodded. "So when the kids are born, you will call them
my kids when they are naughty but they will be your kids when they are
being little angels?"
   "Since they are your kids," Cuddy sighed. "They will most definitely
behave like little angels only when they are planning like little devils."
   "Could be," House admitted. "But I still didn't egg Sheridan's car!"
   "And I still don't believe you," Cuddy said. "You had to have
something to do with it!"
   "I was with Miss Hill!" House stated. "Ask her. Surely you don't be-
lieve even for a moment that she would lie for me, or even Wilson."
   "I suppose," Cuddy relented.
   "Now, what about this move?" House got back to the original subject.
"Are you ok with it? Not that I can cancel it, but still."
   "I don't like you taking over my life," Cuddy fretted.
   "I have no intention of doing that," House reassured her. "But unfortu-
nately as long as you are pregnant, your life cannot be entirely your own.
You have to accept that sometimes we, not just me, but others around
you, will conspire some things for your own good. You don't even real-
ise how much you stress about some things, and we really don't want
you to be forced to spend the rest of your pregnancy in bed. Especially




                                                                       56
not in a hospital bed, since being a patient in PPTH while Sheridan is
running the hospital is the last thing you need."
   "So once the trips are born I get my life back?" Cuddy asked with some
suspicion.
   "Yes," House confirmed. "Mind you, your health is still important, so if
we see you behave stupidly we will talk to you, but conspiring behind
your back will end."
   "Ok then," Cuddy bit her lip and thought for a while. "Ok then. Fine.
I'm fine. Not happy, but I'm fine."
   "So, is G.J. really kicking your kidneys?" House asked after a short
silence.
   "No, he isn't quite that far along yet," Cuddy admitted. "But since there
isn't a lot of room in there when one of the trips moves they all move and
though at first it was thrilling it can get a little uncomfortable now. Here,
try yourself." Cuddy took House's hand and brought it to her belly. Even
through her clothes he could feel that there was some definite activity
going on in there.
   "I suppose it's a good thing they are fighters," House mused. "The
world being what it is."
   "Yeah, I suppose so," Cuddy agreed. "And they definitely seem to be
healthy and active."
   "Do you need to sit for a while still or are you ready to get back to the
hospital?" House asked.
   "I'm fine," Cuddy said standing up. "Let's get back to work."
   After work Cuddy followed House in her car to her new home. She
was still a little apprehensive about living with House, even with the
rules and parameters they had agreed on, but it was still best for the
kids, so she supposed that they would work it out. Somehow.
   Once she got to her room and had had time to go over the whole
house now that everything was in place she felt that she could really
make a home for herself and her children – it still blew her away to know
that she was going to have children! In the plural. House had gone to his
own flat right away leaving Cuddy to Blythe and Kasumii's care, but
even they had let Cuddy go over the house alone. Once that was done
the other women waited for Lisa in the kitchen with tea and cookies.
   "So?" Blythe asked. "Are you mad at us?"
   "No," Lisa told them. "House took me to the jogging park to tell me
what had been done and I got all the yelling out of the way there. Aiko
probably thought I had lost my mind, poor dear."




                                                                          57
   "I think she has already learned that her father can have that effect on
people," Kasumii observed as she poured the tea.
   "That would be my guess," Blythe agreed knowing full well the sort of
son she had. Perfect though he might be.
   "Well at least I found out that he didn't egg Sheridan Rawls' car,"
Cuddy sighed.
   "He didn't?" Kasumii was surprised she had totally assumed House
was behind that.
   "Not that he wasn't involved," Cuddy amended. "He just didn't do the
actual egging. It was only his plan once they decided to do it."
   "Well I knew he was somewhere in there," Blythe shrugged. "So who
was it? Miss Hill?"
   "How… ?" Cuddy turned to stare at Blythe. "Oh, silly me, House told
you right?"
   "No," Blythe denied. "He wouldn't do that. But if it wasn't him, then
Miss Hill was rather the obvious other choice."
   "Not obvious to me," Cuddy said. "I wouldn't have believed it had
Anna not told me herself."
   "Actually, it's not so incredible," Kasumii mused. "Once you think it
through. She is loyal to you, and she doesn't like the power-games that
Rawls obviously enjoys playing."
   "Well one thing we will know for sure is that Sheridan Rawls will not
set a foot in this house, so let's leave him behind – where he belongs."
Blythe decided.
   "Works for me," Kasumii said.
   "Me too," Cuddy said lifting her cup of tea and the ladies toasted each
others
   During Saturday Cuddy unpacked the final boxes and settled into her
new life. It was a little awkward at first, because she wasn't used to shar-
ing her house, but she did have her own room where she could hide if
she needed. She knew there were a lot of things that she needed to adjust
to, she knew that there were going to be difficulties – with House there
always was – but she also knew that it would be ok. They would, some-
how, make it. As House had said, there was no cancelling the Trips now;
they would have to make it work. It would be alright.
   That was, if she just could get some sleep! Cuddy couldn't find a com-
fortable position in her bed. It had nothing to do with having moved,
since she had moved her bed with her, but it had everything to do with
the extra passengers she was carrying around these days. She could not
lie on her stomach, she could not lie on her back, and – it seemed – she



                                                                         58
couldn't lie on her side either. She did consider trying to sleep standing
on her head, but that was just a wild thought. Whatever, she needed to
go to the bathroom and then she needed something to drink. At least to-
morrow was a Sunday, so she didn't need to go to work.
   When Cuddy approached the kitchen she realised she wasn't the only
one awake. The lights were on in there. She assumed that it was either
Blythe or Kasumii but it turned out to be House who was raiding the
fritz.
   "I thought you had your own kitchen," Cuddy yawned.
   "I do," House replied finishing his sandwich. "But it's empty. Besides,
this floor was supposed to be common ground anyway."
   "True," Cuddy nodded getting a glass and opening the fritz in search
of something to drink. She settled for some apple juice. "I just didn't ex-
pect to find you here at this hour. Mind you, I didn't expect to be here
myself at this hour."
   "The Trips keeping you up?" House asked.
   "Not exactly," Cuddy replied. "I just cannot find a comfortable position
in my bed. That has been a problem for couple of weeks now."
   "Your mattress is probably too soft," House observed. "Now that the
pregnancy is moulding your spine to accommodate your tummy and the
extra passengers you need a firmer bed. We better get you a new mat-
tress tomorrow."
   "Why didn't I think of that," Cuddy wondered. It was such an obvious
solution.
   "According to one theory pregnant women get less blood to their
brains," House remarked waiting for Cuddy's reaction.
   "You are telling me that being pregnant dumbs me down?" Cuddy
gave him a dangerous glare.
   "I just pointed out that a theory like that exists," House shrugged
innocently.
   "Yeah, right," Cuddy huffed. "I would really need to be stupid to be-
lieve that."
   "You would need to be," House smiled. "If it comforts you any, I think
that even dumbed down you are smarter than most people."
   "Well, it does help a little," Cuddy relented. "But it doesn't make my
bed any more comfortable for tonight."
   "Come on," House said getting up. "You can sleep in my bed. My leg
prefers a firm bed and I'm sure the Trips will be happy with it, too."
   "If you give me your bed," Cuddy wondered. "Where are you going to
sleep?"



                                                                        59
   "In my bed," House spelled out. "It's big enough for us both for one
night. It was once before, after all."
   "That was a once-in-a-life-time event," Cuddy put her back up.
   "Relax," House told her. "You are nearly six months pregnant! Do you
really think I would do anything you didn't want to? Mind you, if you
want, I'm game. You and the girls look eminently appealing. But it is en-
tirely up to you. I'm perfectly happy to just sleep."
   "Can I trust you?" Cuddy wasn't quite sure how to take House's offer.
   "If that was a general question," House mused. "Then the answer is no.
But if you were referring to this particular situation, then yes, you can."
   Cuddy stared into House's eyes for a moment. She was tired and
House was a friend, at least on some level, so probably she could trust
him.
   "And, in case you have forgotten, we do have my Mom to face tomor-
row morning," House pointed out. "How badly do you think I would be-
have with her around?"
   "You do have a point there," Cuddy had to admit.
   "So?" House asked. "Are we having a sleep-over? We do have Aiko
there as a chaperon if it's just appearances that you worry about."
   "Aiko?" Cuddy repeated. "She is still sleeping in your room? I just as-
sumed that now that she has a room of her own you would have her
sleep there."
   "I just thought it would be best to introduce her to the new sleeping ar-
rangements gradually," House shrugged.
   "Right," Cuddy smiled not believing him even for a second. "Ok, if
Aiko is there to chaperon us, I guess it's ok. Fine, we'll have a sleep-
over." Cuddy decided to follow House to his lair. She just hoped she was
right in trusting him and didn't end up as the fly to his spider.




                                                                         60
Chapter    10
Sleepover
Cuddy was feeling a little awkward when she followed House to his
bedroom. She hadn't seen his flat since he had moved in and she was
curious. But she did not want to appear nosy, so she didn't linger on her
way to the bedroom. She got a general impression that Gail had decor-
ated the place a lot like House's old place. The bedroom certainly had the
same furniture as before. House had already opened a space for her and
patted the mattress invitingly in passing as he made his way to a closet.
He returned with two extra pillows and stood expectantly by the bed
waiting for Cuddy to lie down.
   "Coming?" He asked her with raised eyebrows. Cuddy bit her lip
again, but since she was already this far it seemed stupid to hesitate now,
so she walked to the bed, to the side House was waiting by and settled
herself down on her side – fervently thankful that she was wearing a
covering cotton nightgown. As she settled down House put one pillow
under her head and the other he tucked between her knees, which imme-
diately put her spine in a better position. He then tucked her in, almost
like she was Aiko, which she found somewhat disconcerting – but reas-
suring. "Ok?" He asked and Cuddy nodded already feeling sleepy.
   House checked on Aiko first and then he crawled in bed next to her.
He flopped around for a moment to get the covers the way he wanted
and then – to Cuddy's surprise – he settled against her back, spooning
her.
   "Oh!" Cuddy let out the sound almost unknowingly.
   "Do you mind?" House asked sleepily. "It's not that big a bed so we are
bound to bump into each other during the night, better get it out of the
way immediately so we won't disturb each other later."
   "No, it's ok," Cuddy muttered. "I just didn't expect you to be a
spooner."
   "I'm not really, but with your passengers there this is probably the
most comfortable position to take," was the answer.



                                                                        61
   "So you only spoon with pregnant ladies?" Cuddy smiled.
   "You got it, now shut up and sleep," House sounded like he was smil-
ing too, but it was difficult to know for sure.
   Cuddy took his advice and settled down to sleep; only she couldn't.
All of a sudden she felt an overwhelming sense of comfort from feeling
House breathe against her neck and the contrast to the loneliness she
usually felt when waking up at night made her cry. Damn hormones!
   "Are you crying?" She heard House's voice behind her. She tried to
wipe the tears away and calm down but to no avail. House sighed:
"What is it about my bed that every time I get you in it, you cry?"
   "I'm pregnant," Cuddy snapped at him, though mildly.
   "You weren't the last time," he pointed out.
   "By the time I cried I was – or as good as," Cuddy countered.
   "Ok, I have to give you that," House conceded. "But even pregnant
ladies need some reason to cry, no matter how small. So what is it? If not
my bed."
   "It's just … " Cuddy sniffed and sighed and sniffed and got her voice
under control – and she could have sworn she felt a small kiss against
her hair, but decided that if it wasn't her imagination she better ignore it.
Anyway real or not, it got her to calm down enough to speak. "I know
you promised to be there for me with the kids, and I know that even if
you run for the hills all of a sudden, your mother would be here for me
and there's Wilson and Kasumii and any number of people I wouldn't
have even believed would be there for me when I first thought about
having a child. So I know that I'm not alone, that I have no need to be ex-
tra scared or even worry about what is going to happen to my children if
something happens to me. I really know that I'm not alone… "
   "Except that you are," House surprised her with his understanding.
"And of course you are! You are the only one who is pregnant. There are
only so many things that others can share with you or help you with
right now. And all that does crash in on you in the still of the night,
when you are alone in your bed and there is nobody you can wake up
and help you take your mind off it."
   "Yeah, that's it exactly," Cuddy agreed. "Only now I'm not alone, you
really are here, like you promised and somehow that makes me sad!"
   "You feel the contrast between this night and what is normally your
situation," House mused. "Was this a bad idea? Is this making things
worse for you in the long run? Because we cannot have many nights like
this and not have something happen between us, no matter how pregnant
you are."



                                                                          62
   "No, no, this is fine, it's just my hormones," Cuddy was not going to
give up her position now. She might feel sad and weepy now but she
knew that that would pass soon enough and her back loved House's bed!
No way was she moving now. Not until she had similar mattress in her
own bed.
   "It's not just that, is it?" House asked. It seemed that the night and the
darkness – and possibly the fact that they weren't face to face – got him
into an open mood, too. Not that he was opening up about himself, just
more concerned about her. "You are also wondering if once you are a
mama of three, you will ever get anyone share a bed with you in a more
permanent way. Your career has been in the way before, but I cannot see
how you could fail to find someone who will appreciate the woman you
are. Men may be pigs but not all of them are idiots."
   "No, I know they are not," Cuddy sighed. "But that exactly has been
the problem so far."
   "What do you mean?" House was puzzled.
   "You remember Don Herrick?" Cuddy asked. House made a negative
sound so she went on. "The Oil man."
   "Oh, your Funny Valentine," House was suddenly on the same page
again. "What happened to him? I never saw him again and you seemed
to like him? What did he do to make you ditch him?"
   "I didn't ditch him," Cuddy revealed. "He ditched me."
   "Then he was an idiot," House stated. For a second Cuddy considered
turning around and checking it really was House in bed with her, be-
cause he was never this nice to her. Well, almost never. "Did he even tell
you why?"
   "Yeah, you," Cuddy said simply.
   "Me?" House was taken aback. "He ditched you because of two inter-
ruptions from me? He cannot have been that insecure or timid. You
would have spotted it earlier on and not have met him at all."
   "No, the reason he gave was that I was everything he wanted," Cuddy
paused before delivering the punch line. "When I was with you!"
   "He wanted a three-some?" House suggested a little startled.
   "No, silly," Cuddy had to laugh. "No. He said that he didn't know if it
was you or my job or just me loving arguments but when he saw me
with you I was focused, and vibrant and alive. Intensely alive. That was
the woman he wanted to know, and – not being an idiot - he knew he
wasn't going to. So he said: thanks and no hard feelings."
   "Hmm, I suppose one has to respect a man for knowing his own
mind," House mused. "Sorry, had I known … "



                                                                          63
   "You would still have screwed up my date," Cuddy finished for him.
   "Probably," House admitted. "So what was it? Me or your job or
arguing?"
   "Darn if I know," Cuddy sighed. "Though I never feel as alive as when
I'm arguing with you. You challenge me like nobody else. I just haven't
figured out if I hate it or like it. But it does get addictive."
   "Like Vindaloo curry," House remarked dryly.
   "Vindaloo curry?" Cuddy wondered.
   "That's what Stacy called it. I'm like really hot curry that burns your
mouth and makes you swear that you never want to eat curry again,"
House explained. "Only, then one morning you wake up and feel that
you really want some curry."
   "I suppose we have to agree that she probably knew what she was
talking about," Cuddy nodded. "Besides I know what she means. You are
like fire, intensely fascinating, but get too close and get burned. The only
one who seems to be immune to it is Wilson."
   "That's because Wilson doesn't really know what he is risking," House
sighed. "On one level he knows me better than anyone, but on another –
he doesn't know the first thing about me. Which, I suppose is the reason
why we are friends."
   "That's screwed up," Cuddy observed.
   "That's me," House agreed. "Now, are you going to try and sleep any-
time tonight or… ?"
   "Sleep," Cuddy voted. "But I want that new mattress tomorrow."
   "We'll make it happen," House promised as they slowly drifted to
sleep.
   Next morning House woke up early, both Aiko and Cuddy were still
asleep. He checked the time and realised it was close to the time his
mother usually woke up and went into the kitchen to start on the break-
fast. He got out of the bed - managing it without waking Cuddy – and
made his way to the main kitchen where Blythe indeed was mixing a
pancake batter.
   "Greg!" Blythe exclaimed. "You're up early. Is your leg bothering you
or is something wrong with Aiko?"
   "No, no, everything is fine," House responded pouring himself a glass
of juice. "It's just that… Could you go and get some clothes for Cuddy
from her room. Sweats, something, anything."
   "Why would I do that?" Blythe was a little confused at the request.
"Isn't she in her room?"




                                                                         64
   "No," House confessed. "Her mattress is too soft now that she is preg-
nant – which reminds me we need to find her a new one today – so she is
asleep in my bed now. Only since I found her here in the middle of the
night she doesn't have anything to change into once she gets up."
   "Oh," Blythe couldn't help it but she experienced a small flare of hope:
maybe her son had found happiness after all. House, of course read his
mother like a book.
   "No, Mom, we have not moved in together," House clarified. "We just
slept in the same bed. Friends can do that sometimes when necessary,
and it was necessary because Cuddy's back was killing her. Besides, she
is nearly six months pregnant! Just think: how horny were you when …
you … were … that … far… " House's voice slowed and died down as –
totally fascinated – he watched a deep crimson tide make its way up his
mother's neck and face probably covering her from her toes to the top of
her head. House closed his eyes and shook his head: "Shit! I may have
just scarred myself for life!"
   "Gregory," Blythe was still red, but she was a grown woman and cap-
able of speaking to her son – even about anything. "You don't need to
take that attitude. Surely you knew a stork didn't bring you!"
   "Mom, its one thing to assume that your parents have a sex life,"
House didn't choke on those words; he just looked like he wished he
could. "Or even to hope, academically, that it was and is a satisfying one.
This, however, is different. This is too much information. Besides I was
there!"
   "No you weren't," Blythe insisted. "You were, now what is it you say –
yes, you were just a parasite. Long before you were you."
   "Theoretically I agree," House grimaced. "But sometimes theory just
doesn't cover everything. However, that was not supposed to be the sub-
ject of this morning's conversation. Let's get back to Cuddy and her
wardrobe, please."
   "Fine, I'll go get something for her to wear," Blythe relented. "Will you
wait here or… ?"
   "I'll be here, but I think it would be better if you took the clothes to
her," House mused. "Since I don't want to keep her visit a secret – espe-
cially as nothing worth hiding happened anyway, it might be best if you
two can talk about it in private. She might have a thing or two to say
about me that she wouldn't want to say when I'm around."
   So that was why Cuddy woke up to find Blythe in House's bedroom
with some clothes for her. Aiko wasn't there anymore as she had been




                                                                         65
waking up when Blythe got there and she had carried the baby to House
to mind.
   "Greg asked me to bring you some clothes," Blythe smiled. "He
thought it would be nicer for you than trailing through the house in your
nightgown. And don't worry, he told me what happened."
   "Thank you, Blythe," Cuddy tried to shake the last remnants of sleep
from her as she sat up. She had to say that she hadn't slept this well since
she got pregnant. "I wish I had realised what was wrong with my bed
myself. I would have arranged for a new mattress sooner. I hope House
got some rest, too. Is he ok? His leg?"
   "He is fine," Blythe smiled. "He is taking care of Aiko's morning
routines."
   "So Kasumii stayed with Grey again last night?" Cuddy smiled. She
liked the young couple – especially since both had made it clear that
there was no chance Kasumii would not stay on as a Nanny to Aiko and
the Triplets.
   "Hmm," Blythe confirmed. "They are coming later to spend the Sunday
with us, as, I suppose, are the others, too. Or at least most of them."
   "I still find this idea of open house that House has here a little hard to
believe," Cuddy wondered. "It's almost like a parallel universe."
   "Not really," Blythe revealed. "This was the way our home was when
he was a child. He put up with it because of me, now he is doing it for
the children. Besides, he does have his lair to retire to if people start get-
ting on his nerves."
   "Do you think we can make this work?" Cuddy wanted to know
Blythe's opinion.
   "Yes," Blythe was sure. "It will take work, make no mistake, but I be-
lieve that since you are both willing to do the work, it will be ok. Not
easy, but you'll be fine."
   "Thank you," Cuddy smiled. "Sometimes I just need to be reassured."
   "And Greg isn't necessarily the most reassuring person around, is he,"
Blythe sighed.
   "No," Cuddy agreed. "But he has his moments, when he wants to.
Thank you for the clothes. I'll get dressed and come to the kitchen for
breakfast soon."
   "Good," Blythe nodded. "See you then. I'm sure Greg has got Aiko
ready by then too."




                                                                           66
Chapter    11
Sunday tea
Blythe had been right, everybody did converge at the house again for the
Sunday afternoon; even Miss Hill came over. Anna had originally been a
little hesitant about accepting Blythe's invitation but after the egging in-
cident House had confirmed her welcome, so she had decided to show
up.
   The first to arrive, however, had been Kasumii and Grey. Kasumii,
naturally, lived in the house, so she really didn't need any reason to be
there, but given that Sunday was supposed to be her day off, her bring-
ing Grey there instead of staying in his place or going somewhere else al-
together said quite a lot about the family that had formed itself around
Aiko – and now the expected Trips. On their arrival Grey wanted to have
a word with House and Cuddy.
   "Look, I think I could go and give you a big speech about my feelings
for Kasumii and try and make a case for myself, but you know all that
and I don't want to waste any time," Grey said to House. "We've been
through all that one way or another. The thing I need to know, we need
to know, is: what is your policy about Kasumii having me stay with her
overnight?"
   "Well, I'm not sure we have any say in that," Cuddy mused.
   "In our house, yes we do," House stated. "If we have rules for each oth-
er – not that we are going to enlighten you two about those – then we
definitely have rules for the Nanny of our children, too."
   "You seem to have thought this out," Cuddy observed. "So go on, have
the floor. I'll let you know if I disagree."
   "Am I correct in assuming that you two think you are going to be to-
gether for forever and a day?" House asked Grey and Kasumii.
   "I want to grow old with her," Grey declared simply.
   "And I like that idea very much," Kasumii agreed taking Grey's hand.
   "So where do you live now?" House asked Grey.




                                                                         67
   "Actually I live in the same hotel that Dr Wilson used to live in until he
moved into your old flat," Grey said. "Until I met Kasumii I wasn't sure I
wanted to stay in New Jersey and since then I haven't had time to look
for a flat."
   "So your present location wouldn't be an ideal place to take a girl to,"
House nodded. "Especially if you are serious about her."
   "Not ideal," Grey agreed. "But not impossible either. Besides I can get a
flat for myself. Your decision will not make or break our relationship, we
just need to know."
   "Ok, then," House took his time to answer the question. "The main rule
of this house is that the children come first. What is good for them is
good for the rest of us and what is bad for them is not tolerated. What
doesn't fall into those two categories is up to you. I don't want the kids to
be introduced to a series of aunts or uncles but since you two are plan-
ning to stick together, I see no problem with Grey staying over."
   "That's ok with me, too," Cuddy said.
   "In fact," House went further than expected. "If Kasumii has no prob-
lem in sharing her room with you, you can even move in. In time! Not
right now. We have enough adjusting to do as it is, but in a month or
two, once we see how things settle down here, we can discuss that
again."
   "You're sure?" Grey was surprised at the permission.
   "No," House replied. "But I'm willing to consider it and, as I said, dis-
cuss it again in a couple of months."
   "And if you want," Blythe had walked in on the conversation, too.
"You can stay in Neffie's flat till then. We were going to go on paying her
rent till she returns even though I don't live there anymore, but I'm sure
she won't mind if you take it over for a few weeks. She will return from
Europe in seven weeks or so."
   "Neffie?" Grey wondered.
   "The young artist who lives upstairs in Greg's old building," Blythe ex-
plained. "She went to Europe for six months or so on a scholarship and
agreed to rent her flat furnished to me as long as I took care of her paint-
ings and things."
   "That's… " Grey was a little lost for words. "That would be nice, I'm
sure."
   "If you can stand living so close to Wilson," House inserted a little
derogatorily.
   "I think I can survive his proximity," Grey surmised dryly.




                                                                          68
   Later, when Chase and Foreman arrived – Wilson, Anna and Cameron
had already arrived a little earlier – Blythe met them at the door and led
them to the kitchen; she needed them to carry things to the back yard.
   "And beware of Greg," Blythe told them a little ruefully as she gave
them platters of goodies to carry to the pick-nick table outside.
   "More than usual?" Chase asked.
   "Yes, more than usual," Cuddy confirmed as she took a tray full of cut-
lery to carry.
   "What is the matter with him, then?" Foreman wondered. He couldn't
imagine how House could be worse than usual – surely his leg hadn't
suddenly started to hurt more than it had lately.
   "He is having an allergic reaction," Kasumii told them as she took a
pitcher full of ice-tea from the fritz.
   "What is he allergic to?" Chase was surprised. He had thought House
was too superhuman to suffer from something as mundane as allergies.
   "I'm pregnant and stressing so he has been nice to me, and he was all
yesterday and all off today," Cuddy told them. "When Grey and Kasumii
got here he was nice to them. He is always nice to Blythe… "
   "I get it," Chase nodded. "He is breaking into mental hives over having
been too nice for too long."
   "Exactly!" Cuddy confirmed.
   "Well, I'm surprised he managed to be nice even as long as you said,"
Foreman noted as he followed Kasumii outside – with Chase, Cuddy
and Blythe following him.
   Kasumii made a detour on her way to the pick-nick table stopping by
House to ask if there was anything she needed to do for him or Aiko –
who was resting contentedly against his Daddy, who was lying prone on
the grass talking with Wilson. Blythe, Cuddy, Chase and Foreman went
straight to the table and as they set down their burdens they saw House
say something to Kasumii in response to her question. The answer made
Kasumii give House a very angry glare. She bent down, set the pitcher of
tea on the grass, took Aiko from House and gave her to Grey, who had
come over to see what was going on, and then she picked up the tea
again and poured it all over House without a word.
   Spluttering House jack-knifed into a sitting position and there was a
moment of absolute silence. Then, when everyone realised what had
happened and were just about to burst into laughter they were silenced
by a shriek of absolute fury from Aiko. She struggled against Grey's hold
screaming at the top of her lungs and when Kasumii tried to take her she
actually batted her hands away from her. House was startled enough to



                                                                       69
forget totally his own discomfort and he motioned Grey to give Aiko to
him, which Grey did.
  "It's ok," House crooned to Aiko. "I'm fine, no harm done. It's just tea,
here, taste." House rubbed his finger against his cheek gathering some
tea on his finger then giving it to Aiko to taste. "It's fine. I'm fine. Really.
Kasumii didn't do anything wrong. I'm fine. Just fine."
  Kasumii got down to her knees next to House and tried to reach Aiko,
but Aiko absolutely refused to even look at her. She clung to House and
made small, distressed sounds. House tried to make her at least look at
Kasumii, but he was unsuccessful for quite a while, finally he succeeded
in calming Aiko and got her to listen to him. Aiko still refused to com-
municate with Kasumii, but at least she was no longer clinging so des-
perately to House.
  "Come on, Little Love," House was almost as distressed as Aiko. He
totally ignored his wet clothes and the fact that he was also getting
Aiko's clothes all wet. "Nothing bad happened. Just some horseplay
between adults. You know we sometimes behave idiotically, it's just
what adults do."
  It took some fifteen minutes for House to finally get through to Aiko
and in the end he actually had to kiss Kasumii on the cheek to make
Aiko finally accept that Kasumii hadn't done anything bad to her Daddy.
He even managed to get Aiko to kiss Kasumii, too. After some more con-
versation Aiko finally agreed to let Kasumii take her inside to change her
clothes – she had got all wet from the tea that had saturated House's
clothes – and House, too, went inside to change.
  "We didn't just see that, did we," Chase commented to Foreman.
  "Well, we saw something," Foreman stated cautiously. "But we
couldn't possibly have seen what we thought we saw. I mean, Aiko is a
smart baby, but her cognitive development is not far enough for her to
have concluded that Miss Tanaka was hurting House. Most babies
would not have even properly noticed what happened as it wasn't in-
volving them directly and even most toddlers would have thought it was
just funny. For her to conclude… Well there is no way she could have
concluded anything at all. There is no way that what we saw actually
happened. It has to be all in our minds."
  "Yeah," Chase doubted. "I think someone forgot to tell that to Aiko."
  Some fifteen minutes later House had had a shower and he was
wrapped in a towel trying to find some clothes to wear. Because of his
leg and being one handed due to the cane it always took him longer to
rummage through his closet and drawers than before his injury.



                                                                             70
Therefore when Kasumii knocked on his door he was still in the early
stages of changing his clothes.
   "House?" Kasumii's voice sounded from the door between the main
house and his flat. "Aiko is still fretting, can I come in? Are you decent?"
   "Never," House grumbled back. "But the important bits are covered so
you can bring Aiko in. Just carry her to the bedroom."
   Kasumii walked in and settled Aiko in to her crib. Aiko sat up in it, but
the sides kept her safe and Kasumii handed her Mr Panda to explore, so
she was ok as long as she was able to hear House's voice. Kasumii was
about to leave, when she glanced at House and frowned.
   "You have gained weight, haven't you?" She asked.
   "So what?" House frowned back.
   "That's not good for your health," Kasumii concluded. "I know you
have cut down on greasy foods, and your alcohol, of course, but it seems
you still eat too much fat and probably too much carbohydrates. Your
weight gain probably indicates elevated cholesterol levels, too, and that
is not good news for either your liver or your heart."
   "You are Aiko's Nanny, not mine," House grumbled.
   "Yes, I am Aiko's Nanny," Kasumii agreed. "But you just said this
morning that what is bad for the babies is not to be tolerated and you dy-
ing sooner than you have to, because of your eating habits is bad for the
babies! I'll have a word with your mother." With that Kasumii left House
to splutter in indignation.
   "Now that was mean," House told Aiko. "That is what you should be
protesting against, not some ice-tea!"
   The rest of the Sunday went comfortably. House joined the others with
Aiko and the tea incident was ignored totally. Aiko did receive some
strange looks from the doctors but once House forced them all to play at
least one round of fish with her, everybody forgot the strange connection
Aiko seemed to have with her father. All the attention soon exhausted
Aiko and House took her inside to have a nap. After a while Blythe fol-
lowed him. She found him sitting on his bed and watching Aiko.
   "What is it Greg?" Blythe had noticed her son had been unusually
pensive all afternoon.
   "Nothing much," House sighed. "I just thought I would have more
control."
   "Control?" Blythe wondered.
   "Yeah," House nodded. "I thought I could pick and choose. That I
could decide what changes I had to make and what I didn't. And when I
had to make them. I knew that having Aiko meant that I had to make



                                                                         71
some changes, like starting to take better care of myself and accepting
more people into my everyday life than I comfortably wanted to. But I
was wrong. Aiko is the one who decides what changes I need to make
and when."
   "What do you mean?" Blythe asked. "What changes are you talking
about? Because as far as I can see you have made huge changes and Aiko
has been your main concern ever since she came into your life. This
house, Lisa, Kasumii, even accepting Grey – you have been quite amaz-
ingly ready to change."
   "Yeah," House didn't sound very convinced. "Really amazing. I have
been willing to change my environment and I have been willing to put
up with things but I haven't really tried to change myself. And I need to."
   "I'm still in the dark, son," Blythe said.
   "What happened today cannot happen again," House sighed. "I cannot
provoke Kasumii to retaliate. It distressed Aiko. And when there are four
children in the house I cannot treat Kasumii and Cuddy quite the way
I'm used to treating them. They are adults and they can handle anything
I throw at them, but that does not matter to the children. If I appear to
undermine Cuddy and Kasumii and their authority – no matter how
well they can handle it and how well they can put me in my place – that
will affect the children and the way they behave. I need to show respect,
not just have it."
   "You are talking about how Aiko reacted to Kasumii dousing you with
the tea," Blythe realised.
   "Yeah," House confirmed. "Aiko is not old enough to understand that I
provoked it. She reacted to just what she saw. I cannot cause her similar
distress again. And there is no saying how the trips would react in simil-
ar situation. And as Kasumii just reminded me – though in different con-
text – I'm the one who made the rule that what is bad for the children
will not be tolerated. So I have to change. I just don't know how!"
   Blythe came over to sit by her son. She kissed him consolingly on the
cheek and told him: "You will figure it out. You always figure things out
especially when they are important. And because of Aiko and the Trips
this is important, you will figure it out. I promise you."




                                                                        72
Chapter    12
Questions and some answers
Monday afternoon Cuddy came to see House. She found him on the
floor of his office listening to music while Aiko contentedly crawled all
over him pretending to be a mountain climber or something. House oc-
casionally pulled her back towards him when she was heading too far
away from him and his reach, but other than that she was free to do as
she chose – even when it meant poking her Daddy's nose and pulling his
hair (though there he did protest telling her that he didn't have any to
spare). Cuddy watched them for a moment imagining three more little
people into the picture; she was beginning to believe that they really
could make it without screwing up the kids too bad. However, that
could wait; she had come here for a reason.
   "House," Cuddy called for his attention. He opened his eyes and
looked at her questioningly – he knew he had done his clinic duty for the
day! Cuddy smiled. "I got a call, the paperwork went through. Dr Higa is
now attached to PPTH as a quest lecturer and a consultant in the interna-
tional programme that is being set up for our students."
   "Great!" House got up into a sitting position carefully taking Aiko with
him. "Did you hear that Little Love? Your grandpa is coming over to see
you soon. How soon, Cuddy?"
   "Well all the papers are in order, so anytime he can get ready," Cuddy
shrugged. "I thought you could call him and find out."
   "And it's ok with you that he lives in the house?" House checked again.
   "It's your house," Cuddy reminded him. "You can invite in anyone you
want."
   "You cannot take that attitude Cuddy," House shook his head at her.
"Just because I bought the house with the money I got in compensation
from Landis does not mean it isn't as much your house now that you live
in it."
   "You mean that I have to take my position as the mistress of the house
seriously?" Cuddy smiled.



                                                                        73
   "As long as you don't write that house with a capital letter!" House re-
minded her. "You order me about quite enough at work; don't get any
ideas of being able to do it at home, too."
   "I'm not that successful at it even at work," Cuddy grumbled.
   "You have been lately," House pointed out distracting Aiko from pok-
ing his eyes by making a fish-face.
   "Yes, I have," Cuddy agreed. "That does worry me a little. What are
you up to?"
   "Nothing," House replied innocently – managing to distract Cuddy,
too, a little, with his play with Aiko. "I just want you to have a chance to
get everything in order before your maternity leave. You don't need any
distractions from me right now. You know I can behave when I want to."
   "I know you can," Cuddy replied. "You just usually don't want to, so
this is making me a little suspicious. You are planning something! You
are not going to egg Sheridan's car again, are you?"
   "I didn't do it the first time," House reminded her. "And if he stays out
of your parking space his car will be safe."
   "Ok, then," Cuddy nodded, though she didn't really believe him. He
was up to something, but obviously she had to wait and see what it was.
Before Cuddy had time to try another tack to get the answers she still
wanted Blythe came into House's office, too.
   "I got a call from John," Blythe said as soon as she arrived. She knew
that the blunt approach was usually the best with her son.
   "What did he want?" House asked. "Or was it about those therapy ses-
sions he didn't want?"
   "In a way," Blythe nodded. "I told you before that he wants to come
over and talk with me. Well, he is coming over tomorrow. He'll stay
around for about a week and we try to get some talking done. Both just
between ourselves and with my therapist."
   "And where is he staying?" House queried cautiously.
   "In a hotel I imagine," Blythe said.
   "Are you sure that works? Or is that what you want?" House wanted
more information. "I'm not suggesting that having him in your flat
would be a good idea, but if you think it would help things to have him
stay in the house, I'm ok with it. If it's ok with Lisa, of course."
   Cuddy was a little startled to have House call her by her first name,
but responded nevertheless: "I'm ok with it, if you are and if Blythe
thinks it would help. Only, what about Dr Higa?"




                                                                         74
   "If Dad stays in the ground floor guest room Dr Higa can stay in my
flat until Dad leaves," House shrugged. "That way he would be closer to
Aiko, too."
   "So Aiko is not going to be sleeping in her own room any time soon?"
Blythe nearly smirked. She, too, had placed a bet on House keeping Aiko
with him even after their move to the house.
   "She's too small yet," House mumbled. "I'll move her in there gradu-
ally. Besides, she did sleep in it the night I had to stay in hospital with a
patient."
   "Once," Cuddy pointed out. "That is not really introducing her to it
gradually. She spent couple of nights in my house, too, and I'm sure she
didn't think even for a moment that she would be staying."
   "Aiko is still a baby," House reminded her. "At just shy of seven
months she isn't thinking anything is going to be permanent – or not per-
manent. Her cognitive processes are not very complicated as yet."
   "True," Cuddy agreed. "Only, I have to admit, that with Aiko I have
started to doubt the theories somewhat. She just seems to know more
than she is supposed to."
   "That's because she is a very smart little girl," House concluded
proudly. "But that is beside the point now; we were supposed to talk
about Dad's visit."
   "Not much to talk about yet," Blythe told Cuddy and House. "I'm glad
you are willing to put him up if I want it, I'll think about it and let you
know before we leave for home today."
   "That works," House accepted. He was still sitting on the floor making
occasional fish-faces to Aiko to keep her entertained during the adult
conversation.
   Cuddy looked at him speculatively. He couldn't move because he was
holding Aiko and his cane was leaning against the desk. He was pretty
much captive audience right then and Cuddy decided to take advantage
of the fact: "One more thing, House, before we leave you alone."
   "What?" House asked unaware of any danger.
   "We want to know what made Miss Tanaka douse you with that tea?"
Cuddy didn't really ask, she was demanding an answer. House looked
up seeing two expectant faces look down on him. He assessed his
chances of escape and saw there were none.
   "I just … arh … I just told her that she looks pretty in pink," House
coughed a little embarrassed.




                                                                          75
   "She wasn't wearing anything pink," Blythe mused, but then she sud-
denly had a mental picture of House lying on the grass and Kasumii
standing close by. She gave House a glare: "Or was she?"
   "Apparently she was," House mumbled.
   "Apparently? You are not sure?" Cuddy wondered.
   "I didn't actually peek," House confessed. "But pink is her favourite
colour and it's rare to see her without something pink on her, even if it's
only a hairclip. I didn't see any so I just took a wild guess."
   "You are talking about looking up her skirt!" Cuddy yelled outraged.
   "I told you – and incidentally I have told her, too, last night, that I
didn't look," House defended himself. "I was just jerking her chain. It
was a wild guess!"
   "Which hit the jackpot apparently," Blythe concluded dryly.
   "Yep," House nodded shamefacedly – after all his mother was there.
   "You really are a pig," Cuddy stated.
   "Uhhmmm … I'd say more a piglet only, as I really, really, really didn't
look!" House sort of agreed.
   "You did apologize?" Blythe asked pointedly.
   "Apparently," House parroted again. "At least she forgave me."
   "You really do need to start mending your ways," Blythe sighed. "And
don't say apparently again!"
   "No, I won't say that," House smiled ruefully. "You can just assume it."
   "I have to say, you deserved that tea," Cuddy stated. "In fact, you were
lucky that Aiko took exception to that action or you might have ended
up even worse off. Had Grey heard you, you might have needed the ser-
vices of a doctor."
   "Well I had a yard full of them, so it wasn't that much of a risk," House
pointed out.
   "Only there is a distinct chance that none of them would have helped
you," Blythe suspected.
   "Oh, it's more than a chance," Cuddy confirmed. "Of course you did
have a miniature bodyguard so I suppose we will never know for sure
what would have happened."
   "Yeah, my girl," House gave Aiko a kiss. "She will always have my
back!"
   "You need her to cover your front and sides, too, if you mean to go on
as you have," Cuddy prompted.
   Before House could start properly defending himself – if that was
what he was going to do – his phone rang. Cuddy checked that caller ID
and as it was Miss Hill (or actually the ID read dragon calling, Cuddy



                                                                         76
mused that she didn't really want to know what House had coded for
her number!) Cuddy took it.
   "Good, you were the one I was trying to reach," Anna said immedi-
ately as she heard Cuddy's voice. "There is a bit of a commotion going on
down here, so you are needed."
   "What has happened?" Cuddy put the call on the speaker.
   "Well, first of all it appears that Rawls has ordered some supplies that
don't do what they are supposed to do – at least they have made Brenda
come here to yell at him and, well," Anna paused for a second and
House got a distinct sense that she did it to stifle a laugh. "If House is
listening he better get his butt down here, too. Ms Forbes has broken out
in hives without any apparent reason. And considering who her father
is… "
   "We better get our best doctor on her case," Cuddy concluded. "Fine,
we're coming."
   "Goodness," House simpered as he got up and gave Aiko to Blythe. "It
seems that dear Sheridan is in trouble again. And what could possibly
have happened to Ms Forbes?"
   "If you had anything to do with this," Cuddy turned to stare at House.
"So help me, I will make you sorry!"
   "You have to prove that I had something to do with it, first," House re-
minded her. "Besides, once again, I'm completely innocent. It's quite pos-
sible that Sheridan has just made an honest – ok, it's still Sheridan so it
may be a dishonest, but you get my point – mistake. As for Ms Forbes,
she could just be sick. You know, it happens. Being a doctor you ought to
know that."
   "But you have been planning something ever since they got here,"
Cuddy insisted. "And I'm not talking about the plan we have for protect-
ing my job. I'm talking about you wrecking havoc in my hospital!"
   "Relax Cuddy," House tried to reassure her. "I'm not planning any-
thing too bad. And whatever Miss Hill's call was about, it wasn't me. Th-
ings do happen around here even if I don't plan them. I'm not god, you
know."
   "Ok, I suppose," Cuddy relented. "But I will get to the bottom of it.
Whatever it is. Come on, we better get going before Ms Forbes gets
worse."
   "Coming," House gestured her to lead the way. "Mom, Kasumii should
be back from her lunch in ten minutes or so, can you stay with Aiko?"
   "Of course," Blythe smiled. "Besides, your team is just next door so if I
need help, I'll call them."



                                                                         77
   "Thanks Mom," House responded as he limped after Cuddy who was
already at the lifts.




                                                              78
Chapter    13
Chocolate, sweet chocolate
When House and Cuddy got to Cuddy's office Brenda was just about to
leave but seeing Cuddy she decided to stay long enough to explain her
complaint. They went into Cuddy's office – where Sheridan was camped
also, for now. House stayed in the ante-room with Miss Hill and Ms
Forbes.
  Ms Forbes was covered in ugly red blotches. Apart from looking
miserable and quite clearly trying not to scratch the rash, she seemed ok.
  "That looks like an allergic reaction," House observed taking her pulse
and touching her face to check for fever. "Pulse is normal and you don't
seem to be feverish, though we better take your temperature just in case.
Any known allergies you have?"
  "I'm allergic to chilli and other capsicums, but that's it," Janelle told
him.
  "I presume you are smart enough to avoid them?" House queried.
  "Yes, of course," Janelle huffed.
  "So we can assume that you haven't eaten anything that could possibly
contain chilli," House nodded. "And that is the only allergy you know
you have?"
  "Yes, that's the only one," Janelle nodded.
  "Ok, so what have you eaten within the last half an hour or so?" House
wanted to know.
  "A sandwich I made myself at home, some coffee and a piece of
chocolate," Janelle shrugged.
  "Chocolate?" Miss Hill was suddenly all attention. She immediately
went to her desk and checked the drawer. "You ate my chocolate! The
chocolate I specifically told you I wasn't going to share and which I
locked in my drawer when I went to have my own lunch. You broke into
my desk and ate my chocolate!"
  "No I didn't," Janelle denied. "I had my own chocolate with me."




                                                                        79
   "Then why am I missing two pieces?" Anna asked archly. "Do you
think I'm stupid as well as fat? Do you think I can't count? Besides, your
lips may say no, but the blotches all over you say hell yes!"
   "You put chilli in your chocolate?" Janelle was outraged. "Are you try-
ing to poison me?"
   "Well had I known that you are a petty thief I would not have brought
chocolate to work," Anna sniped. "Now that I do, I'll make sure to keep
my treats at home."
   "That's it? You're not going to apologise for having caused this?" Jan-
elle yelled. "You make me all blotchy and itchy and you're not even go-
ing to apologise?"
   "I wasn't the one who shoved that chocolate down your throat," Anna
yelled back. "I specifically told you not to take any. So hell no, I'm not
apologising. You're the one who should apologise but I guess I can let it
pass as you really do look horrid."
   "Ladies," House intervened. "All this shouting is not going to make the
blotches go away. So may I suggest that Ms Forbes takes this prescrip-
tion, fills it at the pharmacy and goes home? You ought to be fine by
tomorrow."
   "Fine," Janelle snapped snatching the paper from House and storming
out after gathering her purse and coat. "Don't think this is the end,
though, Miss Hill. I'm telling my father how you treated me and we'll see
how long you last on your post."
   Once they were sure Ms Forbes was out of earshot – and that Sheridan
was still busy with Cuddy and Brenda – House turned to Miss Hill:
"How did you know about her allergy?"
   "Her father came by to see her last week," Anna smiled. "I made a
point of telling him how delightful his daughter was and how nice it was
to have someone like her in the same office with me. He was happy to
take me into the cafeteria for a cup of coffee and some reminiscing. Of
course he is under the impression that his daughter has outgrown her
childish ways of wanting whatever someone else has."
   "Is that why she wants Sheridan? Because someone else has him
already?" House wondered.
   "As far as I can tell," Anna confirmed. "According to her father, when
she was little she didn't want similar toys as others, she wanted the toys
that the others had. Once she got them, she didn't much care what
happened to them then."




                                                                       80
   "That sounds like Daddy made sure she got the toys she wanted,"
House mused. "How did he think she was going to learn to behave if he
never did anything that forced her to learn?"
   "Beats me," Anna shrugged. "But I think that he is in for a rude
awakening. As is Janelle, once Daddy dearest is no longer there to make
things right for her."
   "Anyway, good work Miss Hill," House congratulated. "Did you get
Sheridan too?"
   "Not exactly," Anna responded. "I just didn't tell him that the cheaper
stuff he wanted to order would not work with our equipments. I didn't
see why I should as he didn't ask me in the first place."
   "So how long will it take to correct his mistake?" House asked.
   "I'm not sure how long it will take him to sort things out, but as he
didn't tell me he was doing the ordering I made the normal order accord-
ing to Dr Cuddy's instructions and that shipment should arrive some
time tomorrow," Anna told him smugly.
   "So does this mean I don't get any fun at all once Cuddy leaves?"
House pouted.
   "Not at all," Anna consoled him. "I just took advantage of an opportun-
ity. Getting rid of Sheridan takes more manipulation than I can do, but I
will certainly help any way I can. Basically Sheridan is all yours, though.
After all, I wouldn't have been involved in the egging incident at all had
you not needed an alibi and had we been able to open a window that
didn't mean you had to lean on your bad leg to reach the ideal throwing
position. I was happy to help there, but I'm also quite happy to have you
deal with Sheridan."
   "Thank you," House accepted. "I'm happy to know that I still have my
uses."
   "You do," Anna confirmed. "Though Ms Forbes is mine. Apart from
the fact that you need to take care of Dr Cuddy as well as deal with
Sheridan, I'm not letting anyone else have the pleasure of annihilating
that supercilious tart."
   "That sounded personal!" House observed.
   "It is now," Anna stated.
   "So, do you really like chilli chocolate?" House wanted to know.
   "Yes, I do," Anna said. "Chilli goes well with dark chocolate. The May-
ans used to combine those two all the time."
   "Really?" House commented. "That being the case it seems silly that
someone who is allergic to chilli wouldn't make sure there is not chilli in
the chocolate before she eats it."



                                                                        81
   "I personally always ask," Anna agreed with House.
   "I must say," House confided. "You did beautifully. My hat is off to
you."
   "Thank you," Anna accepted. "I do try."
   That evening House was in the living room with Aiko. Aiko was sit-
ting on the floor with her toys, but she wasn't playing. She was attent-
ively listening to her Daddy who was trying out his guitar for the first
time within her hearing. As Cuddy was upstairs resting and Blythe and
Kasumii were in the kitchen doing whatever it is women do there – you
will learn in time, Aiko, I'm sure – House didn't feel he needed to con-
sider any other audience but Aiko, so he picked a simple enough tune
that he played slowly to his baby girl. He didn't sing, since the words
were way too sappy, but Aiko seemed to like the tune. He didn't know
that the sounds carried to the kitchen and Blythe was almost teary-eyed
as she sang silently to herself:
   For once in my life / I have someone who needs me / Someone I've needed so
long / For once unafraid / I can go where life leads me / And somehow I know
I'll be strong / For once I can touch / What my heart used to dream of / Long be-
fore I knew / Someone warm like you / Could make my dream come true / For
once in my life / I won't let sorrow hurt me / Not like it's hurt me before / For
once I've got someone / I know won't desert me / I'm not alone anymore / For
once I can say / This is mine, you can't take it / As long as I've got love / I know
I can make it / For once in my life / I've got someone who needs me.
   She waited till House had changed into a children's song before she
joined him in the living room and she didn't tell him that she had heard
the previous song, too.
   "Aiko seems to enjoy music," Blythe observed.
   "I keep telling everyone she is one smart kid," House said without in-
terrupting his playing.
   "That she is," Blythe agreed. "I'm so glad she came into our lives."
   "So what do you expect will happen with your marriage?" House
asked changing the tune to some ballad that Blythe didn't recognise.
   "I don't know," Blythe sighed. "I'm not even sure what I want to hap-
pen. I was brought up to believe that marriage is forever. Unless you had
a very good reason to end it. Well, I had a good reason, but I found out
about it some forty years too late. Until I learned about it I was under the
impression that John was a good husband. I knew he wasn't an ideal
father for you, you were too different, but I didn't know how bad it
really was. When I did learn about it, I still couldn't completely separate
the husband I knew from the husband I truly had so to me it was pretty



                                                                                 82
much self-evident that we needed to save our marriage – if he was will-
ing to make the necessary changes."
   "Was? Past tense?" House queried.
   "Yes. Past tense," Blythe confirmed. "Now I'm not so sure. For the first
time in my life I have been happy. Just happy, you know. Not happy,
but. Or happy, if. Just happy. I have had happy moments before, like
when you were born and many others, but happy has not been a constant
state. Sure, I'm not saying that I couldn't be happier or that there aren't a
few things I wouldn't change if I could, but for the first time I'm living
for myself. For the first time I don't need to adjust my life to accommod-
ate someone else. Quite the contrary, in fact. If I need something, you are
making the necessary adjustments. You are happy to have my help with
Aiko and everything, but if I need to go somewhere or just want to sleep
in, you don't need reasons or explanations or anything. You just accept
my decision and if Aiko needs a minder or something you do it yourself
or get someone else to do it."
   "You are my mother," House frowned. "Of course I accept your de-
cisions. And Aiko is not your responsibility. I appreciate your help, but
you have your own life, too. I wouldn't dream of depending on you to
the extent that it would curtail your freedom."
   "I know," Blythe caressed his cheek. "That is why helping you feels like
a privilege, not a duty or a burden. I'm free and independent, for the first
time in my life. Or so I feel, though in truth I do depend on you to sup-
port me. I don't make quite enough money from my work to be truly
independent."
   "You work for your room and board and whatever money I give you,"
House shrugged. "You are acting basically as our housekeeper and we
need you. But even housekeepers have days off, so of course you can go
out and do things you want."
   "Yeah," Blythe smiled. "I know that is what you think. But you don't
know how new that approach is to me. I like my life as it is, and I'm not
sure I want anything to change."
   "Dad might not be too happy with this new you," House observed.
   "No, I don't think he will be," Blythe admitted. "Any more than he will
like it that he is staying in the guest room while you share your flat with
Dr Higa."
   "He doesn't like me sharing my flat with Aiko, so he can just lump Dr
Higa together with her and keep his opinion to himself," House didn't
feel sorry for his father.
   "I will convey that message to him," Blythe promised.



                                                                          83
   "I can do it myself," House stated. "I imagine you two have enough
things to talk about without my kids and Dr Higa."
   "Yes we do, but you do understand that there is no way your children
won't be part of the things we need to talk about," Blythe reminded him.
"If John wishes to be a grandfather – no matter what happens to our mar-
riage – he needs to drastically change his attitude towards Aiko. And
probably towards Dr Higa, too."
   "Well, you just take one issue at a time and we'll go from there," House
told her. "If Dad cannot change his attitude towards Aiko but you still
want him in your life in some capacity, we'll make it work. He doesn't
need to be a grandfather to the kids to be around. Really, Mom, don't
worry. We will work things out somehow. Take all the time you need."
   "Thank you," Blythe smiled. "Was there anything you needed before
you took Aiko to bed?"
   "No, I'm fine, thanks," House nodded.
   Later that night House was in his room reading medical journals while
Aiko slumbered peacefully in her crib. He had a walkie-talkie on the cof-
fee table and suddenly Cuddy's voice came through it: "House?"
   "Yeah, I'm awake," House responded. "So you found the package."
   "Yes I did," Cuddy said. "Only I was under the impression that you
weren't supposed to come into my room."
   "I didn't," House confirmed. "Mom carried it there for me. I thought
you might like a chance to talk to someone if you cannot sleep."
   "I do," Cuddy had actually burst into tears (damn those hormones!)
when she found the gift and opened it to read the card inside which said:
I'm a night-owl anyway, so feel free to call. No talking dirty, though, the kids
are listening!
   "So what's keeping you up tonight?" House queried. "Morose
thoughts, worry, guilt, all of the above or something else entirely."
   "The trips are training for Olympics," Cuddy informed him dryly.
   "Ah, that would do it," House agreed. "You need to be stern with
them. Tell them to settle down and get some sleep."
   "I've tried that, but they take after their father and ignore me entirely,"
Cuddy said.
   "Oh dear, and they are only tadpoles! You need to work on your au-
thority," House advised.
   "I know, or else they will walk all over me, just like their father always
tries," Cuddy noted.
   "Tries! Note that, I rarely succeed," House pointed out.




                                                                             84
   "You succeed far too often," Cuddy insisted. "Just because you have
decided to behave for the last couple of weeks does not mean that I have
forgotten all that has gone on before."
   "I know," House acknowledged. "But surely you don't want to talk
about work, do you?"
   "No, but I'm not sure what else we can talk about," Cuddy mused.
   "Anything, music, movies, what is the weirdest craving you've had
during this pregnancy," House suggested, settling down to talk for as
long as Cuddy – Lisa – needed.
   They talked for nearly an hour about anything and nothing much. Fin-
ally when the trips settled down enough to let Cuddy sleep they said
goodnight.




                                                                     85
Chapter    14
Fatherly advice
John House had got to the hospital late Tuesday afternoon. Blythe had
taken him to the house as soon as he had greeted everyone and they had
confirmed their first appointment with Blythe's therapist. As they were
leaving House told Blythe that he had got confirmation from Dr Higa
and he was arriving the next day.
  "Do you want me to get your spare room ready for him?" Blythe
asked.
  "Thanks Mom, but no need," House declined the offer. "I called Lupe
and she promised to see to it as she was coming over to clean up the
place anyway."
  "Good," Blythe nodded. "But if there is anything, let me know."
  "Will do," House promised. "Now you just get Dad settled and we'll
see you later. Patient permitting."
  "You have a case?" Blythe queried on her way out.
  "Just got the file, but I don't think it will take that long," House told
her. "But I'll call if I'm wrong. Or I will let Cuddy know and she will tell
you when she gets home."
  "Fine, see you then," Blythe accepted.
  Once Blythe and John were gone House limped into the conference
room to do the differential with his team. Kasumii stayed in his office to
keep an eye on Aiko, who was contentedly playing in her new playpen.
  "So was the malaria test clear or inconclusive?" House opened the
discussion.
  "Malaria?" Chase asked puzzled.
  "He hasn't been tested for malaria," Foreman explained. "He has not
been travelling in any known malaria risk area."
  "And you took his word for it? You are sure he even knows what mal-
aria is or where he could get it?" House snarked. "The symptoms all say
malaria, in fact they are pretty much standard for malaria. He started
with flu-like symptoms, then headache, backache, aching limbs, lack of



                                                                         86
appetite, hypotension, jaundice, and now he has the chills. What more
do you need?"
   "Some indication that he could possibly have been exposed to it would
be nice," Foreman pointed out impatiently.
   "Are you telling me he has never been anywhere?" House asked.
"Never been inside an airport for one?"
   "Most airlines are aware of the possibility of insects possibly carrying
infectious diseases travelling in planes which is why they are regularly
disinfected especially if they fly to tropical locations," Foreman ex-
pounded patiently.
   "They do here," Cameron inserted reading the file. "I'm not so sure
about St. Petersburg."
   "He's been to Russia?" House was immediately on alert.
   "Yes," Cameron confirmed. "Finding his roots apparently. His mother
comes from the Carelian Isthmus and he flew to St. Petersburg and trav-
elled north from there to the Isthmus. He stayed for about a month there
and then he returned. He's an anthropologist so he did some research
too. There are some old villages there, he says, that haven't changed at all
for hundred years or so. He came back about a month ago."
   "I thought you said he hasn't been to any known malaria areas?"
House turned to Foreman.
   "Northern Europe is hardly the tropics," Foreman pointed out.
"Malaria is a tropical disease."
   "Now it is," House agreed. "But it was a common enough problem in
Europe no less than a hundred years ago. And the last known epidemic
of malaria happened only about sixty years ago. Any guesses where?"
   "Russia," Chase concluded throwing down his pen.
   "Technically no," House corrected. "At the time Carelian Isthmus was
part of Finland and the epidemic was reported by the doctors of the Fin-
nish army."
   "How could that be?" Foreman wondered. "That far north the winter
temperature is far too low for malaria!"
   "And surely they don't have the mosquitoes that can carry the parasite
there," Cameron doubted.
   "Yes they do," House said. "They actually have three different
Anopheles species in Northern Europe of which the Anopheles messeae
lives in Southern Finland and the Carelian Isthmus. It's true that endemic
malaria has probably disappeared from Europe, but with the Anopheles
there, all you need is someone with untreated malaria to visit the area,
get bitten and voila, you could have an epidemic. That is what they



                                                                         87
believe happened to cause the 1945 epidemic. German soldiers who had
been transferred from Africa to the Carelian Isthmus probably brought it
with them."
   "So since our patient has typical malaria symptoms, and given that he
has been to an area where theoretically he could have been exposed to
malaria, we test for it," Cameron sighed as she stood up to go and do the
tests.
   "I think that would bee an excellent idea," House agreed. "I'll be in the
clinic if you need me."
   Chase and Foreman watched him leave the room with almost equal
exasperation. "I hate it when he diagnoses people based on their travel
plans," Chase sighed.
   "Next time I'll skip the symptoms and just give him the patients travel
history," Foreman agreed as he, too, got up to follow Cameron.
   Having disposed off their patient House got home at his usual time.
He took Aiko to his flat while Kasumii and Cuddy went to the main
house. It took House about an hour to be ready to join the others in the
big living room. He came in his wheelchair again, though he had lately
occasionally risked carrying Aiko in the house without the extra precau-
tion. Today he didn't feel like taking any risks as he was pretty sure he
would end up cutting the evening short rather than expose Aiko to
John's presence for too long. And he couldn't be sure someone would be
there to help him with Aiko if he decided to leave abruptly.
   When House got to the big living room he saw that Wilson and Grey
had joined the party. That was ok with him, since the men spent a lot of
time in the house anyway, but usually they didn't come every night.
   "Your Mother thought it might be a good thing to have more people
present," Wilson responded quietly to House's raised eyebrow. "She
figured it might make John a little less prominent."
   "Well you know the rule of the house: the more the merrier," House
stated dryly.
   During dinner John didn't say much but he did mutter something
about why hire a Nanny if you did all the work yourself. House ignored
him and kept on feeding Aiko himself. Not that Aiko actually ate with
them - she had had her dinner earlier - but she liked being with the oth-
ers and so far she had always behaved very well; no throwing any food
on the floor or deliberately smearing her hair and face with sticky sub-
stances. She also liked it when House allowed her to steal little bits of his
food (deliberately selected to be safe for her and to her taste, naturally).
Of course, she wasn't a neat eater and a most of the things went on her



                                                                          88
face rather than into her mouth, but nobody minded that. Or at least
nobody had minded that, it seemed John was not quite as tolerant as the
House-hold. However, John knew that he was on probation with Blythe so
he held his tongue pretty well.
   Or at least he held it until after dinner when everyone was helping
Blythe clear the table (except Cuddy who had to go to the bathroom –
again) and John was left in the living room with House and Aiko. House
turned the TV on for news but he didn't really watch. He sat on the floor
with Aiko handing her toys – or actually he was holding them just a little
out of Aiko's reach so that she had to crawl to them or pull herself up to
stand against House to reach them. John didn't really follow the news
either; he was watching his son absorb himself with the baby.
   "You know, you should really start leaving her to that Japanese girl
you hired," John finally voiced his opinion. "If you wait until your real
children arrive, the change will be too sudden and upsetting for her."
   "My real children?" House asked in a tight voice.
   "Yeah, the triplets," John reminded him – like he could have forgotten.
"It will be hard enough to be a father to three babies, you cannot waist
time with kids that aren't yours. I know you promised to look after her,
but that Nanny on yours can do it just fine. They are both Japanese so
they probably understand each other better anyway. Unless, of course,
you can persuade her grandfather to take her back now that you will
have your own children. You have to think rationally; you really cannot
split yourself four-ways. Three kids are more than enough especially as
they are all babies."
   "First of all, she has a name: Aiko," House was breathing heavily try-
ing to control his temper. He didn't think a shouting match between him
and John was going to help his Mother figure out what to do with her
marriage. "Secondly, she is my daughter. Mine, just as much as the
triplets, if not more. Aiko is all mine, the triplets have a mother, too. My
nanny has a name, too. Miss Tanaka. She will take care of Aiko when I'm
not doing it myself. She will help with the other children as well. This is
my house, my family and I don't need any advice from you."
   "Look here son," John sat up annoyed at the disrespect that House was
showing him – not that it was anything new, but this was about John's
grandchildren and what was good for them, in his opinion. "I know you
think you know everything, you always have been arrogant that way,
but I will not have you selling my grandchildren short for someone who
isn't even family… "




                                                                         89
   John didn't get any further with his tirade. House was getting ready to
do something drastic but he didn't need to. Aiko had been following the
argument with a frown on her face – she had never before heard anyone
talk to her Daddy in that tone, or House himself speaking to someone
like that – and when John started his lecture, Aiko had had enough. She
let out an angry scream that went through the house like a siren. She
hadn't even finished her scream when everyone in the house was in the
living room wanting to know what had happened.
   As soon as Aiko had started screaming House had taken her in his
arms and Aiko had allowed it, but she kept looking at John with an
angry look on her face. Once she finished her scream – satisfied that fa-
miliar people had come over to help her Daddy – she pressed her face
against House and clung to him like a limpet.
   "John?" Blythe turned to her husband. "What did you do?"
   "I?" John was amazed. "I didn't do anything. I wasn't even anywhere
near the kid."
   "I wasn't asking what you did to Aiko," Blythe explained as she
watched House motion Kasumii to bring him his chair and help him to it
– since Aiko was hindering his movements. "The only time Aiko screams
like that is when she thinks someone is being mean to her Daddy. So
what did you do or say to Greg?"
   "Nothing," John insisted. "I just pointed out to him that he needs to
make better arrangements for that girl now that he will have his own
children arriving soon."
   His statement was met with absolute silence. Everyone but House
turned to stare at John like he had suddenly spouted a second head.
Nobody knew what to say. Not that they didn't have plenty in their
minds but John's suggestion – especially the implied one – was so out-
rageous to all of them that they were unable to even begin to correct his
misconceptions.
   "I already told you that her name is Aiko," House said as he rolled his
chair towards his flat.
   "John, I think you and I better go to my rooms to talk," Blythe in-
formed her husband. "I'm sorry, everyone, I'm sure you will be fine
without us. You've been here often enough so just treat this as home,
there is cake in the fritz and help yourselves to coffee and whatever. I'm
not sure how long this will take." She escorted John out of there.
   "I think I'll go and see how House is," Wilson stated and followed his
friend.




