Author: G.E Waldo PM
Time-line: Post final season. Alternate Universe/Future events Summary: "Suffer the children to come unto me. . .for such is the kingdom of heaven." Pairing: House/Wilson/Foreman/Chase/Others Rating: NC-17 SLASH ADULT. M-PREG! Angst.Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Drama - G. House & J. Wilson - Chapters: 10 - Words: 45,736 - Reviews: 77 - Favs: 22 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 11-28-09 - Published: 09-09-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5365234
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Part X (final)
(Sequel to Remember Zion)
Time-line: Post final season. Alternate Universe/Future events
Summary: "Suffer the children to come unto me. . .for such is the kingdom of heaven."
Rating: NC-17 SLASH ADULT. M-PREG!! Angst. (You have been warned).
Disclaimer: The blue-eyed babe with the cane - sigh! - is not mine.
As by reader request, here is a short family tree for the House family in FATHERLAND:
Children By Foreman and House - Reid and Gordon
Children by Wilson and House - Lee (who was murdered by the town's people of East New Dawn), the Un-named still-born (that House gave birth to in the woods outside of New Dawn), David James, Greg-Michael & John-Daniel (the twin Blue-eyes now the "property" of the Interim Government), and James Evan (another Blue)
Children by Chase and House - Jordan, Rowan and Callum and the very last child House produces - Reegan
Child by Danny ("Jesse") Johnson (who was murdered) and House - Shamus Drake Johnson-House (whom House refuses to call anything but Drake)
Children by Eli (who was shot) and House - Reuben and Duncan
*House also had one child by Josh (the kidnapper/rapist)whom he namedEvan, (who died of an untreatable metabolic condition known as Tyrosinemia - though House actually put his baby to death so he would not have to suffer any longer).
House was curled on his left side and, with his right hand, was playing with the fingers of his and Chase's newest and tiniest creation. His left hand he held tightly against his pelvis. The sight of his incision was covered in an thick abdominal pad kept in place with wide strips of bleached cotton to assist in healing and in avoiding any possible hernia. House tucked his left hand over the uncomfortable contraption as an added support. He had to wear it for ten days minimum; which sucked because that meant no nookie. If anyone would even want nookie with him anymore.
"Mind if I spend the night here?" Wilson asked. He petted the incredibly soft skin of the baby's cheek, almost too delicate to be real. "Chase got you for two nights in a row this week. I mean, I get it, he's a new daddy again, but it's my turn." Wilson let the tiny tot curl impossibly small fingers around the tip of his pinky. "What are you going to call him?"
"I'm still thinking about it."
"Is Chase helping?"
"No." House said too quickly. Then looked at Wilson apologetically. "What do you think of Reegan?"
"Like the late president? The one who was the actor?"
"No, like Reegan. Long "e". It's Irish."
"Nice ring to it. What does it mean?"
House looked a bit embarrassed. "Little king."
House nodded. "Reegan it is." He yawned. "You don't have to stay here all day, too, you know."
Wilson felt perfectly comfortable to laze the day away with his mate and his new step-son. "I want to stay here all day."
House appeared unconvinced. "Right. On this nice, narrow, hard as nails hospital bed. Who could say no?"
Wilson just smiled a little, one of his mysterious smiles that irked House to no end, and this time enough that he voiced his irk. "Why aren't you freaking out? You come home to me with cancer and me with another kid - a kid not by you - and you're not freaking out."
Wilson raised his own eyebrows, puzzled at himself a little as well. "The kid was a bit of a surprise I admit, but cancer...that sort of made everything else beside the point. Having you around to love with Chase's baby, is better than you not around. Plus..." The baby was sleeping, frowning now and then at the large finger's intrusion into his baby dreams of suckling and large noisy creatures. Reegan was hazel-eyed and as cute as a bug on a bug's ear. "The little guy's perfectly welcome. He's family for crying out loud, why wouldn't I want him? He's half you."
"Hmm." House sighed then grimaced. Too much movement with that inhale.
"How's the incision?"
"It's feeling just fine. I, on the other hand..." House said. "No more babies anymore."
Wilson nodded. House was alive. The tumor had been benign. That was all he had asked for. "I know."