                                                                       90
  "Right, that cut the party short," Cuddy noted. "Kasumii, Grey, let's go
and find that cake. The trips want something sweet."
  "House?" Wilson called cautiously as he entered House's flat. He
found them at the piano. House was playing something classical with
one hand and holding Aiko on his lap with the other. "Are you ok?"
  At first House didn't respond, but then he turned away from the keys.
"What if he is right?"
  "Right? John?" Wilson was taken aback. "What do you mean?"
  "What if I cannot handle any more kids," House clarified. "I have Aiko
with me almost everywhere and all the time. How can I give similar
commitment to the Trips? Is it even possible, when there is three more in
my care? And if I do make an effort to be there for them, will I end up
neglecting Aiko. I'm all she has. The Trips have a mother, too. I cannot
stop loving Aiko, it's just not possible, but is it fair to the triplets? If I can-
not love them as much?"
  "Hey, stop that," Wilson was appalled at the effect John's stupidity had
had on Greg. "The fact that you love Aiko the way you do means that
you will love your new kids too. The kind of love you have for a child is
not something you can measure or which comes only in limited amount.
The fears you are having, the challenges you are facing are normal. All
parents go through them every time they expect a new baby! You and
Cuddy are not the first parents in the world to expect triplets and there
are other families that struggle with these issues of how to make sure the
elder siblings don't get neglected after twins or triplets are born. You are
the king of research! So research! Get prepared, use your brains. Besides,
the bond you and Aiko share will not break for anything. It's too special."
  "But will I bond with the triplets the same way?" House feared.
  "Probably not," Wilson shrugged. "But do you need to? As you said,
they have a mother. Besides, usually twins and triplets share that kind of
bond with each other, not either of their parents. You will figure it all
out. You will find a way to make each of your kids feel special and se-
cure and loved. You cannot lump them together anyway, they will all be
individuals, with different needs and likes and dislikes. You have always
been able to reach children; you have never had any problems with them
even when they are your patients. True, their parents usually hate you,
but somehow you can always reach the kids. Remember that autistic boy
you saved? He reached out to you; he made eye-contact with you, volun-
tarily. You were the first person in the world he wanted to touch; to see.
You will figure this out, too. I promise you."




                                                                                91
  "I suppose I could research the subject," House mused, making Wilson
smile. Yes, House was going to be fine. Probably scared still, but he was
going to be fine.




                                                                      92
Chapter    15
Triple clinic
Later - rather late - that night House's walkie-talkie came alive again.
   "House, are you there?" Cuddy wanted to know.
   "Yea," House responded. "I'm here."
   "Are you ok?" Cuddy asked.
   "The point of these walkie-talkies was for me to find out if you were
ok," House countered.
   "Well, it's a two-way radio," Cuddy pointed out.
   "True, I'll have to give you that," House nodded. "I'm fine. Not perfect,
but then that's nothing new, but I'm fine. Really wishing I hadn't given
up the booze and drugs but at least I have Aiko, so I'm ok."
   "Good," Cuddy responded. "I would really hate to find out that your
father has managed to cause problems. He isn't worth it."
   "He may not be, but he is still my father," House pointed out dryly.
"It's not like I can just ignore him. One of our kids could turn out like
him!"
   "No way," Cuddy stated with absolute certainty. "He is not just his
genes; he is the product of his upbringing and background, his profes-
sion. The basic qualities may be there, but we have a lot to do with the
eventual person that we raise."
   "I know," House agreed. "And that is what scares me witless!"
   "I thought I was supposed to be the one with unreasonable guilt-com-
plex!" Cuddy exclaimed. "The kids aren't even here yet and you are
already feeling guilty for screwing them up."
   "Well, I screwed up the conception, didn't I?" House reminded her.
"We weren't supposed to have triplets."
   "Yeah, I admit that it's a bit complicated," Cuddy admitted. "But I'm
not sure it's a screw-up."
   "You are just saying that now when you are feeling sorry for me,"
House observed.




                                                                         93
   "Could be, but somehow it didn't feel like a screw-up at the time,"
Cuddy told him gently.
   House thought he heard something in Cuddy's voice and he ventured:
"I thought that super-tanker had already sailed?"
   "Well, the thing about really super super-tankers is that sometimes they
sail back," was Cuddy's somewhat cautious answer.
   "So, do you have any idea where the super super-tanker in question
might be heading?" House queried with a smile.
   "Well, it is currently having some navigational problems," Cuddy ob-
served. "It has a rather heavy load you see, and is sort of stuck in the
shallows for now."
   "I see," House was sympathetic. "But once the current cargo has been
unloaded, do you think the ship might be heading this way for some
body-work?"
   "I rather think that the bottom might need some scraping," Cuddy
replied tongue in cheek.
   "Oh, I'm glad you said that, not me," House laughed. "Had I said that I
would have been in the doghouse for the longest time!"
   "I thought you'd appreciate the expression," Cuddy laughed back.
   "Thanks, Cuddy," House told her. "You certainly took my mind away
from my Dad. And don't worry; I won't hold you to this."
   "Oh, I'm not worrying," Cuddy answered blithely. "You see, I was
rather hoping you would hold me to it." At that she closed the
connection.
   "Cuddy!" House tried to reach her again. "Lisa! Hey, you cannot leave
me hanging like this!" But she didn't respond to him again – not that
night.
   House was up early the next morning – as was his custom ever since
Aiko came into his life. True, he usually went back to bed once he had
seen that Aiko was getting her needs met, but still now that they lived in
the same house, Cuddy usually saw him – at least briefly – before she left
for work.
   "Now that is how I like my women," House stated as he limped into
the kitchen in Kasumii's wake. Kasumii was naturally carrying Aiko.
   "What do you mean?" Cuddy asked with a frown.
   "I think he is referring to the fact that you are not wearing any shoes,"
Blythe smiled teasingly.
   "Absolutely," House nodded. "Barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.
What more could any man want?"




                                                                         94
   "Maybe someone who isn't likely to dump a pot of coffee on his head?"
Cuddy observed wryly.
   "Ok, that is my cue to turn right back and go to bed," House said get-
ting a bottle of water before heading back to his flat.
   "Greg," Blythe stopped him. "Can I have a word?"
   "Sure Mom," House agreed. "Do you want to have it here or do you
want to be private and follow me to my flat?"
   "I think I'd rather follow you," Blythe chose.
   "So what is it Mom?" House asked as they got into his flat.
   "Do you want your father out of your house?" Blythe came straight out
with it.
   "What do you mean?" House wasn't sure what Blythe's motivation for
the question was.
   "I thought that was a pretty straight forward question," Blythe pointed
out. "After what happened last night and the way he feels about Aiko,
can you put up with him?"
   "Well, I'm not happy with him," House replied cautiously. "And I
won't deny that not having him here would be more comfortable. But the
point of having him here at all was to make things easier for you. If you
still need him here, then I can put up with him. Sure, I will have to limit
my exposure to him, but it'll be only for a week or so. And Dr Higa is
coming today, so that will help things as I probably need to help him get
reacquainted with Aiko. I know it's not obvious, but she has started to
feel shy about people she doesn't know or remember."
   "So if John stays around for the next couple of days or so, you can live
with it?" Blythe wanted to be sure.
   "If you need, him, then yes," House replied.
   "We talked for quite some time last night," Blythe said. "Only I'm not
sure if you can call it talking. He just would not understand how import-
ant Aiko is to us. He just doesn't understand. I told him that I definitely
do not want to be married to him, but I need to give him every chance. I
don't think he will change, but I need to feel more certain of it. I know,
with my mind, that he is what and who he is, but my heart still hopes.
As you said, I gave him fifty years of my life; that is not something you
just write off as a bad bargain. He will not stay for more than two more
nights, no matter what happens, but I need to make sure I have done
everything for my marriage."
   "Then I can put up with him a little longer," House nodded. "Not hap-
pily, but I don't think you're feeling too happy right now either?"




                                                                        95
   "No," Blythe agreed. "I feel like an utter fool for having been married
to him all these years and not having seen him for what he is at all."
   "Hey, Mom," House gave a one-armed hug to his mother (his cane was
in his other hand). "He wasn't really around that much; and you really
didn't have that many chances of seeing him for what he is."
   "That's not really an excuse, but thank you," Blythe caressed her son's
cheek briefly. "I'll let you get back to bed for an hour. Can you stand hav-
ing your father in your car on the way to work? We have our first session
with Cecil just before I need to start work."
   "Sure," House shrugged. "Kasumii can take the bike so it shouldn't be
too crowded."
   "Thank you," Blythe smiled. "I'll try to gag him for the drive."
   "That would be appreciated," House said with feeling as he limped to-
wards his bed while his mother headed back to the main kitchen.
   Later that day House was in the clinic doing his hours. Apparently his
mother had been able to be stern enough with John House, as the ride to
PPTH had been pretty much silent except for a couple of remarks about
the weather, so there had been no additional aggravation, which was a
good thing, since he was having a very had time with being reasonably
nice to the idiot patients that were crowding the clinic this fine morning!
If only Sheridan was already in charge; House could have sent him a bar-
rage of disgruntled patients.
   When he saw his next patient – or actually it was patients – as he
entered the exam room, he felt for a moment that his boredom had fi-
nally unhinged him. He was seeing triple. Three angelic looking little
girls, about seven years of age, were waiting for him. They were identical
from the tips of their pink sneakers to the top of their blond heads.
House turned to the harassed-looking mother who was with them – at
least, she was only one (though House had a sneaking suspicion that she
was the one who really wanted to be three!).
   "So what seems to be the problem?" House asked.
   "Mary-Jane has sinusitis," the mother responded. "And I'm fairly sure
Mary-Sue has it, too, but Mary-Anne probably has only a cold as yet."
   "Mary-what?" House wasn't sure he had heard correctly.
   "Mary-Jane, Mary-Sue and Mary-Anne," the mother sighed; obviously
House was not the first to ask the question. The girls paid no mind to
their mother or House, they were whispering together about whatever it
was they found interesting in their present location.
   "Seriously?" House had to check.




                                                                         96
   "Yes," the mother nodded. "I was suffering from postpartum
depression."
   "Was there any reason to make them suffer for it?" House wanted to
know.
   "I wasn't able to decide what to have for breakfast, or if I even wanted
any, so I didn't have any say in their names," the mother told him. "They
were named by their father."
   "Are you still married to him?" House queried.
   "Yes, he is a lovely man," was the response. "Of course, nobody's
perfect."
   "So I have been told," House agreed. "Any reason why you think they
have sinusitis?"
   "They have had it before," the mother explained. "They are prone to it
and I have learned to watch out for the symptoms."
   "Ok, let's see what the kids have then," House got the necessary things
out and then he turned to the girls. "Right, then Mary, line up in front of
me."
   The girls did as told and House checked the first one. Once he was
done he took a surgical marker and drew a line on the girls left cheek. He
checked the next one and marked her with an x. When it was turn for the
third girl to be marked he said: "Sure I could leave you without a mark
as you already look different from your sisters, but that would be prefer-
ential treatment." So he drew two short lines to her cheek.
   "Right," House turned to the mother. "Mary One has sinusitis; I'll give
her a prescription. Mary X has sinusitis too, but hers has gone into her
ears as well, so she needs something stronger than her sister. Mary Two
has only a cold so far, but bed rest and plenty of liquids are recommen-
ded. Keep them home till the marks on their faces fade, which will hap-
pen in a week or so. Make sure the two of them take the full course of
medicine I'm prescribing them and if the symptoms persist bring them
back."
   "Thank you," the mother said giving a somewhat longing glance at the
marker on the table. House noticed it and turned to take it. He gave it to
her.
   "Use this judiciously," he instructed.
   "Thank you again," the mother gave him a grateful smile.
   "Have you ever thought of dressing them differently?" House wanted
to know.
   "Yes, but they get distressed. I'm not so sure they know they are three
different people," the mother shrugged diffidently. "I'm fairly sure that



                                                                        97
they think of themselves as a single unit. It's … I just can't … I love them;
I don't want them to be unhappy. They will grow up and have inde-
pendent lives quite soon enough."
   "Yeah, I suppose you are right," House mused as he escorted them out.
   As they got out of the exam room Cuddy saw them. She took one look
at the girls and turned to House: "House! What have you done now!" She
pulled him back into the exam room and out of earshot from the people
in the waiting room.
   "I just needed to make sure I knew which one I had already checked,"
House replied innocently.
   "Surgical marker!" Cuddy distressed. "I can't even imagine how that
made their mother feel."
   "She wanted one for herself," House pointed out.
   "One what?" Cuddy got confused.
   "A surgical marker," House elaborated. "She thought is was a good
idea."
   "You couldn't just get their names?" Cuddy asked. "You know, use
their names instead of marking them as one, two and x."
   "Yeah, their names! Come with me," House dragged Cuddy back into
the waiting room where the girls still were waiting for their mother to fill
the prescriptions at the pharmacy. House spotted them and yelled:
"Mary!" as the girls turned as one he just waved to them and said.
"Nothing, thanks." Then he turned to Cuddy. "See, their name was of no
help."
   "They cannot all be called Mary!" Cuddy insisted at which House
slapped the files into her hand. She read them and stared. "Mary-Jane,
Mary-Sue and Mary-Anne… You have to be kidding me!"
   "Not me," House denied. "Their Daddy named them."
   "Really?" Cuddy paused for a thought. "Well, you wanted to name our
trips Junior."
   "That was before Jimmy junior turned out to be a girl," House groused
going to get his next patient.




                                                                          98
Chapter    16
Grandfather
"So how was the meeting?" House asked as his mother came into his
office.
  "Not too good," Blythe sighed. "We will have one more, tomorrow
morning and if that isn't significantly different from today's session, I'm
done. He is willing to talk about some things, but not all and his attitude
to Aiko … Well; I don't need to tell you. I'm going out to lunch with him
now, but I don't think we will discuss anything important there either.
See you at home, when you get there."
  "Ok, try not to get indigestion," House kissed his mother on the cheek.
"And remember that Dr Higa will be with me when I get home. Try to
prepare Dad for that, if possible."
  "I don't think it will be possible," Blythe observed. "John wasn't im-
pressed with him the last time they met and I'm pretty sure the feeling
was more than reciprocated."
  "That was hardly surprising under the circumstances," House pointed
out.
  "Aiko was recovering from a life-threatening illness, and all John could
do was suggest you should give her back to her grandfather," Blythe re-
membered. "The least John could have done was to be happy that Aiko
survived, but I don't think that even crossed his mind!"
  "He has always had somewhat one-track mind," House shrugged.
"And I'm sure he was happy that Aiko survived, in a sort of general way.
Just nothing personal."
  "That, I think, pretty much sums it up," Blythe agreed. "Nothing per-
sonal to him. And the problem is that he just cannot get it through to his
head that to all the rest of us, it's very personal. Well, I don't really expect
to change that, but I have to give it one more try before I throw in the
towel. He has booked his flight for tomorrow night, and that will be that
then."




                                                                             99
   "Ok, I think I can hang on to my patience till then," House surmised.
"Can't promise, but I will try hard."
   "Thank you," Blythe smiled. "See you later at home, then."
   Later that day House followed Cuddy to Dr Jordan's office. Originally
he wasn't supposed to be there, but Cuddy had cancelled once and had
tried to cancel again, but Anna had refused to do it and had, instead,
called for reinforcements in the form of House. Cuddy was not happy
but she was resigned to her fate.
   "I hear you were trying to skip this again," Dr Jordan greeted them.
   "Helen! You don't need to say that like I was playing truant or
something," Cuddy huffed. "I just had things to do."
   "Has she been sleeping enough?" Helen asked House.
   "I'm here! I can answer your questions about me myself!" Cuddy was
indignant.
   "But she knows you would lie," House explained to her turning then to
Helen. "Not enough. Miss Hill or I have been able to force her to take her
prescribed nap almost every day after lunch, but she is still not getting
enough rest in my opinion. Her passengers seem to like the night life so
she doesn't get to sleep until rather late in the night."
   "You said the walkie-talkies were there so that we could talk," Cuddy
glared at him. "Not so that you could spy on me!"
   "Same difference unless you thought that I would just assume you
were talking in your sleep," House pointed out. "Now settle down and
answer Jordan's questions. I won't interfere unless you lie."
   "Fine," Cuddy snapped at him. "What do you want to know Helen?"
   After that the visit went smoothly (barring a few disgruntled mum-
blings from Cuddy) and Helen got all the blood and tests she wanted.
She also did an ultra.
   "So there they are, 25 weeks," Helen said turning the monitor so that
Cuddy – and House – could see. "Looks good, they seem healthy, a little
small, but that is expected as there are three of them. If absolutely neces-
sary they probably would survive outside by now, but I would rather we
did everything we can to avoid premature labour."
   "Is there a chance that might happen?" Cuddy asked worriedly –
reaching for House's hand to hold.
   "With triplets there always is," Helen responded. "In fact, I expect that
you will have them at least two weeks early anyway. But right now it's
your blood pressure that I don't like. In fact, I have to order you to start
your maternity leave next week, I'm afraid."




                                                                        100
   "I can't!" Cuddy had an immediate reaction. "There are things… The
hospital … How… "
   "Cuddy, shut up," House told her. "You have to let Sheridan run your
hospital for a while. It will happen sooner or later anyway. He won't
make a bigger mess of it just because it's sooner than you wanted. You
have people here who will make sure it's not too bad no matter when it
happens. Sure, Miss Hill will work as Wilson's secretary for the duration
but she can still keep an eye on things. Evil Nurse Brenda is not going to
let Sheridan mess with anything that affects her, so the clinic and the
nursing staff are fairly safe and the heads of all departments will look
after their domains. We can hold the fort till you return. Sure, you will
still need to clean up after Sherry Darling, but I imagine by that time you
are more than ready to sink your teeth into something like that anyway."
   "He's right," Helen concurred. "Your hospital will be still here when
you get back in six months time. It may be a little worse for wear, but it
will be here. You really do have to do this."
   "Next week, huh?" Cuddy asked again.
   "I would like to say today, but I think you do need a couple of days'
adjustment time, so yes: next week," Helen confirmed.
   Cuddy looked at the monitor and her kids that were peacefully slum-
bering inside her (so now they were sleeping! Just great!) and sighed.
"Ok, Friday is my last day then."
   "Excellent decision," House approved. "I'm not sure I could have be-
haved nicely any longer than that anyway."
   "House!" Cuddy scolded him but she had to laugh. "That is my biggest
fear: what will you come up with now that I'm not here to watch you."
   "Oh, don't worry," House dismissed her concerns. "I won't blow the
place up or anything."
   "Not even the MRIs?" Cuddy raised her eyebrow at him.
   "No! That was just once!" House huffed. "I just wanted to see how a
bullet would really behave in one."
   "What?" Helen couldn't help but exclaim.
   "You don't want to know," Cuddy told her dryly. "House, if you break
anything while I'm gone, you will pay for it. Personally!"
   "Fine, be that way," House huffed. "I know your hormones are mess-
ing with you but no need to treat me like I'm eight or something."
   "Well you definitely are something," Cuddy stated. "I mean it; you
break it you buy it."
   "I know," House told her. "The hospital is safe, I promise. It's Sheridan
I want."



                                                                        101
   "Ok, if we are clear on that, fine," Cuddy accepted.
   Later that day Dr Higa got to the hospital. House had arranged for a
car to pick him up from the airport since he had work – no new patients,
but he was still playing the part of a conscientious doctor for Sheridan's
benefit – just to make the shock bigger when Cuddy started her mater-
nity leave.
   House was in his office with Aiko when Kasumii escorted Dr Higa
there (House had sent her to greet Dr Higa in the lobby when the driver
called him to tell they were about to arrive at the hospital doors) and
then she went into the conference room leaving the men alone with Aiko.
   "Sensei!" House greeted Dr Higa as he entered the room "How was your
journey?"
   "Uneventful," Dr Higa smiled. "Too long, too. I kept wanting to tell the pi-
lot to fly faster, but was able to contain myself."
   "Yes, I relate to that," House responded. "Aiko has been expecting you, too,
though she is feeling a little shy right now." House kissed Aiko's head. The
baby was securely cuddled in his arms and was pressing her face against
his chest taking very little peeks every couple of seconds at her grand-
father. Clearly she didn't remember him – at least not properly – but she
was curious, especially since her Daddy spoke to the stranger in the
same language as her Nanny always spoke to her. Also, there was
something familiar in the stranger, especially his voice.
   "Yes, I assumed she would have reached that stage by now," Dr Higa accep-
ted. "I wish I had been able to be here for longer after her illness, but we'll just
have to make do with this."
   "I don't think she will feel shy for very long," House explained. "She is very
open to new experiences. Just a little cautious now – and I cannot say that I see
that as a bad thing."
   Right then Aiko decided she rather liked the looks of this new person
– at least as long as she was in her Daddy's arms – and she turned to-
wards him and extended her hand. She was holding a teething ring in
her hand and she was willing to give it to the stranger as a welcome gift
(which she fully expected to get back, as she always did!). Dr Higa came
closer and accepted the gift with all formality bowing and expressing his
gratitude for her deeming his insignificant self worthy of such a magnifi-
cent gift. House did not laugh, but he smiled broadly.
   "She is getting her first tooth then?" Dr Higa asked as Aiko hid her face
against her Daddy again.
   "Yes, and she isn't too happy about it," House said. "But I don't think any-
one would be. It's not too bad yet; the numbing cream helps just fine so far."



                                                                               102
   "Then she probably needs this toy more than I do, after all I'm nearing the
time when I will loose my teeth, not grow them," Dr Higa smiled as he exten-
ded the ring towards Aiko – who was again peeking at him. After some
hesitation Aiko agreed to turn towards him again and accepted the toy.
She didn't hide again but gazed steadily at her grandfather.
   "Would you like your Ojii-san to hold you?" House asked Aiko. Naturally
she didn't reply but she didn't protest either when House carefully
handed her over to Dr Higa. She did glance slightly frantically at her
Daddy once he let go but as soon as House placed his hand on her back –
letting her know that he wasn't going anywhere – she settled into Higa's
arms and gazed at his face chewing her teething ring thoughtfully. After
a while she used her other hand to explore the face in front of her.
   "She likes to play Fish," House told Higa.
   "Fish?" Higa queried.
   "Yes. I try to imitate a gold-fish and she tries to copy it," House explained.
"She is actually quite good at it."
   Higa considered the baby in his arms for a moment and then he made
a fish-face. Aiko giggled, delighted that this new man in her life knew
the game and then she dutifully reproduced the face making her grand-
father smile. He repeated his face and she reproduced it and again she
giggled.
   "I have to warn you," House informed Higa. "She can go on doing that
forever. So far we have never been able to play fish for as long as she wants. For-
tunately she is happy if you play even a little while."
   "Well, I have plenty of time now," Higa answered. "I'm sure I can keep on
playing this even when we talk."
   "Indeed," House agreed. "I've found it an excellent way to keep Aiko occu-
pied during adult conversations. Of course, sometimes it can be a little
distracting."
   "I can imagine," Higa smiled. "But I'm sure you won't be distracted by a
few fish-faces from me?"
   "Probably not, but I'm not making any promises since that last one was really
something!" House smiled back.




                                                                              103
Chapter    17
Babysitting plans
House took Dr Higa to see Cuddy, they took Aiko with them. Ms Forbes
was in the anteroom with Miss Hill and House introduced her briefly to
Dr Higa. Miss Hill escorted them into Cuddy's office – which was
fortunately Sheridan-free.
   "Dr Higa, meet Miss Anna Hill," House introduced them properly.
"You will deal with her quite a lot as she will be Dr Wilson's assistant for
the next six months when Dr Wilson acts as the Dean of Medicine during
Dr Cuddy's maternity leave."
   "Miss Hill," Higa gave her a formal, respectful bow which was re-
turned correctly! "I am honoured to meet you. Gregory has told me that
your throwing arm is remarkable."
   "I hope he didn't give the impression that egging cars is a hobby of
mine," Anna replied.
   "Indeed, no," Higa smiled. "But his description of the plan and its' exe-
cution was almost poetic. I am in awe."
   "I thank you for my part," Anna accepted. "I hope that, now that you
are here, we will be able to keep you equally entertained."
   "I have no doubt of that at all," Higa stated.
   "We aim to please," Anna nodded. "Now, I will leave you to Dr Cuddy
and go back to plot ways of slipping chilli into Ms Forbes' lunch."
   "Anna!" Cuddy exclaimed admonishingly.
   "Just kidding, Lisa, just kidding," Anna reassured her, but not very
convincingly, on her way out. Since she couldn't really go after her,
Cuddy had to accept her word.
   Cuddy was sitting on her couch with papers on the coffee table, she
did consider standing up to greet her visitors but Dr Higa motioned her
to stay where she was and walked to her.
   "Please, don't try to get up," Higa said as he walked to the couch and
sat down on the other end of the couch setting Aiko, whom he had been
carrying, on the seat with them. House sat on an armchair near Cuddy. "I



                                                                        104
remember how difficult it was both for my wife and daughter-in-law
and they were only carrying one child. If you are comfortable there,
don't, please don't shift for me."
   "Thank you," Cuddy smiled. "It is getting a bit difficult, which is why
my doctor ordered me to start my leave next week."
   "I'm sure the hospital will miss you," Higa noted. "But it will survive.
Your first responsibility is now to your children."
   "I know, but it has always been difficult for me to let go of something,"
Cuddy explained ruefully.
   While the adults talked Aiko had crawled her way up to Cuddy. She
liked Cuddy, though they didn't spend an awful lot of time together, ex-
cept during week-ends when everybody spent time with Aiko. And of
course, sometimes Cuddy babysat Aiko when House was doing his clinic
hours, but naturally that was mostly Kasumii's duty. Now that she had
been brought to Cuddy's office Aiko wanted to say hello properly.
Besides, she found Cuddy's tummy interesting. Aiko crawled right up to
Cuddy and then she worked herself into a sitting position. She leaned
forward and placed her hands on Cuddy's tummy. Somebody kicked
her! Aiko frowned, thought for a moment and hit back!
   "Wow, Little Love," House leaned closer and took Aiko's hands into
his. "Gently there. It's quite enough that MamaLisa gets pummelled from
the inside by your siblings; you don't need to do it from the outside as
well. Now, just feel gently how they move in there, but no hitting back."
   House placed Aiko's hands back to where they had been but didn't let
go. When the movements were felt again, Aiko looked up at him with a
frown but he reassured her that everything was as it should be. Aiko
turned back to consider Cuddy's tummy again and after a while she de-
cided to shift her position so that she could lean against it. She put her
teething ring back into her mouth and settled to stay where she was until
Daddy was ready to take her back into her playpen again.
   "Lisa?" House was looking at Cuddy who was trying to secretly wipe
her eyes. "Are you crying again?"
   "Yes!" Cuddy snapped. "I keep telling you that my hormones are mak-
ing me into a regular watering pot! I dropped a pen today and burst into
tears when I realised I couldn't just bend down and pick it. I had to call
Anna to get it."
   "Sounds like it really is time for you to start your maternity leave,"
Higa observed. "Your stress levels must be very high. Though I have to
say, a watering pot is much preferable to what my wife was when she
was pregnant! She was a virago."



                                                                        105
   "Oh, Cuddy has been that too," House told him ruefully. "It's only
these last few days that Niobe has replaced Echidna. But usually she has
some reason for her tears. So what did I do now to make you cry?"
   "Is it always you?" Higa couldn't help but ask.
   "Not always," House shrugged a little diffidently. "But it is often."
   "But rarely for any bad reason," Cuddy defended House. "It's just that
you called me MamaLisa."
   "Ok," House said carefully. "Now you do remember that I'm a man,
right? So could you explain a little more, before I apologise. I'd like to
know why I'm doing it – if, that is, I am."
   "You haven't … I don't quite know how to explain this," Cuddy didn't
know what to say, how to explain her reaction.
   "Are you trying to tell us that Gregory hasn't before referred to you in
maternal terms to Aiko?" Higa ventured.
   "I haven't?" House frowned. "No, I don't think I have."
   "Well why should you," Cuddy tried to shrug. "You asked me to be her
guardian if there is need, but we haven't really discussed anything else.
And as we are not married, nor really living together in the normal sense
of that expression, I'm really nothing to Aiko, at least not on legal terms.
I know that I'm important to her and I'm part of her safety-net like
Wilson and your team; we are all her family. But we haven't been really
specific."
   "That seems like an oversight to me," Higa gave his opinion.
"Naturally, I don't want to interfere, it's your relationship, your lives, but
if Lisa-san is going to be a steady influence in Aiko's life and as the
mother of Aiko's siblings, you really need to define her role more
clearly."
   "I'm sure you are right," House admitted. "It's just that she is pregnant
and when she decided to try for a baby we didn't think she would end
up with triplets."
   "Are you telling me that you have arrogantly assumed that though
you can deal with four children she can't?" Higa asked quizzically.
   "He can get arrogant like that," Cuddy pointed out.
   "Not consciously!" House denied. "No, I never thought that. But I sup-
pose it amounts to the same in the end. I just felt that having impreg-
nated you with triplets I couldn't really expect you to take on Aiko, too.
Not to the same extent as your own kids."
   "What is it about me? My hair, my face, my eyes, my body?" Cuddy
asked House. "Tell me: what is it about me that made you confuse me
with your father?"



                                                                          106
   "Ouch," House acknowledged the hit. "I'm sorry, really. But don't
worry; you'll have plenty of time to form a bond with Aiko once you
start your maternity leave."
   "How so?" Cuddy wondered. "You always have her with you at
work!"
   "Cuddy! I'm not leaving you alone at home when you are six months
pregnant," House scorned. "Kasumii is staying with you, which means
Aiko will stay home, too."
   "What!" Cuddy exclaimed. "Are you making Kasumii baby-sit me too
and not just Aiko?"
   "Well she's the only one who can," House shrugged. "I cannot ask
Mom to give up her job and what little independence she has."
   "I don't need a babysitter!" Cuddy groused.
   "I will be around quite a lot, too," Higa reminded her. "And I don't
think Gregory means to have you so much watched as he wants to make
sure you have help immediately if something – gods forbid – should go
wrong."
   "Well, I suppose if it is put that way," Cuddy agreed. "Besides, since it
also gives me a chance to form a proper bond with Aiko, I can live with
it."
   "That's what I thought," House remarked.
   "Did you do this on purpose?" Cuddy eyed him suspiciously.
   "Do what?" House was puzzled.
   "Lure me into whining about my lack of connection with Aiko so you
could make me accept Kasumii watching me at home?" Cuddy glared.
   "That's pregnancy paranoia talk!" House concluded.
   "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean you didn't do it!" Cuddy
declared.
   "Oh, yeah, that sounds really convincing," House dismissed. "For that
plan to work I would have needed to decide some few months back that
you needed Kasumii to look after you about now, and I would have
needed to deliberately keep Aiko away from you so that you would feel
neglected and then I could use that to manipulate you. Or then I'm just
an insensitive jerk who didn't realise that you love Aiko as much as I do
and needed Higa-san to point it out to me. Now which of those scenarios
sounds more like me?"
   Cuddy stared at him for a moment, shrugged and replied. "Darned if I
know."
   When they got home that evening House took Dr Higa to the flat and
showed him to the room reserved for him.



                                                                        107
   "My father leaves tomorrow, so if you want to move into the main house then,
it's ok," House said. "As you already found out, Aiko is teething, and though
it's been ok so far, it can get worse. And those who have experienced it tell me
that it usually gets worse at night."
   "No problem," Higa replied. "As I'm sure you remember I'm bit of a night-
owl anyway. Besides, I don't need to get up early in the morning. Unless you
prefer to have your flat to yourself, I'm fine in this room."
   "No problem," House denied. "We have always dealt well with each other.
Of course, if that changes then the room in the main house is still there."
   A little later they joined the others in the main house. Higa was carry-
ing Aiko again as House didn't think he needed the wheelchair now –
after all, if John House got difficult Dr Higa was not going to want to
hang around him either. The dinner went pretty much the same way as
the night before, only this time it wasn't Wilson and Grey who were
filling up the extra chairs but House's team. He had invited them over
firstly to minimise the impact of his father's presence and secondly to
give them a chance to get reacquainted with Dr Higa.
   Having learned from experience, Blythe refused help with clearing up
the table and shooed everyone into the living room with Higa, House
and John. Cuddy still had to go to the bathroom, but everyone else was
accounted for. Chase decided to be the sacrificial lamb and he engaged
John in conversation about golf, which John had taken up since his re-
tirement. In the end the evening went peacefully, though Chase did have
an anxious moment when Cuddy came back from the bathroom and
went straight to Dr Higa – and treated him more like House's father than
John. However, whatever talk Blythe had had with her husband the
night before seemed to still have an effect as John didn't say anything.
He just gave the other group a glare, though it was possible that he could
not have contained his anger had Blythe not come out of the kitchen
right then and joined John and Chase.
   But it would have been too good to be true had there not been a con-
frontation between John and House in the end. The ducklings had
already gone home and Dr Higa was carrying Aiko into the flat when
John stopped House for a word.
   "You treat him more as the grandfather of your children than me,"
John stated angrily.
   "He is Aiko's grandfather," House pointed out knowing full well what
John meant, but hoping he would take the hint. He didn't.
   "I was talking about your real children," John said.




                                                                           108
   "Currently I only have one child," House reminded John. "The other
buns are still in the oven."
   "Whatever," John dismissed the distinction. "You still behave like you
would be happy for Higa to be their grandfather, too. While me, you are
telling me that I won't even get anywhere near them."
   "That is not what I'm telling you," House maintained. "Dr Higa is
Aiko's grandfather. Nothing will change that. If he wants to be a grand-
father to the triplets, too, we're happy to have him, but we cannot expect
it of him as he isn't related to either me or Lisa. You, however, are my
father, for you to be a grandfather you need to be it to all my children. I
told you once before that you don't get to pick and choose."
   "You are a cold-hearted bastard son," John spat at him in frustration.
   "Well, genetics is a powerful force," House threw at his father as he
limped into his own flat.




                                                                       109
Chapter    18
Time to go
Next morning Blythe and John left the house early. They had an 8 o'clock
appointment with Cecil. The session actually lasted so long that House,
who had expected to see Blythe waiting for him in his office when he got
to work, actually had to wait for Blythe. When she got to House's office
she stood at the door for a moment and then she shook her head sadly.
House was standing in the middle of the floor holding Aiko and he just
opened one arm for his mother who walked to him and accepted his
hug.
   "Kasumii? Would you take Aiko to the other room?" House asked
quietly. Kasumii nodded in agreement, took Aiko and went into the oth-
er room – giving Blythe first a sympathetic squeeze on the arm.
   "He just won't understand anyone's point of view but his own," Blythe
sighed.
   "Are you ok, Mom?" House asked.
   "I have just relegated forty years of my life into the garbage bin,"
Blythe mused. "No, I don't think I'm ok. But I'm pretty sure that I will
be."
   "Well, that's good," House agreed. "So what went on in the meeting?"
   "Nothing constructive as far as my marriage is concerned," Blythe
stated. "But I did get the answers I needed. Not as completely as I would
have liked, but enough. I feel that I have done all I can. Or maybe I
should say that I've done all I'm willing to do. According to John I ought
to just leave it all into the past where it belongs and go home with him."
Blythe suddenly laughed. "He blames Dr Higa for the present problems
we have."
   "Really?" House didn't understand. "By what leap of logic has he come
to that conclusion?"
   "According to him all our problems started when you adopted Aiko,"
Blythe shrugged. "If Dr Higa hadn't asked for your help, John and I




                                                                      110
would still be happily married and all this nonsense would never have
happened."
   "Well, I suppose he has a point," House had to admit. "Aiko was a
catalyst for all this. But had there been nothing wrong, you would also
still be married."
   "Cecil believes that John is suffering from a borderline personality dis-
order," Blythe gave her son a small kiss on the cheek as she stood away
from his embrace and sat down on the recliner while House went to his
desk.
   "Yes, I think I know," House pondered. "I believe it's called the Self-
righteous Bastard syndrome."
   "Gregory!" Blythe admonished with a small smile. "I'm being serious.
Cecil thinks that John's ability to feel empathy is not fully developed. He
thinks that John is truly not capable of seeing things from any other
person's point of view; that is: if the other's point of view differs from
his."
   "As I said self-righteous bastard syndrome," House observed. "What you
are saying is that to him there is only one truth and anything that does
not fit into that truth must be misinformation. And since you are in pos-
session of that one truth, you don't need to question yourself or those
you believe share that same truth. Must be a convenient quality for a
soldier!"
   "Gregory," Blythe frowned. "That sounds like you think all our milit-
ary is formed of brainwashed robots or sociopaths."
   "I didn't say it was a good quality, or even one the recruiters look for,"
House reassured his mother. "But you cannot say it didn't serve Dad well
enough in his career. Don't worry, though, I met enough of his sane pals
to know he wasn't the rule."
   "Well, I'm glad to hear that," Blythe accepted.
   "So am I to assume that Dad didn't stay with you till the end of your
session?" House asked. "But that you and Cecil had an opportunity to
analyze him after he left? That must be convenient, too by the way. If
you are a shrink or a psychotherapist and your patient or someone else
you need to deal with, doesn't do what you want them to do, you just
diagnose them with borderline something or another – and lets face it,
we all are borderline something – and just shrug it off, since the axiom is,
I believe, that you cannot help those who don't want to be helped. None
of it is your fault."
   "Doesn't necessarily make your inability to help them any less pain-
ful," Blythe smiled gently earning a suspicious look from her son. And



                                                                         111
well she deserved it; John had not been the only man she had discussed
with Cecil – and indeed Cecil had pondered if some of House's qualities
weren't due to borderline something.
   "I did consider that Dr House might have same problems as his fath-
er," Cecil had said. "But having found out more about him I concluded
that he simply doesn't like talking about feelings since with feelings you
don't really have any right or wrong. You don't have any real answers or
solutions. He likes puzzles but the puzzles need to have answers. It's not
a question of him not being able to empathise; he just doesn't see the
point of it, especially if it interferes with his ability to solve the puzzle.
He prefers to keep his distance, but it really is a choice. I think he func-
tions as well as any of us: could be better, could be worse. I wish he
would let me help him with some of his issues, because I think I could if
he really wanted to, but I don't think that will ever happen."
   "What?" House propped his mother. "What is it? Where did you go
suddenly?"
   "It's nothing, Greg," Blythe shook his head smiling. "I'm just glad you
let me close to you."
   "Mom, you are my Mother," House was puzzled. "Of course I let you
close. Like you would accept anything else!"
   "I might not accept it, but you might also not give me any choice,"
Blythe pointed out. "Anyway, John left the session to get his things. He
will spend the rest of the day with a pal of his till it's time for his flight.
He won't be around once we get home today."
   "Can't say I'm sorry to hear that," House nodded. "So you will start the
divorce proceedings again?"
   "Yes, I'll call my lawyer today and we'll go from there," Blythe sighed.
"It will not be pleasant."
   "No, I don't imagine it will be," House concurred. "Though I don't
think Dad will fight it too much. He will just go the righteous martyr
routine he does and drag his feet all the way. But then, divorce is not
supposed to be pleasant, I imagine. However we will get through that,
too."
   "I know," Blythe smiled. "I think I better get to work. At least it should
take my mind away from the dissolution of my marriage for a while. It's
not easy to realise that you have thrown away forty years of your life.
And some of your life, too."
   "Now, don't take that on," House insisted. "I'm fine. Besides, you
didn't throw away all that time. You were happy some of it."
   "But that happiness was based on a lie," Blythe pointed out.



                                                                           112
   "Happiness is always based on some lie," House stated. "It's not pos-
sible to be happy if you see the truth too clearly. Don't blame yourself for
having lived your life the best you can. That is all anyone can do. Now,
go to work and try not to worry too much. See you here later and then
we go home. I don't seem to have patients today either, so I'll just do my
clinic hours and we'll get home at a reasonable hour."
   "Ok, I'll try not to worry," Blythe promised as she left the office.
   Once Blythe was gone House went into the conference room. He
needed to talk to his team. What he was going to say was difficult for
him, because his usual sarcasm wasn't going to work. Nor could he just
give orders or tell them to give him ideas that he could then mock and
then give them his own. Now he actually had to talk to them. Be the fath-
er he sometimes – completely in jest – referred himself as. And unlike
with Aiko, he didn't really know how the kids were going to react.
   He walked into the room and took Aiko from Kasumii. He hoped that
the familiar warmth of his daughter would help him do what he knew
he had to. Kasumii went into his office to finish getting things ready for
Aiko's day so House was alone with his team – except for his miniature
bodyguard. He rubbed his forehead trying to find an un-embarrassing
way to start his speech.
   "Look, I don't quite know how to do this, since I never have needed to
do this," House started.
   "What is it? Is something wrong with Aiko or… ?" Cameron was all
concern immediately.
   "Hey, let him speak before you get all scared," Foreman advised her.
   "Besides, I have a feeling that once he is done we'll need to be con-
cerned for ourselves, not him or Aiko," Chase mused watching House's
face.
   "I hope nobody needs to be concerned for anybody, just listen," House
growled. "Look, you have all been with me for about three years; Chase
has been longer than that, Cameron just about that long and Foreman a
little under three years. I never expected any of you to survive that long.
Nor did anybody else. Chase was the first one who stayed six months.
After that time Cuddy came to the mistaken conclusion that I had mel-
lowed enough for her to risk forcing me to take a second fellow. She
failed to take into consideration the fact that Chase simply has a high tol-
erance for (at this point House covered Aiko's ears, which made his team smile)
bastards. Anyway, Cameron came along and as I liked her ass she
stayed. No point in huffing Cameron, it's a great ass, even better than
Cuddy's though your cleavage doesn't hold a candle to hers. Then



                                                                           113
Foreman joined us and he was just determined that no white guy was
going to force him out of a fellowship before he was ready. The thing is; I
think you have lost your ability to decide when you are ready. All of
you. You need to start thinking about your next move."
   "Are you kicking us out?" Foreman stared at House – like both Chase
and Cameron did, too.
   "No. I'm not doing that," House clarified. "If I hadn't got Aiko; if you
weren't part of her family – if this was before all that happened, then yes,
I would probably kick you out once you were ready, no explanations
given. But Aiko needs you. You are part of her family, so I cannot do
that. I have to make sure that I don't screw things up for her."
   "So what is it that you are telling us?" Cameron wondered.
   "I'm telling you that you are ready to leave the nest – or at least you
and Chase are. Chase has learned everything he can by now; you have
learned everything you want. Foreman is the only one who can still learn
something from me, but even he should be ready to go in six months or
so," House told her.
   "Why am I not ready now?" Foreman wanted to know.
   "They have both been here longer than you have," House pointed out
sharply. "Besides, you have some issues you need to deal with before
you can learn everything I can teach you."
   "Issues being what?" Foreman narrowed his eyes at House.
   "Your fear of turning into him, I would imagine," Chase inserted.
   "We can discuss those in private if you insist," House told Foreman.
"But right now they don't matter. I'm not kicking you out right now any-
way – any of you. I just want you to start thinking about what it is you
want. Cuddy is starting her maternity leave next week, but she will be
back in six months. Around that time there will also be couple of inter-
esting openings in the hospital. There are also rumours about couple of
interesting posts opening at Princeton General. That is if you want to
stay close by. You don't need to; you will be part of Aiko's family no
matter where you decide to go and you will be expected to keep in touch
with her – and the triplets, too once they arrive."
   "What if we want to stay with you?" Cameron ventured.
   "Then I will kick you out," House stated. "You knew the fellowship
wasn't going to last forever anyway. You came here to learn, you have
done that. Time to move on; either use what you have learned or find
someone who can teach you something I haven't."




                                                                        114
   "I thought you didn't think anyone else can teach us anything," Fore-
man huffed – feeling a little sore still about being the only one who
wasn't ready to leave.
   "Not when it comes to diagnostics," House agreed. "But there are other
fields of medicine that you might want to learn about. It's up to you. As I
said you need to start thinking about it. Anyway, that was all I wanted to
say. Subject closed."
   "But once we have made our decision, don't you want to know?"
Cameron stuttered.
   "Naturally," House shrugged. "I expect to get normal letters of resigna-
tion from you when you know what you are going to do next. Until then
I don't really need to know – unless of course you need letters of recom-
mendation. Until you resign, you are still my slaves, so go do my clinic
hours."
   "I thought you were doing them yourself until Cuddy goes on her ma-
ternity leave?" Chase frowned.
   "Her last day at work is tomorrow," House explained. "Do you really
think Sherry Darling will notice in one day that I'm not always doing my
own hours? Especially as I'm sure that even Evil Nurse Brenda is not go-
ing to carry tales to HIM."




                                                                       115
Chapter    19
House warming
On Friday, her last day at work before taking her maternity leave, Cuddy
was ready to commit murder by noon. Not that anything special had
happened; in fact everything had gone very smoothly. The problem was
the quiet, smug gloating that was radiating from Sheridan J. Rawls. All
the necessary papers were done, all the instructions that Cuddy wanted
to give him were given and had it been anyone else, she would have left
for the day, but she was damned if she was voluntarily vacating her own
office any sooner than necessary. Fortunately House came to the rescue –
no matter how unlikely knight in shining armour he was.
   "Cuddy, need you," House put his head into the office where Cuddy
was reading some final papers and subtly ignoring Sheridan.
   "What is it?" Cuddy queried.
   "Oh, come on," House whined. "We are not going to bore dear Sherid-
an with things medical. Leave him to deal with things he can understand
and come out. I need a consult from the Dean of Medicine and I cannot
wait till Monday when Wilson's stint starts."
   "Fine," Cuddy pretended to be humouring House, though she was
happy to leave Sheridan to his own devices. If she was lucky, he would
screw something up right away! "If that's what you need."
   House escorted her out of the hospital towards a small restaurant
nearby; they had sometimes lunched there.
   "Thank you," Cuddy told him. "I really needed to get away from him.
So, are we just having lunch or do you actually need to consult me about
something?"
   "Well, I suppose you could call it lunch if you really want," House
mused as he opened the door to the place. As he did so, several people
yelled Surprise! "The hospital staff figured that since you're having
triplets you really deserve a proper baby-shower and I promised to de-
liver you. Of course, had I found the Mother of All Monsters in your office,
I would have called in and told them to run for their lives."



                                                                        116
   Cuddy felt that she really ought to have had a cutting response to that
one, but she just couldn't come up with anything; she was too touched
by the trouble everyone had gone to! The place was decorated with blue
and pink balloons and flowers. There was food and cake and presents
and festive and happy atmosphere and no Sheridan or Janelle in sight!
Half the hospital was present, and the other half had promised to show
up as soon as the first half went back to release them. There was live mu-
sic: a pianist and a singer performing golden oldies, jazz and easy listen-
ing. Though it was clearly a baby-shower, there was nothing too cutesy
about it.
   "Oh, my," Cuddy looked around at the smiling faces. "This is so ex-
actly what I needed today! Thank you, thank you all!"
   Anna came over to her with a glass of bubbly: "Here, non-alcoholic for
you, but it's still bubbly. And just in case Sheridan finds out about this
and decides to join us with his little floozy, the cake has been frosted
with my special chilli-chocolate frosting. Don't worry, you won't taste
the chilli, but it's there, just in case."
   "Anna, you are the only person who I know who is even better when
she is evil than when she is good," Cuddy smiled and took the glass.
   "Hey, what do you mean only?" House wanted to know as he escorted
Cuddy to the table where a waiter was ready to serve her. She was the
only one with a personal waiter, others had to fend for themselves, but
there was plenty of food, so nobody minded.
   "When you are evil, you are just evil," Cuddy informed House and sat
down.
   "I resent that," House pouted as he joined her at the table – the House-
hold (Blythe, Dr Higa, the ducklings, Anna and Wilson plus Kasumii
and Grey) were already sitting there. "I may not be good exactly when I'm
evil, but I am fun!"
   "Well, I suppose I have to admit that sometimes you are," Cuddy con-
ceded before attacking her meal. But before she had actually started she
looked around herself with a puzzled frown: "Where's Aiko?"
   "Doing her trophy round," Chase smiled.
   "Doing what?" House frowned too.
   "The nurses wanted to adore her," Foreman smiled a little patron-
isingly, which earned him an amused look from Cameron – who had
seen him do his share of adoring where Aiko was concerned.
   "Brenda has her," Cameron reassured Cuddy. "She is in good hands."




                                                                       117
   "You gave my daughter into the hands of Evil Nurse Brenda?" House
exclaimed. "Have you no idea how that woman could corrupt my poor
baby!"
   "I have not corrupted her," Brenda's voice came from behind House. "I
haven't even told her anything about your true nature." She handed Aiko
carefully to House, who was happy to greet his daughter.
   "Hello, Little Love," House said softly. "Did you like your tour?" Aiko
cooed something in response. "Oh, good. I'm glad everybody liked you."
Then Aiko seemed to explain something to her Daddy. "I see! Yes,
people can be stupid sometimes." To which Aiko gave an earnest opin-
ion. "But that's because they don't know me as well as you do." Aiko
frowned as she pondered on something, and then she babbled
something. "Yes, you are right. Your opinion is all that matters." To
which Aiko gave a nod and then she settled against he Daddy to observe
the proceedings of the party.
   "You… " Foreman – like all the others – had watched the exchange
half-believing that House really did speak Aiko, though they knew better
(right?). "That… never mind."
   "Just go with it," Cuddy told him having seen these conversations be-
fore; she hadn't been able to decide if House and Aiko really had conver-
sations or if that exchange was just a game they both enjoyed (and which
did develop Aiko's interaction skills). "Now, let's eat."
   Once she had eaten she wanted to see her presents; looking them over
took some time, even though most came from groups of people – doctors
and nurses of the same department, and so on. But since she was expect-
ing triplets, she also got three of almost everything. She loved it all. After
that, the time was spent talking and circulating– by the time Cuddy had
got through the presents the shift at the hospital had changed and there
were new people who wanted to talk to her.
   "Excuse me for a moment," House had stayed close to her all the time
(the others had dispersed all over the party), partly to monitor that she
wasn't overdoing things, but now he excused himself for a moment.
Cuddy saw him go to the pianist and say something to him, give a tip
and then he returned.
   "What?" Cuddy eyed him a little suspiciously.
   "Just made a request," House shrugged innocently as he took Aiko and
went towards the restrooms with her – she had been showing signs that
she wanted to be changed.
   As House left the table Brenda and few of the other nurses came to
Cuddy with a fairly large parcel.



                                                                          118
   "We know this is a baby-shower, but we decided that you need a
house-warming gift, too," Brenda explained as she handed the gift to
Cuddy.
   "Thank you! But you really didn't need to, I have received more than
enough gifts today," Cuddy exclaimed but she still opened the package.
She looked inside and blinked: "Oh! You meant a House-warming gift.
I … " Cuddy stared at the sexy outfit resting among the tissues a little
uncertainly. It was … hot! But …
   "We know. You have consistently told us that your relationship with
House isn't like that," Brenda said as the others nodded in support. "But
we think it should be. I mean, you and House live in a beautiful home…
"
   "He has his own flat," Cuddy inserted.
   "But it's in the same house," Brenda insisted. "You have kids together;
you really should have sex together, too. And that's what this is for: give
him some ideas, please!"
   "I don't think giving House ideas would be the problem," Cuddy poin-
ted out. "But as you said, we have kids together. This, if we end up as
more than just co-parents, we need to think it through very carefully!"
   "Up to you," Brenda reassured Cuddy. "We just wanted to give you
some encouragement! Besides, even if you won't use it for him, we think
you need a reminder that you won't be pregnant forever. You will want
to wear something like that again! Trust me, I know."
   "I suppose," Cuddy smiled. "Thank you. It is HOT, and I do love it.
But … the rest of your suggestion, I really have to think it through very
carefully."
   As soon as Cuddy had seen the outfit she had remembered her super-
tanker-conversation with House the other night, but that was private and
if something was developing between her and House, it was still too new
and tentative for her to talk about it to others; she wasn't even sure it was
something she could talk about to House – yet. She didn't know how
House had taken the conversation; was he still thinking that she had said
those things just to distract him, to make him forget his father's words.
He hadn't said anything since then, not even an innuendo had passed his
lips on the subject. Cuddy looked up and saw House returning with
Aiko and she quickly closed the box and gave it to Brenda to hide among
the other gifts that House's team was packing up for transport to home.
Brenda took the other women with her so Cuddy was alone at the table
when House and Aiko reached her.




                                                                         119
   Just as House got to Cuddy, the singer finished a song she had been
singing and went right on to the next song, which after a few words
made Cuddy glare at House hard enough to put him six feet under – if
only glares could do that! (Though this one came really close.) Talk
about innuendo! And House just smirked at her as the words of the song
floated to them:
   When my dreamboat comes home / and my dream no more will roam / I will
meet you and I'll greet you / when my dreamboat comes home / Moonlit waters
will sing / cause that tender love you'll bring / we will be sweethearts, yes
forever / when my dreamboat comes home / When my dreamboat, comes home /
and my dream no more will roam / I will meet you and I'll greet you / when my
dreamboat comes home / Moonlit waters will sing / cause that tender love you'll
bring / we will be sweethearts, yes forever / when my dreamboat comes home
   "Why didn't you just make a public announcement?" Cuddy hissed an-
grily at House.
   "Cuddy, my dear," House smirked at her. "It's just a song. Nobody will
think nothing of it – unless YOU give them reason otherwise."
   Cuddy had to admit that he had a point, so she satisfied herself with
another glare and then settled down to ignore him and the song. Though
secretly she was a little pleased that House apparently did remember the
conversation and might be thinking of doing something about it. But she
had no intention of making things too easy for him – and especially she
had no intention of making a fool of herself in case she read too much to
his actions.
   Before Cuddy could tie herself into mental knots about it Miss Hill
joined them at the table.
   "Where did you disappear to?" House wanted to know.
   "I just took a piece of cake in a box to my desk at work," Anna replied
with wide, innocent gaze. "I thought I'd take some home and eat it to-
night. Having a sweet tooth and all."
   "To your desk?" House smiled. "What do you think are the chances
that it will still be there when you go back?"
   "Slim," Anna acknowledged. "But I am such a trusting person, you
know."
   "Are you setting Ms Forbes up again!" Cuddy asked Anna.
   "Well, if you have an allergy," Anna replied earnestly. "Then the last
thing you ought to do is to steal food from a person who you know loves
the very food that you are allergic to! One would think that Janelle
would have learned that lesson by now."
   "I hear repetition is the mother of learning," House observed.



                                                                           120
   "Then let's hope she learns!" Anna nodded.
   "Everything is packed for transport," Cameron came to them to tell
Cuddy. "Do you want to come with us or do you want to stay here still?"
   "I think I'll come home," Cuddy decided. "I've seen everybody and I'm
getting a bit tired. It has been lovely. I just need to… "
   "No you don't," Anna interrupted. "I got your things from your office
for you. Besides, if you left something behind you can get it tomorrow
when the men come to move your things from your office to make room
for Sheridan."
   "Ok, thank you Anna," Cuddy accepted. She left the party with the
House-hold and to the sound of cheery goodbyes and see-you-soons.
   "Right, you can take all the presents to the green room upstairs,"
House told his team and Wilson as they got home. "The blue room will
be Cuddy's office until she goes back to work. The yellow room will be
the nursery for the Triplets and the apricot room is Aiko's."
   "My office?" Cuddy frowned at House. "What do you mean?"
   "I have arranged for your office to be moved in here in its entirety,"
House shrugged nonchalantly.
   "My office?" Cuddy parroted again.
   "Have you swallowed a parrot or something?" House teased her but
then relented. "Tomorrow the furnishings and everything from your of-
fice will be brought here. I know you won't be doing any hospital work,
but I seriously doubt you can spend the next six months totally absorbed
with maternal things. You need a place where you can work, read medic-
al articles, get on top of your specialities again, and do research … things
like that. In addition to that, you don't really want Sheridan to contamin-
ate your things, so they will be safe here. Besides, having you move out of
the hospital will give Sheridan a false sense of security which makes the
shock bigger when he finds out that he is anything but secure. And per-
sonally I cannot wait to see Sherry Darling's face when he gets to work
Monday morning and finds that his office has been stripped bare of
everything but the desk and chair that were originally brought into your
office for him when he arrived. And I will see it, since I told the men to
take the blinds as well."
   "I take it back," Cuddy said filled with awe. "You are good when you
are evil."
   "Welcome home, MamaLisa," House smiled.




                                                                        121
Chapter    20
Ours is not to reason why or is it?
When the ducklings came back down for the last time after having taken
Cuddy's presents upstairs they found that House, Aiko and Dr Higa had
gone into House's flat.
   "I think they both have had enough company for one day," Blythe ex-
plained on her way to the kitchen. "They are actually rather solitary men,
both of them."
   "Besides, they want some time alone with Aiko," Kasumii observed.
She, too, was leaving the room only not for the kitchen but upstairs – to
make Aiko's room ready. "House promised that Aiko will sleep in her
own room tonight."
   "You think he will keep that promise?" Chase wondered.
   "Why not?" Foreman queried. "I'm surprised he hasn't moved her in
there sooner."
   "You still don't get it, do you," Cameron shook her head at Foreman.
   "Get what?" Foreman asked her.
   "Nothing!" Came the chorus of answers from everyone.
   "If Greg was Aiko's mother, would you wonder at his reactions?"
Wilson pointed out.
   "Well, no," Foreman shrugged. "But he isn't. He is… He's House."
   "And you still cannot see past your prejudice to the real man, can
you?" Chase mused.
   "Are you telling me he isn't a selfish jerk?" Foreman challenged.
   "Sure he is, but there is much more to him, too," Chase responded
calmly.
   "Really," Foreman sneered. "And is it that much more that made him
fire us?"
   "What!" Cuddy sat up in attention. "What are you talking about?"
   "He didn't fire us," Cameron insisted. "He just told us that if we are not
gone or ready to go in six months time then he will fire us."
   "Ok, explain!" Cuddy demanded.



                                                                         122
   "We don't really know how to explain," Chase replied. "He told us yes-
terday that we are ready and that we need to start thinking of our next
move. That when you come back to the hospital, we better have our next
step planned or he will push us out of the nest without a plan."
   "He didn't think I was ready, though," Foreman still felt the sting.
   "You have been with him the shortest time," Cameron pointed out.
   "Besides, he did say that you would be ready in six month's time, too,"
Chase said. "By then you either have learned everything he thinks you
need or you are never going to learn it."
   "Says the blue-eyed-boy," Foreman with some belligerence though he
didn't really direct it at Chase.
   "Hey, I know I'm not your favourite person in the world, but my blue
eyes have nothing to do with the fact that House thinks I've learned
everything he can teach me," Chase insisted.
   "What I really would like to know is what have I failed to learn!" Fore-
man exclaimed. "He hasn't exactly been teaching us anything; just ex-
pecting us to act as his audience."
   "And learn from what we see," Cameron stated.
   "No," Chase recognised. "He hasn't expected us to learn from what we
see; he has expected us to learn how to see."
   "You mean his insistence that you learn to see outside the box," Wilson
caught on to Chase's meaning.
   "Among other things," Chase nodded. "Also to see what is important."
   "But how does that make him fire you?" Cuddy wanted to know.
   "Maybe he is teaching us yet another, mysterious lesson," Foreman
suggested.
   "No," Chase decided. "I think he doesn't need us anymore. We are su-
perfluous to requirement, now. We have actually shown him that we can
make a diagnosis on our own; that we can go against his orders; against
the obvious answers, against odds and stay with the patient and his
symptoms until we are satisfied that everything has been done. Sure, we
did it for the wrong reason but we did it."
   "You are talking about the brain cancer case, aren't you?" Cameron
asked.
   "But it wasn't even him! He lied to us, to us all," Foreman exclaimed.
   "That's why I said we did it for the wrong reason," Chase nodded. "We
didn't stop until we had explored all options because we thought it was
House! He does that for his patients no matter who they are just because
he wants to be sure he has found all the answers that are there. We have




                                                                       123
shown him that we can do it, too. So there is no point in us staying with
him anymore."
  "You are making no sense," Cuddy maintained. "You are telling me
that now that you can really contribute to the diagnosing process, now
that you really know what you are doing and can actually help him, he
wants you gone?"
  "I don't think we can help him," Chase denied. "He doesn't need help.
Now that we really could help him he probably sees it as a waste when
we should be out there working on the people that don't get to him. We
were a great sounding board for him, but he can do all the diagnosing
himself. The only point of having us around was to teach us things. If it
wasn't for the teaching aspect, we could be replaced by trained monkeys
as far as he is concerned."
  "You're not objecting to that analysis?" Foreman stared at Cuddy who
had nodded ruefully.
  "Can't," She shrugged. "I've seen him do it. Well, not trained monkeys,
but a twelve year old boy, a man who knew only enough English to tell
him that he didn't understand any and a randomly chosen woman who
hated his guts on sight."
  "Oh," Foreman didn't really know how else to react to that piece of
information.
  "So fine, we don't need his teaching anymore," Cameron admitted.
"But we are a good team; why break us up? Couldn't he just … I don't
know, make us take all the cases he doesn't want and get new fellows to
teach. Why tell us to go?"
  "You know, when I was watching the DVDs of The Lord of the Rings I
was puzzled at something they said in the extras. I think it was one of
the actors who said that Jackson believed that the Elves were leaving be-
cause the human experiment had failed!" Chase mulled over. "I found that
totally incompatible with my own reading of the book. I had always seen
the Elves as Guardians of man. And you don't need a guardian anymore
once you become of age. And sometimes, if the guardian is a very au-
thoritative figure – either because you fear him or because you respect
his knowledge and wisdom too much – he can prevent you from becom-
ing … well you! The Elves had to leave or Man would have been less;
would never have found his own way. I think House feels that way, too.
That he has to kick us away or his guardianship will stunt our develop-
ment; perhaps even make us into his clones or mindless minions. We
won't grow into the doctors we can be."




                                                                     124
   "You're right," Wilson said after a short nearly stunned silence. "You
need to get away from him before you turn into his clone."
   "What?" Chase hadn't expected quite that reaction.
   "That was a very House-like thing to do," Cuddy agreed with Wilson.
"Tell a story that at first seems to have nothing to do with the subject at
hand, but then tie it up so that it illustrates your point exactly. Mind you,
House would never have used that particular story, but that is just a
detail."
   "I'm not the one everybody worries is turning into House!" Chase ex-
claimed. "Foreman is the one who is afraid of that!"
   "Which is why I have managed to avoid it," Foreman noted. "But ap-
parently it has been sneaking up on you unnoticed."
   "You say it like it's a bad thing?" Cameron frowned. "We were here to
learn; in fact we came here to learn to be like him as doctors. But we can
pick and choose and if Chase can pick the good and leave the bad then
more power to him. Besides, I've done my share of storytelling, too. Why
doesn't that turn me into House?"
   "Because your stories are personal stuff," Foreman pointed out. "You
talk about your aunts and brothers and such. Things House would never
share with anyone." Foreman paused and thought for a moment.
"Though he did once tell me that he had a funny uncle."
   "He did?" Wilson was all ears. That House had shared something like
that with Foreman was astonishing.
   "Mind you, it was only in passing," Foreman shrugged. "We were
treating that supermodel whose father had … well, you know. Anyway I
wondered why he jumped to that conclusion and he said it was because
he used to have a funny uncle. I naturally assumed he, too, had been ab-
used but he shot that idea down fast enough. Turned out that the uncle
wasn't sexually abusive just full of dirty jokes."
   "All of which he apparently learned by heart," Cameron sighed in
disgust.
   Chase didn't comment, but he gave Cuddy and Wilson a searching
look. He thought that something had passed between them when Fore-
man had mentioned abuse in connection with House. It had been fleet-
ing, but he was sure it was there. Only he wasn't sure if he wanted to
know more about it.
   "Whatever," Chase shrugged after a moment. "There is more to House
than telling stories."
   "Yeah, there is breaking every rule of ethics or morals known to man,"
Foreman was still in a grumpy mood.



                                                                         125
   "He may be unconventional," Cuddy admitted. "But he does put the
patients first. Everything he does he does to get to the right diagnosis as
soon as possible. Sure it seems to be all about the puzzle, but he wants to
solve the puzzle before the patient dies! That is why it's so urgent to
him."
   "Besides, it's not only for the purposes of the diagnosis that he can risk
everything," Chase pointed out. "Even once he knows what is wrong
with the patient he still goes all out for them."
   "What are you talking about," Foreman doubted.
   "If you don't know, then I'm not telling you," Chase stated. "I ratted
him once to Vogler; once he was gone I was sure I would be next. Only I
wasn't. Sure House tortured me, but he kept me on. I'm not ratting him
to anyone again."
   "I may have an idea of what you are talking about," Wilson mused.
"But even if I'm wrong about that particular case, I've seen him do it for
others. He does care about the patients – in his own peculiar way. And it
really isn't enough for him to save their lives; he wants to improve their
quality of life, too, if possible. And it may be because he doesn't care too
much, that he can see so clearly. Who else would have thought that giv-
ing up an amazing musical talent in order to be able to button one's own
shirt was a fair trade? But it was."
   "Eric," Cuddy turned to Foreman. "There are worse things than to
turning into House."
   "I don't think I like the price, though," Foreman said. "I don't think it's
worth it. He does save lives others don't; even can't. But he also risks
them in ways I'm not sure I can live with."
   "Are you sure it's House you are afraid of?" Wilson mused. "I mean,
you don't really see him clearly. You still don't see how Aiko has affected
him; brought things to light about him that nobody – except his mother –
suspected he had. Have you asked yourself why you are so blind to him?
In some respects, I mean. What is it about turning into him that you
fear?"
   "He is a selfish jerk!" Foreman exclaimed feeling a little cornered.
"Who wants to be that!"
   "According to every one of your ex-girlfriends those words describe
you to a T," Cameron observed dryly. "So if that is what you fear; too
late, I'm afraid."
   "I think Wilson may be right," Cuddy agreed. "You really need to sit
down and think what it is you fear. I don't think it's House – or becom-
ing him, if you want to be accurate. It's something that he seems to



                                                                          126
represent to you. And that might be what prevents you from learning –
whatever it is House thinks you still need to learn."
   "Had I known I would end up being psychoanalysed I would have
stayed in the hospital," Foreman huffed. "I'm sure there are plenty of pa-
tients waiting to be treated on the clinic."
   "Psychobabble is a risk you run in this Household," Wilson pointed
out. "Or why do you think House has a flat of his own where he can hide
behind locked doors and no trespassing signs?"
   "It's just that we do care," Cameron sympathised with Foreman.
   Before the conversation got any further, Cuddy's cell phone peeped to
tell her a message had arrive. She read it and started to laugh: "Oh, I so
agree with you Anna!"
   "What?" The others wanted to know.
   "Anna thinks that attaching a camera to the phone was the best inven-
tion since sliced bread," Cuddy explained turning her phone so that all
could see the photo that had accompanied the message.
   Ms Forbes had apparently found the slice of cake Anna had planted in
the office – and apparently it had been quite a large piece, since Janelle's
face was nearly covered with ugly blotches and she was obviously trying
hard not to scratch them.
   "Oh, this is just too perfect!" Cuddy laughed – as did everyone else,
too.




                                                                        127
Chapter    21
Lovely Monday
Monday was everything House – and pretty much the rest of the hospit-
al – had expected. House had made a special effort and gone to work on
time. He had even managed to get to the hospital at the same time as
Sheridan. He actually walked in through the doors with him. As they
walked through the clinic towards Cuddy's old and Sheridan's present
office, House looked ahead through the glass doors into the room bare of
everything but a simple desk and a chair. Even the anteroom had been
stripped bare of everything but a desk and a chair.
   "Hey, your decorators seem to have failed to show up during the
week-end!" House exclaimed with totally fake concern.
   "My decorators?" Sheridan looked at him puzzled. "Why would I have
needed decorators… ?" His voice died down as he, too, looked ahead
and saw the desolate state of his office. House had had even the carpet
removed. "What happened to my office?"
   "Dr Cuddy emptied it for you," House stated. "You were told that you
can decorate the office any way you like, weren't you?"
   "Yes, but I declined the offer," Sheridan looked like he would have
wanted to cry. "I had no problems with the office as it was!"
   "Oh," House shrugged. "I suppose you forgot to mention it to Dr
Cuddy. She took it for granted that you had hired decorators for this
week-end, so she made sure her things were out of the way."
   "Ms Forbes was supposed to take care of it," Sheridan was still in
shock. "She told me that she had given the message to Miss Hill!"
   "Really?" House was surprised (sure he was). "Miss Hill is usually so
reliable; it's difficult to believe that she would have forgotten something
like that. Could there be a misunderstanding of some sort?"
   "Who cares!" Sheridan nearly yelled. "It doesn't matter how it
happened, I can find that out later. Right now I don't have an office and I
set up meetings with all the department heads for today! How am I




                                                                       128
supposed to have meetings in a fish-bowl! And empty fish-bowl, come to
that. There aren't even any shades on the windows anymore."
   "Well, I suppose you could book one of the conference rooms for the
day," House mused. "Oh, wait, they are all booked! The international
workshops Dr Cuddy arranged for this week take up all the rooms. I
think you have to change your plans and instead of having all the heads
come to you, you have to go to them. But I would get Ms Forbes find me
a decorator today, if I were you." With that House continued to the lifts
with a wide smile on his face – that, though, Sheridan did not see.
   "I saw Ms Forbes arrive," Cameron nearly gloated as she came into the
conference room. She had been the first to come to work that morning,
but knowing the usual time at which Ms Forbes came to work, she had
found a reason to be in the lobby when that happened. "I thought for a
moment that her jaw was actually going to hit the floor. She was ap-
palled! And very unhappy that she had to slum it for the rest of the day.
I'm fairly sure that her first priority is to get her own space done and
Sherry Darling will come a very distant second in her plans."
   "How was she?" Chase wanted to know. "Were the blotches still as bad
as on Friday?"
   "Nearly gone, I'm afraid," Cameron reported. "What little there was
left of them she was able to cover with make-up."
   "Damn," Foreman swore. "I was so hoping for the sight of her sitting in
that fish-bowl with her face covered in red blotches. Well, at least her
week-end was ruined thanks to Miss Hill."
   "I was looking forward to that sight, too," Cameron mourned. "Well,
she still had a very bad morning. As soon as she got in, Sheridan collared
her and they had a humdinger of a fight. They did try to stay out of
sight, but with no blinds, they didn't quite make it. Too bad we couldn't
hear what was said. Anyway, Ms Forbes flounced out of there to the
cafeteria in high dudgeon. And I have a feeling Sheridan is going to need
to do a lot of grovelling before he is back in her good graces."
   "It's always risky having an affair with the daughter of the man on
whose good will your job hangs," House pondered. "Of course, he is seri-
ously overestimating Mr Forbes' power in the board. Especially if
something were to happen to put a strain on the continued good will
between Misters Forbes and Taunton. Though I cannot imagine what
could possibly separate such good and long time friends."
   "You are not going to out them, are you?" Cameron was suddenly con-
cerned. "I mean, I don't care about Sheridan and Janelle – or even her




                                                                      129
father, but Sheridan's wife! And Janelle's husband! They are innocent in
all this. They don't deserve to be hurt."
   "They have already been hurt," House pointed out with utter serious-
ness. "They just don't know it yet. And I don't think I need to out those
two. They are already beginning to show signs of carelessness. They
haven't been caught yet, so they think they never will be."
   "Besides, Janelle looks like the sort of woman who wouldn't care if
they were caught," Chase observed. "She likes stealing things, and part of
the fun in stealing husbands is that people know you did it. That you
have the power to steal somebody else's man."
   "I thought from the beginning that Sheridan's main attraction to her
was that he was taken," Miss Hill joined the conversation from the door-
way. "And I agree: they won't need any outing."
   "Good morning Miss Hill," House greeted her affably. "And how are
you this wonderful Monday?"
   "I'm just peachy," Miss Hill responded in dulcet tones. "It's such a
pleasure to come to work in a big, attractive, well-decorated office, don't
you think?"
   "Absolutely," House couldn't agree more. "The furnishings do make
the office. The feel of a soft carpet under your foot, the welcoming arms
of a familiar recliner, the soothing colours of the curtains and the reas-
suring privacy provided by the blinds are so essential to a successful day
in an office. You are so right."
   "Stop it, you two," Cameron insisted before she choked on her
laughter. Chase and Foreman were having similar problems, too. Camer-
on turned to Anna: "But what I want to know is how you will get away
with it? Sheridan is out for blood and he can't take Janelle's so you are
next on the line."
   "Hah! He needs to be up really early in the morning if he thinks to get
any of my blood," Anna scorned. "He's not the first insolent little puppy
I've led up the garden path. You see, it was the day after the first chocol-
ate incident between me and Ms Forbes that Sheridan decided the matter
so Ms Forbes and I were really snippy with each other still and when she
informed me that Mr Rawls liked the office and Dr Cuddy wouldn't
need to do more than remove her personal things out of there I informed
her that everything in that office was personal to Dr Cuddy and to tell
that to Mr Rawls. That was the entire conversation. Now I'm sure
nobody can fault me if Ms Forbes didn't understand me!"
   "But he won't blame Ms Forbes," Chase pointed out. "He can't, because
of her father. He will come after you!"



                                                                        130
   "Sure he will, but my contract says that only Dr Cuddy or the Dean of
Medicine can fire me," Anna told them. "Now do you think either Dr
Cuddy or Dr Wilson will do that?"
   "But couldn't he take it to the board?" Foreman suspected. "Surely they
can fire you over Cuddy and Wilson's heads."
   "I'm sure they can," Anna was unconcerned. "But if you were jockey-
ing for a permanent position as the head of this hospital would you go to
the board and say that your secretary is having problems with Dr
Wilson's secretary and would the board please deal with it?"
   "That wouldn't give them a very good impression of your administrat-
ive skills, now would it," House pointed out.
   "True," Foreman agreed. "It does seem you're safe! Excellent."
   "Does anyone know what Sheridan is going to do with the meetings he
set up for today?" Chase wanted to know.
   "That's why I'm here," Anna responded. "Dr Wilson has a patient but
he wanted to know if you have received the memo, too."
   "No," House shook his head. "Haven't seen it. Of course, Cameron
hasn't read my email yet, so it could be there."
   "It probably is," Anna nodded. "Anyway, Sheridan is trying to move
the meetings to tomorrow."
   "Which he will find is impossible," House smiled. "Since everybody is
so busy with the launching of Cuddy's international programme."
   "Precisely," Anna smiled back. "If he wants to have them this week, he
needs to do them today."
   "And today he doesn't have an office, so he has to come to us," House
sighed in satisfaction: it was always nice to see a plan unfold perfectly.
"This immediately puts him in a disadvantage, authoritatively speaking."
   "It's almost too perfect," Anna agreed.
   "Almost," House said. "And we do have to take that into consideration
next time. Sheridan is not an idiot, we have just been able to blindside
him for now. If we try something as elaborate as this again, we need to
be really careful."
   "I don't think we need to do anything this big again," Anna pointed
out. "Besides, we cannot expect the department heads to work with us
again. This was easy, because they all wanted to have an advantage over
Sheridan – something they never have with Dr Cuddy, though they have
tried hard enough. But as I said, we won't need to do anything like this
again, since it will take Sheridan the next six months to regain the
ground he will loose today."




                                                                      131
   "But what if he doesn't do the meeting today?" Cameron asked. "What
if he schedules them for next week?"
   "That would be the smart thing to do," House nodded. "But I'm fairly
sure he will not think of that as he is too rattled because of the office and
the fight with Ms Forbes. I think he will want to show that he has some
control over something on his first day at work. Of course, the ideal
thing to happen would be that he meets with a couple of the heads and
then rethinks his situation – having realised that in somebody else's of-
fice he isn't as much in control of the situation as he wants to – and then
arranges the rest of the meetings for next week. If he does that, I won't
need to do a damn thing for the rest of the six months: the power politics
between different departments will do it all for me."
   "Let's hope for that," Anna wished as she turned to go back to Wilson's
office. "By the way, I disagree with your assessment of Sheridan. He is an
idiot. Only an idiot would have anything to do with Ms Forbes."
   "Doesn't that make her husband an idiot, too?" Cameron frowned.
   "I understand they married young," Anna shrugged. "Everybody's an
idiot when young."
   The plan unfolded beautifully. And it went exactly as Anna and House
had hoped: Sheridan was an idiot and rescheduled some of the meetings
to next week. But even with all the fun going on with Sheridan; with all
his plans coming to fruition House wasn't gloating. Sure he had been
elated at first, but as the day wore on, he got more and more glum. The
ducklings even saw him take an extra Vicodin, which hadn't happened
in months.
   "What's wrong with him?" Foreman frowned. "He should be gloating
all over the place, explaining to us the brilliance of his plan and how per-
fectly he predicted Sheridan's reactions and making plans for the next
phase of the campaign. He should be crowing in glee and stealing food
from the cafeteria – you know!"
   "I know, I don't understand this," Cameron agreed.
   "I have a theory," Chase mused as he watched House pace his office.
   "Well, share!" Foreman invited.
   "No, I don't think so," Chase refused. "I need some proof. And I think I
will soon get it."
   The others looked at him half-angry, half-puzzled but before they
could come up with a way to force him to co-operate the lift doors
opened and Kasumii came out of the lift with Aiko. Kasumii was carry-
ing a basket with some food and Aiko's bottle in it. As soon as the lift
door opened House was out of his office and making his best speed for



                                                                         132
Aiko. Aiko too was eager for their meeting; as soon as she saw her
Daddy she was cooing in joy and trying to reach for him. House got to
her and lifter her into his arms. The moment he felt the familiar weight
and warmth of his daughter in his arms he visibly breathed easier.
   "Hello, Little Love," He greeted Aiko. Aiko said something back and
House listened. "I know, I missed you too, but I'm sure you had a very
nice day with your Nanny and MamaLisa." Again Aiko responded. "Yes,
I know it's not quite the same as coming to work with me, but we have to
start changing the routines to accommodate your siblings once they ar-
rive." Aiko pouted and babbled something. "No, we cannot cancel them
now. We don't even want to. You will love them once they are here, I
promise." Aiko muttered something. "Really, I promise you. It will be
fun!"
   "We brought you your lunch," Kasumii decided to enter the conversa-
tion. "But you cannot eat it here, in the corridor."
   "I suppose not," House agreed. "Aiko, will you let Kasumii carry you
to my office so we can eat?"
   Aiko frowned a little but didn't protest as House handed her to
Kasumii but as soon as they were in House's office again, she indicated
that she wanted her Daddy. House complied and in the end they had
lunch together: House eating his lunch with one hand while holding
Aiko who was drinking her milk.
   The ducklings had observed the proceedings in silence and once
House went into his office with Aiko and Kasumii Foreman and Camer-
on turned to Chase.
   "Was that what you were waiting for?" Cameron asked.
   "And what did that prove, then, if anything?" asked Foreman.
   "It proved my theory: House was suffering from Aiko-withdrawal,"
Chase concluded.




                                                                    133
Chapter    22
Words
After the Monday House went back to his old routines; he got to work
late – as he had all the time, but Sheridan had been under the impression
that it had been a temporary arrangement because of Aiko. He avoided
his clinic hours (with great success since it took a while for Sheridan to
figure out that he really had to physically find House to get him to the
clinic and once he realised that, he still had to find House). When he did
get to the clinic, he insulted nearly every patient and half of them
stormed to see Sheridan demanding an apology – so far, Sheridan hadn't
found a way to make House to apologise.
   Sheridan had tried to make House toe the line. He had actually sus-
pended House's right to order procedures, but as House hadn't had any
patients at that time it was a futile gesture. All it did was give House one
more reason for not doing his clinic hours: what would have been the
point as he couldn't even order any tests? Sheridan had to rescind his or-
der without gaining anything. It also meant that he had already wasted
his most powerful weapon (and he didn't even know it!) and had noth-
ing to show for it. And it was highly unlikely he could use it again with
any credibility. The odd thing was that until the ban had been lifted,
House had demanded an almost ridiculous amount of tests on all his
clinic patients before he could possibly come up with a diagnosis! After,
he went into his speed-diagnosing mode and went through ten patients
in half an hour – no tests needed.
   Ms Forbes was having her share of difficulties, too. It seemed that
Anna had given her chilli-chocolate receipt to every other nurse in the
hospital and every piece of chocolate that Janelle snatched brought her
out in blotches. It took her till Thursday to figure out that stealing
chocolate was not a good idea. In addition to that, she found out that she
could not make Anna do her work for her, but she actually had to do it
herself. Not that she wasn't capable of doing it - she did have a good
education – it just meant that she didn't have time to do anything else at



                                                                        134
work but work. No long lunches (if they had been lunches) with Sherid-
an anymore; no leaving early to go shopping (and it had been shopping);
no nipping down to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee every half an hour
(she had to learn to use the coffee machine – and Anna wasn't telling her
how!); none of that: just work. And she was not a happy camper! Had
she known that the only reason why Anna didn't share her receipt of
chilli-sandwiches, chilli-salad-dressing, chilli-cookies and numerous
other chilli-receipts with others was because Janelle actually did the
work when she couldn't shift it to someone else instead of just leaving it.
So her life could have been worse.
   House was somewhat grumpier that week than he had been for a long,
long time. But once he got used to seeing Aiko only for lunch during his
workday (and once he worked a short session of muscle relaxing exer-
cises into his day with Grey) he got better; not nearly as mellow as when
Aiko was around (which made everybody miss the baby even more than
they missed her just for herself), but better. Besides, he was able to do a
lot of Sheridan-bating at work and now that Rawls had caught on to
what was going on, he wasn't quite as easy game as at first, so House
was even able to keep things interesting – at least for now. The team was
desperately seeking for a new patient before House ran out of amuse-
ments because a bored House – with no Aiko to distract him – would be
very bad news for them!
   On Friday House left work early as he didn't have a patient and even
Sheridan-baiting couldn't interest him enough to keep him at work. Not
when he had a week-end at home to look forward to. He hadn't even
been able to spend much time with Dr Higa, who had been busy with
the workshops launching Cuddy's international programme. True,
House had been involved with them as well, though not much, but he
hadn't skipped his duties there, because he had promised Cuddy and he
was still demonstrating both to the board and to Sheridan that Cuddy
knew how to deal with him (besides, it was true! She had found out that
House felt just enough guilt about having knocked her up with triplets that
she could use it to extract a few promises from him).
   As soon as House got home he went into the main house to find Aiko,
Cuddy and Dr Higa. His mother had come home with him, so she was
already accounted for. Kasumii and Grey were in the kitchen, too, with
the rest of them. For some reason the kitchen had become the unofficial
gathering ground for them all at the end of a day. Quite often House
found his team and Wilson in there as well, with the people who actually
lived in the house (Grey didn't officially live there, yet, but he might as



                                                                       135
well – or so House regularly grumbled to him). Having greeted every-
one, and especially Aiko, House sat down with Aiko on his lap.
   "So Cuddy, how have you really handled your first week out of
work?" House asked.
   "You make that sound like I was unemployed or something," Cuddy
said.
   "I would imagine that that is how you see it," House assumed. "After
all, someone else is doing your job!"
   "And not very well from what I hear," Cuddy huffed. "I'm sure you
haven't done more than three of your clinic hours all week and even
those you did only to be able to send people to Sheridan to complain
about you!"
   "Hey! Are you telling me I should obey Sheridan?" House gasped dra-
matically. "That I should treat him the way I treat you? Because if you
do, I have to tell you, he does not have the cleavage and I really couldn't
bring myself to sexually harass him. Now if you want me to sexually
harass Wilson, I could consider that."
   "He doesn't have the cleavage either. Besides, there's enough specula-
tion about you two as it is!" Cuddy exclaimed. "Leave him alone. And I
wasn't saying that you should start obeying Sheridan, but if things go the
way they are going now, I won't have a hospital to return to."
   "It's not that bad," House denied. "Sure, it could get that bad, since
there is a certain atmosphere of anarchy currently going, but you have
your appointment with Dr Jordan next week and you can round up the
department heads then and threaten them with fire and brimstone if
they take things too far while you're gone. Just tell them in your best Ter-
minator impression that you'll be back. You usually scare me witless
when you do that."
   "If only!" Cuddy appealed to higher powers. "But I think I better do
what you suggest. As long as they know that they will have to pay for
every excess they have committed during my absence, the heads will
probably stay reasonably well in line. The only exception to that is prob-
ably the head of Diagnostics. He can be a bit of a problem."
   "You could try to bribe him," House pointed out. "I hear he is a sucker
for sexual favours."
   "Mind your manners with Aiko here," Kasumii took a moment away
from her talk with Grey to admonish House.
   "I covered her ears!" House defended himself (and he actually had
done that).




                                                                        136
   "I'm sure that works well enough now that she is so little that you
pretty much always know where she is," Dr Higa deliberated. "But once
she's older, you won't always know when she is around. And once there
are four of them, you will run out of hands anyway."
   "Was that your roundabout way of telling me that you agree with In-
fant?" House looked like he had bitten into something a little sour.
   "You know that a statement once let loose cannot be caught with four
horses," Higa pointed out. "If you say something you shouldn't within
the hearing of the children, you cannot stop them from hearing it. Better
not say it at all."
   "You know, had I known how much trouble she would be I would
have told you to keep her," House grumbled at Higa.
   "Well, your father has suggested several times that you should give
her back," Higa stated mildly – opening his arms suggestively.
   "Fat chance," House said succinctly earning a wide smile from Higa.
"Besides, my mother would disown me if I did that. And Cuddy would
fire me, Wilson wouldn't talk to me ever again and my team would
totally rebel."
   "Does seem like you have to keep her," Higa observed with mock
sympathy.
   "Yeah, dirty job, but somebody's got to do it," House smiled giving
Aiko a kiss on the top of her head. Right then Aiko decided that she
really wanted the interesting spoon on the table, but as she couldn't quite
reach for it she turned to her Daddy for help.
   "Dada!" She demanded getting everybody's attention, not just her
Daddy's.
   "Yes, Little Love?" House recognised a demand when he heard one.
Aiko pointed towards the spoon and House gave it to her. "Was this
what you wanted?" Aiko beamed at him and expressed her appreciation
by saying "Dada," again. Then she started to bang the table with the
spoon making a very satisfying noise.
   "That's it?" Cuddy stared at House with utter indignation. "She says
her first word and all you do is give her a spoon!"
   "Well, she wanted it," was House's bewildered response.
   "She called you Dada, and … aren't you elated, or … ANYTHING!"
Cuddy spluttered.
   "She is at an age where she forms random two syllable words, like
dada, mama, baba, even byebye," House shrugged. "She has been saying
mummum and things like that all the time and nobody's been interpret-
ing them as Mum or anything else. Why go ballistic now?"



                                                                       137
   "Because she was clearly talking to you," Cuddy pointed out. She also
looked around for support. Kasumii nodded emphatically to support her
– but was willing to let Cuddy do the talking. Grey backed out of it all;
and Dr Higa was just smiling his enigmatic smile refusing to show what
he thought about the argument.
   "She has been talking to me for weeks," House pointed out. "Just be-
cause she now said something that the rest of you think you understand
too, makes no difference. Besides, why do you think she meant me with
that Dada? She could have meant the spoon or maybe she wanted to say
gimme that."
   Cuddy gave up. She sighed in exasperation: "Why do you always have
to do things differently from everybody else? Can't you react just once, I
mean just once, like a normal person? Why must you always be so…
so … "
   "Unnatural?" House supplied.
   "No, I can't really use that word," Cuddy denied. "You look too natural
with Aiko in your arms. It's like she has always been there. No, unnatur-
al isn't the word for you. But darn if I know what is."
   "Are we going to have a philosophical discussion about words and
names and their power in defining man's fate and character?" Higa
asked. "Because if we are, we need tea."
   "No, I think not," House refused. "Not now, but we can certainly make
it the theme for our next tea ceremony. We are due to have one soon
anyway."
   "But before we have that, there is something I wanted to tell you,"
Cuddy remembered. "David wanted to take us out tomorrow evening.
Be ready by seven."
   "Me?" House frowned. "You promised that I would be there, too? Just
like that."
   "Yes," Cuddy nodded. "Your mother didn't feel like coming, so she is
staying with Aiko – and we won't be staying out too long, I'm still preg-
nant. Your team said yes as did Wilson and Dr Higa agreed to come, too.
Besides, I didn't think you would object to free food."
   "There is that," House had to admit. "Well, I suppose I'll have to come.
I mean somebody has to keep an eye on those two." House nodded to-
wards Kasumii and Grey, who were standing side by side waiting for his
answer. "They are getting far too cosy with each other."
   "Your own fault," Grey pointed out. "You introduced us and you're the
one who brought up the possibility of me moving in at some point."




                                                                       138
   "At some point," House stressed. "You have been practically living in
here as long as the rest of us."
   "No I haven't," Grey denied. "I only stay overnight during the week-
ends. Sure I visit often enough during the week, but if you take that as
moving in, then your team and Dr Wilson have moved in, too."
   "And so they have," House was in the mood to complain. "I swear I see
them more often here than at work!"
   "Stop complaining House," Cuddy admonished him. "You know that
it's good for Aiko and you will never make me believe that you really re-
sent anything that is good for her."
   Before House could respond and start complaining even more, Aiko
decided to run interference. She turned to her Daddy again and offered
him the spoon saying "Dada."
   "And that is definitely Daddy, and she is so saying her first word,"
Cuddy concluded the argument standing up and heading for the bath-
room – again. "And just for the record, pregnancy sucks and I really hate
you House for doing this to me! And don't even try to tell me that it was
all my own idea!" The last sentence was thrown at House with a deadly
glare so House shut up.




                                                                     139
Chapter    23
Things happen
Before they left home Saturday night, House had a word with his moth-
er. A conversation Blythe really didn't want to have, so she tried to de-
flect it.
   "What is this I hear from Lisa that you don't think Aiko said her first
word?" Blythe asked her son.
   "She has been saying all sorts of words for some time now, some sound
like real words some don't," House shrugged. "I don't see why I should
arbitrarily decide that one particular word is the word just because it
seems to fit the time and the situation. The process of learning is pre-
cisely that: a process, it happens gradually and eventually she will speak
the same as everybody else."
   "So you don't think she has said her first word?" Blythe wondered.
   "She has said several," House explained. "Just like I said, some make
sense others don't. She is developmentally at a stage where she experi-
ments with two-syllable sounds where the same syllable is repeated. I
won't egoistically decide for her which of them have more meaning to
her, especially not that Dada means Daddy. I know when she is talking
to me, no matter what sounds she uses. Besides I have been having long
conversations with her for weeks!"
   "You know, I think Lisa is right," Blythe smiled at her son. "You may
well be the most unconventional Daddy there is."
   "Well, as long as you don't say it like it's a bad thing," House reflected.
   "No, it isn't," Blythe stated. "For it does seem to work well for Aiko.
She is happy and that is all that really matters."
   "I keep telling her that her opinion is all that matters. But don't think
that I have forgotten the real reason I sought you out now. I really want
to know if you are sure you don't want to come with us?" House asked.
"The restaurant would let us bring Aiko with us, too, this early in the
evening."




                                                                          140
   "Really, Greg, I'm fine," Blythe reassured him. "I really look forward to
being alone with Aiko this evening. I need some Aiko-time. And maybe I
can find out if she really is talking or not!"
   "If you are not regretting your decision to stay home tonight, then
something else has happened," House reflected. "What is dragging you
down?"
   "There really is no hiding things from you, is there," Blythe sighed. She
caressed Greg's cheek briefly. "I'm fine, truly. I just need to get over my-
self, that's all."
   "Not good enough," House refused to let go. "I need a better
explanation."
   "I got a letter from a busybody neighbour," Blythe finally gave in.
"Your father hasn't exactly been broadcasting our divorce, so quite a lot
of our old friends are still under the impression that I'm just staying here
to help you with Aiko. So this woman wrote to me to warn me that un-
less I get my priorities straight, I might loose my marriage."
   "Meaning?" House asked though he had a pretty good idea.
   "Meaning that John has been seen stepping out, as it was phrased, with
someone else," Blythe revealed. "May Perkins to be precise."
   "I seem to remember her," House frowned. "Major league slut, as one
of my patients would put it, I think."
   "No she isn't!" Blythe couldn't help but smile, nevertheless. "She just
was brought up to believe that women existed for men and that she
wouldn't be a real woman without one. It's not her fault that she is
needy. She has never been independent in any sense of that word and it
really is too late to expect her to change now. And I cannot blame her for
going after John, not when I was the one who filed for divorce. And
though I do wish John had waited a little longer before… Well,
whatever. But I rejected him and I'm sure he is feeling miffed. I just hope
this isn't one of those rebound things they talk about. May may be an air-
head, a little, but she does not deserve to be hurt."
   "I doubt she has the sense needed to be hurt," House derided. "You
don't need to worry about either of them. Sounds like Dad landed him-
self in a tub of butter: a woman who will serve him hand and foot and
think he can do no wrong. Must be soothing to his ego."
   "Greg," Blythe sighed. "Let it go. It's not worth it."
   "But it is hurting you," House pointed out.
   "Just my pride," Blythe insisted. "I hadn't realised how easily I can be
replaced. But that is all. I'm not hurting in any other way. If it even is




                                                                        141
hurt, more just melancholy. Things could have been so different, if
only… But I will be fine."
   "Ok," House agreed to let go. "If you are sure you're fine. Aiko will cer-
tainly keep you entertained for the night and she will also certainly lift
your spirit. If she can do that to me, then the rest of the world is a peace
of cake."
   The dinner party went well. As Cuddy and Cameron had suspected,
the reason for the invitation was that Grey and Kasumii had gotten en-
gaged. House wasn't thrilled and refused to congratulate them until they
assured him that they were not getting married any time soon and noth-
ing was going to change for Aiko.
   "Fine, if that is the case, then ok, you can get engaged," House
grudgingly gave his permission.
   "I wasn't exactly asking for your permission, you know," Grey felt
compelled to point out. "I already did that with her Mother, you have no
say in this!"
   "You think?" House raised an eyebrow at him. "You try to steal my
Nanny and you think I don't have any say?"
   "I'm not your property," Kasumii huffed at House. "And he is not
stealing me. We just wanted to exchange rings to show people that we
are together."
   "And not available to others, I presume," House noted perceptively.
   "That's a side effect," Grey admitted. "But mainly we did this for
ourselves."
   "That's a good thing," Chase observed. "As I know a few people who
see a ring as a challenge not a sign of commitment to someone else."
   "I certainly could name one or two," Cameron agreed.
   "Please, no," Wilson raised his hands. "We are not bringing those two
into this dinner table. I'm not ruining my weekend with Sheridan and
Janelle. Leave them at work."
   "Hear, hear," Cuddy agreed.
   "Works for me," House approved. "Besides, they are pretty much taken
care of once Cuddy mobs the floor next week."
   "You mean my talk with the department heads?" Cuddy queried. "It
cannot be as easy as that?"
   "Yes it can," House stated. "Sherry Darling has lost the hospital
already. You just need to make sure he doesn't ruin it."
   "Weren't we supposed to change the subject?" Foreman wanted to
know, though he did agree with House; Sheridan J. Rawls had lost so




                                                                         142
much ground the first week that there was no way he could regain it in
six months.
   "Yes we were," Cuddy nodded. "So no wedding bells any time soon.
Any other plans? Like do you need time off to visit David's family?"
   "No they don't," House reacted immediately, but was ignored.
   "Not right now," Kasumii said.
   "We do have plans, but my family is rather scattered and they travel a
lot," Grey explained. "It's even possible that in the end they will come
here; or at least my parents will. We'll see. We are in no hurry."
   "Make sure you won't be either," House inserted. "In fact… "
   "DON'T," Cuddy put her hand on House's mouth. "You will not say
anything about contraception. If, and only if, they want a doctor's opin-
ion on that they can talk to me, or Cameron, or Wilson, or Chase, or
Foreman or Dr Jordan or someone else entirely. You stay out of it."
   "Spoilsport," House groused. However he did read the glint in
Cuddy's eyes correctly and decided to shut up.
   Later he did get a sort of dig in, though, as the restaurant had live mu-
sic and before they had started the dinner he had tipped the waiter to
take a request to the singer who, as soon as coffee was served to their
table, started a song that made Kasumii give House a glare. Grey just
smiled ruefully and mouthed "Touché" to House.
   Look at me,/ I'm as helpless as a kitten up a tree / And I feel like I'm clinging
to a cloud / I can't understand/ I get misty just holding your hand / Walk my
way/ And a thousand violins begin to play / Or it might be the sound of your
hello / That music I hear/ I get misty the moment you're near / You can say that
you're leading me on / But it's just what I want you to do / Don't you notice
how hopelessly I'm lost / That's why I'm following you / On my own/ Would I
wander through this wonderland alone / Never knowing my right foot from my
left / My hat from my glove / I'm too misty, and too much in love
   Cuddy watched the exchange between House and the young couple in
puzzlement: "What did you do now?"
   "Nothing," House insisted. "I just thought this song might be appropri-
ate since Kasumii means Misty." Cuddy rolled her eyes, but let it go.
House had been grumpy, but even so, almost sociable all evening, so he
deserved some slack.
   After the coffee Cuddy decided it was time for her to get home as the
triplets were getting restless. Dr Higa said that he was ready to leave, too
so House got up from the table with them leaving the youngsters to finish
the evening on their own. Wilson was quite happy to be classified as one




                                                                               143
of them, but unfortunately his pager went off and he had to leave for the
hospital.
   In the lobby, however, House made clear that he was not going to
come home with Cuddy and Dr Higa. He wanted to go to the bar alone
for a while yet.
   "No, Cuddy," House said before Cuddy could even open her mouth.
"I'm not going to drink. I want to indulge in other vices, not drinking – at
least not my own."
   "You think you can walk into a bar and pick up a woman, just like
that?" Cuddy wasn't sure House really meant to do that – and she wasn't
sure why she felt somewhat deflated at the idea. They didn't really live
together; they had made no promises to each other (apart from being co-
parents) and the only agreement they had about sex was that they could
have it and that no casual dates were brought into the house.
   "Hey, you're the one who told me that all a man needs is a condom
and a credit card and he can get anything he wants!" House exclaimed.
   "That was in Singapore," Cuddy scorned.
   "Cuddy, you know, one of the most endearing things about you has al-
ways been your innocence," House stated almost seriously. "Don't wait
up for me."
   "Greg?" Dr Higa had observed the conversation with a tiny frown on
his face. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
   "Casual sex is never a good idea," House shrugged. "But I don't think
it's a bad idea either. I've been a good boy for a long time now, I need
some distraction, some sinning by now."
   "And are you ok with this, Dr Cuddy?" Higa asked Lisa.
   "Can't say I'm ok as such," Cuddy shrugged in turn. "But it's his busi-
ness. As a friend, I hope he will be careful and I sure would be happier if
he came home with us, but that's it."
   "I am still somewhat confused about this arrangement between you
two, but if this is ok with you, then I surely have no place to say any-
thing," Higa shook his head a little mystified. "Only, do be careful Greg.
For all our sakes."
   "I'm always careful," House reassured him. "And now that I have real
responsibilities, I'll be doubly careful. I promise."
   Higa and Cuddy watched House walk to the bar and then Higa turned
to Cuddy giving her a strangely sympathetic look: "This disturbs you
more than you want him to know, doesn't it?"




                                                                        144
   "Yes," Cuddy admitted ruefully. "But I cannot hold him to promises he
hasn't made. We did talk about this, sort of, and he is free to do as he
chooses. As long as the children aren't affected."
   "Sometimes we don't know what affects what until it's too late," Higa
sighed and escorted Cuddy out.
   House limped to the bar and sat down. He ordered tomato juice,
though he wasn't particularly fond of it, but he could at least pretend it
was a Bloody Mary and not feel so conspicuous. He looked around the
bar and saw at the other end of the long counter a woman sitting alone.
She was beautiful in an understated way, in her thirties, dressed up to
the nines – obviously to please some lucky man – and she was staring at
her wine morosely. The lucky guy had obviously been a no show. To
House's mind she might as well have held up a come hither sign for sexu-
al predators with her lonely vulnerability.
   "How long has she been here?" House asked the bartender.
   "About an hour," he responded. "She is in her third glass of wine."
   "Ah, obviously someone who is not used to hard drinking but wants to
get drunk," House concluded. "Only she doesn't really know how."
   "You can get drunk on wine, too," The bartender – his nametag identi-
fied him as Bo – pointed out.
   "True, but when you want to get drunk from wine, you don't order it
one glass at a time," House observed. "She is so going to get herself in
trouble."
   "I know," Bo agreed. "But she didn't want to listen to me when I tried."
   "Damn it!" House took his drink and got ready to move next to the wo-
man. "I was so looking forward to getting laid tonight! Well, can't be
helped now. Take my advice, Bo, don't ever have daughters. They
change your thinking and you find yourself acting totally against your
nature."
   "Too late, sir," Bo told him. "I already have three of them."
   "Don't we all," House sighed. "Don't we all."




                                                                       145
Chapter    24
Best, and not so best, intentions
House walked over to the lonely woman at the other end of the bar. He
considered his options and decided to go for shock tactics – partly be-
cause it rather was his natural mode of operations anyway.
   "Voulez-vouz coucher avec moi ce soir?" House asked as he parked
himself on the stool next to her.
   She blinked at him in surprise, then she seemed to check him out and
then he surprised House by responding: "Sure, your place or mine?"
   House didn't let his surprise throw him: "It has to be your place. My
daughter's grandfather is currently staying with me at my place," House
explained earnestly. "Besides, I promised the woman who is expecting
my children that I would not bring any of my casual dates home."
   She blinked some more processing House's explanation, and then
House saw how fumes were starting to come out of her ears: "You are
married!"
   "No, not married, not living together with anyone – the said grand-
father is just visiting, not in any marriage-like relationship with anyone
currently," House denied.
   "But you have made your girlfriend pregnant," She pointed out.
   "Well, she is a girl, or actually she is a woman but that's beside the
point here, she is a friend and she is pregnant and I'm the biological fath-
er, so I suppose I have to say yes to that," House mused. "But having
children with someone is surely no reason not to have sex with someone
else, is it? After all, you have children too."
   "How… " She was surprised out of her indignation at House's marital
– or whatever it was – status.
   "I've seen the picture of you and your two kids on your husband's
desk," House decided to stop playing games.
   "Prominently displayed no doubt," Ruth Rawls responded with some
bitterness. "Nice to know we are prominent at least somewhere in his




                                                                        146
life." She looked House over with more attention. "Aren't you supposed
to have flames on your cane?"
   "I do, on my everyday cane," House nodded. "But I was having dinner
with friends and my mother thought I ought to have something less
bitching than flames so I opted for this one. It's an antique vintner's
cane."
   "Beautiful," Ruth observed. "Now do we need to introduce each other
more formally, Dr House, or … ?"
   "I hate formal introductions," House told her. "I know who you are
and you know who I am."
   "Yes, I do indeed know who you are: the bane of my husband's exist-
ence," Ruth clarified. "You have no idea how happy I am to meet you."
   "No, I can't say that I have," House raised his eyebrows at her. "This
looks like Sherry Darling has seriously let you down."
   "He has," Ruth twirled her empty wine glass contemplating it. "We
were supposed to have a mini-honeymoon this weekend. The kids are
with my parents and we were supposed to celebrate our tenth wedding
anniversary."
   "So what happened?" House asked cautiously.
   "He cancelled," Ruth stated. "He said he had to work today and pos-
sibly even tomorrow that there was some deadline or another at
something at the hospital; obviously I wasn't listening too well at the
time. However, once I calmed down I thought he has to eat, he has to
sleep, so why don't I get us a room and a dinner somewhere close to the
hospital and we can still have some kind of celebration."
   "You planned this as a surprise?" House asked seeing where the story
was going.
   "You got it," Ruth smiled bitterly. "And a surprise it was; only I was
the one who was surprised when I went to his office to get him. They
didn't see me; I was too shocked to even make a sound so I just backed
out quietly and walked back here. And here I've been since then trying to
make up my mind if I want to get drunk or what."
   "Well, considering how easily you agreed to my suggestion it seems
you have opted for that what," House observed dryly.
   "My husband is celebrating our wedding anniversary by having sex,"
Ruth stated ruthlessly. "In any kind of just world if my husband has sex
so have I."
   "There is that," House admitted. "And as such I'm not against extra-
marital relationships. I've never been married but being faithful even in a
less formal relationship has never been my long suit. But if you want to



                                                                       147
have sex with a total stranger you need to be aware of the possible con-
sequences. STDs, HIV, possible pregnancy, possible rape. Getting drunk
and saying yes to a suggestion from a man you have never met before is
not the smart way to go about it."
   "I do have condoms with me," Ruth tried to defend herself though
somewhat lamely.
   "When you are drunk and alone in a room with a man you don't
know, you really aren't in a position to call the shots," House pointed
out.
   "Did you ask me that question to try to shock me into going home?"
Ruth challenged House.
   "Not really. I didn't think you would say yes, but I wanted to know
how much trouble you were looking for," House pondered. "Obviously
more than I had expected. Mind you, there was a small chance that you
would say yes, and I have always wanted to ask that question from a
woman and have her say yes without me needing to flash my credit card
first."
   "Well, my husband was right about one thing: you can be pretty dis-
gusting," but Ruth smiled when she said it.
   "I do try," House smiled in return. "But how disgusting I can be is of
no consequence right now. Why don't you let me escort you home? I
know you are angry and shocked at your husband, but getting back at
him this way is not the smart thing to do."
   "I'm staying here for the night," Ruth asserted. "I paid for the room I
might as well use it. Besides, I don't want to sleep in his bed tonight."
   "Ok, so why don't I see you safely to your room then," House
suggested.
   "Tell me, what is this situation you have with your girlfriend?" Ruth
wanted to know.
   "Ok, you're not ready to go yet. Well, I suppose I can tell you," House
sighed. "Dr Cuddy is a friend, when she realised that her time to have a
child was running out and she hadn't found a Mr Right I agreed to help
her with her project. I had just adopted my daughter so I thought she
could in return help me with all the girl stuff once Aiko gets to that age.
However, once we found out that she was expecting triplets we agreed
to co-parent all the kids. We live in the same house, but I have a separate
flat in it. We are not married, nor are living together but we are friends
and we are parents. It's like an amicable divorce without the marriage."
   "So you really are free to go out and pick up women?" Ruth asked. "It's
not just something you think is a man's prerogative? To be unfaithful."



                                                                       148
   "Yes, I'm free. And I don't think screwing around is a man's prerogat-
ive," House shrugged. "I just think that if you do it, you should go about
it responsibly. I hate treating idiots who don't have enough brains to use
a condom."
   "And you always use a condom?" Ruth was curious.
   "My specialty is infectious diseases. Yes, I always use a condom,"
House responded.
   "So, ok, why don't you escort me to my room, and stay," Ruth invited.
   "That would not be a smart idea," House shook his head. "You need a
better reason for a one-night stand than getting back at your husband,
for which I certainly am an ideal candidate."
   "I have always done what I was told; what was expected of me," Ruth
explained. "I married my high-school boyfriend at the age of eighteen, I
had two kids, I'm a stay-at-home mother, and I've done everything by the
book my mother handed me, so to speak. Just for once, I want to regret
something that is all my own doing, my own decision, my own stupid-
ity. I'm having sex tonight. If you don't want me, that's ok. I mean, I
don't even know why you came in here: because you were looking for
company or because you saw me here and decided to rescue me. But I'm
not your responsibility, I'm a grown woman and I may be emotional
right now, but I'm not stupid. I'm not even drunk, thanks to your inter-
vention. And I do thank you for that."
   "You are angry," House stated.
   "Damn right I am," Ruth laughed bitterly. "And it has to go some-
where. This is what I choose to do with it. It's my wedding anniversary.
He is celebrating it by having sex with his secretary, but I'll be damned if
I let him decide that I can't have sex even when he is. Yeah, I'm pretty
sure I will regret this, but that's what I choose to do. You can either take
advantage of it and get one-up on Sheridan, or you can let someone else
do the honours."
   "Well, I did come to this bar to find someone to have a one-night-stand
with," House on deliberated. "And I will certainly make sure you won't
have any of the possible physical consequences. But have you thought
what this might mean to you emotionally? Or possibly socially? You
could be ruining your reputation."
   "Are you telling me that you would tell people about this?" Ruth
asked. "That I might find myself the object of hospital gossip tomorrow?"
   "For all you know me, yes," House warned.
   "I'll live," Ruth decided. "Besides, it might be a nice change for the gos-
sips, to be able to talk about me instead of my husband."



                                                                          149
   "Well, they won't hear it from me," House admitted. "Mind you,
something like this is bound to come out anyway. Somebody will surely
see us or something else will happen to bring this to light. I won't be
around to help you in any way when that happens, you need to under-
stand that. I already have more responsibility than I'm quite comfortable
with. I'm not taking on anyone else."
   "I was rather under the impression that one-night-stand specifically
meant that there was no later or after or even see you," Ruth pointed out.
   "Ok then, if you are sure," House said standing up and helping Ruth
from her seat. "Just remember that I need to be home in time to have
breakfast with my daughter."
   When House got home on the early hours of the morning he met Dr
Higa in the living room.
   "Surely you haven't been waiting for me?" House asked the older man in
Japanese.
   "No, but I'm an old man. I sleep like a baby," Dr Higa explained.
   "Ah, you sleep four hours and then wake up crying?" House smiled.
   "Well, not crying, but yes, I don't sleep all through the night anymore," Higa
smiled back. "You just timed your arrival right. So did you get what you
wanted?"
   "I'm not sure what you mean?" House thought he had heard something
in the question that was not obvious.
   "You were looking for escape from your responsibilities, weren't you?" Higa
asked. "Temporary, granted, but still escape. Did it work? Are you any less
scared now?"
   "Not really," House had to admit. "But it was good. Only given what
happened, I may have created more problems for myself."
   "So what did happen?" Higa got a little worried.
   "Do you need to go back to bed?" House enquired.
   "No, I was going to read and possibly make some tea for myself, why?" Higa
wanted to know.
   "I need a shower and I want out of these clothes," House said. "Let's talk
over tea. I think I need to talk to someone about this and you will definitely be
discreet."
   "You want tea?" Higa wondered.
   "You know I hate tea," House shrugged. "But there is something about
drinking tea that just helps you talk about things. Especially when they are
things that don't really have answers but you still need to find one."
   "It's a philosophical drink," Higa nodded. "And sometimes no answer is the
right answer to have."



                                                                            150
   "Yeah, so you keep telling me," House sighed. "But you know that is anoth-
er thing I hate: not having answers."
   "I know, I know," Higa sighed, he knew, only too well.




                                                                         151
Chapter    25
Morninf after
House was staring at his tea. He had just finished telling Dr Higa what
had happened at the bar and what he had done. There was a silence, but
he didn't feel like Akira was condemning him, just thinking.
   "I should have brought her here," House said to break the silence,
though it wasn't truly uncomfortable. "I should have lied and brought
her here, but I didn't read her right at first."
   "And once you had told her that I was here, she would not have
come," Higa nodded. "I too wish you had found a way to talk her out of
it, but I wasn't there so I don't know if you even could have. I wish you
hadn't gone to the bar at all, I wish a lot of things, but what is done is
done. Now we have to deal with the aftermath. You need to tell Lisa
what happened."
   "She has nothing to do with this," House frowned. "This is my foul
up."
   "True, but as you pointed out there really is no way to keep this hid-
den, it will come out one way or another," Higa stated. "And once it
does, someone will drag her into this."
   "They shouldn't," House insisted. "She is not responsible for me; she
wouldn't be even if she wasn't on maternity leave. Ruth is not a patient,
or in any way part of the hospital. She is just married to Sheridan."
   "There are lots of things that shouldn't happen, but they do. And Lisa
is pregnant with your children," Higa reminded House. "Someone will
drag her into this regardless of how little it truly has to do with her."
   "I suppose you're right," House sighed with feeling. He wasn't looking
forward to that conversation. "She deserves to find out about it from me
and not some distorted gossip."
   "So what are you going to do about Ruth?" Higa asked.
   "Nothing I can do now," House shrugged regretfully. "I made sure she
will have no physical or medical consequences but there is nothing I can
do about the emotional fall out. Either of her discovery of Sheridan's



                                                                      152
affair or her own regrets about last night. She won't want to see me
again, I'm sure, and even if she did, I can't really approach her since we
aren't supposed to have ever met. If I suddenly start showing interest in
Sheridan's wife, suspicions are bound to rise."
   "Do you have any idea what she is going to do now?" Higa asked.
   "She was awake when I left," House revealed. "We didn't say much to
each other, but she did promise that she wasn't going to do anything else
stupid. I got the impression that she intended to go to her parents and
stay there with her children for the rest of the week-end at least. She
didn't seem to hate me, but as I said, she probably won't want to see me
ever again. All in all I don't see what else I can do but lie low – and warn
Lisa of the possible fall out… Damn!"
   "She won't be happy," Higa warned.
   "That must be the understatement of the century!" House observed.
"The only consolation in this is that Aiko is still a baby and the Trips are
not born yet. I can at least keep them out of this mess. That was the last
time I went into a bar to find a one-night-stand. From now on it's hook-
ers all the way!"
   "Hmm, you might not want to do that either," Higa deliberated. "You
will have three daughters. You won't want them to get the idea that there
is anything good about the porn industry. You know that all the people
involved in it are damaged in some way; it just isn't a healthy business."
   House looked at Higa for a moment with consideration: "You knew
exactly what you were doing when you gave Aiko to me, didn't you?"
He finally accused.
   "I had no way of knowing that you would end up having triplets with
Lisa, so I cannot say that I knew exactly what I was doing," Higa denied.
House's only response was a raised eyebrow so Higa went on. "But you
are right; I knew she would cause major changes in your life. Changes
that in the long run would be good no matter how reluctant you might at
first be to make them."
   "What if I cannot make the changes," House warned. "After all, I
screwed up royally last night."
   "You did," Higa agreed. "However I'd like to know why you did it? I
know your reason for seeking sex: you were tired of being responsible,
you were scared, you wanted to feel like your old self even if only for a
moment – and even though you're not really sure you want to be your
old self. That I got already. But why did you go with Ruth when you ini-
tially had intended to just see her safely home?"




                                                                        153
   "I don't know," House admitted. "I knew from the start that it wasn't a
good idea, but I still felt it was a better idea than to leave her in the bar
for god knows who! I initially misjudged the situation as I didn't realise
that she had actually caught Sheridan and Janelle together. I thought that
Sheridan had just stood her up and once I had tipped my hand I couldn't
either bring her here or get her drunk and see her to her room with no
other regret to look forward to than a hangover. I just screwed up and
having done that I muddled through the best I could. Which, in this case,
wasn't very good at all."
   "So you cared and lost your objectivity," Higa summed up. "And you
erred and in the end you behaved like a normal human being. It
happens."
   "You don't sound very judgmental," House was confused.
   "I think you made a mistake, absolutely," Higa said. "But no matter
how regrettable your actions were, you still have much less reason to
hate yourself than you would have, had you left her in the bar and next
seen her in the ER beaten, raped, pregnant and HIV positive. True, that is
not the likeliest thing to have happened, but as a doctor you know that it
could have happened. You have seen it before."
   "Just because I might have saved her from a fate worse than death,"
House commented. "Is not enough to merit absolution."
   "True, but it does make this a misdemeanour instead of a felony," Higa
noted. "You made a mistake; you will have to face the consequences – of
which the telling the story to Lisa isn't the smallest one – and then you
go on from there. Nothing has happened that would make me think I
made a mistake when I gave Aiko to you. I don't approve of your ac-
tions, but I accept them and you have my support."
   "Thank you," House replied quietly, not quite knowing how to react to
such calm, fatherly support. He had never had it from his real father. But
it did feel good.
   Later that morning, after having had breakfast with Aiko and having
slept a few hours, House took Cuddy aside to talk to her. They were ex-
pecting the rest of House-hold to convene at the house again later in the
afternoon and House wanted to get the shouting over and done with be-
fore that. He told Cuddy simply the facts of what had happened without
any excuses. Cuddy listened to him in silence, just staring at him in
shock. Once he was done, she just walked away from him into the kit-
chen where Higa and Blythe (who had heard the story from Higa) were
waiting to find out how Cuddy would react.
   "You know what he did last night?" Cuddy asked them still in shock.



                                                                         154
   "Yes, he told me as he came home this morning," Higa admitted. "I
don't exactly approve, but as a doctor I know what could have happened
to her had he left her in the bar. And you know it too."
   "That doesn't make what he did right," Cuddy insisted.
   "No, absolutely it doesn't," Blythe agreed. "However, it is an explana-
tion. And all in all, I can't see how what happened is any worse than
what he originally intended to do – which, I wouldn't have approved of
at all, either."
   "Ok. Fine. Fine," Cuddy muttered and walked back to House who was
standing outside on the backyard patio. She stared at him in silence for a
moment trying to find words. "I don't like this. I have a real problem
with what you did, but then I didn't like your original plan either. I …
You … I can understand what Mrs Rawls was going through and how
she felt having walked in on her husband and Janelle. I can sort of ima-
gine what the situation was. I still don't like what you did. Heck, I don't
approve what SHE did, either! Surely she ought to have held herself up
to a higher standard than her husband – who is a total lowlife! I know
there are plenty of things you do on regular basis that I don't approve of,
but I live with them, because in the end you usually manage to make
things right. I just don't know how anyone can make this right. And I
don't like the idea that I might somehow be dragged into this and I think
next time you want to have sex, you need to think again! Something like
this is not good for the children."
   "I know," House accepted her displeasure. "I've come to that conclu-
sion myself already. But I cannot undo what I have already done. Hope-
fully there won't be any drastic consequences from this, but I needed to
warn you. Akira was of the opinion that if this does come out, somebody
will try to drag you into it as well."
   "Probably," Cuddy sighed. "Well, at least I know what to expect now. I
still don't like it, but what is done is done."
   "I'm really sorry that you might get dragged into this," House impar-
ted. "I haven't quite got the hang of this responsibility thing. I'm so used
to judging the consequences of my actions to myself only, now that I
need to see further than that, I make mistakes that I ought to have been
able to avoid. I really didn't mean to complicate your life."
   "That's what you said when you knocked me up with the triplets, too,"
Cuddy groused. "But here we are anyway, in a very complicated situ-
ation. I need to digest this, I need time. So just give me some space, ok."
   "Whatever you need," House agreed. "Remember, that's why we have
a house this big."



                                                                        155
   "Yeah, so that we wouldn't end up murdering each other," Cuddy
gave him a small, rueful smile.
   "Cuddy," House called as she turned to go. "Will we be ok, as friends,
once you've done your thinking?"
   "Your mother pointed out that what you did, was no worse than what
you intended to do," Cuddy revealed. "I didn't like your original plan
either, but if I wasn't going to let that harm our friendship, I really can-
not let this harm it either. Yeah, we will be ok. I just need to process this.
Mind you, that does not mean that once the shock wears off, I won't still
give you one humdinger of a lecture – especially if somebody really will
drag me into this."
   "That's ok," House accepted. "I rather like it when you shout at me.
There is certain kind of comfort in the familiarity of it."
   "You really are just impossible," Cuddy rolled his eyes at him and
walked back into the kitchen.
   "So?" Blythe asked her as soon as Cuddy got back.
   "I already told Akira yesterday that I cannot hold Greg to promises he
hasn't made," Cuddy contemplated. "And given the situation, I cannot
really blame him for having been with a married woman either. But I
still don't like what he did and I need to think it through. But once I've
done that, we will still be friends. We need to be for the children. But we
also need to redefine some of the rules! I'm not going through this
again."
   "Hear, hear," Blythe concurred.
   "I think you might find him surprisingly ready to have that particular
conversation," Higa smiled.




                                                                          156
Chapter    26
Vera Wang
The House-hold was almost completely present early Sunday afternoon;
the only one missing was Wilson, who had called to tell them to start
without him as his patient needed him a little longer still. It didn't take
House long to sense some kind of an atmosphere from his team. Camer-
on was avoiding him, and when she couldn't her friendliness was some-
what forced. She was also giving overly concerned looks to Cuddy. The
boys were just a little awkward, like they didn't quite know how to be-
have: they gave him sort of "guy" looks when Cameron wasn't around
and when she was they tried hard to frown and look sombre. House put
up with it for half an hour and then he cornered his boys.
   "Out with it," House demanded simply.
   "With what?" Chase tried to stall and Foreman, too, did his best to look
innocent and clueless. (The latter feat wasn't that difficult for him in
House's opinion).
   "Don't even try that," House warned. "You know perfectly well what
I'm talking about and you really should remember that I can make your
lives truly miserable."
   "And what exactly would be new in that?" Chase muttered.
   "New?" House gave them an evil smile. "In addition to my usual reper-
toire of tortures I would also make it impossible for you to see Aiko."
   Both men turned pale and this time it was Foreman who beat Chase to
the telling.
   "Cameron saw you go into a hotel room with some woman," Foreman
couldn't get the words out fast enough. "We were just wondering how
you managed it. You left with Cuddy and Dr Higa, and then, not that
much later you have already escaped them and picked up a real stunner
– or so we understood from Cameron. She was really struggling between
rage at you and envy at her; apparently she was wearing something
really amazing."




                                                                       157
   "Yeah, Cameron was both trying to describe something she called a
nude Vera Wang to Miss Tanaka – and none of it made any sense to me,"
Chase explained. "And at the same time express her outrage and try to
convince us to I don't know, do something to show our disapproval to
you."
   "And what was her opinion of the woman inside that dress?" House
asked neutrally.
   "She didn't get a good look at her," Foreman said. "She only got a
glimpse at first and by the time she realised it was you with her, all she
could see was the back of you both."
   "Besides, she was torn about that, too," Chase acknowledged. "As she
didn't know what you had told her or anything about her, she found it
hard to know whether to pity her or label her as a man-eater."
   "Ok, so she saw what happened last night," House nodded. "Now why
isn't she yelling at me? That is what she usually does."
   "She doesn't want to hurt Cuddy," Foreman shrugged.
   "She made us swear we wouldn't say anything," Chase agreed. "But
I'm fairly sure she is composing a lengthy tirade in her mind for
Monday."
   "Well, first of all none of it is any of her business," House stated. "And
secondly, though I'm all for you three not talking about it, Cuddy knows
already. I told her this morning."
   Both Chase and Foreman blinked and then stared at House amazed.
They didn't know what to think, they looked at Cuddy, who was talking
with Blythe at the other end of the yard. She looked just fine, a little less
radiant than normally, but she was also rubbing her back, so the Trips
could be the reason for that. They looked at each other, trying to assess
each other's reaction to this announcement, but didn't learn anything.
Chase's lip twisted a little, like he wanted to leer a little and ask House
how he had managed it and how he had conned Cuddy into accepting it.
But the leer died, because this was Cuddy and he did respect her and
though House had always managed to talk her into accepting most of his
ideas – and some of them had been truly insane like that autopsy he had
performed on the living girl, or giving magic mushrooms to a teenager –
this was something else. This felt somehow dishonourable, even slightly
slimy. And for all House's outrageous and unacceptable behaviour
(including his relations with professional girls) Chase had never associated
slimy with him.
   Foreman was having a similar problem. He felt like he ought to punch
House lightly on the arm and say you dog! - but something about House's



                                                                         158
demeanour forbid such action. He didn't know what Cuddy and House
were to each other. He didn't quite buy the official version where Cuddy
had merely asked House for a sample and got pregnant that way and
then, when she ended up with triplets, they had decided to just co-parent
the kids. Sure, they were friends, but just friends? with someone as hot as
Cuddy – no way! Or then House really was gay as some at the hospital
suspected. And Foreman didn't quite believe that. From what he had
seen of John House, he had the impression that nothing would have
pleased House more than being able to – truthfully – announce to his
Dad that he was gay! If House hadn't already come out of the closet, he
wasn't in one. So, why, if he had someone like Lisa Cuddy waiting for
him at home, was he going fishing elsewhere? Eric actually opened his
mouth to ask that question, but House silenced him with a frown. It
seemed the man really was a mind reader.
   "What the relationship between me and Cuddy is is none of your busi-
ness," House warned them. "We are still working on getting this living
arrangement to work, we are still feeling our way to being parents. The
last thing we need is busybodies sticking their noses into our business.
So you two, stay out of it – or suffer the consequences – and tell Cameron
to save it." With that House left the stunned duo standing and limped his
way to Cuddy.
   Cuddy had been slightly avoiding House all morning – not going out
of her way to avoid him, but trying to time things so that she didn't have
to deal with him too often. Blythe was happy to help her, as she under-
stood Lisa's need for some breathing space. It was apparently something
House understood, too, as he had helped along with the avoiding. He had
also made sure that Lisa had time alone with Aiko, so that avoiding
House didn't interfere with their relationship. (Privately Blythe thought
her son was actually being quite sneaky making sure that Lisa would re-
member what was at stake here: if House went, so did Aiko.) So when
House came over to them, both Lisa and Blythe were sure he had a
reason.
   "They know," House sighed. "Some of it that is. Cameron saw us, but
fortunately only from the behind."
   "And she told everybody," Cuddy said in disgust. "But why didn't
Kasumii say anything?"
   "She is Japanese," House shrugged. "And Grey is English. For both the
first reaction would be to stay out of it or wait a little longer to see how
the land lies. Besides, they both live here – or as good as in Grey's case –
so they have a better idea of our deal."