"It feels...." House looked for the right word, "weird. To not have that all that crap inside me."
So House was missing having his baby-making parts? Wilson found that endearing, though he wisely said nothing what-ever about that to House. "I'm sure you'll get used to it."
The kids were in their beds (and some well padded boxes that were serving as cribs for the tiniest ones), all of them finally asleep. Chase approached the couch where Foreman sat reading an old book on civil law. Rather than easing himself into the chair, Chase dropped down hard, bouncing once. "I'm exhausted." He glanced at the book title. "A little light reading before bed?"
"Yeah." Foreman glanced around. "Brad go home?"
Chase shook his head. "No. No he didn't." He looked at Foreman a little sheepishly. "He's sort of staying in my room tonight. In my bed. With me."
Foreman, eyebrows on the rise - "Oh." He nodded, closing the book. "You two an item?"
Chase thought about it, and nodded. "You know, I think we are."
Foreman glanced around again, then lowered his voice. "Does Wilson and House know of this blooming new romance?"
Chase sighed, puffing his lips out. "About that - I wanted to talk to you about something. Something weird's happening. To me, I mean."
Chase talked very softly. House was still at the hospital recuperating, and Wilson was spending the night there as well, so they were alone except for Brad who had gone to bed directly after dinner. For now Chase wanted to keep his concerns about House between himself and Forman only. Brad was a good guy but he really didn't know him well enough yet to be sure he didn't eavesdrop.
The coast looked clear enough to voice his troubles. "Yeah, yeah,...see I still love House, I care about him and all that, but ever since his operation, ...I just,...there's no..." He gestured uncertainly, his hands forming hard to defined shapes to explain his hard to defined feelings. "I don't have that spark for him anymore. You know, the drive to, well, nail him to the wall. It's like when they removed the parts of House that made babies, they also removed the parts of him that made me sex crazy for him." Chase looked away. "Does that make sense? Seems like it was only those parts that - "
"- worked the stick shift?" Foreman finished, sucking in air between his teeth. "Don't look now, but I've been feeling the same thing. We could talk to Green about it. Maybe he's encountered this before. House probably isn't producing those powerful pheromones anymore, or their potency has diminished enough that our parts have lost interest."
Chase leaned back, rubbing his face in both hands. "Oh, thank god. I thought it might be something wrong with me." He quickly took a furtive glance toward the stairs to ensure they were not being overheard. He hadn't meant for that to sound so callous. "I hope this is normal for a BM who's had a hysterectomy." He leaned back on the couch, every sound making him jump. "I felt like a new hire-e. Like House is my boss again and I have no idea how to act around him." How come things just couldn't stay as they are. "What do you suppose it's doing to House?"
Foreman didn't voice it, but he supposed a physical change this dramatic was probably making House feel less attractive or useless - or both. The former famous diagnostician was always complaining that he didn't mentally have enough to do. Up until now, keeping the man pregnant had been a rather effective distraction for that brilliant, restless mind. A delightful solution that had well occupied their nights, and thoroughly suited the sexual tastes of Foreman and every other sire in the household.
But now House wouldn't have the task of carrying around their babies in his belly. They had enough daytime help with the children that it wasn't a twenty-four hour task for any of them. Shifts worked just fine, and House got the most rest time because of his leg pain and mobility problems that tended to wear him out more quickly than the others. House was probably feeling the shadow of old age more acutely since he had turned fifty-five and was now "neutered", at least in the baby-making department. And now he had just undergone a major operation. Another scar for the collection.
Foreman was shocked to hear himself say it (because saying such things within House's hearing would only have earned him a painful cuff on the ear), though he had over the years often felt it. "I kinda' feel bad for him. Why don't we bring it up with Wilson in the morning, after he's home from the hospital?"
Chase nodded and got up to go check on the children. Foreman stayed planted firmly on the couch, thinking. Why House always seemed to get the short end of the stick, he had no idea, and no answers. But it must truly suck to be the target of that much bad karma.
"Think the other's will get used to it?"
"I'm not sure I get your meaning."
"Foreman and Chase, Danny, Eli, anyone of you, wanted to be with me 'cause I had the stuff that made the babies. I produced the mojo that made all of your nuts nuts."
Wilson nodded. "Um hm. 'Kay."