                                                                        159
   "Good for them," Cuddy huffed. "Because it seems they know more
about it than I do."
   "I'm sorry Cuddy," House grimaced. "I didn't mean to cause you any
trouble. But we cannot talk about it now. I just thought you ought to
know. But you are right, there are still many things about this being par-
ents together that we need to sort out. And apparently we need to recon-
sider that sex-deal, too."
   "Yes, we will," Cuddy confirmed with conviction.
   "Oh, and have a word with Grey about your back," House threw over
his shoulder as he left the ladies. "He might be able to do something
about the ache."
   "Have I ever told you that your son is impossible!" Cuddy sulked.
   "Frequently," Blythe responded putting a sympathetic hand on Lisa's
shoulder.
   Chase and Foreman had shut up as instructed but they hadn't told
Cameron about their conversation with House, as she had already de-
cided not to talk about it. They could tell her later to save the lecture she
was going to give House. The atmosphere was not quite as easy as it
usually was, but as everybody concentrated either on Aiko or Cuddy
and the Trips, it wasn't too bad. At least Wilson failed to see anything
wrong as he joined the others about an hour and a half later.
   "Oh, I heard in the hospital that Sheridan and Janelle got busted yes-
terday," Wilson suddenly remembered once he had satisfied the worst of
his hunger with Blythe's cooking – others had just finished eating, but
Blythe had made sure there would be enough left over for Jimmy, too.
"Though it's possible that they don't know it yet."
   "What happened," Foreman wanted to know.
   "Infant," House sensed that things were about to go south, so he de-
cided to do what damage control he could. No matter what was going to
be said he didn't want Aiko distressed. "I think it's time for Aiko's nap."
Kasumii came over to take Aiko, who was reluctant to leave her Daddy –
whether it was because she just wanted to be with him, or because she
sensed something House wasn't sure, but fortunately she agreed to go
without too much of a fuss. Once Aiko was gone, Wilson – who assumed
that House just wanted to protect Aiko from too adult subjects, as the
ladies of the house kept telling him to do – went on with his story.
   "His wife decided to surprise him," Wilson shrugged. "He had obvi-
ously told her that he was working late or something. Anyway, she came
over and the nurses saw her go into the office. She came back almost im-
mediately, white as a sheet and she just walked out in shock. One of the



                                                                         160
nurses actually tried to talk to her, to ask if she was ok, but she didn't
hear."
  "She must have seen them!" Cameron cried. "How awful. Does anyone
know what happened to her? They didn't let her drive in that condition?"
  "No," Wilson shook his head. "She must have come in a taxi as the
nurse who followed her saw her just walk away. They couldn't follow
her any further as they had their hands full in the hospital at that time."
  "But she didn't walk in and confront those two?" Chase wanted to
know.
  "Seemingly not," Wilson nodded. "There was no time and when
Sheridan and Janelle came out later, they gave no sign that they knew
anything had happened. Of course, you can never tell with those two. It's
possible that they don't care one way or the other."
  "I wonder what made her go there yesterday?" Foreman mused. "She
has never come to the hospital before. The only reason we know what
she looks like at all is that picture Sheridan has of her on his desk. Why
now?"
  "Apparently she thought they had something to celebrate," Wilson in-
formed them. "She was dressed up to the nines according to the nurses.
Those who had seen her were raving about a creamy beige Vera Wang
cocktail dress and Jimmy Choo shoes."
  Three heads snapped towards House and three pairs of eyes stared at
him. Grey did turn to look at him, too, but more slowly and his gaze was
more questioning than stunned, - or accusing as Cameron's was. Camer-
on marched over to House and let go with her hand: "You lecherous
pig!"
  However, the hand was stopped before it connected with House's
cheek. Cuddy had moved with surprising speed and she seized
Cameron's hand: "NOT your prerogative," she announced.
  "But you have no idea what he has done!" Cameron insisted. Foreman
and Chase were wondering, too, how much House actually had told
Cuddy.
  "What is going on?" Wilson was staring at everybody totally be-
wildered; having been called to a patient the night before he hadn't been
around for Cameron's report. He wondered how Sheridan getting caught
could make Cameron attack House? Unless… "You didn't tell Sheridan's
wife to go to his office, did you House?"
  "No," House denied. "I had nothing to do with that. The man was just
an idiot to think that his wife was going to meekly stay home on the
night of their tenth wedding anniversary while he was working late."



                                                                       161
   "Have to say that is an unreasonable … Hang on!" Wilson suddenly
realised what House had said. "How do you know it was their tenth
wedding anniversary?"
   "She told him," Cuddy dropped on them. The ducklings stared at her,
but Grey just nodded like he had expected something like this from his
observations of the day.
   "I met her in the bar after the incident," House clarified for Wilson,
who still looked confused.
   "Oh, ..oh… Ok," Wilson nodded. "She must have been glad to have
someone to talk to."
   "He did more than talking," Cameron snapped disgusted.
   "Shut up Cameron," House told her curtly.
   "What more … You didn't!" Wilson made the necessary connections
and stared at House in shock. "She is Sheridan's wife!"
   "That might have been the attraction," Foreman suggested.
   "Right," suddenly House turned to his team – and Wilson, too and told
them firmly: "Listen carefully I will only say this once: what happened
last night had nothing to do with Sheridan, his part in this is just an un-
fortunate coincidence. Ruth Rawls has been through enough already.
You will not talk about this in the hospital not even amongst yourselves.
If anyone else has seen something and comes to you for information you
know nothing. This is not your business. The people who need to know
what happened do. End of discussion."
   "But… " Cameron tried to express some of her indignation – both at
being told to shut up and at House's actions the night before.
   "House said to shut up," Cuddy supported him. "I, personally, don't
want to have a public post mortem on this subject."
   "But you cannot be ok with him having had sex with Sheridan's wife,"
Wilson gasped.
   "No, of course I'm not," Cuddy said. "How could I be? But it's not that
Ruth is Sheridan's wife that is the point here. She made a bad decision
last night, but she is a grown woman, and given the situation I can see
how it could have happened. Anger is never a good counsellor. But that
was her call; House didn't even seduce her let alone coerce her into any-
thing she didn't want. But even before he went into the bar he told me
why he was going there." At this point Cameron gasped. "But as a friend
I couldn't stop him, though I did advise him against it. He, too, is an
adult. I may not like his decisions and actions, but I really cannot do any-
thing about it. We are working together to parent our children, but that's
it."



                                                                        162
   "But something like this cannot be good for the children," Chase poin-
ted out frowning. "I mean, what kind of moral compass are you giving
them? And how are they going to learn about having a good marriage
and raising a happy family and things like that?"
   "From television," House inserted dryly. "Just like we did." Chase ac-
knowledged the hit with a shrug.
   "No they won't," Cuddy insisted. "We are still muddling through, but
this happened early enough, we will work something out. But appar-
ently we need to talk more than we originally thought – about other
things than children, too."
   "Yeah, but that is our business, not theirs," House pointed out.
   "Yeah, I definitely remember how I hated when other people put their
noses into my marriages," Wilson sighed remembering. Then he sud-
denly realised what he had said when both Cuddy and House gave him
a glare: "Not that you're married in any sense, but I imagine it would be
the same if I had children and somebody started to give me unsolicited
advice about child raising… You know what I mean. All relationships no
matter what they are need a period of adjustment… "
   "Jimmy, shut up," House told him.
   Late that night House was walking back and forth in his living room.
He had the walkie-talkie in his hand, but it was silent. Cuddy usually
called him sometime between ten and eleven, rarely any later - though
they might talk a lot later than that - and it was nearly eleven thirty now.
Higa was sitting on the couch reading a medical journal and smiling
secretly to himself. Finally House broke and he called Cuddy.
   "Lisa?" He asked quietly enough as not to wake her if she actually was
sleeping. "Please answer. I need to know you're ok. I'm not expecting
you to really talk with me, but just say that you're ok."
   First there was no answer and House was already giving up when
Cuddy's voice came over: "I'm ok enough." Her voice was quiet and
House thought he heard tears in it.
   "Are you crying?" He was concerned.
   "No, of course not, just tired," Cuddy responded. "Sorry to worry you
but I just don't feel like talking tonight."
   "Yeah, ok," House agreed. "Good night then."
   "Good night," Cuddy answered and closed the connection.
   House walked the floor for a few minutes yet and then he said: "I'm
going to check on Aiko." He left the flat with a worried look on his face.
   "Yes, I'm sure you will check on her, too," Higa muttered and decided
to go to bed. There was no telling when Greg would be back.



                                                                        163
Chapter    27
Nocturne
Cuddy heard a knock on her bedroom door. It sounded like House, but
she knew for a fact that he was in his own flat, in addition to which he
had also promised never to come into her bedroom – at least not without
a specific invitation. It had to be Blythe who sometimes did check up on
her even though she knew that she and House had the walkie-talkies.
Tonight, given all that had happened, it was likely to be her. Cuddy
wiped her cheeks the best she could. She didn't really want to let Blythe
know that House had made her cry, but she didn't want to worry her
either so she opened the door to find House standing outside. She was
stunned.
   "Not crying my ass," House observed running his eyes over her face
and taking in the signs of weeping.
   "What do you want," Cuddy swallowed to clear her throat. "And what
are you doing here? I thought the upstairs was supposed to be my
territory."
   "In principle, yes," House agreed. "But you don't really expect me to
stay out of the nursery."
   "This isn't the nursery," Cuddy pointed out.
   "Actually it is, for the next couple of months still," House gave her a
small smile and nodded to her midsection which was currently housing
the Trips.
   "You're just splitting hairs again," Cuddy groused. "Besides, even if
you wanted to check up on the kids you can't come up here unan-
nounced. For all you know I might have been running naked in the
corridor!"
   "In that case I definitely need to come up here more often," House
leered. "Seriously though, I was sure you weren't doing anything of the
sort, not with Grey around."
   "Fine," Cuddy conceded. "Besides, I probably wouldn't be doing it
anyway Grey or no Grey."



                                                                      164
   "Yeah, there is time and place for everything," House nodded wisely.
   "I'm still in the dark about why you're here, though," Cuddy reminded
him.
   "I need to talk with you," House said. "Come into Aiko's room, please."
   "You don't want to come into mine?" Cuddy wondered.
   "I promised not to," House pointed out. "It's your territory. I may fuzz
the rules a little when it comes to the upstairs in general, but your room
is definitely off limits for me."
   "Since when have you respected my privacy?" Cuddy wondered. "I
mean I've lost count of the times you've broken into my office, my house,
heck even my trash!" She did, however, follow House into Aiko's room.
   House walked to the crib and looked at Aiko, then he took the baby
monitor and said "Just me" into it and turned it off.
   "That was practised," Cuddy observed. "This cannot be the first time
you're up here."
   "Well, I may have visited Aiko once or twice before," House admitted
sheepishly.
   "Once or twice my ass!" Cuddy laughed. "So if you have been sneaking
up the stairs – and you would actually need to use the stairs since I
would hear the elevator! - in the quiet, why am I supposed to believe
that you respect my room? Who knows how many times you have
sneaked in there."
   "I haven't," House replied seriously. "This situation is difficult enough
as it is. I had no problem invading your house, and I still have no prob-
lem in invading your office, but since I actually own this house, I need to
make sure that you can be comfortable in it, and respecting your person-
al space is important. So I'm not coming into your room – barring a med-
ical emergency or specific invitation."
   "Thank you," Cuddy accepted. "And you can use the lift when you
come up; your secret is out anyway now, so you might as well be
comfortable."
   "What secret?" House frowned.
   "That Aiko has you totally wrapped around her little finger," Cuddy
explained. "Though, there has never been much of a secret in that, I have
to say."
   "Well be that as may, we didn't come in here to talk about me and
Aiko but about me and you," House pointed out. "Take a seat, the rock-
ing chair is pretty comfortable. And then tell me why are you crying?"
   "Because I'm pregnant," Cuddy stated sitting down as instructed.




                                                                        165
   "Let's not do that song and dance again," House refused to play. "You
don't cry for no reason. True, some of the reasons that make you cry now
would not make you cry if you weren't pregnant, but there is still a reas-
on. So stop evading the issue and tell me why did I make you cry this
time? And don't try to say it wasn't me, because it pretty much has to
be."
   "Even so, why would I unburden my heart to you?" Cuddy asked.
   "Because if I don't know what it is, I cannot fix it," House sighed in
exasperation.
   "There is no guarantee that you can fix it even if you do know," Cuddy
still prevaricated.
   "Fine, obviously it's personal and sensitive and emotional and all those
girly things I don't get," House was getting frustrated. "But I still need to
know. I need to at least try to understand. If it helps I give you my word
that anything you say in this room will not be used against you."
   "But it's so silly," Cuddy muttered. House didn't say anything but
waited. "I thought you were going to wait for my super tanker." Cuddy
finally decided to give half an answer.
   Surprisingly enough, for a man who claimed not to understand girly
things, House got the real meaning of the sentence – half-truth though it
was: "I hurt your feminine pride!" House exclaimed. "I'm sorry. I was … I
didn't think. It's just that somehow I cannot associate you with casual
sex. I don't mean that I couldn't have just sex with you, just that I was
looking for something I could easily forget – not that that is what I got in
the end, but that was the original purpose. And you really don't fall into
that category."
   "Yeah, I can sort of understand that with my mind, but why are you
looking for something easy to forget," Cuddy wanted to know. "Why not
see if we can be, well, I suppose the phrase is friends with benefits? I do
know that it might not work, but why not even look into the option? It
could make a lot of things easier."
   "First of all, I wasn't really thinking that deeply last night," House
pointed out. "Secondly, Akira has a theory that I was trying to escape my
responsibilities even if only temporarily, and having something going on
with you, would not serve that purpose since you are very closely con-
nected – right now quite literally – with those responsibilities. I'm sorry
for having hurt your pride, but last night was all me, not about you or
how attractive you are. I think I've made it pretty clear over the years
that I dig your ass like crazy." House gave her a slanted smile.




                                                                         166
   "Yeah," Cuddy conceded quietly, biting her lip. She refused to meet his
eyes.
   House stared at her for a moment: "There is more, isn't there? Come
on, you cannot leave me guessing, I'm bound to come up with something
totally outrageous on my own."
   "You said that nothing I say here will be used against me?" Cuddy
wanted confirmation.
   "I promise," House frowned at how serious Cuddy was. "You know
that I may want to outrage you or shock you but I have never wanted to
hurt you."
   "Yeah, I know," Cuddy sighed. "And you really haven't – well apart
from once, but you sure have made amends for that! The thing is, some-
times people hurt themselves."
   "I know," House agreed. "It happens with people. So how have you
hurt yourself then?"
   "I've fallen in love with you," Cuddy announced bravely, though
House could see the tears in her eyes. House blinked.
   "Oh," he needed a moment to collect his thoughts, because this really
was the last thing he had expected to hear. "Are you sure? I don't mean
to insult you, but is it possible that your pregnancy has caused you to
give more meaning to our friendship? Because we do have a friendship."
   "It's possible," Cuddy shrugged. "I have never been pregnant and in
love before. But it sure feels exactly the same as it does without the
pregnancy."
   "I see," now it was House's turn to stare at the floor. "Why?" The ques-
tion was honestly made. "Why would you fall in love with me? I'm… "
   "No, don't you dare," Cuddy put up her hand to stop him from talk-
ing. "Don't give me your lecture about you being twice my age, which
you aren't no matter how much I might wish that was the case, nor of not
being good looking since you have no idea whatsoever of what women
find good looking and most definitely don't say anything about not be-
ing nice. Niceness is greatly overrated. James is nice; his niceness has got
him divorced thrice! Don't do all this why thing when the real question
is: WHY NOT!"
   "What do you mean, why not?" House was puzzled. "Why not love
me? Is that what you mean? But it makes no sense!"
   "If it made sense, it wouldn't be love," Cuddy explained patiently. "I
know you hate emotions because you cannot rationalise them, at least
most of the time you cannot. But the thing is, you don't deserve or earn
love, you just get it. Or give it. Just look at Aiko! We all love her, but can



                                                                          167
you come up with any sensible reason for it? She is not related to us so
the biological imperative is not there. When we first fell in love with her,
she had no personality, she was just a baby: someone with very basic
needs and very basic ways of expressing those needs. But we fell in love
with her. Even you did, and you don't usually go for babies."
   "Babies don't bother me," House shrugged not knowing how to re-
spond to Cuddy's tirade.
   "Not being bothered is not the same as loving a baby, and don't even
try to tell me you don't know the difference," Cuddy lectured him. "This
is the same, well not quite the same, but the principle is there. I love you,
you have done nothing to make me love you; God knows you haven't.
I'm sure I don't know anyone who works harder on not being loved than
you do. But you cannot control it; do what you want there are people
who love you nevertheless."
   "Why?" House was truly mystified.
   "Just because," Cuddy smiled.
   "That is no answer!" House said irritably.
   "It's the only one I have," Cuddy shrugged. "I'm sorry, but that's the
way it usually goes."
   "You shouldn't love me," House told her. "I'll just let you down."
   "No you won't," Cuddy stated.
   "I did last night!" House pointed out.
   "No you didn't. You are not responsible for my feelings or expecta-
tions, not when you have done nothing to raise them. Look, House, I
didn't like you going into the bar, and I don't like what happened,"
Cuddy explained. "But I cannot expect you to do something, or be
something just because I love you. You have made no promises to me,
apart from being there for the kids, and that is already a huge commit-
ment from you. I'm not even sure you can give me more. And I don't
want to force you. My feelings are my business. Yes, I would like it very
much if you could love me back, but things don't always work that way.
And even when they start that way, they don't always stay that way. Just
look at you and Stacy!"
   "Let's not," House suggested. "We may not be the best possible ex-
ample to bring up right now."
   "Why not?" Cuddy frowned. "You loved her and she loved you. If not
for the infarction… "
   "We still wouldn't be together now," House stated. "It might have
looked idyllic and everything, having the concerned girlfriend stay at my
side through it all, making the sacrifice of saving my life at the cost of



                                                                         168
loosing me, but that is not the full picture. Yes, we were together for five
years, but I wasn't faithful all that time. Neither was she."
   "Oh," it was Cuddy's turn to blink. "She never said."
   "She wouldn't," House shrugged. "It was nobody's business but ours.
But though it might have lasted longer without the infarction, it would
not have lasted forever. But then nothing much does."
   "Are you trying to tell me that I won't love you forever?" Cuddy
quizzed him.
   "You'd be a fool to," House growled refusing to look at her.
   "Well, I suppose that we'll just need to wait and see what kind of a fool
I am," Cuddy offered. "I didn't tell this to you to burden you, but for the
sake of the kids, you need to know. I'm not trying to make you love me
or give me more commitment than you have. I'll live if you never love
me. This feeling is not the be all and end all of my existence. I'll have the
kids, there's my job; I'll survive. Just don't take your friendship away
from me because of this. Please."
   "I wouldn't," House finally looked up. "But I can't see how I could
avoid hurting you, as things stand."
   "Let me worry about that," Cuddy told him. "If you go too far, I'll let
you know. I suppose it will be easier now, since the cat is out of the bag
and I don't need to try and hide my feelings from you anymore."
   "I don't know what to say," House was at a loss.
   "You don't need to say anything," Cuddy said. She stood up and got
ready to go back to her own room. "Just think about what I have said.
Once the Trips have arrived we need to sit down and really talk over the
rules of this house."
   "I agree with that," House sighed. He wasn't sure he would have re-
covered from this shock by the time the kids were due. Cuddy loved
him? Why?
   At the door Cuddy stopped and turned: "And House, if you do want
to cross the threshold of my bedroom one of these nights, don't be afraid;
I won't trap you inside. You'll be free to go."
   "Knowing you, though, if I do leave, I better be sure that is what I
want to do, since you won't let me in again should I discover that I made
a mistake," House mused.
   "True," Cuddy nodded. "But we can talk about that later. Now I think I
need my sleep since the Trips seem to have settled for the night, too." She
walked out leaving House to his pondering.
   House didn't stay long. Aiko was sleeping peacefully and though he
liked watching her sleep, he rather needed his own sleep, too. He stood



                                                                         169
up, turned the baby monitor on again and left the room. In the corridor
he ran into Kasumii who was on her way to the nursery.
  "Oh, you were still there," Kasumii exclaimed quietly. "I thought you
must have forgotten to turn the monitor back on so I was on my way to
check."
  "No, I turned it on just now," House told her. "Aiko is sleeping peace-
fully." He made to continue his way to downstairs but Kasumii didn't
move out of his way. "What is it Infant?"
  "Dare ni mo machigai wa aru dakara empitsu ni mo keshigomu ga tsuite iru,"
Kasumii said to House in Japanese.
  "I know," House nodded. "But what happens when you keep on mak-
ing mistakes, one after another?"
  "Then you keep on erasing," Kasumii stated. "That is how life works:
you learn from your mistakes, but you also try to learn from the mistakes
of others, since you'll never live long enough to make them all yourself."
  "True, but I seem to be doing my best to try!" House sighed.
  "Are you and Dr Cuddy ok about last night?" Kasumii asked
cautiously.
  "Yeah, about last night I think we are ok," House stated. "I'm just not
as sure about tonight." With that he left and Kasumii stared after him
with a frown. What was that all about?

  *The translation for the Japanese proverb is: Everyone makes mistakes. That's
why there is an eraser on every pencil. – Or at least that was the translation
they gave on the site where I found it from!




                                                                           170
Chapter    28
Encounter
Monday found House alone in his office. He had been quietly brooding
all morning and Chase and Foreman had made themselves scarce.
Cameron had tried to talk to him – first to lecture him despite having
been told not to, then, when he didn't pay any attention to her words at
all, she had tried to find out what he was feeling or what was wrong. That
got House's attention enough to make him order her to the clinic to do
his hours. Now he was alone trying to understand love, of all things.
   It didn't make any sense to him. Loving Aiko was reasonable, to him,
despite Cuddy disclaiming the biological imperative: Aiko had been
trusted into his care it was a biological imperative to care for the next
generation and those instincts had just kicked in and he got attached to
Aiko; nothing to wonder about in that. Surely there was a biological im-
perative behind Cuddy's feelings, too. She was expecting his children, so
it was natural – in the literal sense of that word – for her to want to at-
tach the father of the children to her with closer ties; to make sure that he
wouldn't stray but would stick around to care for the kiddies. Of course,
Cuddy – being a rational human being – didn't consciously think that
way and House absolutely trusted her word that she was not trying to
manipulate him or tie him down or force him into something that he
wasn't ready for. But the instinct just had to be there behind her feelings.
Why else would she love him? He had never been nice to her – well, al-
most never. Until recently they had rarely had a conversation that didn't
either start or end in yelling. He was rude – in the extreme, he was un-
caring of people's feelings, even when they were dying, he was … he
was House! And that name made most people either grind their teeth or
turn pale in fear.
   One exception to that rule was, of course, Miss Anna Hill, who right
then strolled into House's office and made herself at home on the couch.
   "What do you want?" House glared at her.




                                                                         171
   "Just wanted to check if your ears are still attached to your head,"
Anna replied uncaringly. "I heard Dr Cameron was planning to chew
them off."
   "What do you know about that," House frowned.
   "Everything that James does, obviously," Anna scoffed. "You know
perfectly well that he is incapable of keeping secrets. He just has to tell
someone."
   "And you? Do you need to tell someone," House inquired.
   "Nah," Anna denied. "But I just wanted to see if you are still in one
piece. Mind you, she is only a slip of a girl so you ought to have no prob-
lems in dealing with her. Though, oddly enough, your present demean-
our seems to suggest that something she said has affected you?"
   "I wasn't even listening to Cameron," House replied absently. "I sent
her to the clinic over an hour ago."
   "Then who has got under your skin then?" Anna tilted her head and
narrowed her eyes as she examined House. House felt like he was under
the microscope – as, apparently, he might have been since suddenly
Anna said: "Of course! Dr Cuddy. She told you."
   "Told me what?" House asked cautiously.
   "That she loves you," Anna stated calmly.
   "She has said that to you?" House wondered. Somehow he hadn't
thought Cuddy would have shared her feelings with anyone, she was a
very private person. He was surprised that she had decided to tell even
him.
   "Of course not," Anna scoffed. "She doesn't indulge in that kind of girl
talk. Makeup, drinks, old dates – especially those that went horribly
wrong – things like that. But I'm not blind. She is good at hiding her feel-
ings but not 24/7."
   "Does anyone else know?" House asked worried. He didn't want
Cuddy to be fodder for the hospital gossip, not with this, especially as he
could well imagine what they would say. He had overheard enough of
the things they said about Cameron and her incredible crush.
   "I doubt it," Anna reassured him. "They do suspect you two have the
hots for each other, but nothing deeper than that."
   "Ok, that's good," House nodded.
   "It seems to disturb you?" Anna observed.
   "I don't know what to make of it," House shrugged. "It doesn't make
any sense. She is funny, smart, has a great body – even with the Trips let
alone when she isn't pregnant, she really could have anybody. Why
would she want a grumpy old cripple?"



                                                                        172
   "Cause she does," Anna pointed out. "There is no rhyme or reason to
love. You just have to live with it." Anna stared at him for a moment. "Do
you want my advice? I'm not giving any if you don't want, because this
is really none of my business, interesting though it is."
   "Go ahead," House invited. "I'm certainly clueless on my own with this
thing."
   "File it away," Anna said. "I'm sure you have already considered the
possibility that her feelings are just part of her pregnancy – a sort of bio-
logical side effect. If it's fleeting, then you can ignore it. If, in time, it
turns out to be the real thing, then it's quite possible that your subcon-
scious mind will have already processed the information and by then
you will know how to deal with it."
   "That's it?" House was surprised at Anna's words. "That is your
advice?"
   "Yep, for now," Anna nodded as she got up from the couch. "Just re-
member one thing: regardless of the nature of her love, it is you she
loves. So please respect her and her feelings by not trying to be
something you are not. Don't try to do or be something you think she
might want you to be or do or feel because she loves you. Don't fake it.
First of all, you don't know what she wants and secondly you couldn't
keep it up anyway. Whether it's permanent or fleeting, it's you she loves.
So be you, be the man you are. The changes you need to make for Aiko
and the Trips are all the changes she wants you to do. Other than that all
she needs for you to be is a friend, in your normal, irritating, dastardly
way. That's what we all want."
   Anna was about to walk out of the door when House stopped her: "We
all who?"
   "We all who love you," Anna replied nonchalantly. "Of course, some of
us love you like you were the irritating family pet that just, somehow has
managed to reach some kind of a soft spot in our hearts. I'm talking
about those who have hearts, that is."
   "You know, that feeling could even be reciprocated," House growled at
her. They exchanged a humorous look of mutual understanding: The
Dragon and the – house dog?
   Later that day House was going back into his office from the cafeteria.
He was standing in front of the lifts impatiently, but when one finally ar-
rived, he stopped dead. Ruth Rawls was coming out of the car. House
stepped aside to make way for her; since it was reasonable that he would
recognise her from the picture Sheridan had on his desk (as he indeed
had) he nodded and said: "Mrs Rawls."



                                                                          173
   Coming face to face with House so suddenly had startled Ruth,
though she had taken into consideration the possibility that she would
see him at the hospital. She nodded back and made to walk past him.
However, she had only just got half a step past him, when she changed
her mind. She put her hand on House's sleeve stopping him from enter-
ing the lift. She turned her head towards him, but not to look into his
face; her gaze hovered somewhere near his shoulder. House didn't look
at her either, his eyes fastened on her right hand which was resting on
his sleeve. They didn't stand very close to each other, but to anyone who
happened to look into their direction there was something strangely in-
timate about their stance – intimate, but yet somehow distant.
   "I just wanted to say: thank you," Ruth said quietly.
   "For what?" House wondered. "I didn't really help you; quite the con-
trary I would imagine."
   "I wasn't your responsibility, yet you chose to … " Ruth turned her
face enough to capture his eyes with hers. "Nobody could have talked
me out of it then, but you cared enough to make sure I don't have addi-
tional regrets. You protected me from … You protected me and I thank
you for that."
   House nodded his understanding: "How are you? Otherwise, that is."
   "Not exactly on cloud nine," Ruth smiled wryly. "But then, I didn't ex-
pect to be."
   "And did you come to see Sheridan?" House asked as Ruth took her
hand from his sleeve and turned a little more towards him, though step-
ping half a step further away from him at the same time. He, too, turned
a little.
   "No," Ruth denied. "I made us an appointment for marriage coun-
selling. We have children together; I'm not making any more hasty
decisions."
   "Good," House stated. Just then the lift opened its doors again and
House made his way into it. As he turned towards Ruth again he said:
"Take care." She nodded her acknowledgement as the doors slid close.
   That afternoon Sheridan stormed into House's office. The ducklings
were in the conference room, but when they saw Sheridan's face, they
decided that they had something important to do in the lab. Or actually,
Chase and Foreman did, Cameron was all for staying – for whatever
reason – but the guys nearly carried her with them, so House and Sherid-
an were alone in the Diagnostics department.
   "What's going on between you and my wife," Sheridan asked from
between gritted teeth.



                                                                      174
   "Nothing that I know of," House said. "What makes you ask?"
   "I saw you by the lifts today," Sheridan explained. "I was with some
important clients, so I couldn't come over, but when I got to my office
she wasn't there. If she didn't come to the hospital to see me, then why
was she here? And don't try to tell me it had nothing to do with you,
since anyone with eyes on his head could see that there was something
going on between you two."
   "Then you have sharper eyes than I have," House observed. "There is
nothing going on between me and your wife; unlike you and your secret-
ary. Which rather makes me wonder why you are so upset over this ima-
gined connection you think I have with your wife? You spend most of
your time with Janelle, why do you care how your wife spends her time?
I was quite under the impression that you have an open marriage or
something. You certainly behave like it."
   "I love my wife," Sheridan stated. "My affair with Janelle has nothing
to do with Ruth."
   "I can't imagine her agreeing with that sentiment," House shook his
head.
   "You don't understand," Sheridan paced the office. "Ruth is a lady; she
is everything delicate and fine. Janelle – well Janelle is more, I don't
know, earthy. A man needs something more basic every now and then. I
couldn't do the things I do with Janelle with Ruth. She would be
shocked."
   House stared at the younger man. What century did he think he was
living in? "Tell me, Sheridan, were you born that stupid or does it take
special training?" House asked conversationally. "Personally I rather
think you must have trained. What kind of reasoning is that? She is a
lady? What has sex got to do with being a lady or anything?"
   "You just don't understand," Sheridan insisted.
   "No, I don't," House agreed. "I don't understand you at all. Your wife
has given birth to two kids and let me tell you that is not a delicate pro-
cess. She does look the lady, I give you that, but she also looks like a wo-
man. I can't believe I'm giving you marriage counselling, it's so not me,
but let me tell you: if there is something you can't ask your wife to do
then you have no business doing it anyway; or then you have no busi-
ness to be married."
   "You have never been married, and you don't know Ruth," Sheridan
was already forgetting his initial irritation at House with this new direc-
tion the conversation was taking – not that it made him any less irritated,




                                                                        175
just for a different reason. "I respect her too much to expect her to, well,
to be more like Janelle."
   "That's a unique view, I must say," House mused. "I don't think even I
would come up with that one. I've never been the faithful type, but it has
never, not even once, occurred to me to claim infidelity is a sign of re-
spect. And I'm quite certain that explanation will not go down very well
with your wife, either."
   "I'm not going to tell her about Janelle," Sheridan insisted.
   "You don't have to," House decided to inform him. "According to the
latest hospital gossip your wife walked in on you and Janelle last
Saturday night."
   "What!" Sheridan turned pale.
   "That might have been the reason why she didn't come to see you
today," House pointed out.
   "Then what was she doing here?" Sheridan tried to understand what
was going on; his world had just turned upside down.
   "You have to ask her," House said. "Your marriage is none of my busi-
ness. But even so I'll give you one final piece of advice: try to drag your
mind to the new millennium. Ladies, in this day and age, have a very
healthy sex-life. And if you go out to find what you think is missing at
home, there is nothing stopping her from doing the same. Now, get out
of my office; my soap is about to start."
   That night Cuddy called House again.
   "Are you ok?" She asked him.
   "Me?" House exclaimed. "I'm not the one who is pregnant."
   "But I did rather drop a bomb on you last night," Cuddy reminded
him.
   "Yeah, you did," House acknowledged. "And I'm still a little reeling
from it. But I'm digesting it."
   "Good," Cuddy said. "I'd hate it to create any awkwardness between
us."
   "I rather think there will be plenty of things that will create all sorts of
things, difficulties and problems between us," House laughed a little.
"That one won't probably even make the top ten of them."
   "Yeah," Cuddy agreed. "Knowing us and how obstinate we can be
you're probably right."
   "So, how are the Trips behaving this fine night," House asked settling
on his bed, ready to talk as long as Cuddy wanted.
   "Surprisingly well," Cuddy answered. "It's even possible that they are
starting to listen to me."



                                                                           176
  "Well, you have always had the House-touch," House smiled in
response.
  Cuddy could hear it in his voice and she smiled too.




                                                          177
Chapter    29
Some other name
It took House a couple of weeks to completely un-freak about Cuddy's
confession. Fortunately the team had three interesting cases in a row, so
he didn't have much time to ponder on the mysteries of love and once the
last case had been solved, - and during all that time Cuddy hadn't be-
haved in any way differently from before -, he decided that Miss Hill had
been right: better just file away the information and go on as before.
Cuddy did notice that House, once in a while, did stare at her somewhat
mystified, but even those looks were getting fewer. The nightly conver-
sations went on as before and somehow they got the routines of living in
the same house down to a pretty workable pattern. They got accustomed
to each other.
   Grey moved in officially as Neffie got back from Europe and needed
her own flat back. He settled in smoothly, but that was hardly surpris-
ing, considering how much time he had spent in the house anyway – as
House remembered to remind him at every turn. Aiko stayed home most
days with Cuddy and Kasumii, only visiting her Daddy for lunch – even
when there was a case, though then the lunch might be shorter. Cuddy
spent a few hours in her office at home every day. Mostly she read up on
the latest research – both medical and administrational – but she also
wrote an article about an old case of hers that she hadn't had time to
write at the time. Sometimes Miss Hill worked with her in the late after-
noon, helping her stay on top of the things going on in the hospital.
Though now that it was clear that Sheridan was just a temporary head of
the hospital, the department heads had settled down to business as usual
– since Cuddy had taken House's advice and promised them a day of
reckoning if things weren't the way she liked them when she returned.
   Sheridan was no longer a problem. True, he had been almost totally
eliminated during the first two weeks or so, but he was a good adminis-
trator – once he got down to it – so there was a possibility that he could
have regained the ground he lost and possibly pose a problem still, but



                                                                      178
he was too busy. He was doing his best trying to save his marriage – and
by all signs that was an uphill battle. Of course Cecil – who was their
therapist, too – didn't reveal anything that went on during the sessions,
but there had been a couple of fights that had taken place in Sheridan's
office, or a few remarks actually made in the corridor, which fed the gos-
sip mill. Blythe had seen Ruth once on her way to Cecil's office and they
had talked briefly. Apparently Ruth's family was behind her and sup-
porting her all the way, and especially helping with the kids.
   Forbes and Taunton were also no longer causing problems for Cuddy,
unsurprisingly. Once the Janelle-Sheridan affair became public the alli-
ance between Forbes and Taunton had died a very acrimonious death.
Those two were no longer on speaking terms. Nobody really knew what
was going on with Janelle's marriage, but her father was, for once in her
life, mad at her and showing his disapproval. She was not a happy
camper. Nobody felt sorry for her.
   Cuddy should have been happy, and in many ways she was. But
House could see that she really was more than ready to have the kids.
She still had some four weeks to go, but the Trips were getting truly bur-
densome and though she did do as much work as she could, the en-
forced inactivity was getting to her. Sure, Grey helped her with an exer-
cise routine, but it was not enough for Cuddy who was used to running
regularly. She was chafing at the bit, and getting irritable. Sometimes
House initiated a row just to get her to let some of the steam out, but
there was very little anyone could really do before the Trips were born.
   However, even with the Mother of All Monsters in the residence al-
most all the time, Blythe noticed that House was willing to spend more
time with everyone in the family room in the main house than before.
True, he rarely came there unless Aiko was there, too, but since Aiko was
there every night until her bedtime, then so was House. He didn't always
take part in the conversations, but quite often just played with Aiko on
the floor or sometimes they played the piano together. But it seemed to
Blythe that his tolerance for people was better than it had been. And
sometimes he stayed even after Aiko went to bed.
   One such evening, when Kasumii had taken – the already sleeping –
Aiko from House to carry her to bed, House stayed at the piano again.
Cuddy was curled up (as best she could) on the couch, Blythe was knit-
ting something, both Grey and Higa were reading and Wilson – who was
staying the night after having dined with them – was just relaxing in an
armchair and listening to House play.




                                                                      179
   "You know, we really need to decide on the names," Cuddy said
suddenly.
   "What names?" Wilson was startled from his stupor.
   "The children," Cuddy explained. "They'll be here in no time and
though I have called them Greer, Trey and Leona, I'm not quite happy
with those names. I only came up with them to make sure Greg Junior,
Lisa Junior and Jimmy Junior wouldn't stick."
   "Jimmy Junior wouldn't have done that anyway," House observed
from his seat. "As he turned out to be a she."
   "True; and I have to say I kind of like Greer, but Trey and Leona,"
Cuddy mused. "I'm not quite happy with those."
   "So what kind of names have you been thinking of?" Blythe wanted to
know.
   "Everything and anything," Cuddy sighed. "I mean, I'm going to label
my babies for the rest of their lives! And I don't even know them."
   "Tough assignment," House agreed. "Mind you, they can change it
themselves if they hate it too much. Just look at Neffie."
   "True," Cuddy accepted. "And no matter what we come up with, they
probably will hate them anyway, at least they will when they reach the
teens."
   "That is usually the case," Blythe agreed. "So do what you think is
best."
   "The children will make what they want of their names anyway," Higa
pointed out.
   "Why don't we just throw a few names in and see if any of them go in
the direction you'd like?" Wilson suggested.
   "How about Clay?" House sure was game. "Nice, earthy name."
   "Clay House?" Cuddy sneered slightly. "I think not."
   "House?" House repeated a little uncertainly. "Are you … Is that what
you want?"
   "Don't you want it?" Cuddy asked seriously. The rest of the room went
quiet; everybody was practically holding their breath.
   "I'm ok which ever way you want to go," House shrugged. "I don't
have a strong opinion one way or the other. But I just sort of assumed
you'd want them to have your name. After all, you're the one who does
all the work here – and you were the one who planned for a child, even if
things didn't quite go as planned in the end."
   "I may be doing the work right now, but if you think you can shift all
the work of raising them on me for the next 18 years, forget it!" Cuddy
decided not to make a big deal of it – she definitely didn't want to bring



                                                                      180
up the L-word again, not when House had just un-freaked from his previ-
ous encounter with it. Though loving House had made it impossible for
her to think of giving the kids her own name.
   "You don't want them to… , I don't know, carry your name then?"
House wanted to be sure Cuddy wasn't trying to please him or in any
way going against her own wishes.
   "I wanted a child," Cuddy shrugged. "That was what I wanted,
someone to love and care for. It was never about the name – my brothers
have that covered anyway, nor was it about having my genes live on or
being immortal through my child. I just wanted a child. I mean What's
Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face. O, be some other name
Belonging to a man. What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other
word would smell as sweet."
   "Lisa is right," Blythe decided to voice her opinion, because she sus-
pected that her son had another reason, too, for not having thought of
passing on his name to his kids. "It's just a name. Any traditions that go
with it go with it only if you allow them. You've made it your own, re-
gardless of any who have been before you; your children will do the
same."
   "You know the Japanese saying: breeding rather than birth," Higa
pointed out, too. "Just because they have their father's name, does not
mean they won't have their mother's breeding."
   "House," House musingly. He digested the information for a moment.
"I suppose that means that Stone and Charity are out of question too as
names?"
   "You bet!" Cuddy huffed.
   "Brick? Straw? Cat?" Wilson joined in.
   "Boys! Settle down," Blythe stopped them before they got to any more
outrageous houses. "This is serious business, so stop fooling around and
start of names that actually can be used. David? You haven't said any-
thing?" Blythe turned to Grey who had been just watching the proceed-
ings from the sidelines.
   "I don't think it really is my place to suggest anything," Grey
responded.
   "Suggest what?" Kasumii asked as she got back from Aiko's room.
   "Names for the Trips," Grey told her.
   "Ah, I see." Kasumii nodded as she sat down on the floor and leaned
against his legs. "No, I don't think we have anything to say to that. Un-
less you start suggesting something truly outrageous in which case we




                                                                        181
might have to step in. Just in the interest of child protection, you
understand."
  "Like Clay and Charity House?" Cuddy brought up.
  Kasumii knew where those had come from and gave House an ad-
monishing look: "You didn't!"
  "Hey, those are good, old English names," House defended himself.
"Nothing wrong with them. No? Ok, how about Mick?"
  "No," Cuddy vetoed immediately.
  "See, this is what I hate about women," House turned to Wilson. "They
say we have to decide, but in truth it's a Royal We. You're not really sup-
posed to have an opinion yourself. They will do all the deciding and
that's that." Wilson refused to respond to House's opinion – he knew
when to shut up even if House didn't.
  "Well come up with something I can consider, and see what happens,"
Cuddy invited with exaggerated patience.
  "Priya," House threw in as a suggestion.
  "Priya?" Cuddy frowned confused.
  "Yes," House confirmed. "It's Hindi and means Darling or Loved one."
  "Priya," Cuddy repeated. "Aiko, Greer and Priya. I think I like it."
  "Wow! The age of miracles is really not over then," House was actually
genuinely surprised that Cuddy had accepted his suggestion. "That
leaves us with one name for a boy short."
  "Well, you could call him James," Wilson offered jokily.
  "Thank you, but no," Cuddy smiled. "I said that there are no Juniors in
this ship."
  "Super tanker," House reminded her sotto voce, which made Cuddy
blush a little – others believed it to be in annoyance, but they were used
to House's remarks so nobody said anything. "But I agree; if I cannot
have a Lisa Junior then I will not have Jimmy junior, either. So any other
suggestions?"
  "How about Ben," Blythe suddenly said.
  "Ben," House tasted the name. "Short form of Benjamin, or Benjiro."
  "You'd do that?" Higa asked quietly. "You'd name your son after
mine?"
  "He is Aiko's father," House pointed out. "He named me her guardian
in his will. If not for him, and Noriko and you, there would be no
Triplets on the way at all."
  "Dr Cuddy?" Higa turned to Cuddy almost timidly. He had been call-
ing her Cuddy or Lisa for some time now, but with such an important is-
sue at stake he fell back to a more formal address.



                                                                       182
   "Ben is a good name," Cuddy agreed. "And if you have no objection, I
would very much like to name my – our son, after yours."
   "Thank you," Higa had tears in his eyes, but he kept his composure.
"I'm honoured."
   Later that night House's walkie-talkie came alive. It happened after
Cuddy had already signed off about half an hour before. House was still
awake, though, so he answered immediately.
   "House," Cuddy's voice came over a little nervously. "I think this
might fall under the heading of medical emergency. My water just
broke."




                                                                   183
Chapter    30
Triple time
"My water just broke." Cuddy's words hit House like a ton of bricks! This
was it. No backing out now, he was going to be a Father of Four; it al-
most sounded like a joke, only he was not laughing: he knew that now
he had to be there for Cuddy for real. And not only for now but for the
next eighteen years at least. But that was the future crashing down on
him; now was not the time for that! Now was the time to get Cuddy to
the hospital.
   "Call Jordan," House told her. "I'll be there in five." Cuddy closed the
connection and House got going. In the living room he met Higa, who
had not gone to bed yet either (sixth sense? possibly; with Akira you
never knew). "Cuddy's water just broke," House said as he limped to-
wards the door connecting the flat to the house.
   "Do you want me to call Dr Chase?" Higa asked him.
   "If you would," House replied over his shoulder as he went.
   It wasn't five minutes later that House opened Cuddy's door. She was
walking the floor talking to Helen Jordan on the phone, as soon as she
saw House she finished the call and stopped before him, looking
strangely lost and almost childlike which House thought was ridiculous
given her condition.
   "Wilson is getting dressed," House told Cuddy putting her hand reas-
suringly on her shoulder. "He'll drive you to the hospital. I will follow on
the bike once I have alerted the rest of the house. Unless things start hap-
pening faster than I expect and Jimmy has to step on it, I may actually
reach the hospital before you, but I'll definitely be there soon after. Akira
is calling Chase, so he will be with Jordan in no time. And I suspect he'll
alert Cameron and Foreman, too, but I don't know what they will do."
   "Why did you call Chase?" Cuddy's eyes widened. "I thought he was
going to be there only if something goes wrong."
   "He will be needed only if something goes wrong," House hugged
Cuddy. "But I'm not waiting till then to have him on stand-by. He will be



                                                                         184
there, hopefully to just twirl his thumbs, but this is a multiple birth. Bet-
ter safe than sorry even though you know that Jordan has been perfectly
happy with the way your pregnancy has gone so far. Sure, it would have
been nice for the kids if you could have gone the full term but they will
be fine even now. So get ready and I'll meet you at the hospital."
   Just then the door opened again, and Kasumii came in to help Cuddy
get ready. House had stopped at Aiko's room on his way to Cuddy's and
alerted the Nanny through the baby monitor. As he left the room he
found Grey in the corridor waiting.
   "Anything I can do?" Grey asked.
   "Nothing, thanks," House nodded. "You wait here with Kasumii and
Aiko and we'll call you as soon as we have any news. Though first la-
bour does usually take at least 15 hours so it's possible that you'll have to
drive Kasumii and Aiko to the hospital with you when you come to
work tomorrow, but I'll call you before that with an update on things."
   "Don't you need someone to drive your Mother and Dr Higa to the
hospital?" Grey asked.
   "You can ask them if they need a lift," House said. "Mother does have a
license, but I'm not sure how willing she is to drive, especially at night.
So thank you for the offer." House went back down and just as he left the
lift he saw Wilson emerge from his room fully dressed and ready to go.
   "Cuddy?" Wilson asked.
   "Kasumii is helping her to get ready," House informed Wilson. "You
can go up and wait outside her door. She is a bit panicky but that is
hardly surprising. Just do your best reassuring and caring doctor imper-
sonation and you'll be fine."
   "It's not an impersonation!" Wilson huffed at House half-heartedly but
House wasn't listening. He was already on his way to his mother's
rooms.
   House had been right; he got to the hospital just before Wilson and
Cuddy so he was able to be there with the wheelchair when Wilson
helped Cuddy out of the car at the hospital. It was the orderly who actu-
ally pushed Cuddy's chair, but House and Wilson both flanked her and
she had to admit that having her "knights" with her did feel good and re-
assuring – which was sort of silly since neither of them were obstetri-
cians. On the other hand, Wilson was good at being reassuring in general
and House, well his credentials might state that he specialized in infec-
tious deceases and nephrology, but in truth he specialized in everything.
If something went wrong, he would know what to do. Probably even be-
fore anybody else.



                                                                         185
   Since it was a multiple birth Cuddy was taken into a delivery room
straight away. It was equipped with everything that might be needed if
something went wrong, with either Cuddy or the baby. It was situated
close to an operation room in case emergency c-section was called for.
Cuddy didn't like all the precautions though she, herself, had agreed on
them with Dr Jordan when discussing the birth. Cuddy knew that her
age was against her as was the fact that she was having triplets, but she
still wished she could have ignored the precautions. Chase met them
outside the delivery room – he had only just arrived so he was not yet in
scrubs.
   "I left messages for Cameron and Foreman but I don't know when they
will get them, so I have no way of knowing if they'll be here tonight,"
Chase told House and Cuddy. "I'll go and scrub in, but I don't really ex-
pect I need to do anything since Helen told me to just make sure I don't
get in her way or faint. Like I would do that! I'm not the Dad here."
   "The Dad is not going to faint, either," House pointed out dryly. "I'm
not so sure about Uncle Jimmy though, so Wilson, I think you better stay
out of the delivery room and wait with the grandparents."
   "Is that ok with you Lisa or do you need me to do something for you?"
Wilson wanted confirmation from Cuddy.
   "I'm fine," Lisa nodded. "I'm sure House has pretty much everything
covered. Mind you, I do need you to stay close so that if he gets too abus-
ive with the nurses I can call you to drag him out of there."
   "Hey! I never abuse the nurses," House insisted – causing a passing
nurse to gasp. "I'm gentle as a lamb."
   "More like a wolf in a lamb's clothing," Cuddy huffed. "However, these
are your kids being born so you better try to behave!"
   "Fine, fine," House was patiently humouring Cuddy – and earning a
deathly glare from her for it. "I'll behave. I'll be the epitome of good man-
ners and politeness. Now, you get in there and I'll follow as soon as I've
made sure all the paperwork is in order. Judging by the interval and
strength of your contractions you'll have plenty of time to lecture me on
my manners and whatever else it is that you want to complain about."
   House had changed into scrubs too, once he had made sure everything
was in order with the paper work. He had also checked that Blythe and
Higa were with Wilson in the waiting room. He reminded them that this
would probably take quite some time and that his office was available as
well, so they didn't really need to stay in one place. Once he was sure
everything else was under control – and he had also seen Cameron and
Foreman arrive at the hospital – he went back to Cuddy.



                                                                         186
   "Where have you been?" Cuddy nearly yelled at House as soon as he
walked in. She, herself, was walking back and forth in the room, leaning
on a nurse when she felt a contraction. "Helen finished her examination
ages ago."
   "And she also told you that this is going to take ages didn't she," House
observed calmly.
   "Is that any reason for you to not be here?" Cuddy demanded.
   "No," House admitted. "Not at all. But even if I take my time in check-
ing that everything is in order and that my Mom and Akira are comfort-
able I'm not going to miss anything important. Unless you really relish
the idea of me seeing you all sweaty and panting and in pain."
   "Well I think you ought to observe your own handiwork!" Cuddy
huffed.
   "Are you sure you want to phrase it quite like that?" House smiled at
her making her blush. She got the reference to the story they had made
about not having had sex but House having just given a donation, so to
speak, and her getting pregnant with the aid of a turkey paster or some
similar thing. "Besides, no matter how you got pregnant you know you
cannot guilt me! I don't feel guilty about things; it's just not in my nature.
I wasn't the one who chose to have fertility treatments; I'm not the one
who chose to get pregnant. And no matter how painful this delivery will
be it won't kill you! So I'll always be one up on you on the pain
department."
   "Fine, don't feel guilty," Cuddy huffed, knowing that House had a
point. "I don't know why I wanted you here in the first place. Go, leave
me, play your games or watch your soaps or do whatever you want. I'm
fine here. I'm just giving birth to your triplets, why should you care!"
   House smiled at her and her tirade. He walked to her and hugged her
with one arm – he still had his cane in the other hand: "Shut up Cuddy,"
House murmured into her ear. "I'm here because I want to be here and
because you need me. Now, talk to me, tell me what you need and let's
get these kiddies out of the safety of your womb and into the cold, cruel
world."
   "Have I ever told you that you really have a knack with words; like
really saying the right thing at the right time," Cuddy glared at him,
though she did rest her head against his shoulder.
   "No I don't think you have," House mused. "I've always wondered
why not."
   It did take about fifteen hours for Cuddy to give birth to the kids.
House was with her all the way. Ben made his entrance into this world at



                                                                          187
about three o'clock in the afternoon, Priya followed him about fifteen
minutes later and Greer was born near four o'clock. They were all
healthy and perfect and though Cuddy was exhausted almost to the
point of being dead to the world, she was fine, too. Chase had been there
all the time as well. Only observing since, fortunately, his skills were not
needed, but the wait finally got to him. Once Greer was born and gave
her first cry, Chase fainted.
   "Hmm, that's interesting," House observed from Cuddy's side as
Chase crumbled to the ground. "Anything you feel you need to tell me
Cuddy?"
   "What are you talking about?" Cuddy was completely in the dark
about his purpose.
   "Just that Chase was so adamant that only Daddies faint during deliv-
ery," House observed. "And now he is fainting all over the place. I was
just wondering?"
   "Oh, shut up you!" Cuddy replied half-heartedly. She wasn't really in-
terested in anything House had to say. She had two of her children in her
arms and Greer was next to her in House's arms and that was all she
really cared about. Sure she felt sorry for Chase, but this was a hospital;
plenty of nurses and doctors around to take care of him. Cuddy just
wanted to see her babies and marvel at the tiny, perfect creatures.
   "They don't really look so hot, do they?" House stated looking at the
kids. "Sort of wrinkly and red and small."
   "Shut up House," Cuddy told him. "They are perfect and beautiful."
   "Fine, if you're happy who am I do disagree," House shrugged. "Now,
we need to give them back to the nurses so they can finish measuring
them and doing whatever else they need to do. They are also going to
wheel you into your room and the kids will be brought there in a mo-
ment. Will you be ok while I go and tell Mom and Akira and the rest of
the gang the news?"
   "Yes, I'm fine," Cuddy nodded. "I'm euphoric but even so I think I will
fall asleep the moment they take the kids. I'm fine for the time being."
   "Ok, good," House accepted as he stood up and left the room. As he
looked back from the door he saw that she had been right: she was
already asleep.
   House found his House-hold in the waiting room. Not only were his
mother and Dr Higa there, Wilson, Cameron, Foreman, Kasumii with
Aiko, Grey and Miss Hill were all there as well.




                                                                        188
  "All present and accounted for," House informed them. "Cuddy is
asleep but she is well. The only casualty was Chase who fainted in the
end."
  "He didn't!" Foreman exclaimed gleefully.
  "When can we see them?" Blythe wanted to know. "The children and
Cuddy?"
  "I'll have the nurse wheel the children through here when she takes
them into Cuddy's room," House promised. "But I'd give Cuddy about
an hour or so before disturbing her. It wasn't an easy job she did."
  "But she is ok?" Higa asked.
  "Yes, they are all fine," House confirmed. "Jordan wants to keep them
here for a week or so, just to be safe, but so far nothing indicates any
problems at all."
  "Excellent," Miss Hill concluded. "That's perfect."




                                                                    189
Chapter    31
About loving
Chase looked sheepish when he joined the rest of the House-hold out-
side in the waiting room. Foreman smiled widely as he saw the
Australian.
   "Well, well, well," Foreman gloated. "I see you have recovered from
your ordeal."
   "How do you think you would have survived the experience," Chase
asked surprisingly good-humouredly. "House and Cuddy having kids
and depending on you to save them if anything went wrong? Yeah, I
fainted, I admit it. But you have no idea how relieved I was that I wasn't
needed there. And not just for them and the kids."
   "I don't think I would have handled it any better," Cameron observed.
   "You wouldn't have taken on the job," Foreman pointed out. "Though I
don't think they would have asked you; you're too emotional."
   "I'm also and immunologist, not an intensivist!" Cameron snapped at
him.
   "Calm down kids," Blythe decided to interfere before their relief
turned into a fight. "All is well and that is all that matters. Greg said we
can see the children for a moment as they leave the delivery room. Let's
not start a fight here or he will change his mind."
   She had barely got the words out of her mouth when House opened
the door for the nurse who was wheeling the crib holding the triplets.
   "Ok, the circus is in town everyone have your tickets ready?" House
announced.
   "Gregory!" Blythe gave him a very short admonishing look before con-
centrating on the children. "Oh, they are so beautiful!"
   Cameron and Miss Hill followed suit and went all gaga (in House's
opinion) on the kids. Kasumii handed Aiko to House and joined the
choir. The men stood aside, waiting for their turn, but Blythe drew Dr
Higa closer to look, too.




                                                                        190
   "Go on Foreman," Chase gave his colleague a superior smile. "No need
to pretend with us, we know your secret."
   "What secret," Foreman frowned, though he did have his suspicions.
   "That you adore babies," House observed dryly. "Aiko has you totally
wrapped around her little finger and you turn into a total marshmallow
any time you're within fifty feet of a baby, any baby."
   "I … " Foreman started indignantly, but then he looked at the babies:
"Oh, shoot." He gave up; he knew he wasn't fooling anyone, so he just
joined the ladies and Dr Higa.
   "And how are you now Chase?" Wilson asked him.
   "I'm just fine," Chase insisted. "Too much adrenaline and too little
food."
   "I told you to go and eat something," House told him.
   "You did, and I should have listened to you," Chase admitted. "But no
matter, the babies are fine and Dr Cuddy came through with flying col-
ours. All is well."
   "And that is the main thing," Wilson stated as he, too, went over to the
babies.
   "Hmmm," House agreed – he was making fish-faces with Aiko again.
"That is all that really matters. You're not interested in adoring the kids,
though Chase?"
   "I saw them already," Chase shrugged. "And though I like babies just
fine, and absolutely love Aiko, I don't really have this urge to worship
them. And I suspect I'm not alone in that position."
   "If you want to know my opinion," Grey observed from the sidelines.
"I definitely see your point of view. I'm ok with babies, and some of them
– like Aiko and I expect the Trips, too – I learn to love as they grow and I
spend time with them, but I have no special urge to go and adore every
infant that I come across. Babies are ok, and I expect I will love my own
the moment they arrive, if Kasumii ever wants any, but that's it."
   "I hear you," House nodded. "So Aiko, do you want to see your sib-
lings?" House asked his daughter. Aiko wasn't so sure. She frowned at
House and said: "Dada!" in a very demanding voice. "Yes, I am still your
Daddy," House told her. "And I will always be your Daddy, never fear.
Just because I'm Daddy to your two sisters and your brother, does not
mean I'm any less your Daddy. You'll see; it will be fine. And you will
love Ben and Greer and Priya just as much as MamaLisa and I will. It
will all work out." Aiko looked a little doubtful but she allowed House to
carry her to the crib without a fuss. She did look at her siblings but didn't




                                                                         191
appear to be greatly impressed by them and soon the nurse wheeled
them away.
   "They are beautiful babies," Dr Higa told House. "You can tell Lisa that
she has every right to be proud of them."
   "I will," House said. "She did well."
   Cameron was standing in the corridor watching the nurse wheel the
triplets towards the maternity ward. Blythe came to stand next to her.
   "They are beautiful," Cameron stated. "So small, though perfect."
   "And real," Blythe observed causing Cameron to turn to look at her.
   "Yes," Cameron acknowledged. "I suppose you could say that."
   "You need to let go, Allison," Blythe told her gently.
   "Because he belongs with Lisa now?" Cameron asked almost
rebelliously.
   "No," Blythe denied. "I cannot say that, not yet at least. I really don't
know what is going on with those two and to be quite honest, I don't
know if my son has it in him to belong to any woman, to trust anyone
enough … there are some things … No, never mind those. He is a very
complicated man, even more so than even I thought. I don't know how
much the children can heal him. It is possible that he will never get to-
gether with Lisa, in the real sense of that word. But that may be true of
all women."
   "You are telling me that I have no hope," Cameron was resigned.
   "I have no idea if you do or not," Blythe said. "But the one thing that I
do know is that for now Greg's only priority will be his children. That
may be all the commitment he is even capable of, but I cannot say for
sure. But no matter how that goes, for your own sake you need to let go.
Stop dreaming. I'm not telling you to stop loving him or hoping that one
day you might have a chance with him, because I know that that is not
something you can control. But I am telling you to put a stop to your
pointless longing for him. Stop waiting; go on with your life. If you find
someone else, good. If not, well, there are worse things in life than being
alone. But right now you are letting your feelings for him stunt your
growth as a human being. And that is what you need to stop. Put your
feelings aside; take control of your life and grow. Be yourself. Because if
you're not, then you absolutely will have no chance with him, ever."
   "But how do I do that?" Cameron wanted to know. "How do I ignore
my feelings for him when I work with him every day? How do I let go of
my longing when I see his softer side every time he is with Aiko – and
from now on with the rest of his children?"




                                                                        192
   "That is why he told you to find another job," Blythe reminded Camer-
on. "You need to get some distance between you two. He does care about
you; it just isn't the way you want him to. And you have to stop waiting
for him to change. For your own sake."
   "Yes, I know you are right. My mind tells me you are," Cameron ad-
mitted. "He belongs to his children for now and it is indeed possible that
that is the situation for the rest of his life. I need to move on, find
something else to fulfil my life. I just don't know how."
   "You need to figure it out," Blythe wasn't giving any quarter here.
"Because if you don't figure out how you can move on, he will push you
and that will hurt. Much more than you can predict right now."
   Cuddy woke up to find House sitting in a chair near her bed. She
blinked once feeling disoriented, not quite sure where she was and what
had happened that made her feel so different. Then she smiled and
looked around.
   "They're all here, right next to you," House told her and indeed she
saw a crib next to her bed where her three newborns were sleeping
peacefully.
   "Aren't they crowded there? All together," Cuddy frowned.
   "They are used to crowded, remember?" House pointed out. "The
nurses wanted to be all protocol and have them all in individual cribs,
but I told them no, not unless they need treatment or oxygen. There is no
need to separate them yet; its shock enough for them to be outside, no
need to make it worse by making them face it alone."
   "You have some very unusual ideas, you know," Cuddy observed, not
that she disagreed with House, but she didn't think anyone else saw
things the way House did.
   "I was just thinking how I would feel in their shoes," House shrugged.
"Not that they have shoes, but you know what I mean."
   "Yes, I do," Cuddy started to move to get into a sitting position.
   "Hey, don't do that," House tried to stop her but Cuddy ignored him,
only to wish she hadn't as soon as she got into a sitting position. House
gave her a knowing look: "I told you not to sit up. I know the trips are
small as far as scraps of humanity go, but they still left you pretty sore.
And since you didn't take any painkillers you are bound to feel it."
House limped to the bed and used the mechanism to get it into a reclin-
ing position which still allowed Cuddy to see her kids, but didn't put
that much pressure to places that didn't like pressure right then. Once he
had done that, he leaned closer to her and kissed her on the forehead:
"You did good." House murmured to her.



                                                                       193
   Cuddy smiled: "I did, didn't I?"
   "Yeah," House nodded. "You have every right to feel smug and superi-
or. Especially when Chase is around."
   "Chase!" Cuddy remembered suddenly - and now she actually cared,
too. "How is he?"
   "Just fine," House told her. "And next time when I tell him to go get
something to eat or at least have sugar in his coffee he will listen to me."
   "Was that all that was wrong with him?" Cuddy asked.
   "Pretty much," House nodded. "Though he did have quite a lot of ad-
renalin running through his veins as well, just in case, so when none of it
was needed – thankfully – it hit him rather hard."
   "And he looked so calm there," Cuddy shook her head smilingly. "I
would never have thought he was nervous."
   "Then you weren't thinking," House told her wryly. "Had there been
any need, Chase would have done the work and he would have saved
the babies if humanly possible, but just think: they are our babies. You
are the head of this hospital and I'm his boss; in addition to that we are
his family of choice. Of course he was a nervous wreck!"
   "Of course, you're right," Cuddy realised. "Somehow I just didn't think
of it. But then I was somewhat otherwise occupied."
   "So you were," House smiled. "And, as usual, you did good work."
   "So did you," Cuddy told him. "I'm not sure I could have done it
without you."
   "Sure you could have," House dismissed. "I'm not so sure about the
nurses, though. Had you ranted and cursed at them the way you did at
me, they would all have resigned there and then. So I'm sure they, too,
were happy to have me there to take the brunt of your displeasure."
   "I wasn't that bad!" Cuddy insisted. "I didn't curse and rant. I never
do!"
   "Then it must have been your doppelganger," House mused. "Because
it sure is someone I have on tape doing those things."
   "On tape!" Cuddy exclaimed.
   "Well, this is a teaching hospital," House pointed out innocently. "And
it's not every day that we have a chance to video triple delivery. I was
just thinking the good of our students when I told them to tape it."
   "You… " Cuddy was lost for words. "I… "
   "Relax," House decided to stop playing games before Cuddy burst a
blood vessel. "It is on tape, but I gave it to Miss Hill. She promised to
guard it with her life until you have seen it and can decide if you want to
keep it or not."



                                                                        194
   "Anna has it?" Cuddy was not sure she could trust House with
something like this.
   "Yes, and it really is the only copy and nobody has seen it as yet,"
House stated.
   "Ok, if Anna has it, then ok," Cuddy sighed with relief. "I didn't really
curse and rant?"
   "I'm afraid you did," Helen Jordan stated from the door as she walked
in. "But I've heard worse. It is a rather stressful situation after all."
   "Helen!" Cuddy greeted her. "Good to see you. And thank you!"
   "All in a days work," Helen smiled. "I just wanted to see you and check
how you and the kids are doing. There are people out there who want to
see you."
   "Cuddy seems to be pretty much her normal self," House said as he
stood up making ready to leave the room. "And the lobsters are sleeping
peacefully, too."
   "House!" Cuddy cried indignantly. "They are not that red."
   "I suppose not," House conceded as he walked out of the door. "Not
that red, but they are still red and wrinkly."
   "Why on earth did I ever think having kids with him was a good idea!"
Cuddy appealed to higher powers.
   "Probably the disparity between his words and actions," Helen ob-
served. "He may say the most outrageous things, but he is amazing with
his daughter and I have rarely seen any man be as sure and yet tender
with his newborns as he was with the triplets. And he really was there
for you, too."
   "Hmm. According to Dr Wilson, one of House's patients once pointed
out that it's not what he says but what he does that matters," Cuddy con-
ceded. "And it is true that some of the biggest, personal donations that he
has got have come from patients that – at the time – seemed to hate him
the most."
   "Somehow, that doesn't surprise me," Helen smiled as she got ready to
take Cuddy's pulse and blood pressure.




                                                                        195
Chapter    32
The Watchers
Wilson found House sitting in his wheelchair outside the nursery in the
maternity ward. He was looking in through the glass at the triplets who
were being made ready to go home. Cuddy and Kasumii were with them
and the nurses while Aiko was with House.
  "So you are getting your children all home today?" Wilson opened.
  "Yeah," House replied almost absently. He was holding Aiko against
him and rubbing her back almost mechanically. Aiko didn't mind, she
was half asleep against him.
  "That didn't sound very enthusiastic," Wilson observed. "Cuddy was
pretty much over the moon when I saw her just ten minutes ago."
  "She is still, for now," House replied cryptically.
  "What do you mean?" Wilson was getting worried. "You say that like
you expect her to change!"
  "I don't know what I was thinking," House didn't really pay attention
to Wilson and his words. "What made me think that I can be a father?
Was I insane? And was Cuddy insane – of course she was. No sane wo-
man would have my child! Nor would she let me have anything to do
with her child. But here we are! And the set up is such that there is no
way out. How … What made me think that I could give anyone, let alone
a child – never mind four of them – the kind of care and love and sup-
port they need."
  "House, you are not thinking of leaving them?" Wilson barely dared to
say his suspicion out loud in fear that saying it might make it true.
Surely House wasn't thinking anything of the sort.
  "No," House frowned. "Though I'm sure they would all be better off if I
did. But no, there is no way I can do that now. I just have to hope that I
don't screw them up too badly. I just wish I knew more about parenting."
  "I thought you were reading up on it?" Wilson wondered where this
sudden self-doubt was all coming from. Was it just cold feet at the reality




                                                                       196
of bringing the kids home and having to really take on the responsibility
for them?
   "The books are written by morons," House snorted. "They either recite
platitudes that anyone with half a brain should know without saying, or
they go all theoretical and explain things with long Latinate words half
of which they use wrongly and when you unravel the little they actually
do say, it's bullshit."
   "House, what is wrong?" Wilson was getting worried. Before House
got a chance to answer him – if he even was going to – Wilson saw Fore-
man make his way to them. Eric had a file in his hand and he didn't look
happy.
   "Results?" House asked. Foreman nodded and gave the file to House
without a word. House read it in silence but when he was done he gave
a deep sigh. Then he turned to Aiko: "Little Love? Will you let Uncle Eric
take you for a while? Daddy needs to go to MamaLisa and make her cry
and I'd rather you weren't there when I do."
   Wilson watched shocked and worried as House gave Aiko to Eric.
Aiko wasn't completely happy about the exchange, she looked worried,
but she complied. Without a word to Wilson House got out of his chair
and went to find Cuddy on the other side of the glass wall. Foreman re-
fused to say a word either so all Wilson could do was watch how House
asked the others to leave him alone with Lisa and then he explained
something to her in some length. Wilson saw her turn pale and wide-
eyed with shock, he saw the tears start in her eyes before House took her
in his arms and pressed her head against his shoulder. Wilson turned to
Foreman a question in his eyes.
   "It's Greer," Foreman told him now that Cuddy had been told. "House
noticed something odd about her couple of days ago. He alerted me and
we did some tests."
   "Is that why Dr Jordan kept the babies here longer than she originally
intended?" Wilson asked. It had been nine days since the Trips were
born and Helen had originally intended to keep them under observation
for a week only.
   "I suppose so," Foreman shrugged. "I don't know who House talked
to."
   "So what is wrong with Greer?" Wilson asked not daring to let himself
think of all the things that could be wrong in a newborn.
   "She is blind," Foreman stated blandly. "Her optic nerve isn't function-
ing. She is too young for us to say with certainty what specifically is
wrong, but we are ninety-nine percent certain it is permanent. Of course



                                                                       197
there is a possibility that science may find a cure in time, but other than
that, she is permanently blind."
   Wilson couldn't believe what he was hearing. He stared at Foreman in
shock. After a while he swallowed and then he said: "Do you know why
Lisa and Blythe named her Greer?"
   "No," Foreman was a little puzzled at Wilson's reaction. "I don't.
Nobody has told me."
   "I'm not sure they have even told House," Wilson mused. "Lisa told me
when she was still fuming about House knowing about the triplets be-
fore anyone else. Greer is named after House. Her name and House's
name, Gregory, both mean Watcher. Greer is Greg Junior. When Lisa said
that she wasn't having any juniors she actually was lying."
   "Everybody does," Foreman replied automatically. "Watcher… I sup-
pose you could call that cruel irony."
   Later that day Cuddy was in the nursery watching her babies sleep for
the first time in their new home. She had recovered from the shock a
little and once House had told the rest of the House-hold the news about
Greer and they all had reacted pretty much the same way: with love,
caring and promises of support and help, she did feel better about
Greer's future. She would make sure her daughters – all of them – would
have a happy childhood, no matter what. And anyone who had a prob-
lem with one of them being Japanese and one being blind, would better
not let Cuddy catch them, because she would shove their opinion down
their throats and let them choke on it! But it still hurt to think all the dif-
ficulties Greer would face growing up. And she couldn't help but won-
der if something she had done during the pregnancy, or before it, had
caused it.
   House found Cuddy where he had expected her to be, in the nursery,
watching Greer. He came in quietly, the way only he could despite his
cane and his limp, and stood next to Cuddy putting his hand on her
shoulder: "Don't do this to yourself." He said.
   "Do what," Cuddy pretended not to understand.
   "Blame yourself," House clarified though he knew it really was unne-
cessary. "It wasn't the fertility meds; it wasn't the premature labour or
your stress and anxiety during your pregnancy. You did nothing wrong.
This is God's screw up, not yours."
   "I thought you didn't believe in God," Cuddy muttered.
   "This is why I don't," House shrugged. "If he can screw up this badly,
he isn't God. Or at least not the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving one
that I used to hear all those fairytales about as a kid."



                                                                           198
   "Some say that the adversities we face in life are His way of teaching
us lessons," Cuddy didn't really care about having a metaphysical con-
versation right now, but it was a way to avoid the real subject. "He tests
us because he loves us."
   "You mean we are his chosen ones?" House sneered mildly at the idea.
"Well, if that is the case I'll have to go with Tevje on that one: I wish He'd
choose someone else for a change."
   "Tevje?" Cuddy stared at him puzzled.
   "Fiddler on the Roof, remember," House explained patiently. "The
father."
   "Oh … oh, yes, I remember," Cuddy nodded – still not terribly inter-
ested, but then House hadn't expected her to be. He was just filling in the
silence with normal things so that she would know the world really
hadn't ended that morning.
   "Trust me Lisa, this really was not your fault in any way," House
stated emphatically.
   "But you don't really know," Cuddy sniffed a little. "You don't know
what caused it, so you cannot know that it isn't my fault."
   "I knew you were ovulating without any tests," House pointed out. "I
knew you were pregnant, I knew you were having triplets without any
tests. I know this, too: this is not your fault."
   "You thought Greer was a boy," Cuddy muttered.
   "Oh great," House rolled his eyes with exaggeration. "Focus on the one
thing I got wrong and ignore all the times I'm right. I think one mistake
out of four is better than average."
   "But it could be two out of five," Cuddy said in a small voice, though
she was starting to believe House, at least in the sense that nobody else
was thinking that she had done something wrong.
   "It isn't," House declared. "Besides, if we don't know what caused it, it
could be my screw up as well. Have you thought about that?"
   "How could it be yours?" Cuddy queried. "You weren't the one who
was pregnant."
   "If it's genetic, it could come from my side of the family tree," House
pointed out. "Or it could be a mutation caused by my substance abuse.
The point I'm trying to make here is that trying to assign blame is point-
less. Nobody did anything on purpose. This just happened and now we
deal with it. She is still our beautiful, healthy baby. Yes, she cannot see
but half the people I know go about their lives blindly anyway. Com-
pared to them, she will probably see much better, just differently."




                                                                          199
   "This is probably incredibly insulting of me," Cuddy was worrying her
lip almost to the point of drawing blood. "But does that mean that you
are staying?"
   "Yes," House said firmly. "Yes, that is incredibly insulting; and yes I'm
staying; and yes I know you are sorry; and yes I know you really needed
to hear me say it clearly."
   "Thank you," Cuddy sniffed. "Especially for understanding. I don't
really doubt you; I've seen you with Aiko and my heart does not doubt
you. It's just my mind that keeps telling me that this situation would be
too much for anyone! That even I would run if I could."
   "So would I," House shrugged. "But like you, I can't. Sure the kids
would probably be better off with some other Dad, especially Greer, but
I'm the only one around, so that's it. They are stuck with me."
   "You're a great Dad," Cuddy kept on fighting her tears, though not
very successfully. "You are wonderful with Aiko. And you are especially
the Dad Greer will need, because you're the only one I know who can
teach her to see differently."
   "Thanks for the peptalk," House sighed. "I still don't quite believe it,
but I suppose we'll muddle through. At least we'll have help; I'm sure
both Mother and Akira will keep an eye on us and Kasumii has had
training in taking care of children with special needs."
   "Maybe she'll inherit your musical talent," Cuddy mused touching
Greer gently on the cheek. "She could be a concert pianist or something."
   "No!" House avowed. "You will not steer her into any of the traditional
blind careers. Nobody will. She will be whatever she wants to be. She will
do whatever she wants to do. Yes, she probably can't do everything quite
the way she would want to do them, but she will find out her own limit-
ations herself. Anyone who tries to make her something they think she
ought to be will have a very short and painful encounter with my cane. If
music turns out to be her thing, fine, we'll support her and do everything
we can to help her career but if she wants to be something else, then we
support her there, too. Her blindness will not be the defining factor in
her life. Yeah, ok, if she wants to be a doctor surgery is probably out of
the question, but that's about it. As I know very well, you don't really
need to see the patients to be able to diagnose them. In fact, it's a lot less
boring when you don't."
   By the time House had finished his tirade Cuddy was smiling – albeit
still with tears in he eyes. She lifted her hand to caress his cheek briefly
and as she did it she said: "Yes, Daddy."




                                                                          200
   "What?" House looked at her suspiciously. He wasn't sure why she
was looking at him like that.
   "You are already proving that you are the Daddy Greer needs," Cuddy
explained. "You will fight for her and her rights like nobody else. You're
not planning on shielding her from the world or finding her a safe niche
doing things that society accepts as blind things – as I've seen many par-
ents do in similar situation. You already see her as a fighter; as a person
who will make her mark in this world on her own terms. And that is
what she needs from you: your love and belief in her. You are the Daddy
she needs; you are the Daddy all our children need."
   "Yeah, well," House wasn't quite comfortable with the almost adoring
light in Cuddy's eyes, nor with the praise. He was much more familiar
with the yelling, outraged Cuddy, but he supposed he would have to ad-
just to other Cuddys, too, now that they were co-parents. "Anyway, that
is the theory. I'm not so sure how good I am in putting it all into
practise."
   "We'll figure it out," Cuddy was suddenly feeling much surer of her-
self and House as parents. "As you said, we will have help. And we are
doctors; we're used to figuring things out."
   "I suppose," House conceded. "I'm not sure how good we will be, but I
suppose kids have survived worse parents than us."
   "Hey, the humanity has survived all this time though all parents are
first-timers when they start," Cuddy reminded him. "At least we are old
enough to know something and – unlike many other parents today – we
do have help. And you have no idea how happy I am that your Mother
divorced your Dad and is living with us now!"
   "That makes two of us at least," House agreed. "And I'm pretty sure
Mom is happy about it, too."
   "Right," Cuddy sighed. "I think I'm ok now. I suppose everyone is in
the kitchen again?"
   "As usual for this time of the day," House confirmed.
   "I'll just turn the baby monitor on and then we can join them," Cuddy
said. "I'm ok now."
   "Sure?" House asked.
   "Sure," Cuddy stated. "Thanks to you."
   "That's my girl," House approved as he checked that the babies were
still asleep and then turned to lead the way towards the kitchen.




                                                                       201
Chapter    33
Family
Foreman was sitting outside on the backyard terrace of the house staring
ahead morosely. Chase and Cameron found him there as they came out
of the kitchen where the rest of the House-hold was waiting for House
and Cuddy. Cameron had a mug of coffee for Foreman as well as for her-
self. Chase was drinking ice tea.
  "Are you ok?" Cameron asked.
  "I suppose," Foreman sighed. "Though I would much rather have been
in Chase's shoes, fainting and all, than in mine. I kept hoping to the very
end that I would find something, anything that would indicate that we
could fix it. I hate giving bad news to people, - well I suppose we all do -,
but telling House that his daughter is blind. I would have given anything
not to have been the one, even though he already knew. Thank God he
wanted to tell Cuddy himself."
  "No wonder you have been so glum for the last couple of days," Chase
noted. "Given a choice I would not trade with you for anything."
  "Why didn't you tell us?" Cameron wanted to know. "Not that the res-
ults would have been any different, but we could have helped. You
wouldn't have been alone."
  "House told me not to," Foreman stated simply. "Had he not needed
help with the tests, he wouldn't have told me either. He didn't think it
would have been fair that half the hospital knows before he could tell
Cuddy."
  "Makes sense," Chase agreed. "I sure wouldn't like to be the last one to
know if it was my kid."
  "I agree," Cameron said. "I think I'd be rather pissed at not being told
from the start. House really should have brought Cuddy in the moment
he suspected something."
  "He said he didn't want to stress her unnecessarily," Foreman
shrugged. "It might have turned out to be something fixable and it
would have softened the blow. I think that had it taken us longer to be



                                                                         202
sure, he would have told her soon, anyway. Besides, had we needed
Greer to stay in the hospital longer, he would have needed to tell Cuddy
why."
   "He has been awfully assertive lately," Cameron mused. "He doesn't
usually take charge this readily."
   "You say that like he hasn't bossed us around mercilessly for the last
three years," Chase snorted.
   "When Cuddy manages to force him to take on a patient, yes," Camer-
on pointed out. "The rest of the time he prefers to mind his own business
and let others go on with their lives the best they can. I think it's nice to
know that when things matter, when it's a question of his own family, he
doesn't hesitate."
   "For now," Foreman inserted. "He is still interested enough to do it.
And I suppose it has some novelty value as well. I just hope that he
sticks around long enough for Cuddy to recover from everything."
   "You are still expecting him to leave her?" Cameron stared at Foreman.
"Even I don't do that anymore! Yeah, I don't know if they are lovers or
not, or if whatever it is between them will last, but I do know that he is
not going to skip town and leave Cuddy alone with the children. Not
gonna happen."
   "But then, you see him through rose-coloured spectacles," Foreman
sneered.
   "What does the man have to do to get you to trust him?" Chase
wondered. "He has changed his life to accommodate Cuddy and the
kids; he has bought a house and brought his Mother and Aiko's Grand-
father in to live with them. He has hired a trained Nanny and even lets
the Nanny's boyfriend move in to keep everybody happy. For nearly a
year, or at least the better part of it, he has been a dedicated and loving
even if somewhat unconventional Daddy to Aiko. He was there for
Cuddy all through her pregnancy even during the delivery. Not even
once has he shown any signs of wanting things to go back the way they
were."
   "No?" Foreman asked. "Remember the Ruth Rawls episode?"
   "That had nothing to do with his children," Chase insisted. "Yeah, he
might have handled that differently, but if he and Cuddy aren't having
an affair or anything like that, he is free to seek other company, even one
night stands; though I think, given what happened last time, he won't be
doing that in a hurry again."
   "I still don't think he will stay the duration," Foreman was convinced.
"It's eighteen years at least!"



                                                                         203
   "Why not?" Cameron wondered. "He likes the hospital; he gets to do
his thing the way he wants which would not be the case anywhere else.
He has roots here, now. Friends, family, a house as Chase said. Where
would he go? Why would he go?"
   "He cannot stand responsibility," Foreman tried to explain. He couldn't
understand how the other two could be so blind. "He hates ties. Friends
and family - has he ever cared about them? He may have changed his
life, but he hasn't changed himself. When he gets tired of faking it, he'll
be gone."
   "You know what your problem is Foreman," Chase was starting to get
angry. "It's not that you are afraid of turning into House. You're afraid of
him turning into you! Just because you bailed out on your family does
not mean that he will bail out on his."
   "I don't have family," Foreman tried to laugh incredulously. "I have no
kids, no wife or whatever Dr Cuddy is to him. I haven't bailed out on
anyone."
   "No?" Chase sneered. "Not even your parents?"
   "I see my parents when I can," Foreman insisted getting angry. "And
talking of them, where's House's Dad?"
   "Right where he deserves to be," Cameron inserted. "I don't know
when the rift between them started or what caused it, but I'm sure it
wasn't House's fault. You've met the man! The way he treated Aiko is
more than enough to tell me all I want to know about him."
   "Besides, Blythe House doesn't seem like a woman who would leave
her husband without a very good reason," Chase pointed out. "I'm sure
that whatever John House got, John House deserved. Can you say the
same about your Dad, Foreman?"
   "My mother got ill," Foreman ground through his teeth. "She didn't de-
serve it. Nor does my Dad. But they are married and Dad does not take
his commitments lightly. What should he do in your opinion? Put Mom
into a home and go merrily on with his own life?"
   "Why not?" Chase shrugged. "That's what you have done. I mean,
yeah, the home is her own home and her nurse is her husband but those
are mere details. You call when you remember, you send money when
you can but you don't visit unless you Dad pretty much forces you to
meet her."
   "You don't understand," Foreman stared at Chase with almost murder
in his eyes. "She doesn't even know who I am when I call. I need to tell
her who I am pretty much every time, and even then she doesn't always




                                                                        204
understand what I'm saying. Visiting would just be too confusing for
her."
   "Really?" Chase scorned. "You think she remembers who your Dad is
any better? Just because he is around every day? You don't think that
every morning he doesn't need to tell her who he is; even who she is?
You think it gets any easier because you do it everyday? You don't think
he would need a break from that just once in a while? That he wouldn't
appreciate someone else taking care of her for just a day every now and
then?"
   "That's why I send him money," Foreman explained. "So that he can
hire someone."
   "I'm sure he feels real comfortable about leaving her with strangers,"
Chase replied snidely.
   "Hey, guys, easy! Stop before you say something you'll regret," Camer-
on tried to stop the fight but the men didn't pay any attention to her.
   "I'm a stranger to her!" Foreman yelled.
   "She may not remember you, but you are not a stranger," Chase told
him. "You are her son; and the main point is that your Dad knows that."
   "You don't understand," Foreman repeated. "You have no idea what
it's like to have your own parent not know who you are."
   "No?" Chase sneered. "I spent half my childhood with a mother so
stoned out with booze that half the time she didn't know where she was
let alone who either one of us was. But did I bail out on her?"
   "Oh!" Cameron gasped – again only to be ignored.
   "That is different," Foreman tried to insist. "Besides I don't even know
why we are talking about this. How do our experiences make any differ-
ence to what House will do?"
   "They don't," Chase agreed. "But then the conversation was actually
about why you don't want to see him for what he is, not about what he
will do."
   "Well, you have your opinion and I have mine," Foreman shrugged.
"Time will tell who is right."
   Chase stared at Foreman tightly for a second. "You know, you really
don't need to worry about turning into House," he said. "There is a fun-
damental difference between you two that will guarantee it."
   "And what might that be," Foreman snorted contemptuously.
   "No matter how hard you try; no matter how badly you want to; no
matter what you do: deep down you don't really care," Chase asserted.
"While House, no matter how badly he wants it and how hard he tries,
cannot not care."



                                                                       205
   "Oh yeah, he is a regular Mr. Caring!" Foreman scored. "Half the time
he doesn't even know who his patient is. Really caring."
   "Yes," Chase insisted. "It doesn't matter to him who the patient is. The
quality of his mercy does not depend on that. The patient can be young,
old, man, woman, rich, poor, nun or felon; that does not matter to him.
No matter who you are, if he takes you on, he will put you first. Nothing
matters but the patient."
   "He doesn't care about the patient," Foreman announced. "You're a
fool if you think that! All he cares about is the puzzle, and being right.
Once he has solved the puzzle, he couldn't care less about the patient."
   "I've seen differently," Chase said quietly. "And so have you, unless
you have wilfully closed your eyes, which I rather think you have done
because that is the only way you can justify yourself. You know you
have done wrong, you know you have practically abandoned your fam-
ily, but as long as you can tell yourself that at least you're not as bad as
House, you don't need to face all that. The problem is that you don't see
House as he is; you see him as you want to see him."
   "Are you sure you're not the one who sees him as you want and not as
he is?" Foreman barked at Chase. "He is an arrogant bastard who does
not care about anyone but himself."
   "What? Is there trouble in Paradise?" Suddenly they heard House's
voice from the doorway leading to the kitchen. "Are my little ducklings
fighting?"
   "It's nothing," Chase dismissed the argument. "Just a difference of
opinion. Not the first time with us."
   "I'm sure it's a regular thing," House humoured him. "That's why
Cameron seems to be on the verge of tears."
   "Am not!" Cameron denied hotly – though in fact she had been feeling
like crying with frustration.
   "Anyway, that's neither here nor there," House set aside the matter. "I
got a call from the hospital. Cameron, Chase, get ready to come with me.
We have a case."
   "About time," Foreman announced standing up.
   "Not you, Foreman," House told him.
   "What?" Foreman stared at him. "Are you punishing me for voicing
my opinion? Is this what I get for not liking you?"
   "If I had heard your opinion, I might, of course, punish you for it,"
House mused. "But I didn't. As for you not liking me, you never have so
for me to start holding it against you now, seems a little pointless. And
since when have I needed a reason to make your life miserable?"



                                                                        206
  "He has a point," Chase observed from the sidelines.
  "If what you say is true, then why am I excluded from the case?" Fore-
man wanted to know.
  "Because it would be ethically wrong to have you in it," House replied.
  "That didn't really answer my question," Foreman insisted. "Why
would it be wrong?"
  "Because the patient's name is Marcus Foreman," House dropped his
bomb stunning his ducklings into silence.




                                                                     207
Chapter    34
Damage assessment
"We shouldn't have left him," Cameron hissed at Chase trying to make
sure House couldn't hear her. "He must be so upset over this!"
   "Serves him right," Chase answered in his normal voice. He didn't care
if his voice carried to House's office or not. "Teaches him to be so holier
than thou about family. And I don't think he is so much upset over his
brother being ill as he is over him being here, in PPTH."
   "Chase! It's his brother," Cameron insisted.
   "Yeah, and did you even know he had one until now?" Chase queried.
   "Well, no, not really," Cameron shrugged. "I think I had a general idea
that he wasn't an only child and that there was a brother, at least, but I
didn't know his name or anything. But that is beside the point. Just be-
cause he hasn't been very forthcoming about his family, does not mean
he doesn't care about them."
   "True, that doesn't," Chase admitted. "But the way he reacted to
House's words, does. He was angry, not worried. He clearly did not
want his brother anywhere near him and he was upset that now every-
one at the hospital would know that he has a brother in prison."
   "But that's not his fault," Cameron was indignant. "So his brother has
made some bad choices; so what. It has nothing to do with Foreman. He
turned his life around and is now a respectable and respected doctor."
   "Even so, he is not comfortable having the not so respectable side of
his family so close by," Chase observed.
   "Ok, I get it, you're not in the least sympathetic towards him, but I still
think we should have brought him with us," Cameron wouldn't let go.
"Even if he can't take part in the differential he could have visited his
brother find out why he is here. House wasn't exactly a fountain of
information!"
   "That's because I didn't have any information," House inserted from
the doorway. He limped in with Marcus' file he had been reading in his
office. "Though Eric wasn't exactly pestering me with a lot of questions,



                                                                          208
either. I wonder why that was? I almost got the impression that he didn't
really care. But that could be just me."
   "And me," Chase muttered as he reached for the file House had flung
on the table.
   "He was upset," Cameron maintained. "You totally ambushed him
with the information that his brother was in the hospital."
   "So I did," House smiled. "And wasn't his face something!"
   "Can't you show any sympathy?" Cameron huffed. "His brother could
be dying!"
   "We are all dying," House observed dryly. "Some are just doing it
faster than others. Of course, if Marcus is dying really fast, I have to
make sure to tell Foreman so that he can have his warm and fuzzy mo-
ment with his dying brother."
   "That is a horrible thing to say!" Cameron accused.
   "Maybe," House didn't really sound like he cared. "When he thought I
was dying, he felt the need to tell me that he likes me, to have the oblig-
atory, conventional, expected reconciliation scene with the dying man.
He needed it to feel better about himself. That I didn't want it – and I
would not have wanted it even if I actually had been dying – didn't mat-
ter to him. He did what is expected. And if Marcus is dying he will do the
same with him, though he hates his brother almost as much as he hates
me."
   "I wouldn't say he hates you," Chase protested.
   "No?" House raised his eyebrow at Chase. "I quite thought that was
what your argument with him was all about today."
   "There is a difference in hating someone and not liking him," Chase
pointed out. "He finds you annoying and he may even hate the kind of
human being he thinks you are, but that is not the same as hating you."
   "You're splitting hairs," House said patronisingly. "But if it makes you
happy, be my guest. Though I do notice you are not denying that he
hates his brother. But don't let that interfere with the diagnosis. Not that
we will have a lot of diagnosing to do with this case. More like damage
assessment."
   "What do you mean?" Cameron wanted to know as she pulled the file
from Chase's hands ("Hey! I was reading that!").
   "He has used pretty much every drug there is out there," House ex-
plained. "Plenty of fighting; he's been shot twice, several knife wounds,
lots of breaks and bruises, a few concussions… Rough life all in all."
   "So what do we do?" Chase asked.




                                                                        209
   "Get as much information as possible," House shrugged. "I want to see
what his brains, his heart, his liver and kidneys look like. Not very hot, I
should imagine."
   "Why did they send him here," Chase asked. "I mean why is he not in
the sick ward in the prison?"
   "Because they suspect something is wrong with his brain and they
don't have the equipment to test for it there," House said.
   "What were his symptoms then?" Cameron asked.
   "According to the report he has always been aggressive and almost al-
ways right in the middle of every fight, but usually there has been a reas-
on no matter how small," House described. "Now he was having fits of
rage without any apparent reason. He has also had episodes of confu-
sion, short memory loss and absent seizures."
   "Right, we'll do whatever tests we can think of," Chase shrugged and
got up.
   "Schedule an MRI for his brain," House instructed.
   "Doesn't he have tattoos that would cause problems?" Cameron asked.
"Prison tattoos are often magnetic."
   "I doubt he has any on his head," House mused. "And if he has, tell
him to bite the bullet and suffer like a man."
   "You said he is aggressive… " Chase suddenly remembered.
   "He has a guard with him and you have my permission to sedate him
as long as it doesn't interfere with the results," House threw over his
shoulder as he limped back into his office.
   "Why were we called in," Cameron called after him before he quite
made it into his office. "This does not look like a case you'd normally be
interested in. There really isn't any indication of a puzzle of any sort."
   "There is a court order that says we have to take him," House sighed.
"This hospital, I mean, not us specifically. Sheridan was all for assigning
him to another doctor, but Miss Hill told him to ask me first as I have no
other patients right now. It's more than likely that there will be no med-
ical puzzle to solve, but I'm more interested in the fact that he is
Foreman's brother. Eric's reactions are most entertaining." With that
House closed his door.
   "You know," Chase pondered. "I'm beginning to see why Foreman
can't really stand him some of the time."
   Once Chase and Cameron had left to get the tests House dialled a
number on his phone. Once it was picked up in the other end he identi-
fied himself.
   "Mr Foreman, This is Dr House."



                                                                        210
   "Dr House! Is something wrong with my son?" Foreman's father asked
worried.
   "Eric is fine," House replied. "It's your other son, Marcus, that I'm call-
ing about. He has just been brought in and I'm his doctor. He is not in
any imminent danger, so no need for alarm, but his general condition is
not very good."
   "He has been in fights again then?" Rodney Foreman sighed.
   "I understand that that is normal for him, but it is not what brought
him in this time," House explained. "He is having periods of disorienta-
tion, memory loss and other indications that not everything is quite right
in his brains. Of course it's possible that we are dealing with an old in-
jury sustained in a fight, but as yet I don't know enough. We haven't had
time to run any tests yet."
   "I better come over there, then, if my son needs me," Rodney Foreman
concluded.
   "Right now I think your wife needs you more than your son," House
told him. "I will keep you posted and once I know more I will be able to
tell you when and if you are needed here. I will make sure that he has a
phone in his room so that you can call him. Given his situation he won't
be able to call you and the calls needs to be screened, but I'm sure you
don't mind?"
   "I know he has done wrong," Rodney sighed. "He did not go into pris-
on for no reason. So whatever they need to do they need to do. But he is
still my son. I appreciate your call and I will take your advice. I will call
my son when I can."
   "Good," House prepared to end the call.
   "Is Eric with him now?" Rodney asked before House could hang up.
   "Right now?" House stalled for time a little. "No, not right now. My
team is doing tests on Marcus and as Eric is a close relative he cannot be
part of that. So right now he is not with Marcus."
   "Thank you, Dr House," Rodney uttered. "But there is no need to cover
for my son. I know Eric very well. I love him dearly, but I know he is not
a very forgiving man. Not to others, not even to himself."
   "I may have noticed something like that in him," House appreciated.
   "I suppose he takes after me in that," Rodney mused sadly.
   "Really?" House was surprised. "I would have thought you were very
good at forgiving."
   "I'm not so sure," Rodney doubted. "I'm better at resignation. It may
seem like the same thing, but it isn't. I've prayed about it, but … Well,




                                                                          211
never mind that. I'm sure you are not really interested in that. I will let
you get back to your work. Thank you, Dr House, for calling me."
   "Part of the job," House lied shamelessly. "I'm sure Eric will be in touch
with you soon, too. Good night." He hung up. As he looked up from the
phone he saw Miss Hill at the door.
   "You called Foreman's father yourself?" Anna wondered.
   "He's a good man," House shrugged. "And as Cuddy isn't here to do
the calling, I though I'd do it. I've met him and this kinds of news comes
better from someone you know - and he seems to trust me."
   "I would have thought Eric would have been the natural choice to call
his father," Anna suggested.
   "I'm sure he will," House agreed. "I'm just not sure when he gets round
to it. He has issues right now."
   "Eric Foreman has the potential to be a very good doctor and a very
good human being," Anna stated. "If he can only dig his head out of his
own ass."
   "Ooo," House smiled. "That was pretty hard ass-essment of the man!
Mind you, I don't care about his humanity, but I do agree with you on
the good doctor part of your opinion. He is still too conscious about ap-
pearances, about how others see him and his actions, to be all he can be
as a doctor. His ambitions and insecurities still cloud his judgement
some of the time."
   "I think he does know that," Anna pronounced. "That is why he is
sometimes so angry at you. You make him conscious of it."
   "I suppose," House nodded. "And now that his brother is here, we can
expect a lot more of his insecurities to surface and he'll be even angrier
than before."
   "Well, if he thinks he can take his anger out on me, he will have anoth-
er thought coming," Anna declared. "But enough of him. I wanted to
know how Lisa is doing?"
   "Better," House told her. "A little sad still, but at least I managed to
convince her that it wasn't her fault. And also that we are not alone in
this - thankfully."
   "And how are you doing?" Anna queried.
   "Wondering what the Hell I was thinking at the time to see it as a good
idea to give Cuddy her kid," House sighed with feeling. "But here we are
and we better make the best of it we can."
   "I don't have children," Anna stated the obvious. "So I'm really not an
expert, but from what I have seen of you and Lisa and when I compare
that to other families I know and other people who have children, I think



                                                                         212
you will do just fine." With that she left House alone in his office - a little
stunned at this endorsement from the dragon.




                                                                           213
Chapter    35
The Apple of His Eye
"Green Apple? You're sure?" House asked Aiko who nodded, like she
understood the question – and she probably did since House was doing
the asking. "Green Apple it is then. Mind you, you were right about the
Citrus and the Peach too so good job Little Love."
   House was standing at the changing table in the green nursery with
Greer on a towel on the table and Aiko in a bouncer next to them. Greer
had just had her bath and House was getting ready to spread scented oil
on her – which he had already done for Ben and Priya. Aiko had been
with him all the time choosing the scents for each of her new siblings
(citrus for Ben and peach for Priya). House divided his attention between
Aiko and the baby, talking to both, asking Aiko's opinion on things. Aiko
was still a little dubious about these new additions to her family, espe-
cially as they seemed to need a lot of attention and care from the rest of
her family, but House insisted that even during this one day that the
triplets had been home, Aiko was already getting used to them. Though
she did seem a little disconcerted about Cuddy's tummy which was
much smaller now and no longer moving!
   Once House had finished oiling Greer (and singing to her, and testing
her reflexes) he turned to Aiko, put some oil on her hand and helped her
rub it on Greer's shoulder, like she had done with Ben and Priya, too, to
finish the job, as House explained.
   "There, now she's all done," House approved. "Don't you think so too,
Greer? Do you like the scent your sister picked for you? I hope so, be-
cause you're going to smell like that tomorrow too. Now, all we need to
do is to wrap you up in a nice warm package and then we can return you
to MamaLisa. How's that for a plan? Ok with you, too Aiko?"
   House put the diaper on Greer and got her ready for the night other-
wise too and once he was done, he sat down in his wheelchair, wrapped
Aiko against him first and then Greer and then he wheeled himself into
the yellow room, which was where the triplets were sleeping for now.



                                                                      214
Cuddy was there with Kasumii seeing to Ben and Priya. They hadn't
quite got the routine down, yet, but they didn't worry about it too much,
as Kasumii expected it to take at least a week anyway.
   "Here we are," House announced as he wheeled himself in. "All nice
and scented and ready for bed."
   "All of you?" Cuddy smiled.
   "If that was an invitation, I'm game," House shot back.
   "You know perfectly well that it was nothing of the sort," Cuddy
glared at him. "Apart from the fact that it's only nine days since I gave
birth, I'm also not insane."
   "Aww, that was harsh," House pouted. "Oh, did I mention that I'm tak-
ing Aiko to work tomorrow?"
   "No," Cuddy turned to frown at him. "You didn't. Why?"
   "Apart from the fact that she needs some quality time with me to re-
cover from the arrival of her siblings," House mimicked Cuddy's tone a
little. "I need her for the interviews as well."
   "Oh, yes, it's tomorrow," Cuddy remembered. "How is your team re-
acting to you bringing in a new fellow? I didn't have time to talk about
that today, not with everything… "
   "You know, I think I may have forgotten to mention it to them," House
mused innocently.
   "What!" Cuddy did a pretty good job of yelling at him without raising
her voice – she couldn't as they were with the kids. "You're going to am-
bush them with it? What are you doing? They will think you're trying to
hurry them along. That you want them to leave as soon as possible."
   "Well, not as soon as possible," House shrugged. "But I told them three
months ago that I would push them out in six. They haven't done any-
thing to indicate that they are making any plans of their own so I need to
remind them that they only have three months left."
   "You know I was wondering why it was so easy to get you to start on
the interviews this time," Cuddy glared at him. "I just never realised that
you did it only to screw with your current team! Are you forgetting that
they are important to Aiko and the Trips?"
   "No, I'm not forgetting that," House said. "But I'm also remembering
that they have lives of their own as well! They need to start thinking
about their careers, about what they really do want to do for the rest of
their lives. I'm not kicking them out of the family. I'm just pushing them
into fulfilling their own potential."
   "Was that what you were doing to Eric, too, today?" Cuddy
demanded.



                                                                       215
   "Now don't go giving me god-like powers again," House accused. "I
had nothing to do with Marcus Foreman becoming a patient of ours.
Well, apart from accepting him as my patient, but I didn't do anything to
make him ill or to make the prison send him to us."
   "I know that," Cuddy stated. "And I wouldn't have expected you to let
anyone else take him, not when he is Eric's brother; you wouldn't trust
anyone else with him. I'm talking about the way you told Eric about it
and the way you just left him out of the team."
   "He cannot be his brother's doctor!" House pointed out. "That would
be most unethical, and I thought you were all for ethics."
   "I am," Cuddy admitted. "You, however, are not. Look, the kids are
settling down, give Aiko to Kasumii and we will take this conversation
downstairs. I'm sure your mother has a word or two to say to you about
your behaviour."
   "Mother would not dream of telling me how to do my job," House an-
nounced huffily, knowing full well that that was not the real issue
Cuddy was talking about. However, he did comply with Cuddy's re-
quest and gave Aiko to Kasumii to follow Cuddy downstairs – without
his wheelchair, which he left into the nursery.
   Blythe was in the kitchen drinking tea with Dr Higa and Grey but
when Cuddy and House got there she told them to take their argument
to another room. She did tell House that she hoped he knew what he was
doing with Eric, but other than that, she had no comment. As instructed
Cuddy and House took themselves into the living room to continue their
discussion.
   "See, I told you Mom wouldn't interfere," House gloated.
   "Just because she is still reserving her judgement about your actions
does not mean she won't interfere at a later date if she thinks it's mer-
ited," Cuddy insisted. "But that is beside the point. What I want to talk
about now is what I think of your behaviour. Why did you leave Eric be-
hind? I know he cannot be in charge of the case when it's his brother, but
why are you excluding him entirely? You didn't stay out of it when Aiko
was ill and you did all the tests on Greer yourself. Why are you being so
unreasonable with Eric? Even if he were unable to contribute to the dia-
gnosis or treatment, at least he would know what is going on and he
could be there for his brother."
   "I didn't ban him from the sickroom," House pointed out. "He can visit
his brother as much as he wants. He had his own car; he could have fol-
lowed us to the hospital and go to Marcus. But did he?"




                                                                      216
   "After the way you treated him?" Cuddy defended Foreman. "Did you
expect him to?"
   "No," House stated. "And that is my point. He didn't even ask if he
could. Don't you think that's a little odd? I would have expected the
Foreman I know to tell me to go screw myself and then leave to stay by
his brother's bedside no matter what I said or ordered. That is, had it
been someone he cares about."
   "Marcus is his brother!" Cuddy exclaimed. "Of course he cares."
   "Actually, I'm sure he does," House admitted. "But in this case things
aren't as easy as that. Foreman has a lot of issues about his family, his
background even his past that he has never dealt with. Having his broth-
er here, possibly dying means that he needs to deal with at least some of
them. And that will not be comfortable."
   "But do you need to make it harder for him?" Cuddy demanded.
   "I'm not doing that, not really," House prevaricated. "I may push a
little, but nothing I do will really make any difference. Foreman needs to
deal with this. Even Miss Hill thinks he is not fulfilling his potential be-
cause of his issues with his past."
   "Anna? She said that about Eric?" Cuddy wondered.
   "I believe her opinion was that Foreman needs to get his head out of
his ass to become a good doctor and a good human being," House re-
membered. "I don't really care about that human being part, but he is
definitely not fulfilling his potential as a doctor because he is too con-
scious about what people think of him."
   "But people think well of him!" Cuddy was mystified. "He doesn't
need to go out of his way to be respected and liked. Sure, not all like him,
but then that is the case with most people."
   "That's where we come to his background," House explained. "You can
take a boy out of the ghetto but you cannot take the ghetto out of the
boy. Sure, there are others who have come from the ghetto and it hasn't
stopped them. But they have come to terms with their background. Some
have left it behind and truly see it as irrelevant, others are proud of it
and what they have achieved despite of it, some make it their life project
to help others there… you have seen it. But Foreman has not made peace
with it yet. He still feels that somehow he has cheated his way out of
there and someday someone will catch him on his lie and send him
back."
   "If that is how he feels, and you know that, why are you always throw-
ing his past into his face?" Cuddy wanted to know. "If it's that difficult
for him, why are you turning the knife?"



                                                                        217
   "To make him see that there is no wound," House decided to play
Cuddy's metaphor. "I keep telling him that I know all about him, his
past, his present, his deeds – bad and good, but have I ever told him to
go back where he belongs? Have I ever treated him differently from my
Wombat or my Fluffy Bunny?"
   "Are you trying to tell me that for three years you have been telling
him that the secret is out and nobody cares, but he still hasn't got it?"
Cuddy stared.
   "Pretty much," House nodded. "But you see, that's where the having his
head up his own ass part comes in. So we need bigger ammunition and
now we have it. Mind you, even this might not help, but we'll see."
   "Ok," Cuddy bit her lip. "I suppose I have to let you try. Just remem-
ber: if you break him, you bought him!"
   "Hey, that's slavery!" House exclaimed indignantly. "That would be
illegal."
   "You know very well what I meant," Cuddy said as she turned to go
back to the kitchen. "If you break him, you will be responsible for gluing
him back together again."
   "Right, let's hope he's not Humpty Dumpty then," House muttered a
little frustrated, though he had sort of expected this reaction from
Cuddy. That was why he had been hoping he didn't need to explain but
he had really known that was a vain hope. Now that they were living in
the same house he really couldn't escape Cuddy when she really wanted
to find him. And since they also needed to understand each other better
in general, because if they didn't co-parenting would be even more diffi-
cult than it was going to be anyway, he knew he needed to open up more
to her now. Well, the kids were worth it. They were worth all the
changes he had made and would need to make still. He just hoped he
would be able to keep it up. That didn't mean, though, that he couldn't
have fun with Eric and his soul-searching. House was grinning when he,
too, limped back into to kitchen.
   Next day Foreman was late for work. Cameron was all concern over it,
but Chase just shrugged and said that Foreman needed get over himself.
As soon as Foreman did get to work he (with a very short I'm fine to
Cameron) went to the clinic saying that he didn't want to deal with
House yet, so when House got to work at his usual time he found only
two of his ducklings present. He didn't seem to mind, he just sent them
to finish the tests on Marcus Foreman and then he went into his own of-
fice with Aiko (who had greeted Chase and Cameron with enthusiasm




                                                                      218
stalling the lecture that Cameron was obviously burning to give to
House).
   House was lying on the floor on his back listening to music and play-
ing with Aiko (who currently was sitting on his chest; always a favourite
spot with her) when he heard someone say from the door:
   "Is this the fearsome Dr House I see before me?"
   He looked up and saw John Henry Giles standing tall at the door.
   "The one and only," House responded. "I see you have gained full use
of your legs now."
   "I have," Giles nodded. "And my air."
   "So I have heard," House agreed. "In fact, aren't you playing some-
where near here tonight?"
   "I am," Giles admitted walking to House's desk and leaning against it
while looking down at House and Aiko. "Which is why I'm here. Well,
why I'm here is because my manager managed to break her wrist and we
came here to get it treated. But in Princeton because I'm playing."
   "Broken wrist," House repeated. "Do you want me to look at it?"
   "No, thank you," Giles smiled. "It's a simple fracture and Dr Foreman
is seeing to it. But I was told to wait outside so I thought I'd take a
chance and see if I can find you."
   "And gloat about your regained mobility?" House suggested.
   "Not gloat," Giles corrected. "Just show you that you were completely
right."
   "I knew that already," House pointed out without even a shred of
modesty.
   "I know," Giles responded dryly. "But I have to say that Daddy House
took me quite by surprise. This was possibly the last thing I expected to
find when I decided to come. Baby-sitting isn't something one would ex-
pect you to do, and yet you seem to be natural."
   "I don't know about natural," House mused. "But I have learned which
is a good thing since I have three more of these at home; though the
triplets are only ten days old so I won't be taking them to work with me
for a few more weeks yet."
   "Your children? Four?" Giles looked stupefied.
   "Long story, but the short version is that I inherited Aiko from friends
who died in a car crash," House explained. "Then Dr Cuddy needed help
in getting pregnant, I offered and that was supposed to be that until we
found out that she was expecting triplets and it seemed a little hard to
leave her deal with them alone so we made arrangements that allow us
to co-parent all the kids."



                                                                       219
  "It seems like you have your hands full then," Giles noted. "Does that
mean that the tickets I was going to offer you for tonight won't be
accepted?"
  "Were you going to offer them or are you just saying so now that it
seems safe?" House queried.
  "I am offering them," Giles said seriously. "Do what you want with
them. Give them to a friend or sell them on the e-bay. I'd like to see you
there, but it's up to you." Giles set the tickets on the desk.
  "Thank you," House said. "I'll see if I can make it. Cuddy could use a
break and we do have reliable help. We'll see. And if I can't come, I'll
probably give the tickets to my mother. She likes you too."
  "Fine by me," Giles nodded standing up. "I'll leave you to your, well I
don't know if I can say work but whatever it is you are doing."
  "I'm waiting for someone to come and interview for a position in my
team," House revealed.
  "Someone in your team is leaving?" Giles frowned. "Dr Foreman didn't
say anything."
  "They are all leaving," House stated. "The fellowship is for three years
and they have all been with me that long. Of course, they are not all leav-
ing like tomorrow, but I thought it would be beneficial to have at least
one of the new team work with the old one for a while so I'm
interviewing."
  "So your team is busy looking for jobs then," Giles pondered.
  "Not terribly busy," House denied. "They are now House-trained so
they can pretty much write their own ticket."
  "Interesting," Giles said neutrally. "But never mind, I did what I came
to do and I'll get out of your hair. Thank you for my legs and my air. If
there is anything I can do for you in the future, let me know. I owe you."
  "No you don't," House stated. "But I'll still keep it in mind."
  "Daddy House," Giles shook his head in wonderment as he walked
out. "Who would have thought."




                                                                       220
Chapter    36
If the shoe fits
House was still lying on the floor, though now Aiko was crawling
around him, when his first hopeful candidate walked into his office. Ac-
tually she was his only candidate, but she didn't know that.
   Doctor Perta Gilmar walked into House's office a little unsure about
why she was here again. She had tried for the position once before, two
years ago, and had thought that the interview went rather well, only to
find out that House had rehired his previous fellow. She presumed that
Doctor Cameron had to be an outstanding doctor and had obviously
driven a hard bargain – and the interviews had only been a strategy on
House's part. She partly resented having been used that way, but then,
that was par for the course in hospital politics. You learned to live with
them, though you didn't like them. The previous interview rankled a
little still, but on the other hand, House was a legend of no mean propor-
tions! If she managed to survive this fellowship – and the current three
doctors House had in his team were the first who ever had – she could
go anywhere. However, finding the said legend prone on the floor with a
baby (about nine months she estimated) crawling all over him was some-
what disconcerting.
   "Take a seat," House told her without really looking at her. "Unless
you want me to look up your skirt, of course. I have no objections, but
some might think it a little unprofessional."
   "Thank you," Petra said not batting an eye, ignoring the rest of House's
sentence and just reacting to the first part. She sat down in a chair that
still allowed her eye contact with House – that is, had House really
looked at her.
   "So what makes you think I should hire you?" House asked. "Apart
from the fact that you grew up with four brothers and think that you can
handle me, that is."
   That made Petra blink; she hadn't thought that House remembered the
previous interview. She didn't let it faze her, though: "I think I'm a good



                                                                       221
doctor and though I can definitely learn from you, I'm sure I can also
contribute to the work you do."
   "No you can't," House stated categorically. "Your papers do indicate
that you might eventually become a good doctor, but dismiss the
thought that your contribution to my work is something a cage full of
monkeys couldn't do as well. I think out loud; if I do it without audience
they will lock me up in a padded cell. Mind you, there are times when
they want to do it anyway. The only use I have for fellows is that my ten-
ure depends on them: I need to teach to keep my job."
   "If that is the case, why did you interview me two years ago?" Petra
wanted to know. "You had two fellows left, why not fill Dr Cameron's
place with a monkey and be done with it? Or does your tenure specify the
number of fellows you need to have?"
   "No, my contract does not do that," House pulled Aiko closer as she
was trying to crawl out of reach. "But Dr Cuddy was of the opinion that I
needed three fellows and since she is the Head of this hospital and I had
just cost a hundred million bucks to her, I didn't feel I was in a position
to refuse. So I interviewed. Fortunately I found a way to rehire Dr
Cameron, so I was eventually only minimally inconvenienced."
   "A hundred million dollars?" Petra gasped. "Dr Cuddy had a choice
between you and a hundred million dollars and she chose you? I… "
   "Boggles the mind doesn't it?" House agreed. "However, she had
already chosen the money and was getting ready to fire me, but then
things happened and… Well, anyway, I was not her favourite person for
a while there. But then, I rarely am."
   "I see," based on their previous meeting Petra had assumed that she
could handle House and anything he had to say, but apparently there
was more to the man than she had originally assumed. Mind you, the
sight of a baby girl treating him as her personal mountain was enough to
throw anyone for a loop: the stories that you heard about House made
you rather think he ate babies for breakfast.
   House noticed the puzzled looks Dr Gilmar was giving Aiko and he
smiled inwardly: "So, how are you with babies then?"
   "Babies?" Petra couldn't quite see how that was relevant but decided to
answer anyway: "I have two nieces and two nephews and I get along
with them just fine. They are older now, but I did baby-sit them when
they were little."
   "Good," House rejoiced and dropped the bomb: "Because I have three
more of these at home and once Dr Cuddy's maternity leave runs out the
kiddies will be coming to work with me until I'm sure their immune



                                                                       222
system can handle day care. Of course, Aiko is the one I'm most worried
about as she has only just recovered from Blastomycosis, but the triplets
were premature so we need to be careful with them as well for a while."
   "Are you telling me that baby-sitting will be part of my duties?" Petra
frowned.
   "If I deem you reliable enough, yes," House stated self-evidently. "We
do have a Nanny and we are hiring an assistant to her, but extra help is
still needed with four babies. Everybody chips in."
   "We?" Petra was getting too confused with this interview that was so
different – yet so similar – to the one before that she just asked the first
thing that came to her mind.
   "Dr Cuddy and I," House informed her. "Dr Cuddy is the mother of
my triplets. Aiko, however, is just mine. She is adopted. The rest of the
gossip you just have to get from other sources."
   "Oh," Petra sighed.
   "So are you ready to start tomorrow?" House asked.
   "You're hiring me?" Petra gasped.
   "That is what start tomorrow usually means," House pronounced
clearly. "Try to keep up with me girl."
   "Yes, I can start tomorrow," Petra stated deciding to ignore the insults.
   "Good," House nodded getting up from the floor though Aiko did
protest when she lost her mountain. "Wear sensible shoes. Come on, I'll
show you to the team." House lifted Aiko into his arms and took a few
careful steps with her to the door opening it. "Cameron, come get Aiko!"
He called.
   Cameron did as House asked giving a curious look to Petra. Once she
had Aiko safely in her arms she carried her to the play pen they had in
the conference room. House followed her and Petra followed House. Be-
fore he could introduce the new doctor to Chase and Cameron, Foreman
came back from his clinic duty. As soon as he caught sight of House it
was apparent that he hadn't calmed down from the previous day. In fact,
he looked even angrier than before.
   "You called my father," Foreman accused immediately totally ignoring
everyone else in the room.
   "No I didn't," House shot back immediately.
   "He told me that you did," Foreman growled.
   "Oh, you mean your father," House pretended to remember suddenly.
"Yeah, I did call him. Horrible of me, I admit, I don't know what I was
thinking. Just because his son is my patient is no reason for me to call
him."



                                                                        223
   "You never do!" Foreman nearly yelled. He would have yelled, but he
saw Aiko just in time to lower his tone. "And he thinks you are going to
keep him posted, too."
   "I am," House shrugged. "Is there a problem there?"
   "He trusts you!" Foreman hissed. "You never keep your promises, you
habitually lie to the patient's family, you … you… I'm the one who needs
to pick up the pieces here!"
   "I keep the promises I want to keep," House pointed out. "And since
your father does trust me, and will accept my recommendations for your
brother's care, I don't need to lie to him. I respect your father Foreman. I
will keep him posted."
   "You told him that he doesn't need to come here," Foreman accused.
"And he just complied!"
   "He is taking care of your mother as you well know," House reminded
Foreman. "Right now he is not needed here, but if the situation changes I
will alert him."
   "This is my family you're messing with!" Foreman ground at him
through his teeth.
   "No, it's not your family I'm messing with," House denied. "Just you.
And I seem to be doing a pretty good job. You are not upset because I
called your father, you are upset because I didn't tell you I was going to,
so that when you finally got round to calling him yourself you found
that he already knows and all your carefully worded reasons why he
doesn't need to come here right now were wasted because he had
already accepted my word for it."
   "You… I don't like you," Foreman was so angry that he couldn't even
find words to express it – at least not with Aiko in the same room.
   "I know," House patronised. "The thought of that keeps me awake at
nights."
   "I bet," Chase muttered from his seat at the table where he was doing
his crosswords.
   "Right, now that we have established that, can I possibly introduce
you to Dr Petra Gilmar?" House wanted to know.
   "Hi, I'm Allison Cameron," Cameron tried to defuse the atmosphere in
the room by being polite. "Are you consulting or just visiting?" she
asked.
   "Gilmar is my new fellow," House gloated. "She is the first one of the
new team that will replace you all."




                                                                        224
   "You're hiring already?" Foreman had only just got his previous anger
under control and now this new piece of information nearly set him off
again. "We haven't even given you notice yet."
   "I didn't think I needed to wait for that since I told you three months
ago that you had six months to get your asses out of here," House
shrugged. "Now, of course, you only have three months left of that time."
   "Are you going to hire the rest of them before we go, too?" Chase
asked curiously. "Just thinking that this room could get a bit crowded."
   "No, the other two I will find once you are gone," House told him.
   "Ok," Chase accepted. "I suppose it makes sense that at least one of
them has a chance to benefit from our experiences first. I'm Robert
Chase, welcome."
   "Thanks," Petra didn't quite know how what else to say. It seemed that
her arrival had been a complete surprise to House's fellows, though Dr
Chase seemed to accept her presence without a problem.
   "Gilmar starts tomorrow but you can show her around right now if
you have some interesting test results for me," House announced
magnanimously.
   "Yeah, I think I do," Chase grimaced. He took a file and gave it to
House: "You said to test for anything and everything we can think of.
And the MRI was done this morning so those images are there, too."
   "Fine, you can go then," House nodded already reading the test res-
ults. "Oh, one thing Dr Gilmar, or actually it is two things. Having failed
to caution my previous team against it, I've decided not to make the
same mistake again. First, no falling in love with me… "
   "I'm over you!" Cameron exclaimed.
   "But the shoe seems to fit still," House remarked snidely. "And the
second thing is: no sleeping with colleagues"
   "We stopped doing it," Chase muttered.
   "Yeah, and it was the stopping that interfered with your work," House
explained. "And it always does stop!"
   "I don't think there is any danger that I will break either one of your
rules," Petra announced feeling that House had a rather inflated idea of
his own attractiveness – even if Dr Cameron had, for some reason, ap-
parently had feelings for him.
   "That's what they all say," House mourned. "Of course, Dr Wilson is
fair game, if you want. He is between wives right now. And he is a nice
Jewish boy – apart from being a serial polygamist, that is."
   "Thank you for your advice," Gilmar replied with exaggerated polite-
ness. "I will keep it in mind."



                                                                       225
   "Do that," House smiled gleefully. "Now shoo, all of you. I have work
to do."
   Chase and Cameron did leave with Petra to show her around but Fore-
man refused to leave. He gave House a stubborn stare and said:
   "I presume your work is about my brother?"
   "True," House admitted. "But you're not his doctor."
   "I still have the right to know," Eric insisted.
   "Actually, you don't," House pointed out. "Your brother is conscious
and capable of making his own decisions so you need his permission to
get this information." Eric glared at House like he wanted to strangle
him. House relented; he didn't want the younger man to burst a blood
vessel or something. "However, since you are a doctor in this hospital,
and part of my team you can access this information any time you want
regardless, so for me to keep it from you is rather pointless. Not that any
of this will make you happy." He gave the results to Foreman.
   Foreman read the file and looked at the images: "Early onset
Alzheimer's."
   "We need to do a few more tests, but yes, that is the logical conclu-
sion," House nodded. "Probably facilitated by those concussions he has
suffered and of course his substance abuse."
   "And genetics," Foreman pointed out.
   "Yes," House agreed. "But without the head trauma and the drugs it
would have taken longer to develop."
   "So what now?" Suddenly Foreman felt totally drained. He wasn't
angry anymore; he felt numb.
   "That I will have to talk over with your brother," House pointed out.
   "Yeah, I suppose so," Foreman accepted.
   "I better go and do it now," House sighed. "Can you stay with Aiko? I
don't think I ought to take her with me for this visit."
   "No, that would probably not be a good idea," Foreman agreed. "I'll
stay with her. And Cameron will probably be back soon as well."
   "Good," House nodded and left the room leaving Eric to Aiko's care.




                                                                       226
Chapter    37
Brother, where art thou
House limped into Marcus' room past the officer standing guard at the
door. Marcus was in bed, as was expected since he was handcuffed to it.
He looked bored and angry. And a lot like Foreman, only older – more
than the three years between them really merited. He looked more like
47 than 37.
   "Great! Another whitey! Don't you have any black doctors in this here
hospital?" Marcus scorned.
   "Yeah, but since we fear they might help you escape, they are not al-
lowed anywhere near you," House told him. "We know how you homies
always stick together."
   "Hah," Marcus gave a short laugh. "At least you don't try to go all
sensitive on me. I haven't seen you before have I? Who the hell are you?"
   "I'm actually your doctor, the one in charge," House said. "The ones
you've seen so far are just my minions. I'm House."
   "House," the name seemed to give Marcus a pause. "My brother's
House?"
   "That almost sounds like you were talking about a building," House
couldn't resist pointing out. "So in that sense, no. But yes, Eric is one of
my minions. However, as he is your brother he is not allowed to be in-
volved in your treatment."
   "Does that mean he is not allowed to come see me either?" Marcus de-
manded. "Or is it that you fear he will be sure to help me escape as he is
not just a brother but really my brother?"
   "Not as far as I know," House revealed. "But he is having hypocrisy
issues."
   "He always was a hypocrite," Marcus scorned, but there was hurt un-
der his tone.
   "Not really," Hose mused. "He does sometimes fail to see how his ac-
tions might not quite match his previous words, but all in all hypocrisy
hasn't been his problem. It's more that he fears the appearance of it so



                                                                        227
much that it sometimes blinds him to the real issue. See, there you are
languishing in prison and Eric doesn't write, doesn't come see you, has
pretty much written you off as a bad bargain. Then you go and land
yourself as a patient in his hospital and he doesn't quite see how he
could suddenly start hovering over your fevered brow like there's no to-
morrow without looking like a hypocrite."
   "And what, in your great, white wisdom do you see he fails to see
here?" Marcus asked with heavy sarcasm.
   "That bad bargain or not, you're still his brother," House stated. "And
he cannot change that, like it or not."
   "Bah," Marcus huffed dismissively. "Did you come here to just chat or
do you have anything interesting to tell me. Like what's wrong with me."
   "I suspect plenty," House observed. "But yes, I do know what is medic-
ally wrong with you."
   "So, get on with it!" Marcus demanded. "Tell me what it is and then get
me out of here. I may not like prison but at least there I can move around
more."
   "Well, you're not going back for a couple of days, but I'm sure you'll be
happy to know that now that I have the diagnosis we can move you to
the psych ward. We have nice padded and padlocked rooms there and
you can stay in one until we are ready to let you go," House promised.
   "If you have the diagnosis, why do I need to stay? Do you need to op-
erate or something?" Marcus wanted to know.
   "No, but we need to start specific medication and we need to check
that you won't have any immediate adverse reactions to them," House
informed him. "You are suffering from Alzheimer's."
   Marcus stared at House for a long time letting the word sink in: "Like
my mother?"
   "Yes, like your mother," House agreed.
   "But I'm only 37! It's old people's illness," Marcus insisted.
   "In most cases, yes, but there is a variation that affects young people as
well," House clarified. "Youngest known case was 29 so you don't even
set a record yet. You medical record would suggest that your case has
been speeded up by the earlier concussions and your drug habit."
   "So you're telling me this is all my own fault?" Marcus accused.
   "Well, your lifestyle has definitely contributed to the fact that it's start-
ing this early, but other than that, you had no say in this," House said.
   "You know, some of those concussions I got from white cops," Marcus
complained – mostly to fill in the silence and avoid thinking.




                                                                           228
   "Cops can be like that," House shrugged earning an interested look
from Marcus.
   "Most whiteys want to know what I did to deserve it," Marcus
commented.
   "Well, I'm not most whiteys and I'm also not quite the favourite person
of the cops either," House noted. "It's not that long ago one of them was
after me."
   "You're a famous doctor," Marcus wondered. "I would have thought
you could get away with pretty much anything. Why would he come
after you?"
   "I forgot a thermometer in an inappropriate place," House confessed.
   "What could be inappropriate enough to get a cops attention?" Marcus
sneered.
   "Up his ass," House remarked earning a short laugh from Marcus.
   "That I would have liked to have seen," he sighed.
   "I must confess, that even with everything that followed it still is a
fond memory," House smiled. "Do you think you have stalled enough
now? Are you ready to talk about your medical condition?"
   "Alzheimer's, huh," Marcus said almost to himself. "So they finally
managed to beat some docility into me."
   "My guess would be not," House contradicted. "If you're thinking of
your mother, her docility is not a result of her illness. Alzheimer's
doesn't usually cause personality changes; what it does is that it pares it
down to a few basic traits. If your basic character is optimistic, kind,
caring and trusting those are the things that guide your reactions to the
changes in your life. If, on the other hand, your normal reaction to
strangers, to loss of control, to different degrees of confusion is suspi-
cion, aggression and rejection, then those traits are the ones that govern
your behaviour. In your case, I suspect you will eventually get violent –
unless the head injuries kick in causing a real personality change, but it's
more than likely that that would have happened already."
   "You don't know what you're talking about," Marcus exclaimed. "My
mother has changed. Yes, she was always the peacemaker and boy was
she trusting, but even so she is no longer herself!"
   "But her basic personality has not changed," House insisted. "That is a
different matter, medically speaking, than what has happened to her due
to the illness. Alzheimer's does change you because it robs you of huge
chunks of your past, your life experiences, all those things that have
made you the person you are. It steals your life and, yes, eventually your
personality, too. And once all that is gone, it starts to steal everything



                                                                        229
else as well. It robs your free will, any control you have over yourself,
even your bodily functions; it robs you off hope, dignity and eventually
all you have left is the ability to breathe – until it takes that as well. And
all this it does excruciatingly slowly. Unless fate is merciful and the heart
fails before that."
   "That's a cruel picture you're painting," Marcus said tightly.
   "It's a cruel disease," House answered. "And I don't believe in lying to
my patients – well, not once I have diagnosed them. Pretty words and
lots of sympathy won't change anything. And you already know quite a
lot about this, so it's also a waste of time. Of course, since you're already
going to the psych ward you will have a shrink or a therapist come see
you and help you deal with this, but I just give the news."
   "So, do you think that fate will be merciful to me?" Marcus asked. "Is
my heart going to fail?"
   "Your heart is regrettably strong," House informed him. "Though there
is a chance that your liver might fail at some point. That isn't a very
pleasant way to go either, but it is fairly quick."
   "Huh," Marcus made an uncertain sound. "Are you telling my father
this?"
   "I'm telling him that you have Alzheimer's," House nodded. "But I
doubt I need to explain more to him."
   "He will want to take care of me," Marcus pointed out. "His conscience
will demand it."
   "He can't," House stated. "And I will make that quite clear. Even if
your mother wasn't ill he could not take you home. You will be too dan-
gerous to him if this thing runs the course I'm expecting. Home is no
place for you."
   "Yeah, I'd probably end up killing him and that would help nobody,"
Marcus agreed. "But he is a stubborn man. How do I make sure he won't
try once I'm too ill to have any say myself?"
   "I can ask the hospital lawyer to come and see you," House advised.
"You can have him write papers that state clearly what you want done
and not done."
   "I don't trust lawyers," Marcus muttered.
   "Nobody does, but they do have their uses," House agreed. "Besides
this is a fairly simple thing and you'll be happy to know that the hospital
lawyer is black!"
   "Ok, I'll see him," Marcus accepted. "But I won't be seeing any
shrinks!"




                                                                          230
   "Yes you will," House informed him without even a pause. "It's man-
datory. You won't have to say anything but see one, you will. I will be
back later, not that there is a need, but your father will want to know
how you're doing and I might as well indulge him since I have nothing
better to do now." House limped to the door. Before he opened it her
turned back to say: "I expect Eric to stop by some time soon. I still need
him so don't kill him."
   "I doubt I'll see him," Marcus growled.
   "I really ought to make you bet on your opinion, but that would be like
taking candy from a child," House said. "Not that I object, kids should
eat more fruit anyway, but still, it would be too easy." With that he
limped out.
   Outside he saw Eric hovering uncertainly in the corridor. As soon as
Eric saw House he said: "Cameron is watching Aiko."
   "And you couldn't stand her caring looks and concerned questions and
sympathetic advice?" House ventured.
   "No, I couldn't," Eric admitted. "It was getting a little heavy in there."
   "So you came here, to hover outside your brother's room. You do
know that you can go in?" House suggested.
   "I'm not sure I want to," Eric glared at him.
   "Oh come on, Ewic," House simpered. "He's not heavy, he's your
brother!"
   Eric turned to glare House straight in the face ready to reply with
angry words, but regardless of the flippant tone the cliché had been de-
livered in Foreman suddenly saw something in the blue eyes staring
back at him. He wasn't sure what it was, but it was something serious
and understanding and almost expecting. It was something he had no
idea what it was but still he felt he recognised it. He couldn't come up
with anything to say, because he wasn't sure what House was telling
him.
   "God, you annoy me sometimes," was all he managed to huff out.
   "How many times do I have to tell you I'm not god," House queried. "I
understand how the error might occur but really, take my word finally:
I'm not god." Eric rolled his eyes at House but didn't say anything.
House became serious. "Look Eric, you think too much. You know that
he has Alzheimer's. And you know it will rob him of the past. You need
to let go of it too. No matter what it is. You only have this moment. Right
now is all you will ever have with him again. So take it, right now."




                                                                         231
   Eric stared at House almost rebelliously, but finally he just turned
without a word and walked into his brother's room. House watched him
close the door and then he nodded with finality.
   As House turned to limp back to his office he came across Wilson.
   "You'll be happy to know that I have now one more person in my
team," House trilled at Wilson. "I hired Hitler."
   "Hitler?" Wilson stared at House.
   "Dr Petra Gilmar," House clarified and Wilson had a sudden memory
of himself escorting a shapely woman doctor out of House's room and
turning to exclaim to House that's our Hitler.
   "Of the shoes?" Wilson wanted to be sure.
   "Yes, that's the one," House confirmed.
   "But I thought you didn't like her shoes?" Wilson wondered. "What
has changed?"
   "There is nothing wrong with her shoes," House informed Wilson fa-
cetiously. "That is as long as she is filling Foreman's. It was as Cameron's
replacement that I didn't like her."
   "You are hiring her to replace Foreman?" Wilson asked.
   "Yes," House nodded. "I will expect that she will disagree with pretty
much everything I say. Mind you, I suspect that I may have got two at
the price of one. In a pinch I'm sure she can produce a very creditable
moral outrage, too."
   "And you will certainly do your best to test that theory," Wilson
sighed wondering if he ought to have a word with Dr Gilmar before she
was thrown into the lion's den.




                                                                        232
Chapter    38
Only thing that's real
House limped into the diagnostics room to find Chase and Cameron
there with Aiko.
   "So did you scare Gilmar away or did you decide to just send her
home before she changed her mind?" House asked them on his way to
greet Aiko.
   "We sent her home," Chase answered. "We figured it would be in our
best interest to make sure she came back tomorrow. That way you'll have
fresh meat for your grinder and we'll get a moment of peace from your
tormenting."
   "You know, normally that would have sent you to the clinic to do my
hours," House admonished him. "But today I need something from you,
so I'll overlook your insolence. Are you and Cameron doing anything
special tonight?"
   "We haven't done anything together for some time," Chase pointed
out. "And I'm not doing anything even separately tonight. Cameron?"
   "No, I have no plans," Cameron revealed. "Why?"
   "John Henry Giles gave me tickets, or actually they turned out to be
VIP passes, to the club he's playing in tonight," House told them. "I'm go-
ing to try and persuade Cuddy to come with me but that won't be an
easy task. I think I'll need at least three doctors in the house for the night
before I'll have even a chance to get her to agree."
   "Can she go with you?" Cameron wondered. "I mean, she gave birth
only ten days ago and isn't she breastfeeding?"
   "She has recovered well, but obviously we will come home the mo-
ment she wants to," House decided not to snap at her – Foreman had
probably done enough of that already. "And while it's true that the Trips
get most of their nourishment from Yummy Mummy, they get it in a
bottle. There are three of them you know."
   "That should work," Chase nodded. "I'm certainly free to come, and
with Wilson and Dr Higa you'll have your doctors even if Cameron



                                                                          233
cannot make it. And I think you might want to ask Foreman, too. He'll
probably appreciate having something else to think about than his
brother."
   "I can't do that if Cameron is coming," House alleged.
   "Why not?" Cameron asked indignantly.
   "Cause he is already hiding from you and your caring," House
simpered.
   "I just told him that if he needs someone to talk to I'm here," Cameron
explained a little huffily.
   "We all know that you are here for all of us," House pointed out.
"You're almost as bad as Wilson for needing to be needed. Sometimes,
you know, you just need to leave people alone. But having said that, to-
night I need you to be there for the kiddies. Can you?"
   "Yes, I have no plans other than cleaning and I'm certainly willing to
postpone that," Cameron promised. "And if you invite Foreman to join
us, you can tell him that I promised to devote myself to the kiddies alone,
so he won't be bothered by my caring."
   "Excellent," House exclaimed as he slowly limped into his office with
Aiko crawling (with great determination) by his side. "Get to the house
by seven."
   Before entering his brother's room Eric stopped for a deep breath. It
had been years and he really didn't know what to expect on the other
side of the door. But he could feel House's eyes on his back and he re-
fused to act like a coward, so he opened the door and stepped inside.
   "So the Chosen One decided to come and see me after all," Marcus re-
marked from the bed. His tone was surprisingly mild for the words –
though Eric didn't realise it.
   "I wish you'd stop calling me that," Eric sighed with exasperation, yet
feeling almost at home with the sound of his brother's voice meeting
him. Somehow the bad parts of the past didn't matter now, this was Mar-
cus, and this might be one of the last times this really was Marcus. "It
wasn't that good a joke to start with and it got old real fast even when it
was new."
   "And what makes you think it was a joke?" Marcus frowned at his
brother. "You were chosen from a whole bunch of pupils to have a future.
I'm not saying that it wasn't a good thing for you, nor that you didn't
make good of the opportunity offered to you, but you were not the only
one who deserved a chance, you were just the only one who was offered
one."




                                                                       234
   "What do you mean?" Eric wondered. "They kept telling us all that we
need to study to make something of ourselves. Heck, that was the theme
of every gathering at school that there was!"
   "Yeah, but how many of us were actually singled out?" Marcus re-
minded him. "How many were lectured individually? How many were
given a chance to retake exams? How many were given extra tuition?
How many of us did the teachers bother to believe in?"
   "You make it sound like I was the teachers pet or something!" Eric
stared. "Yeah, they forced me to work, but I wasn't the only one!"
   "Actually, you pretty much were," Marcus shook his head at his broth-
er. "I can't believe that you still haven't got it! I can understand that as a
teenager you didn't look much beyond appearances. None of us really
did. Thinking about others and their motivations are not things teens do
much. But you're not a teen now. You've been out of there for years.
Surely you have realized things about our school by now!"
   "Honestly, Marcus, I have no idea what you're talking about," Eric was
quite puzzled. "I always thought you were angry at me for leaving; first
for leaving the gang, then not hanging out with you and finally leaving
the whole neighbourhood."
   "For a smart guy, brother, you have always been singularly unaware
of what is going on around you," Marcus smiled patronisingly, almost
resembling House for a second there. "I never hated or even resented
you; it was all aimed at the teachers and their hypocrisy. Yeah, I know, it
was a crappy school, with no money, low salaries for the teachers and
they didn't even have all the material they needed for teaching! But they
could still have done more! They chose you because you are really smart.
They saw that you could be a doctor or a lawyer or something like that
and possibly even famous at it. They wanted someone who would make
a mark in this world. Someone who would, at some point, give a speech
somewhere in public and thank his old school and teachers for giving
him a chance to become something. You were chosen to be the sop for
their consciences. You were the one they could say at least we saved him.
You gave them absolution so that they don't need to think of all the kids
they failed. Yes, they chose a few others, too, over the years. But they
also ignored many they could have helped. And I'm not talking about
myself. I don't know what would have helped with me since getting
caught for the first time didn't do it."
   "You were always so angry," Eric pondered. "Always lashing out and
acting before thinking."




                                                                          235
   "So were you," Marcus reminded him. "We were a lot alike. Still are;
though you are now a hot-shot neurologist and have learned better con-
trol. Good for you. At least there is someone who made it… . So, I met
your boss. He seems ok. Probably a real bastard, but ok. How did he re-
act to finding out that you have a brother in jail?"
   "With glee," Eric summarised. "He knew about you already, as he
knew about my juvenile record too."
   "I thought that was sealed?" Marcus wondered.
   "When House wants something, he usually gets it," Eric informed his
brother. "He had a hunch and he followed it until he got what he
wanted. It's a good quality when he is solving a medical problem, but
when it's aimed at you and something you'd rather keep a secret, it
sucks."
   "I bet he has reminded you of your past every day ever since you star-
ted to work for him," Marcus smiled almost gleefully.
   "Yes! About that and about coming from the slums and about being
black," Eric ground out from between his teeth. "He takes great delight in
abusing me."
   Marcus laughed out loud: "Oh, man! You must hate it here." He
stopped and sighed. "But still you stay. And I have a sneaking suspicion
that you actually like the man, despite his abuse."
   "He is a brilliant doctor," Eric admitted. "And somehow he grows on
you. Like fungus, I think. And now he has kids and he's letting us – me
and the rest of his team – help with taking care of them, and … I don't
know. Suddenly, I have a second family."
   "I see," Marcus frowned a little. "Are you forgetting the one you
already have? I don't mean me. I got you in trouble the first time, for you
to keep your distance now is understandable. But I mean Mom and
Dad."
   "No, I'm not forgetting," Eric said – not meeting his brother's eyes. "But
I have a very demanding job and I don't know what point is there to go
home when Mother doesn't even know me anymore. I phone often, but
even when I tell her who I am, half way through the call she forgets
again. I do send Dad as much money as I can, so at least he doesn't need
to worry about that too much."
   "You really should visit," Marcus said. "Even if Mom doesn't know
you, it would help Dad. I know he says he is fine, but he just says that.
It's not really true."
   "Everybody lies," Eric repeated. At Marcus' questioning look he ex-
plained. "That's what House always says. That's why he never trusts



                                                                         236
patients or their family. They always lie or leave out something they de-
cide the doctor doesn't need to know."
   "And does he lie to the patient?" Marcus wanted to know.
   "Often," Eric divulged. "Though once he has the diagnosis, he does tell
the truth. And rather bluntly, too."
   "Yeah, I know," Marcus reminded Eric. "I sort of have first hand exper-
ience of that. He painted a pretty grim picture for me, about my illness. I
can then trust that it was true?"
   "Unfortunately," Eric granted. "It really is not possible to exaggerate
the effects of Alzheimer's."
   "He said there won't be any personality changes," Marcus mused.
"That I cannot expect to become docile like mother."
   "That is highly unlikely," Eric agreed. "And I haven't seen anything in
the old injuries either, to suggest that they would cause anything like
that. Besides, you have already had episodes of inexplicable rage, so it's
more than likely that those will continue. Docility is not going to come to
you for a long time yet. Of course, the course this illness takes is different
with everyone though the broad lines are same for all. But it destroys the
brain, bit by bit, and eventually even the parts that control breathing and
the heart. Most people, especially when it's the more common variation
starting after the age 65, never get to that part but die of other causes
mostly pneumonia, stroke or heart attack. The average time an
Alzheimer's patient lives is five to seven years, but anything from one
year to 20 is possible."
   "And what about meds? I know there is no cure, but does anything
slow it down?" Marcus asked.
   "There are some drugs that work for some people, but so far there is
nothing that works for everyone," Eric didn't see any point in giving
false hope. "There is research done on it, and obviously I follow it all
pretty keenly, but so far nothing will even stop it let alone cure it. There
are couple of drugs that slow it down if taken during the early stages
and we are going to try those on you, but since your Alzheimer's prob-
ably started this early because of the drugs and head injuries, we have no
way of knowing if those drugs work. We will try though and hope for
the best."
   "Doesn't really seem worth it," Marcus sighed. "I'm not exactly contrib-
uting to the good of the society now and with this… well I'm never
gonna now, am I?"
   "Probably not," Eric had to admit. "But that does not mean you
shouldn't get proper care. When you have your parole hearing, they will



                                                                          237
take your medical condition into consideration. Depending on how far it
has advanced by then, there may be time to change something."
  "Didn't you just say something about my inexplicable rages?" Marcus
pointed out ruefully. "How are those going to fit in with these changes
you think might happen?" Eric didn't say anything. "I didn't think so.
Look, House said that he will send a lawyer to me to help write some pa-
pers that state how I want to be looked after once I'm that far gone. Will
you come, too, and help me write them? I need to be sure that neither
Dad nor you get saddled with me, if this thing takes me the way Dr
House predicted."
  "If you really want me to, yes, I'll be there," Eric promised.
  "You know, that boss of yours does know things," Marcus suddenly
smiled.
  "Like what now?" Eric wondered.
  "Regardless of the past, or even the present or future, we are brothers,"
Marcus extended his free hand to Eric who took it – first time for he
couldn't even remember in how many years. "That really is the only
thing that matters. The only thing that's real in all this."
  "Yeah, he just might have got that right," Eric nodded.




                                                                       238
Chapter    39
First day
As Dr Petra Gilmar walked towards the department of diagnostics she
was thinking of the previous day and the grounding she had received
from Drs Cameron and Chase. They had told her to be prepared for any-
thing. They had also explained the need for comfortable shoes.
   "Once House has a case, you'll be doing a lot of running," Chase had
told her. "Being a cripple does not slow him down much. He thinks and
speaks on the move and you better keep up with him or you're in
trouble. And you better be sure that you hear him but don't trip on the
cane."
   "Usually we end up running half a step behind him which is why
we're known as his ducklings," Cameron had said. "But don't make the
mistake of expecting any kind of mothering from him. Well, except
where Aiko is concerned."
   "I'm not sure I quite understood the situation about the kids," Petra
had asked. "He said that Dr Cuddy was the mother of his triplets, but
just before that he had also told me that he was almost never Dr Cuddy's
favourite person?"
   "The official version is that Dr Cuddy wanted a child and House
agreed to be the biological father," Chase revealed. "They have categoric-
ally stated that there was no affair. I, personally, believe that, though I
don't believe that they didn't have sex. But nobody knows for sure – ex-
cept possibly House's mother. As for their current situation, well, they
live in the same house but House has a separate flat in it. And nobody
living in that house is talking, so your guess about their situation is as
good as anybody's."
   "And their relationship has always been complicated," Cameron had
added. "Dr Cuddy is the only one we know, at least at work, who can
make House do things he doesn't want to, or stop him from doing
something. We are sure they are friends though they seem to be arguing
all the time and the inappropriate remarks House has made about Dr



                                                                       239
Cuddy's cleavage and behind are pretty much legendary. He has always
implied that they are having wild sex in Cuddy's office, but that is the
one thing nobody believes. Even those who believe they are having sex
believe Dr Cuddy is too professional to do it there. House, of course,
would do anything anywhere."
   "He can't be as bad as the stories about him imply!" Petra insisted. "He
is a world renowned doctor; the cases he has solved… well I don't need
to tell you about them. But if any of the stunts he is told to have pulled
are true he would surely have been fired no matter how brilliant he is."
   "Well, he was fired by at least four deans," Cameron shrugged. "Dr
Cuddy is the first one who can put up with him and, as we told you, the
only one who has any control over him. But he is brilliant enough to get
away with pretty much anything."
   "I haven't heard all the stories about him," Chase inserted. "And I'm
sure most of them have got it wrong anyway, but I think you can pretty
much believe the picture they paint of him even if you don't believe the
individual tales. The picture is wrong, too, but it serves for starters until
you get to know him."
   "Well, the picture those stories paint isn't very credible," Petra pointed
out. "I mean, am I supposed to believe that he hit one of you just because
you got the diagnosis right when he had been wrong?"
   "He didn't hit me for that," Chase exclaimed earning an incredulous
look from Petra. "Yeah, ok, I was the one who realised what was wrong
with the patient, but that wasn't why he hit me. He was under a lot of
stress, in pain and had troubles with the law and all that, and he just
wasn't in the mood to listen to me, but I persisted and he got annoyed,
and he hit me."
   "Did you press charges?" Petra wanted to know.
   "Why would I do that?" Chase wondered. "It was no big deal and it
wasn't something he was in the habit of doing."
   "So he apologized," Petra asked.
   "House! Not in this lifetime," Chase laughed. "No, he doesn't really do
apologizing. Though I hear he did apologize to Wilson when he was in
the rehab. I understand it was mandatory part of the programme. Wilson
was in daze for the rest of the day wondering if he should start watching
for the four horsemen."
   "House doesn't care for social niceties, which is why we do most of the
talking to patients and their families," Cameron explained. "He usually
does end up actually seeing the patient at some point, but not always
and he does try to avoid it to the best of his ability – which is pretty



                                                                         240
impressive. He also hates doing his clinic duty, so you will do a lot of it
in addition to your own hours."
   "That's not right," Petra frowned. "If he is supposed to do clinic duty
then he should do it."
   "He is your boss, you do what he tells you to do," Chase stated dryly.
"If you don't and especially if you rat him to Cuddy over something as
trivial as clinic duty he can and will make your life hell. Or then he will
make you quit."
   "But I have rights!" Petra insisted.
   "Not if you want to learn from him," Cameron said gently. "He will
drive you like you were his personal slave and you will learn more than
you ever did before; anywhere. And you learn things you didn't even
think you needed to learn."
   "And the cases he takes are worth any aggravation he causes you,"
Chase told her. "These three years have been the most incredible years of
my life and though there are parts of it I don't really like to think back to,
I still wouldn't change one second of it all. I learned more about myself,
about what it is to be a doctor and what medicine is supposed to be all
about than I thought even possible. You have to decide, do you want to
learn or do you want to stick to your rights. I'm not saying that you don't
have any, but you need to decide what is worth fighting for and what is
just not worth the hassle."
   "And he hasn't been that bad lately," Cameron comforted Petra. "Ever
since Aiko came he has been a lot nicer. That still doesn't make him nice,
really, but still, much better than he was before. Of course, just before
Aiko he had all that trouble with the law and everything so that was a
pretty grim period all in all, but you'll have it a little easier than what we
were forced to deal with."
   Opening the door to the diagnostics conference room Petra wondered
how bad this nicer but still not nice Dr House could be. The stories about
him were incredible, but apparently the one she had most disbelieved
was actually true, so who knew about the rest of them!
   She saw that Dr Cameron was already there but the men were not. Dr
Cameron was at the coffee maker getting it ready.
   "Morning Gilmar," Cameron smiled at her – one of the things Petra
had learned the day before was that they all went by their last name, no
titles. "Do you drink coffee?"
   "Yes," Petra nodded. "Though I do drink tea, too, occasionally."
   "Good," Cameron acknowledged. "The next question is then: how are
you at making coffee?"



                                                                          241
   "I'm told that I make good coffee. Why?" Petra wanted to know.
   "Because House rarely makes coffee but he expects to have it any time
he wants and it better be good," Cameron explained. "And I know,
you're not his secretary, you're not supposed to do things like making
coffee or sorting his mail, but in the interest of self-preservation make
sure there is coffee. And in the interest of the good of the patients sort his
mail. He doesn't read any letters, he doesn't answer consultation re-
quests, he absolutely will not go to any conferences nor will he give any
speeches. He doesn't even hunt for interesting cases to solve; we need to
do it for him. And again in self-preservation we do."
   "That doesn't sound right," Petra frowned.
   "We had this conversation yesterday," Cameron reminded her. "You'll
learn - if you stick around longer than a week that is."
   "The fellowship is for three years, I intend to stick around for the dura-
tion," Petra stated.
   "That may be your intention," Foreman had just walked in through the
door with Chase at his heels. "But plenty of others have had the same
and we three are the first ones who have actually done it. Right now, the
odds on favourite time is one month. Nobody believes that you will stay
longer than two."
   "They don't have much faith in me do they," Petra huffed.
   "It's not that," Chase said. "It's House they have faith in. Though since
you were the only one he interviewed I'm inclined to think he wants to
keep you. I just wish I knew why. You don't happen to have a criminal
record or something?"
   "Of course not," Petra was offended. "What a thing to suggest."
   "Well, that's why he hired me," Foreman offered. "Of course it was ju-
venile, but still, that's what he wanted and I had it so here I am."
   "But juvenile records are sealed?" Petra frowned totally confused. "Did
you write it in your resume?"
   "Heck no," Foreman laughed. "No, I tried to keep it a secret, but House
found out. He always does. So if you have any secrets, especially ones
you don't want House to know, assume he knows. Just to be on the safe
side."
   "It could be her looks," Chase mused.
   "Right, rub it in, will you," Cameron half snapped at him. "I should
never have told you."
   "But I can perfectly understand House," Chase exclaimed with a wide-
eyed look. "Yours is a stunning ass."




                                                                          242
   "What?" Petra was starting to think she had wandered into the Mad
Hatter's tea party and not the most coveted fellowship in the country.
   "House doesn't hire people for the normal reasons," Foreman revealed.
"Me, I graduated from Hopkins, I have excellent references but he
wanted me for my criminal past. Cameron he hired for her looks, though
she, too is highly qualified. Chase here got in because his Dad made a
phone call. And those are the reasons he gave us. In truth I think that is
only half the story, but what the whole story is, is anybody's guess."
   "So you don't think I got this place because of my qualifications?" Petra
asked.
   "It would be highly unlike him," Chase stated. "Anyway, it won't mat-
ter, what the reason was. You're in and it's up to you to make the best of
the opportunity you have."
   "Ok. So where do I start?" Petra decided that her best plan was just to
get on with it.
   "You wait," Chase smiled. "House will stroll in sometime just before
ten or so, now that Cuddy is not around to intercept him in the lobby
and force him to the clinic. Most of the time when we have no patients
we sit around and wait. If there has been an interesting case we may
write about it, or if you want you can do clinic hours. And of course,
when things get desperate we try to find a patient for House."
   "This is a hospital," Petra was a little puzzled. "I would have thought
there are plenty of patients for him."
   "But they have to be interesting," Cameron pointed out. "Something he
truly believes nobody else can solve."
   "He doesn't really want to work, you see," Foreman explained. "He
finds clinic duty boring because most cases there are so simple he can
diagnose them in five seconds and one look at the patient."
   "Nobody can do that!" Petra exclaimed.
   "He does," Cameron sighed, "And sometimes he does it in the waiting
room in front of everyone just to annoy Cuddy."
   "And yeah, you're right, it's a mad house," Foreman correctly inter-
preted the expression on Petra's face. "And you can put any meaning
you want on those words."
   "Anyway, the only patient we have now is Marcus and since he has
been diagnosed, we wait for the next one," Chase concluded. "And do
make use of this time you have, because once we do have a patient,
House can call you up three in the morning and expect you to be ready
to work."




                                                                        243
   "Or he can expect you to work all night and then go on all day, too,"
Cameron added. "But talking about Marcus, are you… "
   "Save it Cameron," Foreman stalled her with a raised hand. "Last night
was nice because you restrained yourself, could you go on doing it?
Please?"
   "Fine, if you're sure," Cameron shrugged a little offended, but not
much.
   "Last night?" Petra was confused.
   "We were baby sitting House's kids," Chase explained. "He had VIP
passes to see John Henry Giles and he took Cuddy there. But before she
agreed to go she needed to be sure that the kids were properly looked
after. And it took five doctors, one highly trained Nanny, one physical
therapist and one capable grandmother to convince her that she could
leave her children for one evening. She is even worse about them than
House was with Aiko at the beginning."
   "You baby sit his kids?" Petra wondered. "Is that really part of your
duties?"
   "No, it's a privilege," Foreman said simply. "We are part of Aiko's fam-
ily – and now the Trips', too. But you will learn, in time. If you stick
around."
   Petra was even more confused so she decided to take that statement on
trust. This seemed to be a lot different place from any other job – medical
or other – than she had ever had before. It was a good thing that she was
usually pretty good at rolling with the punches.
   True to his team's predictions House strolled into his office some time
before ten. He stored his bag in there and then he came to get his coffee.
   "Foreman," House didn't even turn to look at him. "Did you speak
with your father?"
   "Yes, he is coming tomorrow," Foreman answered – barely looking up
from his journal.
   "Good," House nodded. "Now, Wilson told me that he might have a
patient for us, he just needs some last test results to be sure its not cancer.
So look lively when he gets here."
   And with that he limped back into his office. At the door he turned
around and pierced Petra with his incredibly blue eyes: "So you made it
here, then. Hmmm. Let's see how long you can stand the pace." With that
he closed the door and disappeared into his office.




                                                                           244
Chapter    40
First house
House was pacing the floor in front of the white board giving it highly
indignant glances every once in a while.
   "Do you know what these symptoms remind me off," he asked his
team of four. "They are a lot like that woman… what was her name…
that supermom who mixed fertility meds and the pill. And Ritalin, if I re-
member correctly, but I don't think that is the problem here."
   "But Mrs Martin is not on fertility meds though they are trying for a
child," Cameron pointed out. "They have only just discussed the possibil-
ity. And the symptoms aren't all the same."
   "I know, but something is bugging me about this, somebody is lying to
me," House growled.
   "You always assume that they lie to you," Chase shrugged.
   "True, true," House agreed. "And so far I haven't been wrong. But this
time I think it's more deliberate than normally. Gilmar, tell me again
what her morning routine is?"
   "She wakes up around seven when her husband leaves for work and
brings her a cup of tea in bed," Petra checked her notes. "Then she gets
up about an hour later, makes herself a smoothie with yogurt, fruits and
muesli then she goes into her studio to do the illustrations and she stays
there till about noon when she will have her lunch."
   "Illustrations?" House asked.
   "She illustrates children's books," Cameron piped in. "Paints are un-
likely to be the cause as she paints with watercolours."
   "I'm still not happy here," House insisted. "Ok, do a full body scan."
   "You never want full body scans!" Foreman exclaimed. "You say they
are useless."
   "They are," House nodded. "But Wilson has done pretty much
everything else. And in addition to that, a full body scan will keep her
out of her room for half an hour at least. Take her husband with you to
observe Foreman. Cameron, you search the things she has in her room,



                                                                      245
don't forget to check the husband's coat and whatever else he has left in
there. Chase special attention on the husband but leave no stone un-
turned, take Gilmar with you. She needs to learn. Right, disperse."
   "Disperse where?" Petra asked as she followed Chase out of the room.
   "To gather information," Chase smiled at her and she didn't trust that
smile at all.
   "What kind of information are we going to be able to gather without
the patient and her husband?" Petra demanded.
   "The kind House wants," Chase laughed as he went to his locker. "It's a
good thing you're wearing trousers, but you need to change your shirt to
something more suitable for breaking and entering. That material might
tear if we need to make a quick exit out of a window or through the
shrubbery. If you don't have a t-shirt or something with you take
scrubs."
   "Breaking and entering!" Petra didn't believe her ears. "Breaking and
entering where?"
   "We are searching the patient's home," Chase explained. "And since we
haven't asked them for the key nor told them that we are doing this, it's
breaking and entering. Highly illegal according to one of House's exes
who was a lawyer."
   "But, but, we can't do that!" Petra stared at Chase like he had lost his
mind.
   "Well apparently we can since we do this on regular basis," Chase
shrugged. "Welcome to medicine a la House."
   "But why are we doing it?" Petra had to believe that Chase was serious
so she dug her t-shirt from her bag and changed. "I can understand
checking for environmental reasons like the water and things like that,
but why not get permission from the Martins?"
   "Because if they are doing something illegal they will want to accom-
pany us and they will do their best to destroy the evidence," Chase
clarified.
   "And how often has that happened?" Petra patronised.
   "Well, we had one wife who was poisoning her husband with gold,"
Chase started to itemise. "Then we have had quite a few patients who
have used drugs; then we had one who was participating in illegal cock-
fighting, things like that. Not terribly often, I admit, but still often
enough."
   "And what do you expect to find this time," Petra was a little more
convinced but still doubtful.




                                                                       246
   "I think that since House specifically mentioned the husband, he sus-
pects that Mr Martin is putting something else than sugar and spice and
all things nice into his wife's morning tea," Chase mused. "I hope it's just
the pill and not anything more sinister."
   "You trust his hunch?" Petra wondered.
   "Usually it is the safe thing to do," Chase stated. "That time when the
wife was poisoning her husband with gold, House was convinced that
she was doing something to her husband long before any of us believed
him. She was so devoted and didn't leave his side more than she abso-
lutely had to. But he was right. And he saved the patient."
   An hour later Petra returned to the hospital with Chase feeling
strangely elated after the first illegal act in her life! (Ok, barring a speed-
ing ticket or two, but this was something you couldn't defend as
something everybody did.) Chase had been amazing, in her opinion, get-
ting inside through a window that had been left unlocked – the Martin's
seriously needed to rethink their security measures – and then letting her
in through the door. They had searched the house very effectively - ap-
parently Chase had been telling the truth that this was a regular occur-
rence. And they had found something that would make House happy.
Ok, maybe not happy, but it was definitely something he wanted.
   "So?" Was all that House said when they entered his office.
   Chase put the box on House's desk and said: "You were right, it's the
pill. We found it in the husband's case in his study. He must have added
it to her tea every morning."
   "Cameron found a little pillbox in his coat pocket," House told them.
"The kind you might put a few breath mints into, but it was empty. He
goes home every night, so he uses the box to bring the daily dosage to
his wife."
   "But why is he doing it?" Petra couldn't understand. "If he doesn't
want a child, or doesn't want one now, why not just tell his wife? And
even if he is too much of a coward to tell her, why is he still dosing her?
They are not having sex while she is in the hospital; there is no chance
that she will get pregnant now."
   "He probably doesn't connect the symptoms his wife is having with
the pill," House mused. "So he fears that once we cure her, and he gets
her home she will insist on celebration sex and if she hasn't got her drug
regularly she might get pregnant then. He seems to be the kind of man
who trusts doctors, you know, idiot that he is."
   "So what are you going to do now?" Petra wanted to know.




                                                                           247
   "Confront the husband with the evidence," House said. "There is noth-
ing wrong with the wife that just stopping the pills won't cure. I smell a
divorce! What is it, Chase, about us that we so often meet our patients
when they are about to get a divorce? And often they don't even know it.
Are we jinxed or something?"
   "Not all of them get a divorce once they have seen us," Chase re-
minded him.
   "True, some of them are already divorced," House agreed. "But it still
shatters my belief in the happily ever after. I'm devastated."
   "I bet you are," Chase doubted. "Anything else you need?"
   "No," House said. "Except for Gilmar to do my clinic hours for today."
He looked expectantly at Petra who remembered Chase's advice from
the day before and just accepted the nametag House was extending to
her.
   Later that day Eric went into House's office. Mrs Martin had been in-
formed of her husband's behaviour and once the shouting was over, Mr
Martin had left for good – with a very nasty divorce pending. Eric had
stayed out of it, but House had observed the proceedings with his usual
interest at these mortals having their drama. But the puzzle was now
solved and House was in his office playing his games. His soap was not
on yet, so Eric thought he could have a word with House without too
much trouble.
   "House, I need a word," Eric said as he entered the office.
   "As long as it's a short one," House responded barely looking up from
his game.
   "My Father called and he wants to bring my Mother with him as he
comes," Eric informed House.
   "And why do you want to bring that to my attention?" House queried.
   "Marcus is already somewhat depressed, which is definitely under-
standable, but I was wondering if seeing Mother will make it worse?"
Eric revealed his worries.
   "Highly doubtful," House answered seemingly not even paying atten-
tion to the question. "Nothing will make him worse right now. He is still
in shock over the news. And thought your Mother is definitely forgetful
and probably won't recognise him, from what I've heard she is still es-
sentially herself: kind and caring. That she has lost huge chunks of her
past, of your past, is painful. And seeing her so dependent and lacking in
some of the things you've used to expect from her will be painful, but I
don't see how it could be depressing – even for Marcus. Marcus is still
well enough and your Mother is still just well enough for them to say



                                                                      248
their goodbyes. Neither will, in time, remember it, but your father and
you will. And I think that is the really important part."
   "You are saying that Dad really should bring Mother with him?" Eric
needed reassurance.
   "Yes," House sighed a little impatiently. "Have you got them a hotel
yet?"
   "No, I tried but they didn't have room in any that I liked," Eric was a
little thrown at the change of the subject. "I still have a couple places that
I haven't called."
   "Don't" House told him. "My Mother will never forgive me if I let them
stay in a hotel."
   "We couldn't impose on you," Eric gasped.
   "I think you better, or my life will be unbearable for a much longer
time than the few nights your parents are staying in town," House ob-
served dialling a number on his phone. "Mother?"
   "Yes, Greg?" Blythe's voice came over the speakerphone that House
had switched on.
   "Eric's parents are coming to town. They want to see their sons,"
House explained. "You know the situation, don't you?"
   "Yes, I remember," Blythe replied. "Is Eric with you now?"
   "You are on the speakerphone," House said. "Yes, Eric is here."
   "How long are your parents staying?" Blythe asked.
   "Two nights is what my father was planning for," Eric informed her.
   "And I presume you haven't yet booked a hotel for them, since Greg would
not be phoning me otherwise," Blythe mused. "Really, you must bring your
parents here. We have plenty of room. I can give my flat to them for that time
and stay in the downstairs bedroom. You just bring them here and we'll be fine.
When are they arriving?"
   "Tomorrow," Eric was almost confused at Blythe's ready acceptance of
quests she had never even met. "But really, I cannot just dump them on
you. I'm sure you have plenty to do without any strangers in the house
as well."
   "Nonsense," Blythe dismissed his concerns. "I like people. Always have.
They are welcome. In fact I will be deeply offended if you take them anywhere
else."
   "Well, if you're sure," Eric tentatively agreed.
   "I am," Blythe stated categorically. "So that is settled and I'll see you to-
morrow." With that she hung up.
   "House, I'm sorry, really," Eric tried to stutter.




                                                                           249
  ""Don't be," House dismissed. "I know my Mom, and trust me when I
say that whatever inconvenience your parents might cause, it's still better
than the alternative. I just cannot stand to disappoint my mother. Call
me weak, but there it is."
  "No, I won't call you weak, since I have met your Mother and she is a
remarkable woman," Eric smiled. "Thank you. And thank you for talking
to my father and explaining Marcus' situation to him and thank you for
being there for Marcus, too."
  "No need for thanks," House said, truly meaning it, too. "Marcus is my
patient. Obviously his well being is of importance to me. He could be
anyone."
  "I know you want to do your best for your patients, but don't think I
don't know that you are treating Marcus differently," Eric told House.
"But if you don't want to talk about it, it's ok with me."
  "Good, since I don't want to," House stated and turned his music on
louder.




                                                                       250
Chapter   41
What I've been hoping for
That night at home House was in the nursery feeding his son from a
bottle. Cuddy had Greer and Blythe had taken charge of Priya. Aiko was
next room being bathed by her grandfather and Kasumii.
  "He's a greedy little bastard isn't he," House laughed looking at Ben
eagerly drinking his milk.
  "House!" Cuddy admonished him.
  "What?" House gave her an innocent stare. "He is, unless you hit me
on the head and married me without my knowledge." Cuddy didn't
deign to answer him, just gave him a look.
  "You know, Greg," Blythe smiled at her son. "Not everything you say
has to be designed to get a reaction from your audience."
  "I know," House shrugged. "But it's fun!"
  "It may be now," Cuddy said sternly. "But once the kids start copying
you, it won't. You really have to start thinking about what you say in
front of them!"
  "They're just babies," House insisted. "They won't start repeating me
for years yet."
  "And it will take you years to clean up your speech!" Cuddy huffed.
"You've been saying the first thing that comes to your mind for – what -,
thirty odd years. You will not be able to just stop it one night when you
decide the kids are old enough to start copying you."
  "Lisa does have a point," Blythe gently supported Cuddy. "I know that
you try but you know that we have to remind you to keep trying."
  "If you know that it will take time for me to learn to curb my tongue,"
House sighed in exasperation. "Why are you expecting instant results?"
  "We're not," Cuddy stated. "But as your Mother said, you won't learn
unless we keep reminding you. You told me to treat this house as my
home though you own it. Well I'm saying that I don't want that kind of
language in my home. I know I keep telling you to be more polite at
work, too, and I sure wish you would be, since it would make my life



                                                                     251
easier. But I accept that at work I can only demand so much from you
and clinic duty is a priority. However, at home it's different because here
we have to think of the children. I know you cannot change overnight,
but I just want you to accept that when you say something we think is
bad for the children we will say so."
   "Ok, fine, I suppose you have a point. Spoilsports," House agreed
grudgingly. "But you still are… " He then whispered to his son earning a
long suffering look from both Cuddy and Blythe.
   House was just burping his son when Higa walked in carrying Aiko.
Kasumii was following them ready to put the trips – one by one – in
their cribs. Higa brought Aiko to House who gave her a small kiss on the
cheek, but didn't take her yet as his hands were full.
   "Hello Little Love," House murmured to his daughter. "Did you have a
good bath with your Ojii-san? Did you behave yourself for him?"
   "She always behaves," Higa smiled as Aiko explained something to
House.
   "So she tells me," House agreed. "Kasumii, I think Ben is ready, come
and take him. He seems to be asleep already."
   "I think you ought to have named him Speedy and not Ben," Kasumii
smiled as she took the boy. "He eats quickly, he falls asleep almost in-
stantaneously, he wakes up right the moment he opens his eyes and I
have a feeling he will be like that with everything in his life." She took
Ben carefully from House and carried him to his crib. House took Aiko
from Higa, who sat down near them.
   "Hmm, you smell good my little apricot," House nuzzled his nose in
Aiko's hair when he hugged her – earning an indulgent (and almost a
little envious) looks from the ladies in the room. The kids were the only
ones who got House to show his tender side. "So, how was your day?"
House asked Aiko. And Aiko explained with a string of words, some of
which made sense, like Dada, others didn't, but House nodded and
agreed and seemed to understand.
   "Yes, I know it was more fun to be with me at work, but now that
Kasumii needs to be here for the Trips, I cannot have you at work all the
time," House mourned with Aiko. "No, we cannot send your siblings
back where they came from. A new visit there and we could end up with
even more kids in the house."
   "HOUSE!" this time Cuddy really did yell at him, kids or no kids
present. Fortunately Ben was sound asleep and Greer and Priya were
still intent on their bottles, and Aiko had heard Cuddy yell at her Daddy
at work (plenty of times) so as long as it was just yelling she didn't mind.



                                                                        252
   "What?" House was all innocence. "I didn't use any bad words."
   "It's not just HOW you say something," Cuddy gave a long suffering
sigh. "It's also WHAT you say."
   "Really Greg," Blythe was biting her lip to stop a laugh from escaping.
"Don't you think Lisa has enough on her plate without you acting up,
too?"
   "It's good for her to be able to let out some steam," House shrugged.
"She can't yell at the kids, after all."
   "Oh, so this if for my good that you're behaving like a jerk?" Cuddy
asked.
   "Isn't jerk a bad word?" House frowned.
   "Not when it's your middle name," Cuddy muttered.
   "Are you sure you didn't hit Greg on the head and marry him
secretly?" Higa asked having watched the argument. "Because you
sound very much like an old married couple."
   "I'm sure," Cuddy stated. "Because I'm also sure that if I ever ended up
hitting him on the head, he would not recover from it, no matter how
hard his head is."
   "Aren't death threats unsuitable material for the kiddies to hear, too?"
House wondered. "Why am I the only one who has to curb his tongue?"
   "Could be because you're the only one who has no control over it at
all," Kasumii pointed out as she took Priya from Blythe.
   "Right, gang up on me you all, will you," House huffed indignantly.
   "Not me," Higa laughed. "I'm staying out of this one entirely."
   "Some help that is," House grumbled. "But at least I have Aiko on my
side. Always!"
   House smiled at his daughter who was experimenting with fish-faces
again. Then she indicated that she wanted down. House set her on the
floor and she remained standing leaning on House's legs. House kept a
hold of her hand and she walked herself a few steps to the side and then
showed that she wanted her grandfather. Higa extended his arms and
took a secure hold of Aiko's hands and helped her make her way to him.
Kasumii had just put Greer too in bed and now she took the digital cam-
era they had ready at all times and started filming Aiko. She and Cuddy
had agreed that they wanted as much film as possible of House and Aiko
– and the trips - together, because without the visual evidence nobody
would believe them when they told people what House was like with his
kids. In fact they were pretty sure they, too, would think memory was
tricking them without some proof.




                                                                       253
   Once Aiko got to her grandfather she gave him a big smile after which
she wanted to turn back to her Daddy. Higa helped her but then she let
got of his hands and stood unaided – which she had been doing for a
couple of weeks already. Then she called "Dada!" and took a step to-
wards House. The room held its breath – even House, though he had the
presence of mind to extend his arms towards Aiko, though not to take
hold of her. Aiko gave him a big smile, too, and then she practically run
into his arms. He caught her and lifted her up laughing.
   "That's my clever little girl!" House exclaimed. "Well done Aiko." And
then he shocked the room by hugging Aiko and kissing her all over her
face. Aiko took it in her stride and even kissed him back. It was obvious
they had done something like this before – even if for some other reason.
   Blythe recovered from her shock soonest but she waited till Cuddy got
herself together well enough to go to House and demand that others
wanted to celebrate too. Cuddy took Aiko from House to hug and praise
and then she passed the little girl to Blythe.
   Aiko demonstrated her new skill a couple of more times and then
House announced that it was time for her to go to bed. She could do
more walking the next day – she would have more audience then, with
Foreman and his parents (and probably the rest of the House-hold as
well).
   Once the kids were all in bed and asleep the adults converged in the
living room and Cuddy just had to ask a question.
   "House, tell me why you were so exited about Aiko's first step when
you totally shrugged off her first word?"
   "I told you," House replied. "Learning to talk is a process; you really
cannot say when the words really start meaning something for the child
and when she is just experimenting with sounds. The first word is al-
ways an arbitrary decision on the part of the parents. However, when it
comes to walking, there is nothing arbitrary about the first step: you
either walk or you don't. And Aiko did."
   "You … " Cuddy hesitated. She wanted to say that it had looked like
House hugged and kissed Aiko like that on regular basis, but she de-
cided against it. There was a chance that if she made too much of a fuss
over it, he would stop – even though he had been doing it in the private
even now. But she wasn't taking any risks, not with the kids. "You just
have to be the most exasperating parent I know!" Cuddy decided to say
instead.
   "You say that like it was a bad thing," House complained. "Aiko hasn't
minded."



                                                                      254
   "And she is an expert on this subject," Higa inserted. "So something
about your method must be working."
   "All of it is working," Blythe defended her son. "Aiko is happy and I'm
sure the Trips will be, too."
   "Hear, hear," House crowed. "It works, let's not fix it."
   Some time later Blythe was making tea for herself in the kitchen when
Dr Higa came to get a drink for himself.
   "I don't think I have thanked you," Blythe wondered. "Or have I?"
   "For what?" Higa asked, though he had his suspicions.
   "For making my son happy," Blythe said. "For giving him Aiko."
   "Actually, I didn't," Higa smiled. "I didn't give Aiko to him; I gave him
to Aiko."
   "I think that is splitting hairs, but I don't really care who got who,"
Blythe responded. "They have each other and I have what I always
hoped for my son: a family that will give him happiness."
   "Happiness is not a permanent state," Higa warned.
   "I know," Blythe agreed. "But it can be a reoccurring state, and it seems
to be so with Aiko. I have never seen Greg laugh so often, even as a
child. And I don't believe anyone, but an innocent child could make him
feel that happy that often. You gave him that and I thank you from the
bottom of my heart. I'm forever in your debt."
   "No, Blythe, you're not," Higa declined. "I love him, too. And if there
was any debt at all, it has been repaid. Aiko is happy, too. She is loved,
secure and accepted. She has a larger family than I ever could imagine
before. So many people who have no blood ties to her at all, have accep-
ted her into their hearts and lives. If there is any debt, it's mine. I hoped, I
prayed that giving Aiko, the last of my family, to Gregory was the right
thing to do, but I never even dreamed that it would work this well. She
has siblings now; she has a mother and a grandmother. There are aunts
and uncles who are willing to look after her and the world is open for
her. No, there is no need to thank me. I think I'm the winner here."
   "I suppose we both got more than we ever expected out of this gift,"
Blythe accepted. "But I still thank you, since you started this all, even if it
turned out to be more than you expected. Thank you."
   "And I thank you," Higa said. "For your son. I could not have asked for
a better father for my granddaughter had I spent a thousand years look-
ing for one."
   "So we both have what we hoped for," Blythe concluded. "Funny how
things sometimes work out. But I'm so glad they do."




                                                                           255
Chapter    42
Valse Triste
Eric Foreman's life had turned upside down. He didn't know what was
going on anymore. First that morning Wilson had run into the dia-
gnostics room brandishing his mobile phone and exclaiming that Aiko
was walking. Blythe had sent him the video of Aiko's first steps to his
phone first thing in the morning and he had to share! Not that the team
minded, they were all as excited, even Petra who had only just met Aiko.
Though still within the normal range, ten months was young to learn to
walk, but this was their clever Aiko. But what really rendered them all
speechless was seeing House's reaction. This was the man who hadn't
had any kind of reaction to Aiko's first word! What had changed? And
from Aiko's behaviour it was quite obvious that this hadn't been the first
time they had played kissy-face. The whole scenario was so different
from what Eric had stubbornly believed of House – though others had
been pointing out evidence to contrary – that he didn't know what to
think anymore. But even so the others had been equally surprised at
what they saw.
  And now he was in House's house, watching his parents talk with his
brother! Eric couldn't believe that House had gone to all the trouble of
getting permission to bring Marcus here to meet his mother. He was sure
that Dr Cuddy and Miss Hill had cleared most of the red tape to make
this happen, but it had to be House's idea. Sure, they had two officers
and one burly hospital orderly watching over Marcus and making sure
he neither escaped nor poised any threat to anyone, but Eric was still
amazed.
  The Foreman's had arrived around noon and Eric had met them and
escorted them to the house. Blythe greeted them there and helped them
settle in. Both House and Foreman senior had agreed that telling Mrs
Foreman what was going on with Marcus was pointless as she probably
didn't even remember who Marcus – at least as an adult – was. Rodney
Foreman had told his wife that they were visiting friends of his and one



                                                                      256
of them was going away for a long time and there would be a small
farewell gathering. Eric had at that point wondered how they were going
to explain why the gathering was taking place in a hospital, but then he
found out that House had already taken care of that. Of course Blythe
could make House do almost anything, but she had made it clear that
she had had no idea of the plan until House told her about it.
   Not knowing about a party much in advance hadn't fazed Blythe,
though. A military wife was like a scout: always prepared. She had put
this gathering together in couple of hours and everything looked like she
had been planning for this for weeks. Eric's head was whirling. He could
not understand how and why this was happening. Why was House be-
ing so nice to his family? It wasn't in his nature – that everyone had to
agree on. House was never nice just for the sake of being nice. He had to
have something up his sleeve. Blythe and Cuddy and the rest of the gang
were nice to people they knew, they and their motivations didn't puzzle
Eric. But House? What was his angle? Eric watched House invite Alicia
Foreman to the piano, and seat her next to him. They talked while House
played something old, something Alicia seemed to remember. Then
House asked something and Eric saw his mother shake her head and
laugh. House insisted and then he took Alicia's hand and used it to press
three keys on the piano, one by one. He repeated the sequence and then
let Alicia practice it a few time and after that he joined with his other
hand playing a more elaborate sequence; but together the two sequences
worked into a nice little tune.
   "God, I need a drink," Eric muttered to himself feeling faint.
   "I know," Chase's voice game from behind Eric. "Too bad Blythe
banned anything but soft drinks from the house for this. Understandable
with your mother's medication and Marcus' situation, but still, some of
us could have used something to steady our nerves. Here, have some
coffee. At least it has caffeine in it."
   "Caffeine is a stimulant, not exactly steadying for the nerves," Eric
pointed out dryly accepting the mug Chase gave him, nevertheless.
   "We're doctors," Chase shrugged. "We have coffee in our veins. It
doesn't work with us the way it does with normal people."
   "Speaking of normal," Eric still couldn't get his eyes away from House
who was now conversing with Alicia and both the other Foreman men.
"What is House after now?"
   "You don't think that he is just being nice?" Chase asked – clearly not
thinking anything of the kind himself either.




                                                                      257
   "House is never just nice," Eric stated. "He has to be after something.
And whatever it is, I'm sure he wants it from me."
   "Probably," Chase agreed. "You will be the head of neurology of some
hospital or another one day fairly soon. I think he likes the idea that he
has you in his pocket should he ever decide to call in the debt. And he
probably likes the idea of you waiting for him to call it in even when he
isn't going to."
   "Chase, have I ever told you that I really don't like you?" Foreman
groused.
   "Yes, I believe you have," Chase smiled. "I think it's quite an honour,
actually, since the only other person you really don't like is House… . Seri-
ously, though, I don't think House did this only to get to you. You know
how he is about people whose brains don't function normally. I think he
actually has a point, because the best way to find out how brains work is
to observe them when they don't."
   "So you think my mother and brother are just guinea pigs for him?"
Eric asked.
   "No. He really likes people who think differently, even if it is because
of a malfunctioning brain. You have seen it before." Chase observed.
"Besides, he respects your father."
   "Why?" Eric couldn't believe Chase's claim. He wasn't used to having
people like House – rich, highly educated (never mind highly intelligent)
white men – give respect to someone like his father, a black man from
the ghetto.
   "Because your father knows who he is and doesn't try to be anything
else," Chase stated. "He is real and House respects that."
   "I find it hard to believe that House respects anyone or anything," Eric
admitted. "But it seems that I need to start considering the possibility. He
certainly respects his mother and Dr Higa. And maybe he is starting to
show respect for Dr Cuddy as well. It's just not something I have learned
to expect from him."
   "The problem is that he rarely shows respect even when he feels it,"
Chase mused. "I'm sure he has always respected Dr Cuddy, which is
why she can make him do things he doesn't want to, but he just doesn't
show respect the same way most people do."
   "You're such a suck up," Foreman sighed though not scornfully – at
least not this time.
   "Whatever," Chase didn't care. "But the two hours Marcus was given
are near gone, so get ready to say your goodbyes and then Cameron and
I will take you out for a drink."



                                                                         258
  "Thanks," Eric nodded. "I can't drink much, since I'm coming back for
dinner tonight, but I need something soon."
  Just then Blythe made her way to Eric: "Eric, dear, time to come and
say goodbye to your brother. Though you will of course go on seeing
him in the hospital for some time yet, but since this is a farewell party we
will say our goodbyes."
  "How has mother been?" Eric asked. He hadn't had much conversation
with her as he was going to be there that night again and had therefore
made room for Marcus. Alicia had been her usual kind and cheery self
but Eric was sure her husband was the only person she knew in the
room.
  "She has enjoyed herself," Blythe informed Eric gently. "It is so fortu-
nate that her basic nature is trusting and happy so she isn't afraid even
among strangers – at least not yet. She doesn't know who Marcus is, but
has been happy to talk to him and reminiscence over things that her sons
used to do when kids; and don't worry, she remembers only good
things. I suspect that she won't remember this party anymore once you
come over for dinner; House thinks her short term memory is almost
gone, but right now she is having fun and Marcus seems content, too. I
know this is hard for you, but you're not alone. Any help we can give
just ask."
  "Thank you, Blythe," Eric found it still a little difficult to call House's
mother by her first name, but since he had been told to do so, he did his
best to comply. "I'm ok. This is hard, but I'm ok."
  "Good," Blythe accepted, though obviously she didn't really believe
Eric. "This is over soon and then you can go for that drink." And she
walked away leaving Eric and Chase follow her at their own pace.
  "You told her about the plan?" Eric wondered to Chase.
  "No," Chase denied. "But she is House's mother. I'm not at all sur-
prised that she knows things nobody has told her."
  Chase, Cameron and Foreman were at their usual bar drinking their
usual drinks. Cameron was creditably curbing her sympathy (though it
had taken a couple of painful kicks under the table from Chase to help
her do so) and Foreman appreciated the companionable silence in their
table.
  "So what plans does House have for your brother's treatment?" Chase
asked. There was no point in pretending that what was in all their minds
wasn't so they might as well talk about it. Only it was better to talk about
the medical side and leave the emotions and such out of it.




                                                                         259
   "We started him on the usual combination used for early onset
Alzheimer's this morning and we are still monitoring him to see if there
are any adverse side-effects," Foreman responded. "But there's not much
else to be done."
   "Aren't there quite a few clinical trials going," Cameron frowned.
"Surely you are trying to get him on one of them? Even if they don't
work for him, I would think he would like to help gather as much in-
formation as possible about this illness. You mother has been involved in
some, hasn't she?"
   "Yes, she has," Foreman nodded. "But Marcus cannot take part in any
until he is out of prison. We met with the hospital lawyer this morning
and while Marcus was getting papers drawn about his wishes about his
treatment we also discussed that possibility. It appears that using prison-
ers for medical testing is a big no-no. I can sort of understand that since
you could run into huge ethical problems there, but it still sucks. The
lawyer even advised us not to mention anything about clinical trials dur-
ing the parole hearing."
   "You mean if you're in prison you cannot take part in an experiment
that could even possibly save your life?" Cameron was indignant.
   "Yes, that is what I mean," Foreman said.
   "Is there no way around it?" Chase wondered.
   "We could go to court and see if we get an individual court order, but
that would take a lot of time," Foreman explained. "The lawyer thinks
that he can get Marcus' parole hearing moved up sooner than what it
would take to get a court order to allow him to take part in a clinical
trial."
   "That's good," Chase concluded. "So at least you can start looking at
the trials and find out which looks most promising for him. Need any
help?"
   "Thanks, but no," Foreman declined. "I'm pretty current on everything
going on with Alzheimer's, for obvious reasons."
   "And how is Marcus holding up?" Cameron asked sympathetically. "I
know he refused to see the therapist at first, but has he changed his
mind?"
   "No," Eric informed her. "He is still refusing to see her. I did talk to
him and he promised to think about it, but I'm not sure what he is going
to do. He is depressed, though not as much as some I've seen. He has
spoken with House for some reason and that seems to have helped a
little. Why, I cannot imagine, but it has. Though even so House has told
them to watch out for any suicide attempts."



                                                                       260
   "You think he is that depressed?" Chase was a little startled. Marcus
had been quiet but hadn't looked suicidal at the party.
   "House thinks so," Foreman answered. "And I'm inclined to agree with
him. I mean, why would he not be? He has been diagnosed with
Alzheimer's and he knows exactly what that means. He is in prison
which means he cannot get the best care even when with me working in
the hospital we could afford it. He cannot even contribute to finding a
cure to this illness due to being in prison and quite apart from all that, I
don't think this is the ideal illness to have whilst in prison. Especially as
his symptoms include sudden bouts of aggression, which means they
probably need to keep him either in isolation or in hospital – where he
would need to be in isolation too."
   "Yeah, that's a pretty grim picture," Chase agreed. "Does his medica-
tion include antidepressants?"
   "They will once we know how he reacts to the Alzheimer's medica-
tion," Foreman nodded.
   "Your mother was very nice," Cameron inserted as the subject of Mar-
cus seemed to be exhausted. "And she seemed to enjoy herself, even if
she wasn't quite sure where she was and why."
   "Yeah," Foreman replied shortly staring at his drink morosely.
   "Ok, we need another round," Chase decided and went to get the
drinks.
   Eric had dreaded the dinner that night even though he knew that
Chase, Cameron and Wilson were not going to be there and therefore
there were at least a few people who would not hear his mother tell stor-
ies about Eric's childhood. Sure they had heard a few of them already, at
the party, but fortunately his mother had mostly spoken with Marcus
and her husband and people – knowing the situation – had left them
mostly alone. But House was still going to be there and Eric was sure the
juiciest stories would be repeated.
   In reality the evening hadn't been that bad; mostly because House had
brought Aiko to the table as well and she, by her mere presence, domin-
ated much of the conversation. The childhood stories had been told, but
not only by Alicia but also by Blythe – which gave Eric some blackmail
material should he need any. (I won't tell that story if you won't tell this
one!). Dr Higa had even got Eric a shot of sake before dinner, so with the
couple of drinks he had had earlier he was fairly fortified. Now the din-
ner was over and no big disaster had hit and Eric found that he had actu-
ally enjoyed it all.




                                                                         261
   The table was cleared and they were drinking coffee in the living room
when House's phone rang. Eric groaned a little; this could mean a new
patient and he really wasn't up to it right now. House spoke briefly (and
he hadn't even answered with his normal remarks about House's house
of whining or something, but that was probably because his mother was
present) and then he hung up. He didn't say anything at first but then
suggested to Foreman senior a stroll in the back yard, as he was also tak-
ing out some cigars from a stash in a side table the ladies correctly as-
sumed that the stroll was just a euphemism. Rodney declined the cigar
but at House's insistence agreed to come with him. "You too, Eric,"
House invited and something in his tone made Eric assume that there
was no choice.
   As soon as they got out House told the Foremans to take the swing on
the porch leaning against the railing himself he stashed the cigar back in-
to his breast pocket. He turned to Foreman senior and said: "I'm sorry,
but that call was from the hospital. It seems that Marcus had an unexpec-
ted and delayed reaction to his medication. They were unable to help
him. He died fifteen minutes ago."
   "Died… " Rodney found House's words hard to accept. "He was…
How … Was he in pain?"
   "As you saw the call was very brief so I don't have much information
yet," House explained. "However they did tell me that it was very quick
so I don't think there was pain. I need to go in tonight and I'll take Eric
with me. We'll have more information for you in the morning once we
have done the autopsy."
   "There will be an autopsy?" Rodney wondered, though mostly just to
say something.
   "Dad, Marcus wanted it," Eric explained. "When we met with the law-
yer this morning, we discussed everything and Marcus said that if cut-
ting him open after death would help get information about this illness
he wanted it done."
   "You'll be there when it's being done?" Rodney asked his other son. "I
don't… I think you should be there."
   "I will. I will be there," Eric promised.
   "Alicia… What… " Rodney suddenly remembered. "I can't tell her."
   "No, there would not be much point," House agreed. "I'll inform my
mother of the situation and she can keep company to your wife until you
feel up to it and I'll send Dr Cuddy to you. She'll give you a mild sedat-
ive that ought to help you cope for now."
   "Thank you," Rodney accepted. "I suppose you need to go now."



                                                                       262
  "Yes, I think we should," House said walking towards the door. "I'll
just go in and tell my mother what happened and then I'll come back for
Eric."
  Once House was gone Eric didn't know what to say, so he didn't say
anything. He just hugged his father who was quietly praying while tears
made their way down his cheeks. Eric felt tears in his own eyes too as he
thought back to the farewell party. And he was glad that he had hugged
his brother and said his goodbyes even though he had been sure they
would meet again soon.




                                                                     263
Chapter    43
Do you know where you're going to?
Eric had come to work every day since his brother's death three days be-
fore, but every time House had sent him to the house to be with his par-
ents. Not that he spent all his time with them; it was hard to be with his
mother and not be able to tell her what had happened. But he could be
with his father quite a lot as Blythe looked after Alicia. Fortunately Alicia
adored babies, so Aiko could keep her entertained for hours. But now,
on the fourth day, his parents had left for home early that morning and
Eric didn't know where else to be than work. Not that he thought even
for a minute that he could do anything useful at work, but he didn't
want to be home alone either. So here he was, sitting at the table in the
diagnostics conference room like Banquo's ghost; he only wished he
knew who was Macbeth. Chase thankfully ignored him and went on do-
ing his crosswords but Cameron was sending him sympathetic looks that
got really close to irritating him. Or they would have had he had the en-
ergy to be irritated. Petra was at the clinic and House, of course, was not
yet there at all.
   He thought back to the night he had gone back to the hospital with
House. They hadn't been driving for long when he just had to ask.
   "Did you help him commit suicide?" Eric had asked quietly.
   House had been quiet for a moment, and then he had said simply:
"No."
   "I need to know," Eric had gone on.
   "I know," House had nodded. "That is why you're coming with me
now. But though I cannot say for sure yet what caused his death, I can
tell you that I did not help him."
   "What do you mean?" Eric remembered feeling confused. "You said
they told you it was his medication."
   "They were unable to give me any reason; the side effects story was
my invention," House had told him. "I thought your father needed a
plausible explanation for now, to help him start dealing with it. If it turns



                                                                         264
out to be some other more or less natural cause then I will simply tell
him that the autopsy revealed that the initial assumption had been
wrong. If it turns out to be suicide, then I will make the unexpected side
effects the official cause of death."
   "You would lie in an official document?" Eric had frowned though he
hadn't been sure why.
   "Yes," House had stated simply. "I have a feeling your father would
find it difficult to accept suicide. If it was one there is no reason to bur-
den your father with it."
   "I… I suppose you're right," Eric hadn't been able to really decide what
to do. "As long as we know for sure what killed him, there is no reason
to be too specific with Dad."
   "And it could still be the meds," House had reminded him. "I really
don't know yet. Not before the autopsy."
   After that the drive had been silent until they got to the hospital.
   House had examined Marcus' body and room as soon as they got to
the hospital. He had also scheduled the autopsy for the next day. There
really was no hurry; Marcus wasn't going anywhere. Nothing in the
room had turned up any evidence to support a suicide theory: no
farewell notes, nor any unexplained medicine vials or anything else. All
signs pointed towards natural causes. But they would not know for sure
until after the autopsy.
   Once they were leaving the hospital House had told Eric that they
would stop at his lodgings but Blythe had given strict instruction to
bring Eric back to the house; she was making a bed for Eric in Cuddy's
study. Eric had protested at first but then House had pointed out to him
that Blythe's word was a law and besides that Foreman senior needed
one of his sons near him now. Eric complied. He didn't really have the
energy to fight. He took a change of clothes from his apartment and went
to the house with House.
   The next day House had performed the autopsy. As he had promised
Eric had been there for it, but House had – with uncharacteristic sensitiv-
ity – set up a screen that stopped Eric from seeing the procedure. As
House pointed out, Eric didn't really need to see the body to fulfil his
promise, both literally and in spirit. He was there; he could see his
brother's face (at least until House got to the head) but he didn't need to
see how he was dissected and examined in order to find out how he had
died. He could still hear House dictate the report, but he could let the
murmur of House's voice just wash over him without taking in the
words.



                                                                         265
   The autopsy revealed that Marcus had had a subarachnoid haemor-
rhage due to an aneurysm that had been there possibly for quite some
time but had ruptured only now. House could find no reason to connect
the rupture either with any of the medication that Marcus had been on
nor with any other direct cause. The aneurysm had simply ruptured and
given its location, death had been almost instantaneous. It was unlikely
that Marcus had had time to have any other symptoms than some naus-
ea and possibly a headache.
   Eric had explained the results to his father as well as he could and
Foreman senior had been relieved to be able to know for sure that Mar-
cus had not committed suicide. He was also glad that Marcus had had a
chance to say goodbye to them all and had not ended up dying in prison.
With Cuddy's help he had arranged for the body to be sent home for fu-
nereal and it was going to take place next Saturday. It was going to be a
very simple, quiet ceremony and Eric was going to be there too. He
wasn't at all sure how he felt about going home, especially as Alicia was
not going to be told about any of it. But that was also all the more reason
for him to be there for his father.
   His musings were interrupted by the arrival of House. For some reas-
on he had Aiko with him – and he wasn't giving any explanations. Not
that anyone really wanted to know, they were just happy to have her. As
soon as he had rolled in to the room House set Aiko on the floor and
once she got her balance she run straight to Eric who caught her and lif-
ted her up in the air making her laugh. House got out of his chair and
parked it near the wall gathering his things from it.
   "You know, Aiko," Eric told her. "You were supposed to have learned
to walk, but I don't think I have seen you walk one single step since you
started. You always run. Tell me, what's your hurry?"
   Aiko did tell him, but since he was not House he could not under-
stand. Fortunately Aiko was used to it that nobody but Daddy under-
stood her so she didn't mind, she just chattered away happily.
   "So, Foreman," House said. "Do you think you will be able to do some
work today or shall I assign you to baby sitting detail?"
   "If you get a case, I'm perfectly capable of contributing to the diagnos-
is," Eric replied a little huffily earning a nod from House.
   "Ok," House accepted. "But until a case presents itself you're still
watching Aiko. You were right about her running and that means that
you have to be alert all the time. She gets into things a lot faster now than
she used to; though I have to say she was pretty fast even before."




                                                                         266
  "I need a word with you, though," Eric said before House went into his
office.
  "Fine, bring Aiko with you," House limped into his room leaving the
door open and Eric followed carrying Aiko.
  Once in his office house stowed his bag away and sat behind his desk
indicating that Eric should take a seat as well. "So shoot," House invited.
  "Marcus is being buried this Saturday," Eric started after he had sat
down and settle Aiko on his lap. "Since I'm going to be there I'm taking
my vacation starting tomorrow. And I'm not coming back. I'm giving my
notice."
  House didn't seem surprised but he asked: "And do you know what
you're going to do after that?"
  "A few days ago, in fact just the morning that… Just that morning, I
got a call from Marty Hamilton," Eric explained. "He said that he had
heard from John Henry Giles that I was thinking of leaving your employ.
He offered me a partnership in his clinic."
  "Marty Hamilton," House repeated musingly. "The LA twit. Yes, I re-
member him. I did check him out then and he is a good doctor. Not an
outstanding doctor, but there are very few of those. But he is a good doc-
tor. So what was the deal?"
  "He offered me a deal that was even better than what he offered two
years ago, but I haven't actually told him yet that I accept," Eric said. "I
only decided this morning."
  "And you wanted to tell me first," House mocked him very gently. "I'm
touched. Don't sign for more than six months yet. Once you've been
there that long and he has seen how much he needs you, you can get an
even better deal."
  "That's it?" Eric wasn't sure what he had expected House to say, but
this ready acceptance hadn't been it.
  "Yeah," House shrugged. "I told you to get yourself another job. I can
hardly complain when you do so, can I?"
  "Well, that would be unreasonable," Eric agreed. "But then… "
  "Unreasonable is what you usually expect from me," House stated.
"Yes, I can see how this reasonable approach might disconcert you. I
must try it more often."
  "But you're ok with me leaving right now," Eric still had to check.
  "Yeah," House confirmed. "In a way I already have your replacement
in the form of Gilmar and you probably would be rather gloomy com-
pany to have around anyway, right after the funereal."
  "Ok, then," Eric accepted uncertainly and made ready to stand up.



                                                                        267
   "Just one thing," House stopped him before he carried Aiko back to the
conference room. "As your boss it doesn't matter to me where you go
once you leave here, but as Daddy House, I must insist that you keep in
touch. The trips don't know you yet, but Aiko does. And she is a little too
clever for me to just pass any passing black guy as her Uncle Eric, so
make sure you come back often enough for her to keep remembering
you."
   After that reminder Eric was even more disconcerted but he looked at
Aiko who was looking back at him with dark, intelligent eyes and he
nodded. "I'll make sure I'll come back often enough. And I'll keep in
touch otherwise, too."
   "Good," House closed the discussion. "My mother will be pleased,
too."
   That night at home House told Cuddy and that Eric had resigned that
day.
   "I made him promise to come and say goodbye to you too before he
leaves," House said. "I'm just not sure if he will do it before or after the
funereal."
   "I was so hoping he would wait around for a position with us," Cuddy
mourned. "The head of neurology will retire in a little over a year and I
could have placed Foreman there as the assistant head until then. Now
he's gone. Though given everything that has happened and given that he
really hates you House, I'm not surprised he needs some distance."
   "He doesn't hate me," House insisted. "He just doesn't like me. There is
a difference. Besides, you may still get him. I told him to sign for six
months only and if he is smart – and he is – he will do just that. Even if
he doesn't want to return he can still renegotiate a better deal for himself
once he knows what he really wants. Right now he just wants out of here
and Marty's timing was right."
   "You think he would want to come back?" Cuddy wasn't so sure.
"Hamilton's practise is one of the most popular ones in LA. He gets a lot
of celebrities and he is not an unknown sight at high profile parties
either. He even features in the gossip columns every once in a while."
   "You read gossip columns?" House was appalled.
   "No need to take that tone with me," Cuddy glared at him. "I have
caught you reading them at the clinic too often to believe your outrage."
   "But I'm not a Dean of Medicine or the Head of a hospital," House
pointed out. "Who cares what a lowly employee like me reads. You, on
the other hand, you're a totally different story. What would the board of
directors think if they knew?"



                                                                        268
  "They know," Cuddy stated dryly. "I find most of the donors through
the gossip columns. Once a celebrity is found with his slash her pants
down – either figuratively or literally – they need something to repair
their image and nothing works like charity."
  "And you need to keep informed so that when they have done
something you can be the first to the carcass; you vulture you," House
admired.
  "Exactly," Cuddy accepted the admiration as her due.




                                                                   269
Chapter    44
Life is unfair
Eric had been gone for over a week. He had dropped by at the house to
say his goodbyes to Blythe, Cuddy and the kids but House hadn't seen
him since his last day at work. Which was ok with him. They had had
one case since then and Dr Petra Gilmar had really learned how House
worked when he was working. The diagnosing had taken three days
straight – nights included, and the only one who had had any real sleep
was House, though even he had stayed around most of the time. The pa-
tient had been the standard 40 year old male – Petra had allowed herself
a smile on that one – who had presented with night blindness, loss of the
sense of smell, some deafness, balance and coordination problems,
numbness and dry and scaly skin. The most alarming of his symptoms,
and the one that had finally brought him to the hospital, were the cardiac
arrhythmias. Finally they had diagnosed the patient with Adult Refsum
Disease. He needed plasmapheresis and a strict diet avoiding all foods
with phytanic acid. House was fairly sure that he would not regain his
night vision, hearing or his sense of smell, but other than that he was go-
ing to be fine.
   During that case Petra had also learned why it was a good idea to keep
House away from the patient and his family. The man's wife was basic-
ally a pretty woman, but obviously terrified of growing old so she
dressed too young (and way too tight) and had practically used a shovel
to put on her makeup. On seeing her the first time House had shuddered
in shock and said:
   "Good God! Well at least we now know why the patient went blind!"
   "He is not blind," Petra had said trying to make House lower his voice
by talking quietly herself. "It's only night blindness, not total blindness."
   "And you wonder at it?" House hadn't lowered his voice one bit. "If
you had that in your bed at night wouldn't you go blind, too?"
   Petra hadn't known what to do, but fortunately Cameron and Chase
did. Chase steered House to the patient and Cameron took the wife aside



                                                                         270
for apologies and mollification. Apparently she played the cripple card to
the full. And apparently she had had enough practise at it since the wife
actually decided not to sue House.
   "Is he always like that?" Petra had asked later.
   "Pretty much," Chase nodded.
   "We once had a patient - a young girl who we thought had inherited
dwarfism from her mother." Cameron revealed. "It turned out to have
been a pituitary problem instead, but that we found out later. Anyway,
at one point I was examining the girl with House and her mother in the
room with me. House had read from the files that the girl's father was
normal size so he decided to ask the mother, there and then, how they
had done it."
   "It?" Petra was not sure she understood. "You mean… ?"
   "Yeah, she means the nasty," Chase clarified.
   "He can't have… !" Petra was appalled.
   "I was curious!" House's voice came from the doorway. "Wouldn't you
be?"
   "I might be curious," Petra accepted. "But I would never be so crass as
to ask!"
   "What happened to you being able to handle anything I say as long as
I keep my hands to myself?" House asked curiously. "Or was it just any-
thing I say to you? Did you think that under my gruff exterior there was
a soft centre? That I was mean only to my Fellows and possibly co-work-
ers?" House was silent for a moment waiting for an answer, but Petra
didn't have any. "You really thought that I was going to be different
when I was stroking the fevered brow of a patient, didn't you? Well, let
me tell you I have no desire whatsoever to stroke any fevered brows."
House paused and thought for a moment. "Though, come to think of it,
there was one brow I would not have minded getting up close and more
personal with. She was really something – those love apples were hand-
crafted by God. But then I found out that she was actually a he. Cured
me from wanting to go anywhere near the patients ever again, that did."
House shook his head regretfully, filled his mug with coffee and limped
into his office leaving a speechless Petra behind him.
   "That's the House we know and NOT love," Chase pointed out to her
as he took up his crosswords.
   Later that night House and the rest of the people living in the house –
except the children who had just been put to bed – were relaxing in the
living room. Cuddy was reading a medical journal, as was House;
Kasumii and Grey were just cuddling and talking on one of the couches



                                                                      271
and Blythe and Higa were sitting together in adjoining armchairs and
watching TV. At one point Blythe went into the kitchen and came back
with coffee for everyone. House watched her distribute the mugs and
something about the way she handed the mug to Higa caught his atten-
tion. He thought about it for a moment watching his mother and his
mentor sit together in companionable silence.
   "Am I the only one in this house who isn't getting any!" House snorted
with disgust.
   "Pardon?" Cuddy looked up startled as did Kasumii and Grey, but
they said nothing.
   "You don't count right now," House told Cuddy. "You're under
doctor's orders."
   "What are you talking about?" Cuddy was still completely at a loss.
   "I told you we couldn't keep it a secret for long," Higa reminded Blythe
mildly.
   "I never wanted it to be a secret," Blythe insisted. "I just didn't know
how to… It's not exactly easy to introduce the subject to casual conversa-
tion and he has been busy these last three days."
   "Not to mention that I'm still scarred for life from our previous conver-
sation involving your sexdrive," House insisted.
   "Gregory," Blythe admonished her son. "There is no reason to make it
sound like I was a nymphomaniac or something."
   "Yeah, but you're my mother," House said with an exaggerated shud-
der. "You're not supposed to … you know."
   "Blythe? You… ?" Cuddy looked questioningly to Blythe and then
Higa and then back.
   "We seem to, yes," Blythe replied a little diffidently.
   "Gregory?" Higa didn't have to verbalise the question any more spe-
cifically, House understood the look that accompanied that one word.
   "You're both grown people and perfectly aware that you share grand-
children," House shrugged. "Since I assume that you have taken them in-
to account, this is your private business. Just let me keep my illusion that
you're too old to do anything but cuddle, ok?"
   "Greg," Blythe huffed a little. "I'm not… " That was as far as she got be-
fore Higa gently put his hand on her mouth.
   "Absolutely we're too old for anything else," he told House with a
twinkling smile.
   "Good," House accepted the promise with a straight face – but there
was a responding twinkle in his eyes, too. "So I'm getting my flat back all
to myself then?"



                                                                         272
   "If… if it's ok with you," Blythe still felt a little timid about this new
situation.
   "If I'm going to keep my illusions, then yeah, it's more than ok," House
pointed out. "On the other hand, if you're not quite sure, the downstairs
bedroom is free, too. Wilson can sleep in my other bedroom when he
stays."
   "Tonight is too late to move anyway," Higa observed. "We can talk it
over tomorrow, Blythe, and decide what feels right."
   "Yes, Akira," Blythe smiled. "We can talk it over tomorrow. The main
thing is that Greg knows now."
   A little later Cuddy was in the kitchen when House came in to get
more coffee. She hadn't dared to say anything when Blythe and Higa had
confessed their relationship to House (as neither had Kasumii and Grey)
because it was definitely all between House, his mother and Dr Higa. But
she was happy and relieved that House had taken it so well. Blythe de-
served to be happy, but had Cuddy known about the affair, she would
not have been able to predict House's reaction.
   "Some chaperon you turned out to be," House griped to her before she
could say anything.
   "I didn't know I needed to chaperon anyone," Cuddy defended herself
with a wide smile. "I'm happy for them, though."
   "Hmmmm," was all House said in response.
   "Are you really ok with it?" Cuddy asked cautiously. Maybe he had
just been nice to his mother.
   "Of course I'm ok with it," House dismissed her concerns. "Mom de-
serves to be happy. And as I said, they are adults. They know what they
are doing."
   "I'm sure they do, but love could be blinding them," Cuddy decided to
play the devil's advocate – and also to test House a little.
   "Love," House huffed a little. "I suppose, though I know very little
about that. However, if it is love then at least it's based on friendship.
That seems to be a pretty good foundation, from the little I have seen of
happy couples. And no matter how blinded they might be, they would
never do anything that could harm or cause distress to the children, so
I'm definitely ok with all this."
   "So we have Kasumii and Grey, Blythe and Higa," Cuddy itemised.
"That leaves just us. I'm not sure it's quite fair, since this house-hold was
formed for us and our kids."
   "Life is unfair," House pointed out. "Besides you don't seem to be miss-
ing anything. You're not even talking to me anymore."



                                                                         273
   "I'm talking to you right now!" Cuddy stared at House amazed.
   "I don't mean now," House snorted. "I mean… You don't talk to me
anymore."
   "Oh, you mean at night," Cuddy suddenly understood. "Well, I'm no
longer pregnant so I thought you'd want to be left in peace."
   "Oh, so it's a case of you having got what you wanted from me and
now you have no use for me anymore," House pouted. "I feel so used."
   "You haven't called me either," Cuddy defended herself.
   "You have just given birth! And you're taking care of the triplets all
day, even if you do have Kasumii to help you." House said. "I don't want
to wake you up if you're sleeping. You need your sleep."
   "That hasn't stopped you before," Cuddy scoffed.
   "Before you haven't been the mother of my children," House pointed
out.
   "Ok, you do have a point," Cuddy accepted.
   "I don't think it's fair of you to stop talking to me right when the talks
could get interesting," House whined. "Now that the kids are no longer
listening in we could talk dirty. I need some help with my fantasy life.
You have totally ruined it for me. Lifeguard Cuddy absolutely refuses to
do anything but build sandcastles with the kids and Mother Superior
Cuddy keeps lecturing me about my language and the need to clean it
up for the kids. Total passion killers both these days."
   "Oh dear, how insensitive of me," Cuddy was biting her lip trying to
hide a smile. Not that she succeeded.
   "You have totally ruined them for me," House accused. "You owe me
some help in getting them replaced."
   "I'll think about it," Cuddy promised ambiguously.
   Even later House and Higa retired to House's flat. As they were about
to go into their respective rooms Higa stopped House for a moment.
   "Are you truly ok with me and your mother?" Higa asked seriously.
   "Just make her happy," House responded.
   "I'll do my best," Higa promised and they walked into their rooms.
   As soon as he got into his bedroom House saw that somebody had
been there. There was something on his bed. He lifted it up and raised
his eyebrows at the frivolous piece of sexy, black lace. Next to it, on the
bed, was a small bottle of Chanel n:o 5. Before he could ponder on them
longer the walkie-talkie came to life and Cuddy's voice said his name.
   "I hope you're not planning for me to wear these," House suggested in
response.




                                                                         274
   "No," Cuddy laughed. "I want you to picture me in it – once I have my
figure back and can fit in it."
   "What do you mean once," House asked. "As far as I can see Grey's re-
gime has worked wonders. Your ass is as tight as it has ever been. You'd
fit in to this tiny thing with no problem. Except possibly the puppies.
They might threaten to spill out, but I don't see how that would be a bad
thing."
   "You seem to have no difficulties in picturing me in it then," House
could hear the smile in Cuddy's voice. "So does it help with your fantasy
life?"
   "I should say so," House agreed. "It's already on overdrive. Want to
hear more?"
   "I might," Cuddy purred. "I'm not sure how crude your fantasy life is.
Is it fit for a lady's ears?"
   "Why don't I give you some examples and you'll judge for yourself?"
House suggested.
   "That sounds like a sensible idea," Cuddy replied.
   And it turned out that House's fantasy life could, indeed, be made to
fit a lady's ears.




                                                                     275
Chapter    45
Like what you see?
About two weeks after Dr Higa had moved in together with Blythe and
House had re-established his talking sessions with Cuddy – and not only
dirty talking, they talked about a lot of other things as well, Blythe de-
cided it was time to have a proper get-together again. Not just the nor-
mal open house they had on Sunday afternoons (and pretty much every
other bloody day as well, as House complained), but a real party, with
people dressing up a little more and guests who didn't belong to the
proper House-hold invited, too. Main reason for the party was that Eric
had called and said that he was coming over for the weekend. He had
planned on staying in a hotel, but Blythe had overruled him and he was
spending the night at the house (the downstairs bedroom was free).
  So here they all were, all over House's backyard talking and eating and
having a good time. The House-hold (including Eric for today), Miss
Hill, Petra Gilmar plus boyfriend, couple of women Blythe had got to
know at her job in the hospital, the woman Wilson was currently dating
– darn if House could remember her name – and Chase and Cameron
had brought dates, too (though the said dates seemed to be in possession
of too much information since Chase's date kept glaring at Cameron and
Cameron's date gave stern, warning stares to Chase). In fact, had House
wanted to have a party, he would have been quite entertained by the
people interacting around him. Problem was he didn't really want to
have them all here. But this was his mother's party, so he didn't close
himself inside his flat, though he didn't exactly mingle either. For-
tunately nobody really expected him to so he was left alone to sit on the
porch swing with Aiko. That was until Eric joined him.
  "Escaping the crowd?" House asked him.
  "Yeah, a little," Eric admitted. "Though, mainly I just wanted to have
time with Aiko."
  "Have to say I approve of your priorities," House nodded handing
Aiko over to Eric to hold. "Tell me, how is La-la-land?"



                                                                      276
   "It's ok," Eric responded with notable lack of enthusiasm.
   "You're a partner in one of the most prestigious practices in LA, have
at least three times the salary you got from me, your own car a furnished
flat in the better part of the town and it's just ok?" House clarified. "Do I
smell a snake in the Paradise?"
   "He's not in the Paradise," Eric muttered with some aggravation.
   "You mean me?" House was delighted. "What am I supposed to have
done all the way from the other side of the country?"
   "You did it before I got to the other side of the country," Eric sighed. "I
used to admire Marty Hamilton. Not just as a doctor; after all it is hardy
surprising that you outshine him on that aspect, but I also admired him
for his success, his humble manner and humanity."
   "And now you don't?" House queried.
   "His bedside manner still beats yours coming and going," Eric pointed
out.
   "Anybody's bedside manner beats mine," House shrugged.
   "That's true," Eric laughed settling Aiko a little better against his
shoulder – she was falling asleep; she had been rather active all day, after
all, greeting the guests and being adored by them (as indeed were her
siblings as well). "But the problem I have is that I no longer can look at
him without searching for hidden motives. I never quite trusted you and
now I don't trust Marty. And he is beginning to irritate me with his mod-
esty. If all his diagnoses are results of just being lucky, he needs to stop
practising medicine and leave it to those who actually know what they
are doing. Yes, there is always an element of luck involved when you try
to find out what is wrong with the patient, but mostly you're supposed
to rely on your skill, knowledge and experience! Also, since he never ac-
knowledges his own contribution, he never really acknowledges the
hard work his team does either. It's all about him. Even when he thanks
people for their hard work it's still all about him."
   "I thought that was your complaint about me, too?" House wondered.
   "Yeah," Eric admitted. "But you don't care if anybody knows it or not.
You don't accept awards and give speeches. You don't even talk to the
patients. Yeah, you took all the credit from our hard work but then you
sent us to talk to the patient; we could have claimed the credit to
ourselves had we wanted to. You wouldn't have cared. Same with the
articles, you never even read them. And the one and only time I heard
you give a public speech I was more than happy that you made it all
about yourself even if it meant that my job was in jeopardy. At least none
of it would have followed me had I been the one to go. Of course, your



                                                                          277
phenomenal luck kicked in again and it was Vogler who had to leave,
not you."
   "That wasn't luck," House observed. "That was Cuddy. And contrary
to popular belief she didn't choose to save me but the hospital. I was just
an added bonus. Though, have to admit, she didn't think of me that way
then."
   "Whatever," Eric didn't really care.
   "So you're basically beginning to think that Marty is shallow and vain,"
House mused a little sardonically. "And you have come to this conclu-
sion because you're comparing him to me? And because I'm such a deep
and humble character?"
   "No," Eric gave a deep sigh. "Because I'm beginning to suspect that
you actually have reason for your arrogance. I still don't like it, don't
think I do. Or you. But I still find I can tolerate it marginally better than
Marty's aw shucks humility. I'm leaving there after these six months."
   "Any idea what you want to do then?" House asked mildly.
   "I may stay in LA, there are other practises, hospitals and clinics there,"
Eric pondered. "But I want to treat real people again. The celebrities are
great for the first week, but after that, you start to see them as just
people. With them, though, most of their problems are self-inflicted. Not
that they don't deserve to be helped just the same, but there are plenty of
doctors who want to do that. I want something else."
   "Talk to Cuddy," House told Foreman. "She is always looking for good
doctors. And if she can't offer anything you'd want, you still have five
months to make up your mind. And take Aiko to Kasumii, she can put
my baby to bed."
   Later on House found Cuddy taking a breather from the crowd. She
too had found her way to the porch which House had vacated for a
while to get something to eat and drink.
   "Did Foreman find you?" House asked.
   "Yes," Cuddy nodded. "And it seems you were right. He doesn't like
LA as much as he thought he would. He liked my offer and promised to
think it over. I'm fairly sure he will accept it."
   "Good," House said sitting down on the swing next to Cuddy. "So tell
me, why is something missing from my bedroom?"
   "Something is missing?" Cuddy was all wide-eyed innocence. "How
could I possibly know what is supposed to be in your bedroom and what
not?"
   "Because this something you brought there yourself," House pointed
out. "And since it went missing this morning, I know I haven't misplaced



                                                                          278
it nor has Lupe accidentally taken it away. My flat was cleaned two days
ago. Nobody but you knew I had it so you're the only one who could
have taken it."
   "Well, it is my property," Cuddy specified. "I might have needed it."
   House was suddenly very alert. He looked Cuddy up and down: "Do
you mean that right now… ?"
   "No, not right now," Cuddy smiled unconvincingly. "But if you like to
think so, go ahead."
   "I don't think I better," House muttered. "But I want it back!"
   "I'll think about it," Cuddy promised and went to join the guests leav-
ing House with a slightly pained look on his face.
   Cuddy walked to Cameron, Chase and Petra who were sitting on the
grass fairly near to the porch. All their dates had left them for a moment.
The boyfriends were getting food for their girls and Chase's date was ap-
parently fixing her makeup.
   "Am I dreaming it or are Blythe and Dr Higa an item now?" Cameron
asked. Obviously House hadn't told the news at work and since both
Blythe and Higa were fairly reserved people the connection hadn't been
obvious to House's team the times they had been to the house since.
Only now that they had time to really observe were they making
conclusions.
   "Yes they are," Cuddy admitted. "Have been for the last couple of
weeks or so. I believe they reached this stage soon after Blythe's divorce
came through. You were busy diagnosing that ARD patient at the time."
   "How is House taking this," Chase wanted to know.
   "In his stride," Cuddy said. Though then she laughed. "Mind you, they
have a running joke about Blythe and Dr Higa being too old to do any-
thing but cuddle. Every time House catches them kissing – and that's not
very often since both of them are very private people – Higa reminds
him that they are just cuddling and House pretends to believe it."
   "I'm glad Blythe has found happiness," Cameron sighed. "But I didn't
realise her divorce was finalised already."
   "I understood that once they had agreed on the practicalities like divi-
sion of assets and things like that, John went to Reno and got the di-
vorce," Cuddy revealed. "I think he wanted to show that he didn't care.
Also he was already living with someone else by then."
   "This whole situation," Petra was shaking her head. "This house, the …
I don't know; the family or whatever you call yourselves (the house-hold,
Chase inserted). Ok, the house-hold, I don't quite understand all this. I




                                                                       279
mean I think it's great for the kids, but how on earth are you making it
work. How … I mean House… I don't know."
   "You mean how on earth did House get this and us all together and
what insanity is keeping us together?" Cuddy asked.
   "I suppose," Petra shrugged. "I thought that I could handle House,
since with four brothers I have heard pretty much every crudity that a
man is capable of, but … "
   "House is in a league of his own," Chase stated. "But so is Aiko - and I
suspect the Trips will be, too. We're all in this, but I suspect none of us
can really explain why or how."
   The party had been a success and even House had found it tolerable –
mostly because he kept on thinking of Cuddy and what she – maybe –
was wearing. Once the party had been over, they had had a quiet dinner
(not that anyone really ate much anymore) with just Eric – minus Grey
and Kasumii who had other plans, and then Eric had left to catch his
plane. After that they lounged in the living room for a while and once
Grey and Kasumii were back Blythe and Higa retired for the night and
soon the rest of the house followed their example. House was actually
the last one to go to his flat as he had gone to the kitchen to get his last
mug of coffee for the night.
   As soon as House walked into his flat he thought something was dif-
ferent. He sniffed the air and followed the seductive scent of Chanel n:o
5 to his bedroom. He presumed that Cuddy had brought the item back
and had sprayed the place with the perfume just get him going. He was
wrong.
   When he stepped into his bedroom he found – in the soft light from
the bedside lamp – that Cuddy had indeed brought that sexy piece of
black lace back to him. Only she was still there herself as well, wearing it.
Her pose was reminiscent of Goya's Maja paintings, only she was neither
dressed nor nude and her smile was a lot more teasing.
   "So, I brought it back," Cuddy announced in a purring voice. "Do you
like what you see?"
   "Goo, gah, wooo," House hammed.
   "I take that as a yes," Cuddy laughed, pleased.
   "Hrhm," House cleared his throat. "Is this what I think?"
   "I visited Helen this morning by special agreement," Cuddy an-
nounced. "And she said that my super tanker is perfectly ready for body
maintenance." She turned over, to her stomach and gave House a good
look at her super tanker.




                                                                         280
   "I agree it's perfect," House nodded. "So, she said that you're cleared
for action should you want any?"
   "Yeah," Cuddy confirmed. "Fit as a fiddle and … well you know the
song."
   "Yeah, I think I may have heard it," House agreed. He walked to the
bed and sat down next to Cuddy. "Only… are you sure? I… I don't know
if I can return your feelings. That is if you still love me."
   "House," Cuddy turned back to her back and sat up resting her hand
on his cheek. "It may have escaped your notice but this is your room, not
mine. I came here, so I'm not expecting any other commitment from you
than friendship. This is just friends with benefits. All I expect from you is
honesty. Don't tell me what you think I might want to hear unless you
really mean it and if I get hurt that's my own lookout. Trust me. I know
what I'm doing."
   "But I don't want you to get hurt," House frowned.
   "Maybe I won't," Cuddy shrugged. "I do still love you, so it wasn't just
pregnancy related delusion. But I still don't expect you to do anything
you don't want to. My feelings, my business. And as long as we both
know the score, what's the harm?"
   "You're quite sure?" House still needed some reassurance.
   "I'm sure," Cuddy stated firmly. "And besides, I like sex. With the
triplets and my job I'll not have time to go out to find some. This is ideal.
And just think of the money you save when you don't need to spend it
on hookers. You can put it in the kid's college fund instead!"
   "You do have a point," House agreed running his hand through
Cuddy's hair. He started to smile, maybe this would work.
   "See, I told you I know what I'm doing," Cuddy told him. "So just
relax."
   "I don't think relaxing is an option right now," House smiled and
kissed Cuddy. "By the way, you never told me where you found this in-
teresting piece of frivolity. Somehow I cannot see you shopping for
something like this while pregnant." House asked as he caressed the
strap down from Cuddy's shoulder.
   "Oh, I got it from Evil Nurse Brenda as a House-warming gift," Cuddy
announced as she arched closer to House.
   "Really?" House was intrigued. "I think I may just have to kiss her the
next time I see her."
   "Don't you dare," Cuddy warned.




                                                                         281
  "That settles it," House smiled evilly. "I have to do it. But don't worry, I
may be a little free with my kisses, but everything else is yours until I
specifically tell you differently."




                                                                          282
Chapter    46
Time off for good behaviour
House looked up from his journal as Cuddy came back to the bedroom.
She had stayed in the bathroom after their – unexpectedly long – shower
together to dry her hair with Wilson's hairdryer (good thing he had left it
behind, just in case). She had wrapped House's bathrobe around her,
nearly drowning in it, and now she stood at the doorway a little uncer-
tainly. She wasn't sure what the House-etiquette was for this situation,
though she hoped that she would have a chance to learn it in time; she
really hoped this would not be just a one-time event. House resolved the
issue by sifting a little to the side and patting the space next to him.
   "Come on Cuddles," he smiled.
   "You're sure," Cuddy wasn't sure if House was just being nice. "Maybe
I should get back to my own room."
   "What?" House gave her an insulted stare. "Was this it? You got what
you wanted and now it's wham-bam-thank-you-Sir? I really didn't think
you were one of those women." He pouted.
   "You know I'm not," Cuddy huffed. "It's just that … I just thought you
might want your space." But she did walk to the bed and sat down on
the edge.
   "And you didn't think I would say it out loud if that was what I
wanted," House scorned humorously. "Me being such a sensitive, polite
guy."
   "Sorry," Cuddy gestured with her hands before settling down next to
House on the bed. "I forgot for a moment who it was I was with."
   "Ouch!" House laughed as he wrapped an arm round Cuddy and
pulled her against his side. "It seems that I have to improve my perform-
ance to be a little less forgettable."
   "Nothing wrong with your performance," Cuddy snuggled to a comfort-
able position. "That was what addled my brains."




                                                                       283
   "Good save," House appreciated. "So, do you want a T-shirt or
something to sleep in? You seem to have arrived slightly unprepared for
all eventualities."
   "You want me to stay?" Cuddy was surprised.
   "Why not," House shrugged. "It seems rather pointless to send you to
your room only to then use the walkie-talkies to talk till we feel ready to
sleep when we can do all that right here."
   "I suppose you're right," Cuddy agreed. "I think I'd like a t-shirt."
   "Coming up," House said reaching under his pillow where he had
already stashed one ready.
   "If you had this ready for me, why did you ask?" Cuddy wanted to
know.
   "Well, had to give you a chance to decide to go nude," House shrugged
earning a look from Cuddy. "A guy can always dream!"
   "Dream on," Cuddy huffed – and then she gave him a teasing smile.
"One day that dream might actually come true."
   "You certainly know how to keep a guy going," House acknowledged
turning to sit on the edge of the bed so that he could get the covers from
under him and turn off the light. Cuddy did likewise on the other side
and slipped into the t-shirt at the same time. They returned to the cud-
dling position once they got under the covers.
   "You know, Greer knows your voice," Cuddy changed the subject once
they had settled.
   "I'm sure she does," House accepted. "Just like she knows yours and
Kasumii's."
   "No, I meant that she really knows your voice," Cuddy insisted. "She
knows our voices, too, true. She knows that we are the ones who cuddle
her and feed her and make her comfortable. But yours she really knows.
Not quite as clearly as Aiko did at one month – after all, at that time you
were pretty much the only one who took care of her – but Greer is show-
ing clear preference to you."
   "Really?" House didn't know if that was a good thing or not. "I haven't
noticed that. Mind you, I haven't had quite as much time with them as
I'd like to with the kids staying at home and me going to work."
   "You'll notice it soon enough once my maternity leave ends and you
have to take them to work with you," Cuddy assured him. "And I think
it's a good thing. Ben, after all, is showing clear preference for me. Priya,
on the other hand, doesn't care who is looking after her as long as she
gets what she wants. I think she sees us all as just her servants."




                                                                         284
   "You think she'll be a materialist once she grows up?" House
wondered.
   "No, I think she will take after you in being almost totally self-reliant,"
Cuddy smiled. "I'm sure all the kids will be independent and capable,
but Priya will be the one who will make her own way and follow her
own destiny, even if it means leaving people behind her. I just hope
she'll not be as rude about it as you."
   "I'm not sure I like that idea," House frowned. "It doesn't necessarily
make for a happy life. It has suited me, but it's not one I'd like to envision
for a kid of mine."
   "You're not happy?" Cuddy was startled. She had thought the kids, es-
pecially Aiko, had changed things for House.
   "I'm not sure I quite know what happy is," House mused. "But I'm def-
initely happiest now than I have ever been in my life. It may be that I just
don't quite trust this feeling."
   "You can trust the kids," Cuddy suggested cautiously.
   "Can I?" House doubted. "They are so small and fragile. We nearly lost
Aiko already!"
   "But we didn't loose her," Cuddy insisted hugging House a little tight-
er. "You saved her; you were able to diagnose the Blastomycosis and
treat her in time."
   "Yeah, that time," House was determined to sink into pessimism.
   "Most kids survive to adulthood," Cuddy was equally determined to
stop him. "And they don't have a family practically swarming with doc-
tors. Sure, you cannot give guarantees in life, but I think our kids are
pretty well set."
   "I'm not so sure," House mused, though not quite as pessimistically.
"Having doctors in the family will help only so far. They need things not
related to their health, too. And I don't know if I have it to give."
   "What do you mean," Cuddy wanted to know. She hoped she could
help him put his doubts to rest.
   "I don't know if I can really help Greer and the others, but especially
Greer, grow up to be happy, well-adjusted adults," House shrugged. "I
mean, I'm not exactly a happy, well-adjusted adult myself! And if I focus
on her, will I neglect the others? How will I make sure that Aiko doesn't
suffer with this situation; either through neglect or overcompensation?"
   "You do it by not trying to do it all alone," Cuddy informed him
sternly. "I'm here; your mother is here, Kasumii, Akira even Grey and
Wilson are here. We are all here. That is why this House-hold came to-
gether! Sure, we will have a different relationship with each kid, but just



                                                                          285
because we may feel closer to one of them, does not mean we love the
others any less. You have a special bond with Aiko, and I truly believe
you will have one with Greer, too. But that does not mean you love Ben
or Priya any less. And Ben is already showing preference for me and in
time Priya may even choose to bond best with her grandparents. But just
because we have different relationships with them all, does not mean we
won't be there for them just the same whenever they need us. Or that we
will love them any differently. Trust me! We will get it right, with some
mistakes on the way, but we will get it right as long as we do this
together."
   "You sound really sure about this," House observed.
   "I am," Cuddy stated. "And so will you be once you have more time
with them."
   "Which reminds me," House suddenly remembered. "Once I start tak-
ing them to work with me, they will be a little too much for Kasumii to
handle alone. Weren't we talking about hiring an assistant to her? What
happened to that?"
   "Oh, yes," Cuddy was suddenly a lot less assertive. "I've been meaning
to talk to you about that."
   "Why do I have a feeling that I'm not gonna like what comes next?"
House wondered.
   "Rubbish, of course you will like it," Cuddy replied unconvincingly.
"You see, once I go back to work my study will naturally move with me,
which frees the blue bedroom. The kids don't need individual rooms for
a few years yet, after all."
   "Aiko has her own room," House inserted.
   "She has for now," Cuddy informed him. "Once the Trips sleep
through the night and she won't be disturbed by them anymore, we
thought we'd put Greer in Aiko's room and Ben and Priya would share
the yellow room. Anyway, the blue room will be free for a couple of
years so … "
   "I know this house was originally meant to be a bed and breakfast
place, but that does not mean you can turn it into a hotel," House started
to grouse as he saw where the conversation was going.
   "Now, just listen, ok?" Cuddy tried to pacify him. "Grey has a young
cousin who wants to become a Nanny. She really wants to work with
children and not as a paediatrician or a teacher but as a trained Nanny.
She is now sixteen and wants to go to Norland as soon as she is old
enough but her parents think she ought to go to the university and get a
higher education. Apparently she does have the brains for it, but that is



                                                                      286
not what she wants. So Grey thought that if she came here, to help
Kasumii, for a year or so she could find out for sure if this is what she
wants to do and maybe she could convince her parents that she knows
what she is doing."
   "And if she can't convince them, then what?" House asked.
   "Grey thinks that he could sponsor her, if he is sure she truly wants it,"
Cuddy said.
   "Sixteen," House mused. "I don't know what the school system is in
England, but even if she is old enough to leave school isn't she under
age? Can she come here without parental permission?"
   "We would obviously get the permission," Cuddy pointed out. "I'm
sure her parents will agree that if she isn't sure about her vocation then
taking care of triplets will most likely scare her off. It would definitely be
worth their while to try it. And it's not like they are sending her to
strangers. Grey would obviously stand in loco parentis to her."
   "So how far are the arrangements by now?" House asked resignedly.
   "I would never arrange anything like this without asking you first!"
Cuddy exclaimed indignantly. "It's only a plan so far. But we can put the
plan in action first thing tomorrow and if all goes well, she should be ar-
riving in three weeks time. Fortunately her mother is American so she
has dual citizenship."
   "Half this household has dual citizenships!" House snorted, though it
really had nothing to do with the subject on hand. He just needed to
complain about something. "So why doesn't this cousin stay with her
mother's relatives?"
   "I believe none of the close relatives are alive anymore," Cuddy
thought. "Besides, she's from California, so they would be too far away
anyway."
   "Ok, I'll talk with Grey tomorrow and if I'm satisfied with his answers
you can start implementing your plan," House sighed feeling defeated
already. "And I'm taking tomorrow off work, too. Unless somebody de-
cides to get an interesting illness in which case they can call me in."
   "Shouldn't you clear that with Sheridan?" Cuddy asked.
   "We have an armed truce with Sheridan," House informed her. "I don't
bother him if he doesn't bother me. I'll call Wilson in the morning; he is
the Dean and needs the information more than Sheridan does. The duck-
lings will be there to take care of the clinic hours anyway, so Sheridan
has no reason to complain."
   "Ok then," Cuddy agreed sleepily snuggling down. "I think it will be
nice to have you around for a day."



                                                                          287
   "That's what you say now when you want something from me," House
claimed settling better under the covers and getting ready to sleep. "But
we'll see how you'll really like it tomorrow."
   "Yeah, we will," Cuddy smiled. "Goodnight House."
   "Goodnight Lisa," House responded.
   Next morning in the kitchen Higa took House a little aside, away from
the ladies making breakfast both for adults and the children.
   "So am I to understand that you finally got down to some Cuddyling
yourself, too?" Higa asked.
   "Could be," House answered. "I just don't quite know what it is we're
having, Lisa and me. If it's an affair or just an experiment on her part or
what. I'm taking it one step at a time."
   "Hmmm," Higa thought for a moment. "Your relationship has had me
puzzled from the beginning, so you have to muddle through this your-
self. Just as long as you respect her?"
   "Yeah," House nodded. "I may not always show it very clearly, but I
do respect her. Oh, and let Lisa tell Mom about this, ok?"
   "If she hasn't realised it herself already," Higa agreed.
   "There is that," House noted as he took his coffee and limped back into
his flat to get dressed for the day.




                                                                       288
Chapter    47
Lazy Monday
House helped with the morning routines of the kids. He paid special at-
tention to Greer's reactions and he had to admit that she seemed to be-
come a little more animated when she heard his voice than when the oth-
ers were speaking. Ben obviously liked Cuddy but Priya's reactions
seemed to differ depending on her need. If she was hungry, she didn't
care who brought her the bottle as long as she recognised a here comes the
food voice – granted they all had a slightly different way of saying it, but
with them all it differed from their time to cuddle and time to change the di-
aper voices and Priya knew them all. Cuddy was probably right, for
Priya a servant was a servant was a servant. They would need to pay
special attention to her emotional development, especially her ability to
feel empathy and sympathy. Social interaction was possibly something
that she would need extra training on too. Though it was possible that he
was being overly pessimistic; the kids were barely five weeks old!
   Aiko was happy to have her Daddy home for the day. She didn't even
mind sharing him with her siblings but was quite happy to hold the
clean diapers whilst Daddy disposed of the dirty one and got each of the
trips ready for the new one. After all, Daddy always told her that she
was doing such a good job helping with the care of the babies. She was
such a big girl, and clever, too. Daddy said so. She did think that there
was something silly going on with MamaLisa and Daddy because they
were different with each other than normally. They could be talking to
each other just like every day and MamaLisa even yelled at Daddy at
one point when he said something about Ben that Aiko couldn't hear but
MamaLisa didn't like, but then, suddenly they could stop and just smile
at each other. Or sometimes when they weren't paying attention they
bumped into each other and they sort of jumped and MamaLisa turned
red and Daddy got a funny smile on his face. Fortunately it lasted only
the morning and they settled down to being normal by the time Uncle
Grey got back from work after noon.



                                                                          289
   Grey worked only the mornings on most Mondays, so when he got
back from work the ladies in the house decided to go shopping and leave
the men to mind the kids. There were three of them after all, so they
ought to be able to look after four little babies especially as Aiko was the
only one of them who could walk. Well, the guys were fine with that.
They kissed the ladies goodbye – literally, even House – and took over
the house.
   When the ladies came back, four hours later, they found House and
Grey on the living room floor with the triplets. There was soft jazz music
(John Henry Giles, actually) coming from the stereo, the electric fireplace
had been turned on and House and Grey were lying near it, both were
bare-chested and had diaper-clad babies sleeping on them, skin against
skin. House was holding Ben and Greer and Grey had Priya. What sur-
prised the ladies most was that on a recliner near them Dr Higa was also
sitting, bare-chested and holding Aiko in his arms. Aiko too was wearing
only her diaper and she was sleeping as soundly as her siblings.
   As Higa saw the arrivals he lifted a finger to his lips asking for silence:
"They just fell asleep," he whispered.
   "What are you doing?" Blythe asked quietly.
   "Skin baths. Skin to skin contact is very beneficial for the babies," Higa
explained. "It helps to calm them down, it promotes both physical and
emotional health and is very good method of bonding for child and
parent."
   "And they like music, too," Kasumii supported the statement. "House
has been doing this with Aiko quite often before."
   "Yes, he has," Higa nodded. "Now, however, there are four babies all
in all, so he couldn't do it alone. Fortunately Grey likes jazz too."
   "We better leave you to it then," Cuddy smiled. She thought House
looked totally adorable. She supposed that Blythe and Kasumii thought
the same about their men – at least their expressions seemed to say so –
but she was only interested in House. "Let's go into the kitchen and get
some coffee."
   "And we need to put the shopping away, too," Kasumii said. "The ba-
bies should sleep for about half an hour still at this time, if they keep to
their normal schedule, so we still have a moment to ourselves before
they need us."
   "We can handle them," House stated quietly. "Take your time."
   "I know you can," Cuddy smiled at him. "But I only have three weeks
or so with them anymore. Then I have to go back to work and can't see
them any time I want."



                                                                          290
  "You'll still see them often enough," House told her. "After all, you
spend half of your day in my office yelling at me, so you get to see the
kids quite a lot."
  "Just so you know," Cuddy gave him a warning glare. "The presence of
the kids will not stop me from yelling at you if I think you deserve it."
  "Never even crossed my mind," House insisted with an innocent stare
as he shifted Greer into a better position in his arm.
  Once the ladies had disposed of their shopping and converged in the
kitchen they made coffee and sat around the kitchen table.
  "You know Blythe," Cuddy mused. "Though David is definitely in best
shape of them all, being the youngest and given his job, I think our guys
weren't too shabby either."
  "No, not shabby at all," Blythe smiled in agreement.
  "Of course it was David who made me melt, but I thought your guys
looked pretty yummy too, for old men," Kasumii agreed with a twinkle.
  "A little less emphasis on that old," Blythe huffed good-humouredly.
  "Hey, you're the ones who are too old to do anything but cuddle,"
Kasumii teased.
  "Let me tell you, young lady," Blythe responded with mock haughti-
ness. "There is cuddling, and then there is cuddling."
  "Hear, hear," Cuddy supported Blythe.
  "If you say so," Kasumii accepted. "But I have to say this was a very
nice homecoming."
  "Sometimes life can be really good," Cuddy nodded and the ladies
toasted each other with the coffee.
  Once the kids woke up from their nap the men put on their shirts,
though they were told that it wasn't necessary at all, and then dressed
the children. After that the ladies took over so that the men could have
their coffee. The rest of the day was leisurely. At five weeks the triplets
were too young to do more than eat and sleep (and poop), so cuddling
was pretty much the only play they could be involved in. That was ok,
though, since there were plenty of people who wanted to cuddle them.
Just like there were plenty of volunteers to really play with Aiko, too.
  When Blythe was getting ready to make the dinner, everybody
gathered into the kitchen – which was fortunately a very large room.
And while they waited, the triplets got their dinner – or whatever meal it
was for them at that time – from bottles: House fed Priya, Cuddy saw to
Greer and Kasumii took care of Ben. Aiko was, again, sitting with her
grandfather.




                                                                       291
   "You were right," House told Cuddy. "Ben and Greer seem to favour
you and me."
   "Did you doubt my word," Cuddy asked a little huffily.
   "Not really," House placated her. "After all, you're the one who has
been spending your days with them."
   "Children often bond more with one parent," Kasumii said. "You just
need to make sure the other parent doesn't end up excluded."
   "That was what I was going to say," House agreed. "We must make
sure that we don't divide the children too much. I don't mean that we
shouldn't take their preference as a real thing, they may be small, but
they do know what and who they like. Besides, given Greer's blindness I
think we should do whatever she needs us to do to make her feel safe
and comfortable, even more than with the other children. And I'm not
talking only about when they are babies. But we must make sure they
know they have two parents and that they can rely on both of us. Actu-
ally, they probably need to understand that relying on you is the better
bet."
   "You have been perfectly reliable with Aiko," Cuddy insisted. "I'm con-
vinced you will be reliable with the Trips as well. Don't sell yourself
short here. I know most adults cannot trust you, but now we are talking
about our children and the fact that we are even having this conversation
shows that you want to put their needs first and therefore you are
reliable."
   "Let's hope I can keep it up," House muttered. "But I think Priya is the
one we really need to keep an eye on. She may need help in developing
her social skills and possibly she has inherited my lack of empathy."
   "You have empathy," Kasumii frowned puzzled.
   "Only with people I like," House pointed out. "And that's not that
many."
   "It's true you don't show much empathy," Blythe inserted into the con-
versation which she – like the rest of the adults in the room had followed
though not much participated in. "But you do feel it. It's just that in your
work it can get in the way, so you contain it. Like all your emotions. It's
not a question of you being unable to feel it, you just ration it."
   "That may be a little too optimistic a view of me," House pondered.
"But since you're my mother, I don't really dare contradict you. But
whatever the case may be with me, Priya might need some help in that
department. Though it really is rather early days to worry about that."
   "I don't think it is ever too early to worry about your children," Higa
smiled. "It is part of the job a parent takes on when he becomes a parent."



                                                                        292
   "Yes, they are never too young, and never too old for you to worry
about them," Blythe agreed sending a teasing look to her son.
   "I suppose I will drive them all up the wall," House sighed with
resignation.
   "Oh, don't worry House," Cuddy told her lightly. "You won't be doing
it alone. In fact, I'm fairly sure I will drive them nuts before you can get
them up the wall."
   Everybody laughed.
   Later that evening House helped put the kids to bed. He sat with Aiko
in his arms near the cribs where the triplets were sleepily blinking their
eyes and sang to them the same Japanese children's song that was Aiko's
favourite (though she liked pretty much anything Daddy sung for her,
be it a lullaby or Rolling Stones).
   "Ooki na kuri no ki no shita de / anata to watashi / naka yoku asobimashou /
ooki na kuri no ki no shita de."
   He hadn't sung it more than twice when all the kids were out for the
count. Kasumii took Aiko and carried her to bed, too. House got up and
limped out of the room with his cane, leaving his wheelchair inside,
ready to be used when he next needed to carry the kids. Outside he met
Cuddy, who was sort of hovering in the corridor a little uncertainly.
House walked to her and gave her a one-armed hug.
   "You look knackered," he told her gently. "Go to bed. Your own."
   "Are you… " Cuddy didn't quite know how to express her thoughts. "I
mean, have you… , I … "
   "Shut up Cuddy," House smiled at her. "I thought we were friends
even if with benefits."
   "That is what I said," Cuddy agreed though she wasn't sure what
House meant.
   "So don't go all teen-ager on me," House told her. "Don't behave like I
was telling you that if you love me you'll have sex with me. First of all, we're
too old for that. Second of all: I really am not as young as I used to be
and for you to expect me to perform every night is not very friendly, you
know. You told me not to tell you what I think you want to hear, unless I
really mean it. In return I expect that you come to me only when you
want to, not when you think that I expect it. If I think it's been too long
and I want to break into the kids' college fund, I'll let you know and you
can have first refusal."
   "Promise?" Cuddy asked in a small voice.




                                                                           293
   "Cross my heart," House answered solemnly. "We're old friends, not
new lovers. Let's not play games. Not with this. Because if we screw this
up, it's the kids that will suffer."
   "I know," Cuddy nodded. "It's just still rather new all this. I have never
before really lived in the same house with the man I'm sleeping with.
Can you imagine! At my age. I'm not quite sure how things are supposed
to happen now that you won't wine and dine me first. When there are no
dates that have a clear agenda. This is all new."
   "I haven't been here before, either," House pointed out. "But as you
said, if we are honest with each other, we'll muddle through, somehow.
There will be times when you'd like to have sex and I'll refuse either be-
cause my leg hurts too much or for some other reason. And there may be
times when you need company but no sex, and that will be ok, too. We'll
figure this out. I don't know how long this will last, but somehow we'll
make this work for as long as it does. But right now, you need sleep. Go
to bed. I'll see you in the morning."
   "I suppose you're right," Cuddy accepted. "And anyway, right or
wrong, here we are. Thanks for understanding and Goodnight."
   "Goodnight Cuddy," House said. "And don't let the bedbugs bite your
ass. That's my privilege."

   *The words for the song are: Under the big chestnut tree / you and me / are
playing happily / under the big chestnut tree




                                                                          294
Chapter    48
Priotities
House arrived at work at his normal late hour and he run into Nurse
Brenda almost as soon as he set his foot inside the building. The clinic
was full of patients and House was the only one who either wasn't in the
clinic already or didn't have an urgent patient waiting for him.
   "Get your butt to the clinic, now," Brenda insisted. She sounded almost
like Cuddy which made House grin. Brenda eyed him suspiciously and
asked: "What?"
   House didn't say anything at first he just bent towards Brenda and
kissed her full on the lips. The action was so unexpected that Nurse
Brenda didn't even react to it. She just dropped the files in her hands and
stared House with wide eyes. House straightened up, grinned even
wider and said: "Sorry, I was just feeling all warmed up." Then he
sauntered to the lifts and towards his own office.
   Brenda stood rooted to the spot trying to understand what had just
happened. "All warmed up?" she repeated to herself and suddenly she,
too, grinned from ear to ear. She had remembered the House-warming
gift she and the other nurses had given to Dr Cuddy. Obviously Dr
Cuddy had decided to use it and apparently to a very good effect!
Brenda turned to go back to the clinic and realised that it was still full
and she was – still – a doctor short. She stopped smiling. Drat the man!
   House was still grinning as he got to his office. He disposed of his bag
and then went next door to get his first mug of coffee. As he walked in
he found his team sitting at the table perusing a file and Wilson was
standing next to them. On the white board there was a list of symptoms.
   "Who has touched my markers," House demanded. "Oh, wait, I know
that handwriting. Can't read it, but I know it."
   "Don't try House," Wilson told him. "I happen to know for a fact that
you can read my handwriting. Unfortunately you can read it even up-
side down."




                                                                       295
   "What is unfortunate about that?" House wondered. "There is many a
piece of interesting information I would have missed were I not able to
do that."
   "Yeah, and each one of them has been none of your business," Wilson
pointed out.
   "But they were still interesting," House insisted insouciantly.
   "As is this case," Wilson brought the conversation back to the relevant
point.
   "Abdominal pain, swallowing difficulties, enlarged lymph nodes, ar-
rhythmia, fever," House read the symptoms. "Looks like an infection of
some kind."
   "Yeah, but what kind," Wilson demanded. "Finding out is your job
now."
   "Since when have you been my boss," House complained.
   "Since Cuddy went on maternity leave, as you well know," Wilson re-
minded him. "Besides, this gets you off clinic duty, so I don't know what
you're complaining about."
   "Fine," House sighed taking up a marker. "So, any ideas team?"
   "He has had a few tests done already," Chase said looking at the file.
"If any of them are correct, it could be a parasite: Leishmaniasis, Malaria
even. The problem is that we cannot find any way he could have been
exposed – and yes, we did ask about sexual partners, too. And we did it
when the wife was not present."
   "You have been busy," House noted. "Since he is a guy, I think we can
trust him as far as his sexual escapades go. Men seldom lie about sex if
their lives depend on the answers. Women may want to rather die than
hurt their loved ones. That of course means that our guy may not know
everything about his sexual partners, so let's not completely discount
anything. Anything else come to mind?"
   "Toxoplasmosis, Myocarditis," Petra shrugged. "Even Esophagitis."
   "That's two opinions, then," House accepted. "We just need the opin-
ions from Dr Cameron and everybody has had a say."
   "He could have some coronary artery anomaly and the infection caus-
ing the fever could be secondary symptom," Cameron said. "Though I
agree with Chase, we should look for a parasite. Some parasites don't
cause problems until years later, so he may not even remember the cir-
cumstances of the exposure."
   "Ok, you have alternatives," House nodded. "Go, test! Especially try
for any and every parasite you can think of. And be quick, before the ar-
rhythmia becomes worse and kills him."



                                                                       296
   "If we test for everything you want," Petra informed House. "It will
take probably at least 24 hours to get it all done. And that's with us all
three working on it."
   "Better hop to it, then," House shrugged. "You know what they say:
Arbeit macht frei."
   All but House observed how an icy silence descended over Petra. She
stopped dead and turned to glare at House: "I would appreciate it, if you
refrained from being flip about Concentration camps."
   "Fair enough," House nodded almost making Chase and Cameron dis-
locate their jaws. Wilson, however, sat down and buried his head in his
hands. House turned to face Petra. "I'll keep it in mind should I ever de-
sire your appreciation. Now, can we go on trying to save this patient or
was there something else, personal and irrelevant you wanted to share?"
   "My great-grandmother is a Holocaust survivor," Petra informed him
tightly.
   "Good for her," House responded heartily. He paused to muse for a
moment and then went on: "I wonder if she ever met my mother's Uncle
Jozef."
   "Her uncle was in a concentration camp?" Petra was suddenly feeling
almost ashamed. Maybe flip remarks were just House's way of dealing
with that part of his family history.
   "I suppose you could say so, in a way," House inferred.
"Obersturmführer Jozef Van Husen worked for the Gestapo. I believe at
one point his duties did include inspecting the Concentration Camps."
   A stunned silence followed that announcement. Chase and Cameron
turned to look at Wilson who was still holding his head and shaking it at
the same time. Obviously none of this was news to him, though that still
didn't mean that House actually had an uncle Jozef. Petra, however, was
staring at House only.
   "You descend from a Nazi?" The question was full of loathing.
   "You need to pay better attention," House admonished her. "We don't
descend from our uncles. Unless there are some very twisted skeletons in
the family closet, that is."
   "Ok, so you don't descend from him," Petra wasn't feeling very forgiv-
ing. "But you do share his blood."
   "True," House accepted. "That I do." He was watching Petra like she
was an interesting specimen under a microscope.
   "Are you expecting me to just go on working like I didn't know you
come from a Nazi family?" Petra asked indignantly as House didn't ex-
plain anything else.



                                                                      297
   "Are you a doctor?" House asked her.
   "Yes, I am a doctor," Petra snapped. "You know perfectly well I am a
doctor."
   "Then yes, I do expect you to go on working on our patient," House
announced unconcernedly. "Our dying patient, I might stress."
   "You can't really expect me to work for you anymore!" Petra was
flabbergasted.
   "Fine I'll accept your resignation. You can work your two weeks notice
in the clinic. In fact you can go there right now," House ordered briefly.
"They could use some help and our patient certainly doesn't need a doc-
tor who puts her itsy-bitsy feelings before the care of a patient."
   Petra glared at House. Chase and Cameron were standing at the door
observing the scene. They didn't really know what House was up to
now, but they deemed it better to stay out of it. There was no knowing
what might make it worse. Wilson was almost moaning in distress, but
he still didn't lift his head. He knew trying to curb House when he had
the bit between his teeth was useless. Petra tossed her hair.
   "Fine, I'll go to the clinic," Petra huffed. "But you might tell your min-
ions to test for Trypanosoma cruzi too, if they are testing for parasites. It's
possible to get that from blood transfusion as we don't test for it since it's
so rare."
   "Chagas disease," House nodded. "Very good. It's common enough in
South- and Central America, and there are cases every now and then
among the Latin population."
   "Well, that's it then," Petra said tightly and stormed out of the room.
   "House," Wilson finally lifted his head. "Did you really have to do
that?"
   "Does your mother really have an uncle who was a Nazi?" Chase
wanted to know.
   "Yes, she did," House answered. "Uncle Jozef is dead by now, and that
is all you need to know. Go, do the tests. And don't forget the tests for
Chagas."
   Cameron apparently wanted to say something but Chase pulled her
out of the room with him. Wilson shook his head at House exasperated.
   "You just have to push, don't you," Wilson stated.
   "I just wanted to see her reaction," House shrugged. "And I have to
say, it was fairly good."
   "You can't throw something like that at people just to see their reac-
tions," Wilson complained.
   "Why not?" House asked. "I did it to you."



                                                                           298
   "Yeah, but I already knew you better then than Dr Gilmar does now,"
Wilson insisted.
   "But this isn't about her reaction to me," House explained. "This is
about her reaction to an unexpected piece of information and how that
affects her ability to care for a patient."
   "And what good did that do?" Wilson nearly shouted. "What does it
matter that you know how she reacts to something like that when you
just fired her?"
   "It satisfied my curiosity," House suggested.
   "You… " Wilson threw his arms in the air and stormed out of the
room, too.
   House was in his office playing a game when Cameron walked in. She
had a sheet of paper with her. House got an immediate sense of déjà vu.
   "I need your signature on this recommendation," Cameron said as she
gave the paper to House.
   House took a pen and signed: "I heard there is an opening in the Penn.
Applying for it?"
   "How did you know?" Cameron wondered.
   "You always do," House pointed out. "Especially when I have done
something to upset you."
   "This has nothing to do with you," Cameron denied. "Other than you
told us to find new jobs."
   "So you're perfectly ok with Uncle Jozef?" House doubted.
   "None of my business," Cameron replied – lying blatantly. "But if you
want to talk about it… "
   "No, I don't," House stated and turned back to his game. Cameron
hovered in place for a moment so House looked up again and asked:
"Was there anything else?"
   "No," Cameron shook her head. "Nothing." And she walked out.
   That, however, was not the end of interruptions for House. Cameron
had barely had time to get back to the lab where they were running the
tests when Petra walked into House's office. She, too, was holding a
piece of paper.
   "Your resignation letter, I presume," House observed.
   "Yes," Petra responded biting her lip. "But before I hand it to you, I
need to ask you something."
   "Ask away," House invited. "I'm not giving any promises about an-
swering, but then that doesn't mean you can't ask. And since you're
about to leave my employ I cannot really order you about anymore, can
I?"



                                                                     299
   "I can accept your position that nothing should get in the way of pa-
tient care," Petra was obviously finding it difficult to talk about the sub-
ject. "Should I find some unsavoury fact about my patient, I would need
to set my feelings about it aside and still give my best to the patient's
care. Ideally I would, of course, refer him to another doctor, but that is
not always possible. However, a patient is someone I deal with for only a
short time. You are someone I need to associate every day, all day. Be-
fore I decide to hand in my resignation, I need to know more about your
Uncle Jozef. I need to know … I need to know how you feel about him."
   "Sorry, I left my feelings in my other pants," House replied. Then he
sighed and put away his game. "I never met him, I never knew him; he
died before I was born. He is as abstract and irrelevant to me as his
brother, Gerben Van Husen. I never met Uncle Gerben either. He was
shot by the Germans for hiding Jews and helping them escape from the
Netherlands to Sweden. They are ancient family history. Just names in
my Grandmother's memory. There is nothing personal about them to
me."
   "Then why did you tell me about him?" Petra was totally lost.
   "To see how you react," House said. "And you reacted pretty well.
Even when you were huffing and puffing with indignation, you still
came up with a possible diagnosis. Well done."
   "You do understand that I hate you," Petra stated calmly.
   "I don't care," House shrugged. "Hate me as much as you want as long
as you don't let that get in the way of your work and as long as you do
what I tell you to do."
   "So why should I stay?" Petra wondered.
   "Because I can teach you to be a better doctor," House asserted.
   "There are others who can do that," Petra pointed out.
   "Yes, there are," House accepted. "Only they will not push you to your
full potential. Only with me will you find out how good a doctor you
really can be."
   "Modesty is really not one of your shortcomings," Petra announced al-
most bitterly.
   "Modesty does not come into this," House said. "I know what I know. I
know myself and what I can do. Nobody is served well by my denying
my skills and knowledge. Sure, it would be easier for people's egos if I
pretended to be lucky instead of brilliant. But my business is not to save
people's egos, but their lives. So, are you in or out?"
   "I'm in," Petra vowed. "And I promise I will not let my dislike of you
get in the way either of my care for the patient or my career."



                                                                        300
   "Fine," House nodded. "I'll stand warned."
   When House got home that evening Cuddy was waiting for him.
   "What were you thinking," She demanded. "Why did you make Dr Gil-
mar resign?"
   "She didn't," House placated Cuddy. "She is still working for me. She
just hates me now."
   "Oh, I'm so relieved," Cuddy scorned. "Why would you go out of your
way to make her hate you!"
   "Well, now that you and I are an item, I couldn't run the risk of her
falling for me that way Cameron did," House explained with wide-eyed
innocence.
   "You really are impossible," Cuddy sighed. "You will give me a full ac-
count of it all tonight."
   "In person or over the walkie-talkies?" House asked hopefully.
   "In person," Cuddy responded, though there was still some belliger-
ence in her voice. "But you better make it good."
   "Which one?" House leered. "The account or the in person?"
   "Both," Cuddy told him. "Because you really need all the help you can
get to make me accept this one. Now, come along, your kids want to say
hello to Daddy."
   "In the kitchen?" House asked as he followed Cuddy.
   "As always," Cuddy smiled back.




                                                                      301
Chapter    49
Recruiting
Having greeted the kids, helped Cuddy and Kasumii feed the trips, en-
tertained Aiko while she waited for Kasumii to get her food and then fed
the said food to her, House took Aiko into his flat. He had a phone call to
make and he figured Aiko might be of help there. Eric answered almost
immediately.
   "Is everything alright?" were the first words out of Foreman's mouth.
   "Yes," House replied. "And I'm impressed that you would have my
number still on your speed dial."
   "I did consider deleting it," Foreman wasn't happy. "But then I thought
that I'll still need it for Aiko's sake."
   "Well, Aiko's here and wants to have a word with her uncle Eric,"
House told him and put Aiko on the phone. He tried hard not to listen to
Foreman going all mushy on his phone – he figured he would need to
wipe it clean of all the sugar and spice once the call was over. Aiko knew
her Uncle Eric's voice and babbled into the phone with earnest enthusi-
asm. She looked cute enough to make even House smile. After a few
minutes House said: "Ok, Aiko, say bye-bye to Uncle Eric, Daddy needs
to talk to him." Aiko did as asked and House took over the conversation
again. "Cameron is leaving me next," he told Foreman as he set Aiko
down on the couch with some toys she promptly started handing to him
and then taking back.
   "I know," Foreman replied. "I even know what finally pushed her into
seriously applying for a position elsewhere."
   "I should have known," House sighed ruefully. "She must have
emailed you pages and pages of outrage over my latest show of insensit-
ivity and political in-correctness."
   "I have to say making fun of the Holocaust is probably the lowest you
have gone," Foreman said.
   "Arbeit macht frei is the name of a novel by Lorenz Diefenbach pub-
lished in 1872," House pointed out. "Is it right to avoid speaking of it just



                                                                         302
because the Nazis liked it? I mean, Hitler liked Wagner but nobody's
boycotting Der Ring des Nibelungen. Well, except Israel."
   "Fine, whatever you say," Foreman gave up. He would never under-
stand House and his idea of humour. "You didn't call to discuss
Cameron's reasons for leaving did you?"
   "No," House acknowledged. "That would be too much like trying to
get in touch with my feelings (Foreman could practically hear him shudder).
No. What I want is for you to help me get her replacement."
   "Surely you're not suggesting that instead of taking the position as the
future Head of Neurology at PPTH I should return to you?" Foreman
wasn't sure what to think since that definitely was something House
could do, but would he? After all, he was the one who had told them to
leave in the first place.
   "No, I've got all from you that you can give," House dismissed the
idea.
   "Or want to give," Foreman was beginning to wonder why he didn't
just hang up on House. Only he would probably call back and keep on
calling till he got what he wanted.
   "I understand there is a Dr S. Chandrakanta working for Marty,"
House pronounced Marty with the usual derision.
   "Siva, yes," Foreman agreed cautiously.
   "Siva?" House scorned. "Is that what you call her?"
   "It's her nickname," Foreman shrugged. "Marty has always called her
that."
   "Of course he has," House scorned. "Him being such a friendly fellow;
though I'm not so sure that it's very friendly to give someone a nickname
just because you're too lazy to learn her real name. And to be called Siva,
of all things! You do know that Siva is a male deity in Hinduism?"
   "But her name is really difficult," Foreman pointed out. "And had she
objected to the nickname surely she would have said so."
   "I doubt that," House thought back to the interview he had had with
Dr S. Chandrakanta two years before when she had originally tried to
become Cameron's replacement. She had been the epitome of traditional
Indian upbringing where you didn't say boo to an authority figure, espe-
cially a male one. It was rather surprising that she had actually even be-
come a doctor in the first place and, if her file had been anything to go
by, a very good one to boot. "Though I suppose Chandrakanta is a rather
difficult name to pronounce so she is used to having it changed. It's not
like she works with people who have spent years to learn to say difficult




                                                                       303
words like, I don't know, Psychoneuroimmunology or Neurodegenarative or
Typomastigote."
   "I think we could manage Chandrakanta," Foreman explained a little
patronisingly though he had to pronounce the name very carefully to get
it right. "But Marty wants to call people by their first name and the one
that the S stands for is more difficult than her last name."
   "But Sivaramakrishnan which is what the S stands for is the last name.
It's a patronymic," House patronised back. "She comes from South India.
They don't have last names there, mostly just patronymics which are ad-
ded to the front of the personal name and almost invariably shortened to
just one letter. I'm surprised nobody in Marty's friendly practice has
bothered to find that out. All they needed to do was ask Dr
Chandrakanta."
   Foreman was quiet for a moment, swearing in his mind. House had
taught him to get the facts for himself, and he hadn't. He had taken
Marty's word for it. Ok, it wasn't about a patient, but having worked side
by side with Chandrakanta for over a month now he should have at least
checked. He had also forgotten that House spoke Hindi. So much for try-
ing to patronise his old boss. He sighed. "Ok, now that we have got that
out of the way," Foreman ground through his teeth. "Could you get to
the point of this call?"
   "Dr Chandrakanta applied for a fellowship with me two years ago,"
House got serious. "The first time Cameron left. At that time I was de-
termined to get Cameron back, so I didn't take the interviews seriously.
However, the situation has changed and based on what I saw of her
three years ago, I want her. And you will deliver."
   "How," Foreman laughed. "Am I supposed to paint her a rosy picture
of working for you? I can't do that; I'm not that good a liar. Besides you
just want her for her secretarial skills."
   "How do you know she has those?" House asked curiously. "Or do I
even need to ask? Good old Marty is already treating her as his
secretary."
   "Not secretary, he has one already, a Personal Assistant, maybe. And
he is at least polite about it," Foreman cursed himself silently (again) for
forgetting how much House knew and could deduce from tiniest clues.
"You wouldn't even thank her."
   "Of course not," House scorned. "If I thanked her it would mean I actu-
ally care if my mail gets sorted and the consultation requests get
answered. I didn't give the job to Cameron when she started with me;




                                                                        304
she chose to do it. If Chandrakanta doesn't want to do it, then nobody's
making her."
   "But you will make her do everything else," Foreman stated. "You'll
use her as a drudge, just like all your fellows."
   "Exactly," House totally deflected the criticism. "Just like all my fel-
lows. And she will learn more than she ever will with Marty. She is stag-
nating right now both as a doctor and in her career. She needs a kick and
you know nobody kicks like me."
   "She's happy here," Foreman tried to say. "Not all are that ambitious.
You're not. She probably wouldn't even be interested in working for you
now."
   "She was two years ago," House reminded him. "And nobody is so un-
ambitious as to turn down the most prestigious fellowship in the coun-
try. Tell her she starts on Monday."
   "What?" Foreman was gasping with so many things he couldn't even
analyze them. "Am I supposed to just walk to her and say something
like: remember that interview with House you had two years ago. He
has finally decided to hire you. You start on Monday, go home and
pack?"
   "Short, blunt, to the point," House itemised. "Yeah, sounds good to
me."
   "And how am I going to make her believe me in the first place?" Fore-
man wanted to know. "Anyone with half a brain would think I was jok-
ing, and believe me she has more than half a brain."
   "You obviously tell her to call me," House said. "Sure, I could just call
her myself, out of the blue, but you know me. I rather let someone else
do the sweet talking for me. Besides, she might decide it's a prank call if
she has no warning first."
   "She has a contract with Marty," Foreman tried to stall for more time.
"She cannot just start on Monday."
   "Once you tell her of my offer what is the first thing she will do?"
House queried.
   "She will go to Marty to ask for his opinion," Foreman replied a little
puzzled.
   "And how will Marty react?" House asked.
   "He will tell her to do as she thinks is best," Foreman sighed. "And he
will do it in a way that will make her think she has insulted him mortally
and that he never wants to see her again. Of course, he just wants to guilt
her into staying, but that won't work with Si-Chandrakanta. She takes
these things too deeply and since she will need to start moving



                                                                        305
immediately if she wants to be in PPTH by Monday, Marty won't have
time to do anything to correct his mistake. I can't do this for you, House.
You'll crush her."
   "Maybe," House didn't sound too worried. "And maybe I'll make her
stronger. However, you will tell her that she has till Monday to get the
fellowship. You know how that would affect her career. You don't need
to lie but you will tell her. And then she will make up her own mind
about it."
   "If, and that is a big if, I do tell her about your offer," Foreman knew he
could really not not-tell her about it. The opportunity was once-in-a-life-
time kind. "I will also tell her exactly what accepting it would mean."
   "Fair enough," House accepted. "By the way, how is she at making
coffee?"
   "Even better than Cameron," Foreman revealed. "Why?"
   "I don't think I better let Gilmar make the coffee anymore, not if I'm
going to drink it," House mused ruefully before just hanging up on Fore-
man. He turned to Aiko who had crawled to rest against his thigh some
time ago and fallen asleep. "I think I need to get you to your own bed
now."
   Late that night – after having done his best to get her into a good and
forgiving mood – House and Cuddy cuddled up in House's bed.
   "What were you thinking," Cuddy wanted to know. "Your reputation
is bad enough; you really don't need people believing that you don't take
the Holocaust seriously."
   "I don't care what people think," House shrugged.
   "Do you care what I think?" Cuddy asked.
   "Yeah. You matter," House acknowledged.
   "So why did you do it? Only to test Dr Gilmar?" Cuddy wanted to
know.
   "Pretty much," House said. "I might have chosen some other way, but
this sort of presented itself."
   "So tell me about Uncle Jozef," Cuddy invited. "I didn't want to ask
your Mother."
   "You could have," House shrugged again. "We neither one of us ever
met him, so we feel no inherited guilt. Nor do we think we have inher-
ited any credit from Uncle Gerben."
   "Uncle Gerben?" Cuddy hadn't heard of him.
   "Right, I only told Gilmar about him," House remembered. "Gerben
was Jozef's brother. A priest in a small coastal village. He tried to find




                                                                          306
ways to smuggle Jews out of the country to Sweden or England over the
sea. He was shot for it during the German occupation."
   "Oh, I suppose you could say one brother cancels the other," Cuddy
mused.
   "I seriously doubt that Gerben managed to save as many as Jozef des-
troyed," House pointed out.
   "How did Jozef become a Nazi," Cuddy wondered. "Wasn't he Dutch?"
   "Yes, but he went to Germany to study in the university of Heidel-
berg," House explained. "He married a German girl, got citizenship and
joined the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei in 1930 something.
He was tall, blond and had startlingly blue eyes so he was a very wel-
come poster boy for them."
   "Do you know how his family reacted to that?" Cuddy probed.
   "By the time Jozef joined the Nazi party Grandmother was already
married and living in the States," House told her. "So she didn't know
what the initial reaction was, but by 1939 at least, her father had dis-
owned Jozef. Not that it really mattered apparently, since Jozef didn't
come back home again. He died in Königsberg – or Kaliningrad as it is
now called - in 1945."
   "Your grandmother told you all this?" Cuddy asked.
   "Oma? Yes, she did," House nodded. "She didn't think it needed hid-
ing. In fact she believed that I needed to know – that everyone needs to
know – how people from the same family could take very different
paths. She never did believe this never again mantra that people started
after the War. And she was right. People have created the Holocaust
over and over again since then; they just haven't used that name. Cam-
bodia, Rwanda, Bosnia you name it. It's still homo homini lupus."
   "Man is a wolf to man," Cuddy translated. "It's not the Holocaust you
trivialize is it? It's the hypocrisy surrounding it that makes you sneer.
You know the evil it was, but you see the same evil happening still, even
if maybe in a smaller scale."
   "Except when it happens in a larger scale, like Darfur," House sighed.
"Mind you, I may scorn it, but I'm not exactly out there trying to battle
for a better world."
   "True," Cuddy agreed snuggling closer and getting ready to sleep. "But
in a way you battle it right here, in Princeton-Plainsborough Teaching
Hospital. One patient at a time. And you teach other doctors to do the
same."




                                                                        307
  "Yeah, that reminds me… " House looked down and saw that Cuddy
was nearly asleep already. "Never mind, you can yell at me tomorrow,"
he finished in a whisper.




                                                                 308
Chapter    50
Adding to Household
House, Cuddy, and Blythe were in the kitchen waiting for Grey and
Kasumii to arrive with Grey's cousin Perri. As soon as House had agreed
to having her, Cuddy had put things in motion and in the predicted
three weeks everything had been arranged, parental permission
included.
   The three weeks since their conversation – and incidentally the begin-
ning of the new phase in their relationship – had gone surprisingly fast
and painlessly. Cuddy visited House two, three times a week and on
those nights they weren't together they still often talked on the walkie-
talkies. Though mostly about the kids, things concerning the house and
the House-hold that they hadn't been able to talk about during the day;
not much dirty talking at all. Cuddy had wondered about that once, but
House had just shrugged and said that he preferred to lower expecta-
tions, not to raise them. Cuddy had kept her own council on that.
   At work Petra had used a week to glare at House, even when it turned
out that she had been right about the Chagas disease, but she had
simmered down eventually. House suspected she had talked with
Wilson and had thus gained some perspective to things. After all, it was
a little difficult to suspect a man of Nazi sympathies when his best – and
only – friend was a Jew. The second week after the near-resignation Dr
Chandrakanta had arrived to take Cameron's place – not that Cameron
had left yet, she had still had a week before starting her new job. Fore-
man had called Cuddy to tell her that Chandrakanta had accepted
House's offer. He had also asked Cuddy to keep an eye on the new doc-
tor, since he didn't trust House. Cuddy had assured him that should
House be too impossible she would find some other position for Dr
Chandrakanta in the hospital.
   Surprisingly, though, House had been almost gentle with his new fel-
low. Chase – who had been told on the pain of death not to sleep with




                                                                      309
his co-workers – had been surprised enough at this strange behaviour on
House's part to actually ask what was going on.
   "Contrary to popular belief," House had informed him. "I do not crush
people who can be crushed. I'm not yet sure that Chandrakanta can
handle me and my ways, so she is still under observation. If she turns
out to be too fragile, you can have her."
   "Have her?" Chase didn't understand House's pronouncement at all.
   "Yes," House informed him looking at him like he ought to know what
was going on, then he made a face and said: "Oh, yes, I forgot, you don't
know yet. The board only just approved Cuddy's motion."
   "What motion?" Chase was still in the dark.
   "She wants to expand the department of Diagnostics," House ex-
plained. "There will be a second team with you in charge. You get
Wilson's new office, once he moves back to his old one. Of course, you
don't get a conference room, but the office is big enough for you and
your team. If Chandrakanta can't work with me, she'll be perfect for
you."
   "What if I have other plans?" Chase asked partly flattered partly indig-
nant. House and Cuddy had arranged his future without so much as by
your leave!
   "Do you?" House asked, knowing full well that he didn't.
   "No," Chase admitted. "I was going to take some time off and review
my options. I know there is an opening in the NICU here in a month's
time. I was sort of thinking that if nothing else comes up I'll try for that."
   "Well, something has come up," House said. "Of course if you don't
want it, just say so. I'm sure there will be plenty of applicants for the pos-
ition once it's announced."
   "I… It's… " Chase had been unable to come up with anything sensible
to say.
   "Think about it," House told him. "Just remember, you cannot hire
Cameron."
   "Why not?" Chase was suddenly able to speak.
   "Because she needs to get away from me," House acknowledged rue-
fully. "And I'm fairly sure it would be better for her to have some dis-
tance from you, too. At least for a while."
   "So if I accept what then?" Chase wanted to know.
   "Then you start looking for a team," House stated. "There will be
plenty of applications, not only because this is still my department,
though you will head an independent team, but you will also garner
some interest as your father's son. You can sort the male applicants on



                                                                          310
your own, or with Wilson. I'm hiring my third fellow from the girls, so
we'll interview them together."
   "You want an all-female team?" Chase was awed. "What's the deal
with that? Are you aiming for House's Angels or something?"
   "More like a House's Harem," House leered. "Better alliteration."
   "Don't you have enough women at home?" Chase asked.
   "Yeah, but with the possible exception of the new Nanny's assistant
that is on her way, I don't get to order them about," House revealed.
   "What will Dr Cuddy say to this harem of yours," Chase cautioned.
   "She'll have no problem with it as long as I remember that the root
word for harem means forbidden," House pointed out.
   "Fair enough," Chase agreed.
   Cameron had briefed Chandrakanta well before her own departure to
Penn and House had his mail sorted and his coffee ready without any
break in the routine. He was happy to find out that Foreman had been
right about the coffee: Chandrakanta really did make better coffee than
Cameron. Most of the time he almost had to make a special effort to even
find her in the room; she could blend into her surroundings like a
chameleon. House suspected it had been drilled into her as a child with
all the other things that a properly brought up Indian girl needed to
know. He rather thought he could find use for that talent if he decided to
keep her. They had had only one patient since Chandrakanta had joined
the team, and even that House had taken on more to observe his new fel-
low than to diagnose the patient. It had been a fairly simple case of En-
cephalitis. She had participated in the Differential as a full member of the
team, though she always agreed with anything House said. That didn't
bother House, since he was used to it from Chase and Petra was there to
disagree with pretty much anything he said – which she did vehemently.
House wasn't quite sure yet, but he rather suspected that Chandrakanta
would stay in his team and Chase would need to get all his team himself.
   Now House was standing in his kitchen – or in the main kitchen of his
house – waiting for Perri Grey to arrive and start helping Kasumii with
the kids. He had been a little surprised that her parents had agreed to let
her come to the states for two years, even if she was going to have a
cousin looking after her and even if she was going to take night classes to
finish her education. But Grey had said that though her parents did love
their kid, they were more career orientated than Grey really thought was
good for Perri. Grey thought she was a little lost and he was hoping to
help with that.




                                                                        311
   House didn't get any further with his musings before the sounds told
him that the trio had arrived. Kasumii was the first one to enter the kit-
chen and she gave House a pleading look mouthing the words: "please
give her a break" to him. That was not very reassuring but did prepare
him for the arrival of the girl herself. Morticia Adams meet Pink was
House's first thought. Perri was dressed all in black. She had black jeans
that rode low enough to make one almost question if she had reached
puberty yet. Her t-shirt had been cut short, so it just covered her breasts.
She did have a coat on her arm when she arrived so at least she had
enough brains to protect herself against the elements. She set the – black
– coat down on a chair. She had piercings on her navel, her lip, her nose
and her eyebrow, and naturally she had six earrings on each ear. House
was relieved to see that they were just normal earrings, none of those
thick ones that actually mutilate the ear. Her hair was long and black, ex-
cept for pink and purple stripes, it hung straight to her waist. Her face
was covered in make-up, black lipstick, black mascara – and lots of it –
black eye-shadow and almost white foundation. Yet under all this bold I
don't care facade there seemed to be something very young and uncertain
– something very teenage. House sighed.
   Grey saw House raise an eyebrow at him and he sent an apologetic
look back. He had seen his cousin over a year ago and hadn't realised
how bad things had got until he had seen Perri again. He was hoping
House would not just dismiss Perri as trouble and send her back. Grey
was sure that underneath all that black there was still the same little
cousin he knew. He saw House sigh and set his mug on the kitchen
counter. Then House shrugged his shirt off, revealing the red t-shirt he
had under it. House turned to rummage in the kitchen drawers, found a
clean towel, wet it under the tap and then he limped to Perri. He took a
good, solid grip of Perri's neck and washed her face with the towel.
   House lifted the towel away from the face in front of him and met
Perri's indignant stare: "I like to see who I'm talking to," he stated calmly.
"The mascara you have to remove yourself, it seems to be waterproof."
   "How… " Perri tried to talk but House put the towel back on her face
to wipe off the rest of the make-up.
   "My house, my rules," House informed her. "If you don't like them…
Planes fly to England every day." House saw a flash of something in the
teenager's eyes. Not exactly fear, but something a little akin to it. Maybe
more loneliness and some defeat. "Here, button it up, all the way," House
held his shirt to Perri expecting her to put her arms through the sleeves.
Once she complied House rolled the sleeves up and took a look at her



                                                                          312
hands: long, black nails: "Those talons won't get anywhere near my kids.
Lose the polish and cut the nails." He took a closer look at the hands. "In
fact, you may need some advice in hand-care to start with. Kasumii will
take you shopping tomorrow. You need clothes that you can wear for
work. She will choose them. Your current outfit is not suitable. She will
also take you to have your nails done. Kasumii, make sure they also ad-
vice her on how to take care of her hands. (Sure, Kasumii promised). You
will not wear any makeup and you need to lose the piercings too. You
won't like it if Aiko gets her hands in one of them and yanks. And you
most definitely will not like what will happen if she or one of the trips
swallows any of them after they have yanked. You may wear one pair of
earrings when you're not working and the one in you navel you may
keep as well since it will be under your clothes at all times. The hair is
cool, though you have to braid it for work. Any tattoos?"
   "One," Perri didn't think not answering or lying was an option. Her
new boss almost scared her, though he had been pretty gentle with that
towel. Also it was oddly reassuring to have an adult to take charge like
this. At least it was on some level, on another it was infuriating: like she
was a kid or something. "In my butt."
   "That's ok," House accepted. "You won't be showing it to anyone any-
way, unless there is a medical reason in which case you will show it to
Dr Cuddy. And that, by the way, was not an optimistic assumption on
my part. It was an order. You. Will. Not. Show your butt to anyone while
you live under my roof. Clear?"
   Perri nodded though a little rebelliously, but she didn't want to go
back to England. At home she might be able to do what she wanted, but
she was also horribly lonely. She wasn't going home on the first plane,
no way. Maybe later, but not yet.
   "Are you a virgin," was the next personal question which elicited aud-
ible protests from Kasumii, Cuddy and Blythe (House! Gregory!). Perri
blushed from head to toe.
   "Who the hell would want me," she muttered almost under her breath.
   "No swearing," House admonished her. "There is room for only one
person who is crude, rude and socially unacceptable in this house and
that's me. No other vacancies. As for guys wanting you, you have a pulse
don't you? For most guys that is all they need. Teenage boys are a lot less
picky than you believe. Losing your virginity is not the problem. Losing
it so that you won't feel like shit for days afterwards is the difficult thing.
You need to learn to be picky. You have that right. Anyway, you won't




                                                                           313
be dating any time soon. You'll be too busy with work and classes. Any
questions?"
   "None," Perri felt her head was whirling. She was sure she had ques-
tions if only she could remember them!
   "Good," House accepted. "My mother will show you to your room and
she will help you to unpack. If none of your clothes are suitable for wear-
ing in this house, she, too, will take you shopping for clothes that you
will then wear when not dressed for work. And that reminds me, you
will not give her any lip under any circumstances. Ever. Dr Cuddy is the
mother of the children and you may try to give her some lip if you feel
brave, but let me tell you, she can cut you to size with half a sentence if
she wants to. You can give some lip to me, if you really feel like you can-
not contain yourself, and if it's amusing I may forgive you. But no matter
what, you will always, always do as you're told. Clear? You are now
working with my children and that is a position of trust even if you will
take all your instructions from Miss Tanaka. The children's wellbeing
comes first, always. You understand that?"
   "Yes, sir," Perri voiced, not very clearly but still perfectly audibly.
House chose to take that as a promise, too.
   "Come along dear," Blythe decided to take the teenager to her room
before House came up with any more outrageous questions or instruc-
tions. "He really isn't that bad once you get to know him (oh yes I am) and
the rest of the House-hold you will get along with just fine. Your room is
rather bare right now, just the basics, but if you don't have enough per-
sonal things to make it your own, we can go shopping and get what you
want."
   Once Perri and Blythe – and Kasumii who followed them, had got out
of the room House turned to face Grey: "You do know that from this day
forward I so own your ass!"
   "Yeah, I do know," Grey grimaced. "I'm sorry. I didn't know things had
gone that far with her. I'm sure she is ok and she has always adored kids,
but it seems that her parents are paying even less attention to her than I
thought."
   "Actually, I agree with you," House sighed as he picked up his mug
again. "She looks pretty much like a standard, confused teenager. Too
much freedom, not enough boundaries, and low self-esteem due to neg-
lect. Parents may love her, but she doesn't know that."
   "I think I may have my work cut out for me," Grey agreed ruefully.
   "You're not alone with her," House reassured him. "The ladies will be
happy to help you."



                                                                       314
  "What about you?" Grey queried. House had certainly taken over quite
impressively just now.
  "I'm her boss," House pointed out. "That is my main role. But if I can
help, I'll help. Don't count on my ability to help too much, though."
  "Every little thing helps," Grey responded turning to follow the wo-
men to Perri's room. Once his back was to House, he did, however,
smile. Widely.




                                                                    315
Chapter    51
Peregrine
When Perri came downstairs some time later she had changed her
clothes, but was still wearing House's shirt. Apparently none of her
clothes were suitable for wearing in the house. She had removed the last
of her makeup, all the earrings and other body-jewellery, and though her
nails were still long, they were polish-free. She stood at the foot of the
stairs biting her lip – reminding House a little of Cuddy – trying to de-
cide if she could, or wanted to, join the people in the living room. House
didn't give her a choice. He beckoned her over.
   House was at the piano playing something or other to entertain the
kids. The Trips were sleeping in a fairly big crib that had room for them
all and Aiko was playing with toys on the floor, though every now and
then she took a toy and brought it to one of the adults. Dr Higa had
joined the crowd and he and Blythe were sitting side by side reading a
Japanese newspaper (Higa was helping Blythe to refresh her scant know-
ledge of the language). Cuddy was in an armchair reading a medical
journal and Grey and Kasumii were on one of the couches talking – ap-
parently about Perri, since they stopped when she came in. Having
beckoned Perri to him, House turned away from the piano and took a
good look at the teenager standing before him.
   "Well, what do you know, she is actually human," House mused. "And
not that bad looking either. At least you won't scare the kids now." Perri
made a small face but didn't comment. Right then Aiko came over to her
Daddy dragging Mr Panda with her. She was now just big enough to be
able to tote the toy around – when she really wanted to. She stopped
when she reached her Daddy's legs but she turned to look at Perri with
curiosity. House smiled at her and then gave a considering look to Mr
Panda and then he looked back at Perri: "Though, I have to admit, that I
may have been a little hasty when I removed your makeup. Now that I
think of it, your resemblance to Mr Panda was quite startling. Had I left
it alone, you would probably have made instant friends with Aiko."



                                                                      316
   "I can go back and re-apply," Perri offered a little tartly but before
House could say anything to that, Aiko took matters into her hands. She
beamed at Perri and lifted the hand that was dragging Mr Panda, clearly
offering the toy as a welcome gift to this new person in her house.
   "Looks like she is quite happy to accept you as you are," House noted.
"Take the toy, thank her and then give it back."
   Perri did as instructed and was rewarded with even wider smile from
Aiko, who was showing all her teeth (though there weren't that many of
them yet), with her smile. She accepted Mr Panda back and turned to
take it to her Grandfather next.
   "I know your room is a bit bare still," House told Perri. "We moved
Cuddy's office back to the hospital only yesterday and since we weren't
sure how much stuff you were bringing with you, the ladies thought it
safe to just have the essentials there and you can fill in what is missing
later. When are the rest of your things arriving, do you know?"
   "Rest of my things?" Perri was a little puzzled.
   "Yeah," House nodded. "Don't tell me that you came all the way from
England to spend two years here and all you have with you is two suit-
cases and a carry-all?"
   "Well, yeah," Perri shrugged feeling a little stupid.
   "Your parents aren't sending things like your books or your old toys,
favourite chair anything to you?" House wanted to be sure he had under-
stood what Perri was saying. He also noticed that Grey was shamelessly
listening in on the conversation with a concerned look on his face.
   "They didn't say anything," Perri tried to behave like it was nothing. "I
didn't even think to ask."
   "Ask?" House repeated. "It shouldn't have been necessary for you to
ask." House gave a huffing sigh. He looked Perri up and down and
couldn't understand how anyone could see her as anything but a child.
"So how old were you when your parents first decided you were old
enough to cope without their constant input?"
   "I guess you could say seven," Perri shrugged touching one of her ear-
rings. "At least that's when Cora went back to work full-time and Allan
went after his next promotion."
   "And they left you alone," House said neutrally.
   "We had a live-in housekeeper," Perri defended her home.
   "And how long did she last?" House asked.
   "Till I went to boarding school at eleven," Perri replied, touching an-
other one of her earrings.




                                                                        317
   "Interesting," House narrowed his eyes at her gesture. "And that is
when you turned into Hermione Granger? At least judging by your
grades."
   "I suppose," Perri shrugged again.
   "You keep shrugging like that you're going to dislocate your
shoulder," House pointed out. "Good thing that the room is full of doc-
tors. So, if your first earrings are for your parents abandoning you and
another pair is for them sending you away from your home, what are the
others for? I am assuming that most of your piercings are less than four-
teen months old since that is when Grey saw you last."
   "Nothing, it's just what everybody does," Perri didn't shrug but she
did bite her lip again.
   "It's alright," Blythe had come over to Perri and she put her arms
around the distressed teenager. "We want to know because we care. You
are part of our family now. And we take care of family. It's ok."
   "No, it's not what everybody does," House denied. "At least not in the
circles you move. But I'm guessing that the first three pairs are memen-
tos of something, but the rest of them… You discovered how pain re-
leases endorphins. You're not cutting yourself, are you?" House was
clearly worried, which surprised Cuddy, who had abandoned her journ-
al as was standing next to Perri with Blythe. Not that she didn't know
that House could worry he just usually didn't show it. She glanced at
Grey who had joined them, too. Kasumii and Higa stood back – enter-
taining Aiko – and just observed.
   "No, I don't," Perri stated quietly.
   "Good," House relaxed a little. "It's not all that it's cracked up to be. But
you have been thinking about it, right?" Perri nodded. House shook his
head. "That's why you have the piercings. You took them to get the pain
but in a relatively risk-free way, while you pondered on your choices.
How did you get your parents to consent, though? I'm sure you need
parental permission to have something like that done?"
   "I got it," Perri started to shrug but remembered House's remark about
the dislocated shoulder and stopped in mid-action. "I told Cora that the
other girls were having things like that done and she didn't want to be
un-cool mother, so she signed the forms. Same for the tattoo."
   "Yeah, the tattoo," House smiled. "How did they do that? Did they use
and extra long needle or is there some special equipment that makes it
possible to locate them in your butt?" Perri looked down on the floor and
blushed a little. "Yeah, I caught that one. Unlike your parents I don't feel
the need to be your friend and give you the benefit of the doubt. The



                                                                           318
schools you have been to would never give you straight As if you didn't
know your grammar. But don't worry, I found it amusing enough to for-
give you. I did say some lip is tolerated under those circumstances."
   "Yeah, you did, but I'm sorry anyway," Perri muttered. She wasn't
really sure she wanted to apologize to House, but Blythe was there and
she had been so nice and welcoming – almost like a Grandmother, or
what Perri had always thought a grandmother would be like – that she
didn't want to appear sullen in front of her. Judging by the small smile
House had on his lips he understood her situation perfectly. He seemed
to understand a lot of things, which was odd, given how blunt and –
well he had said it best – rude, crude and socially unacceptable he was.
   "Apology accepted," House stated magnanimously. "Though I'm curi-
ous why did you not start cutting yourself? Most teenagers don't think of
the risk, or they find it adds extra thrill to it all."
   "There was a girl in my school last year," Perri explained. "She used to
do it, and then once she cut too deep. She nearly died. It caused a huge
uproar. Her mother quit her job and they had family counselling and
all."
   "And you weren't yet ready to find out if your mother cared enough to
do the same?" House asked gently. Perri gave the tiniest of nods but it
was enough to make Blythe hug her tightly and Grey to put his arm
around her as well.
   "Well, I have good news and bad news for you," House stated lifting
Aiko up to stand on his knees. She had left her grandfather and had
come over to see why so many adults were converging around her
Daddy. "This is the first one: Aiko may be little, but she is full of love.
She loves everybody in her family unconditionally and totally. You are
now part of that family so you have one person at least who accepts you
for who you are, unconditionally and without any questions." Aiko
smiled at Perri and reached up with her arms: she wanted to get a closer
look at her new family-member and the best way was to get picked up
by her. "Go on," House gave his permission. "You can pick her up, just
mind the nails." Perri took Aiko carefully into her arms and lifted her up.
Aiko promptly started to explore her face and hair. House smiled but
continued his statement. "The bad news is that I don't really care what
your life has been like before. You are now part of my House-hold and
you do as you're told. The bright side of that is that we really do look
after our own."
   "And I'm here, too," Grey reminded Perri. "You're my favourite cousin,
the kid sister I never got. You're not alone. Even your parents really love



                                                                       319
you they are just too stupid to know how to make you feel it. But I'm not
stupid. Nor is anyone else in this House-hold. You're one of us, now.
You belong!"
   "But I still don't know how they did that tattoo," House whined decid-
ing that the atmosphere needed to lighten up a little.
   "The normal way since it's here," Perri put her hand on the side of her
upper left thigh.
   "At least tell me it's something morbid like a skull and crossbones?"
House demanded.
   "Sorry, it's some kind of a falcon," Perri gave him a small smile. "I saw
the picture and just wanted it. The bird is descending, probably to attack
something since the talons are extended and it just looked cool. The tat-
tooist said that she thought it was an appropriate choice for me, I don't
know why, but she thought so. She said what type of falcon it is, but I'm
not normally into birds so I don't remember."
   "Appropriate huh?" House pondered on it for a second. "Was it a
Peregrine?"
   "Yes, something like that I'm sure," Perri frowned in concentration.
   "Falco Peregrinus the migrating falcon," House ruminated. "Peregrine
is used as a name, too and Perri used to be the short form of it until it
gained a status on its own. Very appropriate, I would say. And I think it
will turn out to be a good thing for us all that you migrated here. We'll
work it all out, somehow."
   Later on Grey found House in the kitchen drinking coffee.
   "Thank you," Grey stated simply. "It would have taken me ages to get
that much out of her. Some of it I already knew but I failed to make the
connections and see how badly they had already managed to damage
her. You always forget that neglect can damage you as much as abuse.
Thank you for getting all that out in the open."
   "No problem," House shrugged off the thanks. "The surgeons may take
pride in their skills with the scalpel but sometimes, when you want to
crack something open, a blunt instrument is the best tool for it."
   "And they don't come much blunter than you," Grey acknowledged.
   "We do our best with what we have," House indicated. "You might
want to ask if Cecil has time to see her. If she wants to, of course."
   "I will definitely suggest therapy," Grey agreed. "She needs someone
neutral to help her deal with all the emotions that she has suppressed."
   "You might want to recruit my Mother for that mission," House sug-
gested. "She seems to have adopted Perri already. And since she is seeing
Cecil herself, she can definitely talk from a position of knowledge."



                                                                        320
   "Ok, thanks for the suggestion," Grey thanked him again. "And after
what you did today, you don't own just my ass, you can ask for my first-
born as well."
   "Thanks, but no thanks," House declined the offer. "I'm up to my ears
in kids already. I definitely don't need any more."
   Even later that night in House's flat, Cuddy got in and found House in
the bedroom. He wasn't getting into bed yet he was standing at the closet
looking for something. When Cuddy walked in he turned to look at her.
She was fully dressed, too, but she didn't start taking off her clothes. She
just walked right up to House, put her arms around him and kissed him.
Long and hard. Then she hugged him, rested her head on his shoulder
and said:
   "I'm so glad that you are the father of my children."




                                                                        321
Chapter    52
Little things
House was sitting in his office at the end of the week. He was reflecting –
once again – on the irony of life. Usually when he applied his diagnostic
skills and curiosity to the private lives of people he got yelled at (and of-
ten sued). When he had done it with Perri, not only did he get thanked
by Grey – the girl's guardian – he also got rewarded by Cuddy (and that
still put a smile on his face! talk about wow!). Maybe he could learn this
parenting thing after all. Perri had certainly been in a lighter mood since
all the stuff had been got out into the open and still nobody had judged
her. The women had totally adopted her and the next day shopping ex-
pedition had lasted over five hours, with a complete beauty-treatment
thrown in as well, not just the hand-thing, manicure or whatever it was
called. Cuddy had stopped back at the house after a little over three
hours (that was when Kasumii was choosing Perri's working clothes) to
fill the bottles for the Trips and to inform the men that all the women
were going to the beauty-salon.
   When the ladies had returned Perri had actually been smiling. She was
wearing black jeans (normal waist, not the low one her previous ones
had had), a pink t-shirt and a purple cardigan. It turned out that pink
and purple were her favourite colours but the black look had been partly
a reflection of her mood and partly an attempt to get a reaction from her
mother (nice try, no cigar!). Now that she was feeling more accepted,
more a real part of a family she didn't need that much black, though she
still liked it, just not so much of it. As soon as they had got in, Perri had
come over to House to show her hands. The nails were short and though
there was some nail-polish on them, it was almost colourless giving only
the slightest pink hue to the nails. House decided to approve. He was
also forced (Blythe, Cuddy and Kasumii ganged up on him with glares)
to approve the use of mascara and lip-gloss when Perri was not working.
The ladies explained to him that she would stand out among other kids




                                                                         322
her age if she had no makeup at all. Grudgingly he gave in and was re-
warded with a big smile from Perri.
   House had to shake his head at the pretty much over-night change in
the teenager. Not that he thought her saved yet, she was bound to have
bouts of depression and moodiness; first of all she was still a teenager
and secondly parental neglect was not something you just shrugged off.
But Blythe and Grey had talked with Perri and she had agreed to see Ce-
cil; in fact the first meeting had taken place on Thursday with both
Blythe and Grey attending it with her. Cecil had made sure that all un-
derstood that though Perri was definitely responding well to the change
in her environment, the actual healing would happen in baby-steps.
Well, since most of the people in the family were doctors, Cecil didn't
need to be very heavy-handed in getting that message across.
   Baby-steps or not, Perri was still obviously thriving in her new family.
She was immediately considered as the big-sister for the babies, and now
that she was being treated as a child, it was obvious that some of the
weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders. She did take part
in the decisions concerning her (except when it came to her job of help-
ing with the children, then it was House who said what was what), but
Grey took his position as her guardian seriously and he made the final
decisions about where she was going to school, what and how many
classes she was taking and other things like that. She was starting the
night school next month and was quite looking forward to it and seeing
how things in the States differed from the UK.
   And Grey had been right: Perri adored kids. She was interested in
everything about them and she was happy to do anything Kasumii
asked her to do. She paid attention and learned most things the first time
they were explained or shown to her. Though she was practically never
alone with the kids – as indeed nobody was since there were four of
them – she was clearly taking her duties seriously and responsibly. Ap-
parently she knew herself well enough to know what she really wanted
to do for a living. Kasumii was of the opinion that she would make a
great Nanny once she was old enough and had had her training. Too bad
she couldn't keep her hair, though. Norland had very strict rules about
the appearances of their Nannies. Of course, that was still at least two
years away, so Perri could keep her stripes for quite some time still.
   This had been Cuddy's first week at work, too. Her return was felt all
over the hospital. Sheridan had been ok for the short term – once he got
it through his head that that was all he was going to be – and Cuddy had
made sure that all knew she was coming back, so nobody had really



                                                                       323
been slacking. But now that she was back and the decisive click of her
heels could be heard in the corridors everyone was looking sharp. They
knew that they would not get away with anything when Dr Cuddy was
in charge. They had, for a moment, thought that having kids might have
softened her, but that thought had been thoroughly demolished on her
first day by lunch time. The only one, who didn't change with Cuddy
back, was House. But he had his kids with him, so he was in a good
mood and everybody sighed in relief. The routine of taking care of four
kids was not quite the same as it had been with Aiko, but Kasumii was
nothing if not efficient and with Perri's help, things were under control
by Tuesday. Cuddy visited House's office regularly – even when she
didn't need to yell at House - as the kids still got breast-milk and she had
to "do the delivery" regularly (she usually did that in the maternity ward
where it was easiest and then brought the bottles to House's office and
the second fridge there).
   The first time Cuddy had brought the milk over House had been chan-
ging a diaper (Perri and Kasumii had their hands full with the other
kids) and when he saw Cuddy and the bottles he had said to his son
(who was the one getting his diaper changed).
   "Look, it's the Dairy Maid!"
   "Shut up House," Cuddy had told him mildly. "You are not funny."
   "Would it have been funny had I said here comes the cow?" House had
asked facetiously.
   "No!" that answer came from all the women, not just Cuddy. House
had a feeling it was a good thing Gilmar and Chandrakanta hadn't been
there as well or he might have busted an eardrum.
   "Ok, if you have to be that way," House whined and then went on to
complain to his son: "I don't understand what it is about being around
kids that just kills any sense of humour women have. Now if you ever
have kids, Ben, remember that. Women have no sense of humour at all."
   He had earned a real barrage of glares for that one, even from Perri,
who was still a little wary of him, feeling her way under his authority;
though she had already learned that she could defy him a little, as long
as none of it involved the kids. House was actually quite happy to let
Perri test things, because he didn't want to break her spirit (it had re-
ceived enough of a battering from her parents already), she just needed
to find her place in the House-hold and learn to be a kid again. She
would be responsible for herself quite soon enough as it was. Two years
wasn't that long a time.




                                                                        324
   House looked out of his office to the other side of the corridor. Chase's
new office was there. He had got his team – all male since he claimed
that he needed the protection to ward of the wafts of oestrogen that were
coming from House's Harem (they had never told anyone about that
conversation but even so, House's new team was dubbed by the hospital
staff just that: House's Harem) – and they were busy taking care of
House's rejects, which was most of the cases House got consultation re-
quests for. House hadn't had any cases that week, which was sort of ok,
since the first two days had gone in interviews for the third harem maiden
and once she was found she needed to get to know the rest of the team
and adjust to the unique environment that was the Department of Dia-
gnostics combined with House's Nursery.
   Quanda Washington was the third woman in House's new team. She
was African-American – or black, as House insisted (he wasn't going to
use a hyphenated mouthful when there was a short, succinct word that
said exactly the same thing). Her mother was a teacher and her father a
lawyer, they both were the first people in their families to go to college
and education was important for them both. Quanda had learned their
work-ethic and values and had applied herself to her studies with single-
minded earnestness that was still very characteristic to her. She didn't
have street-smarts, her home was middle-class professional, but she was
tenacious, she paid attention to details – though sometimes that meant
that she wanted all the Ts crossed and Is dotted quite literally, which an-
noyed House – and that was the quality House wanted. She was also a
genuine tee-totaller, a fact that just a year ago would have made it point-
less for House to hire her, since she wouldn't have lasted a week.
   So there they were, his team, his Harem. Quanda Washington,
Otolaryngologist; second speciality: internal medicine. Petra Gilmar,
Dermatologist; second speciality: gastroenterology. S. Chandrakanta, Pe-
diatrician; second speciality (and the thing that had peaked House's in-
terest and got her the fellowship) forensic pathology (and the story be-
hind that one was the one House really wanted).
   House was well into his musing – and his video game – when Petra
opened the door between his office and the conference room.
   "We have a case," Petra informed House quietly so as not to disturb
the sleeping Trips.
   "Do we now," House asked a little sarcastically.
   "Apparently she is the grandmother of an important donor," Petra re-
vealed. "Dr Cuddy insisted."




                                                                        325
   "Ah, then we do have a case," House agreed and got up from his chair.
He walked into the conference room and Kasumii and Perri, who had
just come back from a stroll with Aiko, went into his office to look after
the Trips. Aiko stayed with her Daddy and the team. House sat down on
a chair and started to divest Aiko from her coat and boots and other out-
door clothing she didn't need inside. "Ok, talk to me and Gilmar, you can
write on the board. But only what I tell you to write, don't go creative."
   "The patient is a 60 year old female and she came to us because of ren-
al failure," Gilmar explained writing the symptoms on the white board
after receiving a nod for each of them from House. "She has been treated
for cardiac arrhythmia for the last month but her doctor could not find
any reason for it. Or so he said, personally I think the large bottle of Gin
she consumes every day might have something to do with that. But in
addition to the renal failure which made her family bring her in, she also
has a rash, nausea, abdominal pain and she is peeing blood."
   "Sounds like there might be something wrong with her kidneys, too,
not just heart," House observed as he got the last of Aiko's outdoor
clothes off her and was able to set her on the floor near her toys. He
stood up and took the marker from Gilmar. "Anything else?"
   "Hypotension," Washington added as she read the file and patient his-
tory that Gilmar had gathered before coming to House. "That might ex-
plain the dizziness she has had for a few weeks, but it could also be a dif-
ferent symptom as she has also had repeated headaches."
   "More like repeated hangovers," Gilmar pointed out.
   "If she consumes a large bottle of gin every day, she probably won't
have time to have a hangover," House decided. "Not unless she just emp-
ties it at one go first thing in the morning."
   "I suspect she takes her first portion in her morning orange juice and
then keeps on mixing it to whatever it is she drinks during the day,"
Chandrakanta shrugged. "Her social class and her age suggest that she is
used to that kind of drinking. She probably hasn't even realised she is an
alcoholic, or at least didn't realise it for a long time, as the amount of gin
has just gradually increased over a period of time. Probably took a while
for the family to catch on, too."
   "So she is sixty?" House wanted confirmation. "Where does she work?"
   "Nowhere," Gilmar said. "She has never worked. She used to chair
some charities but for the last seven or so years she has stayed home."
   "Drinking I presume?" House concluded.
   "Yes," Washington responded still reading the history. "What are
G&Ts?"



                                                                          326
   "Gin and tonics," Gilmar dismissed. "I already told you that she drinks
a bottle of gin every day."
   "With tonic?" House was suddenly alert.
   "How many?" Chandrakanta was also intent on something.
   "This says she drinks about twenty G&Ts a day," Washington read
from the patient history.
   "Why didn't you mention the tonic, Petra?" Chandrakanta asked
puzzled.
   "What would be the point? If she is drinking gin and tonic it's not the
tonic water that will ruin her health," Gilmar insisted.
   "You're a moron," House told her pithily. "You don't leave anything
out. I'm the one who decides what is relevant and what is not. Not you.
You tell me everything because you don't have the brains to know what
is relevant and what is not."
   "And how exactly could tonic water cause all these symptoms our pa-
tient is having," Gilmar huffed. "It's a soft drink!"
   "Chandrakanta, explain it to the white chick," House invited capping
his marker and setting it down.
   "I'm Jewish," Gilmar ground from between her teeth.
   "Half-jewish," House stipulated. "And it sure as h… (House looked down
and saw Aiko watching her Daddy with a frown) blazes isn't the dominant
half. Chandrakanta, your patient. Assess the damage, treat and dis-
charge." House walked into his office with Aiko by his side leaving his
team to sort the patient out.
   "Ok, what is it?" Gilmar turned to Chandrakanta.
   "The patient is suffering from cinchonism," Chandrakanta explained
gently. "Tonic water has quinine in it though nowhere near enough to
cause problems normally. It was developed to be a health drink in the
tropics but you need to drink ten G&Ts a day to get enough quinine to
prevent malaria, and then the gin will definitely be the unhealthy part.
However, our patient has drunk twice that amount of tonic, every day
for a long time. She has cumulative cinchonism and indeed, it is the tonic
water in the G&T that has ruined her health. I have to go and find out
how badly."
   "I hate House," Gilmar said with feeling. "Damn him!"
   "No swearing, Gilmar," House called from his office. "There are chil-
dren in here."




                                                                      327
Chapter    53
Happy birthday, Little Love
In the evening of the Friday of Cuddy's first week at work she and
House were sitting in the kitchen, drinking coffee and talking. The rest of
the people living in the house were around, occasionally coming into the
kitchen for something but mostly House and Cuddy were alone for now.
   "So, how was it?" House asked with a smile. "Being back at work
again?"
   "Amazing," Cuddy nearly laughed. "I felt so alive and energized. I
loved being home with the kids, but work gives me such a buzz. Though
I suspect the main reason why it was all positive was because I knew I
could go and see my children any time of the day."
   "You restrained yourself pretty well, though," House complimented
her. "You kept pretty much to the schedule we had talked about before
hand."
   "As I said, it helped knowing that I could come over anytime," Cuddy
shrugged. "Also, I knew they were in good hands with you and your
Harem."
   "I didn't name them that," House denied immediately – as indeed he
hadn't, not publicly.
   "Like you didn't know the others would once it became clear that you
had an all female team," Cuddy scoffed. "Besides, there are Kasumii and
Perri, too, with the kids. A seraglio if I ever saw one."
   "Are you ok with it?" House asked curiously. "The talk, I mean."
   "I'm fine," Cuddy dismissed his concerns. "There is always talk, even if
you had gone for an all-male team like Chase did, there would still be
talk. There is some talk about you and Wilson, even now. You promised
me that you would tell me if you wanted to stop being exclusively mine
and I trust you to keep that promise."
   "I intend to," House confirmed. "It's good that you can ignore the talk.
I don't know what will happen between us, but I really try to be honest
with you. You will be the first to know, if something happens that affects



                                                                       328
us. I know my credibility as such, isn't that good, but this involves the
kids, so I really am making an extra effort."
   "I know," Cuddy assured him. "And no matter what happens, I too
will try to make sure the children don't suffer. I am quite aware that the
current state of affairs is my doing. I'm a grown woman; I know what I'm
doing. Honesty is all I need. Everything else I can deal with but if you lie
to me - that will be difficult."
   "Well isn't it a good thing that blunt honesty is my speciality," House
said – with quite heavy irony.
   "Ha, ha," Cuddy responded and took a sip of her coffee. "You do re-
member that Aiko's birthday is coming up in less than two weeks?" She
then reminded House.
   "I do," House said frowning a little. "What are we going to do?"
   "What do you mean?" Cuddy asked.
   "We haven't celebrated any of the holidays yet, we skipped Christmas
and Thanks Giving and even New Year and what not, because you were
too exhausted and because we didn't quite know how to celebrate them
in this House-hold. We have people from three different countries, at
least four different religions, and that was before Perri came along, and
now we need to somehow work all the traditions into one that works for
us. I mean, we have the tea ceremonies, which are nice and will defin-
itely be important for us in helping Aiko understand her heritage, but we
really need to sit down with everyone and decide what we do about hol-
idays. We need to do something with them, unless we want the kids to
feel too different from their peers when they go to school and such."
   "I know, but for now all we need to worry is a birthday," Cuddy poin-
ted out. "We can definitely fit a tea ceremony into it, but we also need
just a fun party."
   "Yeah, I suppose we don't really need to make birthdays too complic-
ated," House agreed. "After all, all cultures give presents, so that
shouldn't be too difficult for anyone."
   They had just come to an agreement that they were going to have a
birthday party for Aiko on Sunday the following week, when Blythe and
Higa came looking for House.
   "We have just decided on Aiko's birthday," House informed them.
"Any ideas you have for the party Sunday week, are welcomed."
   "Fireworks are traditional for celebrations in Japan," Higa pointed out.
   "That would definitely be festive," Cuddy approved.
   "I'll try to think of something, too," Blythe smiled. "But there was
something we needed to talk about with you Greg."



                                                                        329
   "Ok, fire away," House invited.
   "I need to visit Japan to check up on things like Aiko's inheritance and
my house and so on," Higa told House. "I was thinking of leaving about
a week after Aiko's birthday."
   "Of course," House nodded. "You have been away a good while. Do
you know how long it would take?"
   "I was thinking a month," Higa suggested. "And that wasn't all."
   "I didn't think it was," House smiled. "Otherwise you wouldn't have
needed my Mom with you. Out with it!"
   "I would like to go with him," Blythe told her son.
   "I figured," House wasn't surprised. "Anything you need to make it
happen?"
   "You can definitely get the time off from work," Cuddy said. "You
haven't taken any time off so far and you can use some of your sick-days
and we'll figure it out. No problem."
   "That wasn't all, though, was it?" House wanted to know. "There is
something else afoot. You are way too nervous for this to have been all
you want Mom."
   "We would like to make it a honeymoon," Higa stated.
   "Oh! How wonderful!" Cuddy was excited. "Oh, congratulations! This
is great. Oh, I don't even know what to say!"
   "Calm down Cuddy," House advised her. "Is this what you really want
Mom? You're not thinking that this is something you ought to do as you
are having an affair with him anyway? Nor that you fear that you might
be alone some day in the future? This is really, what you want, plain and
simple? To spend the rest of your life with him?"
   "Yes, Greg," Blythe said simply. "This is what I want."
   "Then I'm happy for you," House got up and kissed his mother on both
cheeks and then he took Higa's hand. "Take care of her."
   "Always," Higa vowed.
   "So it seems we have to come up with a wedding that works for all
first," House turned to Cuddy. "Any ideas? This might be even more dif-
ficult than coming up with a Christmas plan for Christians, Jews and
Buddhist together."
   "We were planning on a civil ceremony," Blythe told House. "We are a
little too old for anything elaborate. We will have a simple ceremony be-
fore we leave, and once we get to Japan we will have another one that
complies with their laws and that's it. No party, no special celebration,
just family."
   "You're sure?" House asked.



                                                                       330
   "Really Blythe, I would be happy to help you plan a celebration, if you
want," Cuddy offered. "It doesn't have to be a big party, but something
to mark the occasion."
   "Thank you, but no," Blythe stated firmly. "This is what we want,
though we would like for you and Greg to be our witnesses, but that is
all."
   "If you're sure, then yes," House accepted as did Cuddy.
   "Well, what do you know," House said to Cuddy once Higa and Blythe
had gone back to the living room. "I'm going to have a step-father. And
at my age!"
   "You've had him for quite some time, I think," Cuddy pointed out
dryly.
   "Yeah, I suppose you could say so," House agreed. "Let's get back to
planning Aiko's birthday, we have to let the Ducklings know, too, when
it is."
   Aiko's birthday was sunny and perfect. They started with a tea-cere-
mony, just within the family. Since there were so many of them, the cere-
mony wasn't quite correct, but they had decided that it was ok. It was
their family and they did things their way. Once the kids were old
enough to understand protocol they could divide the participants into
two groups but for now, this served their purposes.
   In the afternoon all the invited guest arrived. Foreman, Chase and
Cameron (sans dates this time) were there, as naturally was Wilson, Miss
Hill and House's new team. With the people living in the house they had
quite a satisfying crowd there and Aiko certainly was happy to have all
the people that belonged into her world in the same place at the same
time. Especially since all of them were doing their best to make her feel
important. She got new toys, she got lots of hugs and smiles and she got
adorable new clothes (though House didn't much care for them, but he
supposed that it was a girl thing, all that pink and ruffles). The party part
of the birthday was over in an hour, but even after that people stayed in
the house. They just divided into smaller groups and just relaxed talking
with each other. The babies had their naps and food at the normal times
and since Aiko was used to having a lot of people around during the day
at House's office, she didn't get too excited though the house was even
fuller with people than normally. As soon as it got dark enough to see,
Higa set up the fireworks and everybody went outside to watch. Only
when the last spark on the sky had died, did people start leaving for
their own homes.




                                                                         331
   Eric had stayed the night before in the house, but now he was leaving
for LA, since he still had some time left in his contract there. But he was
feeling good about coming back here. It was going to be ok. Cameron
had been a little apprehensive about coming back to see House celebrate
Aiko's birthday with Cuddy, but she had realised that it was ok. She was
happy for House, and Cuddy and she was ready to go on with her own
life now – though she was still going to keep in touch with the House-
hold. She hadn't resigned her membership in that. Chase was happy
with his life. He felt he could actually start thinking of dating with seri-
ous intentions now. He would keep his eyes open, who knew, love
might be waiting just round the corner.
   The family settled down once the guests had left. The ladies did some
cleaning, though the cleaners were coming the next day and the crowd
had been very orderly; not much need to clean after them. There was
some desultory conversation, general feeling of happiness and content-
ment when everybody went about the evening routines: cleaning up,
taking care of the children, getting ready to retire for the night.
   Cuddy was thinking happily back to the day when she was getting
ready for bed in her room. She hummed to herself as she removed her
makeup and applied lotions and night cream to her face and hands. It
had been a good day. Suddenly there was a knock on her door. It
puzzled her, since she was sure Blythe, who was pretty much the only
one who came into her room, had definitely retired for the night. Maybe
it was Kasumii; hopefully there was nothing wrong with the kids!
Cuddy went to the door and opened it to find House on the other side.
   House was standing at Cuddy's door a little awkwardly. He didn't
know quite were to look because looking at Cuddy made him feel ex-
posed, somehow very vulnerable. Which was ridiculous, since Cuddy
loved him and would never do anything to hurt him. But it was still
awkward.
   "House?" Cuddy was puzzled at finding him at her door. "Is
everything ok? The children?"
   "Yeah, yeah, they're fine," House muttered. "Nothing wrong with
them. This is not about the kids; at least not as such."
   "So what is it?" Cuddy didn't feel exactly enlightened.
   "I… " House let his eyes wander all over the place but finally he took
his courage into his hands and looked at Cuddy. "I've grown accustomed
to your face, Cuddy. I like seeing it on the pillow next to me. The idea
that it might never be there again, is not one that I like to contemplate.
I'm no good at this. I… You have no idea how many times I have already



                                                                        332
been standing here, behind your door. Actually I'm surprised I haven't
worn the carpet threadbare by now. This is the first time I have had the
guts to knock and now I don't know what to say!"
   "I think you are doing pretty well," Cuddy replied though she was
hardly daring to hope this meant what she thought it meant. "Just go on.
I'm listening."
   "I need you Cuddy," House stated. "I don't know if I love you, I'm not
sure I know what love is. And I'm not sure I trust it, even if I know it. But
you have become necessary to me. And not just because of the kids, just
necessary to me. And I know I will screw this up at some point, though
hopefully not totally, but I will hurt you and I will be an ass, but I need
you. I'm at ease with you, it's like there is more oxygen in the air or
something. You just are necessary. And now I have made you cry. I …
Maybe I just better go… "
   "Don't you dare!" Cuddy sniffed. "These are good tears. These are I'm
glad to see you here tears. You didn't make me cry cry, this is fine. And
you have no idea how happy I am to hear you say those words."
   "You're sure?" House asked. "I know you say you love me, but I'm
really not an easy person to get into a permanent relationship with. And
if I step into your room that is what this will be. That was the deal. I
want to do it, but if you need time, if you have second thoughts… "
   "Just get in," Cuddy smiled at him. "Step into my parlour."
   "Said the spider to the fly," House said with slight rueful flippancy. "So
you'll have me?"
   "Yeah, have and hold," Cuddy said opening the door wide for him to
enter her room.
   As Cuddy closed the door, two other doors in the corridor opened a
little more and Kasumii and Perri looked at each other with wide smiles
and then they air-high-fived each other before closing the doors and re-
turning to their beds knowing that finally, everything was as it should be
in this House-hold.




                                                                         333
           From the same author on Feedbooks

The present days (2012)
Fanfiction
Rated: T - English - Drama - G. House

All things uncomely and broken (2012)
Fanfiction
Rated: T - English - Drama - G. House

The Past Days (2012)
Fanfiction
Rated: T - English - Family - G. House




                                               334
www.feedbooks.com
 Food for the mind




                     335

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:8
posted:2/25/2012
language:English
pages:335