"But it's not down there anymore. The nuts will come to their senses now."
Wilson touched House's face with a finger, tracing the line of his cheek and the long shallows on his neck. "You think that's the only reason any of us ever wanted you?"
House allowed the petting. Wilson had been gone for three weeks. Too damn long. "I know that's the only reason."
Wilson sighed. "House, that was the reason the sex might have been outstanding, but, and I'm only speaking for myself, that's not the reason I ever came to you. I love you. Loved you. Practically since the day I met you. Not always in the same way of course but - yeah. Call me lame, but it was love."
"That is lame. Back then, you didn't even know me."
"But I guess I knew you just enough to love you right away. You bailed out a stranger. Five thousand dollars. I might have turned out to been a total jerk - you didn't know." God, what a long time ago that seemed now. A lifetime, a century, another era. But, as the Earth went around the sun, only twenty years.
"You asked me five times, politely, to stop playing Billy Joel on the juke box." House reminded him. "No ones asks five times, or if there's another lame ass out there who ever did, it wouldn't be done politely. Trust me, you were a nice, not-boring lame ass I could take advantage of. I could tell."
A man was wheeled in beside House. Conscious and sweating with a distended stomach. He set up a series of soft groans.
House sat up a bit, craning his neck to get a look at the guy, and ignoring Wilson's insistence he lay back down. "You're supposed to rest."
House glared at him like a persistent fly. "I'm only lifting my head, that's not a marathon." Then he asked the guy, not bothering to be politely quiet or introduce himself. "Gas?"
Wilson answered for the patient, shaking his head, remembering to keep his own voice down. "No. Foreman thought liver failure, kidney failure, but everything's pumping like clock-work. Him and Green are stumped."
House frowned. "I was asking him." He watched the guy continuously rub his large belly. "Hey." House asked. "Are you in pain?"
The fellow swallowed a couple of times. "No. Not really. Uncomfortable. Sometimes I get cramps. It's hard to sleep, and I keep puking."
House thought for a moment. "When?"
"When do you puke?"
"After a lousy night sleep. Sometimes after I eat."
"Yeah. But I'm eating pretty normally."
House lay back down. "What color are your eyes?"
"Uh huh. You got a Blue at home?"
"Is he pregnant?"
"how close is he to labor?"
"'Bout a day or so." The guy said, afterward letting out a low moan that went on for a few seconds, sounding like a cow in mourning.
House threw Wilson a satisfied look. Wilson sat back, feeling like a fool. "Couvade Syndrome."
The man burped. "What? What syndrome?"
House explained. "Couvade Syndrome. Bad news: you're suffering from pregnancy sympathy. More bad news: you're going to look and feel like you do right now until your BM pops his cork. Good news: it'll all go away a few days later. Doc' Green'll fill you in."
The fellow in the other bed rubbed one hand, fingers splayed, over his enormous belly. "You mean my body thinks I'm pregnant because my Blue is pregnant?"
Wilson had enjoyed the entire exchange. House was depressed, and thin and recovering from painful hysterectomy surgery plus he just had another baby via that surgery. But he was still House. He whispered to him. "You're very sexy when you're diagnosing someone."
At this sweet compliment, House's brows came together in a pinch and he said - "You're an idiot."
THIRTEEN YEARS LATER:
Wilson was feeling his age more and more as they years wore on. He was fifty-five now, and swore his spine was sixty. Wilson carried two hot cups of fresh brewed tea - no more coffee for House, now sixty-eight years old and slowing down more and more each day.
Wilson placed the morning beverage on the bedside table. House he had let sleep in almost every day now. There was no need to rise early and make formula. With the help from Chase, Foreman and Brad, Wilson had got the children up, dressed, filled their bellies with oatmeal and milk and had sent them off to school two hours before. The house was quiet.
House, older, his leg in more pain as his muscles (as muscles do in the aging), began to waste, needed rest more and more. Wilson feared it was a weakening heart but each day he found some way to check House's pulse just to make sure. House had done his best to hinder Wilson from poking and prodding him like a worried aunt. It had become a kind of game between them. Wilson chased and poked, House limped in retreat and glowered. Neither of them really meant it.
House woke at the sound of the door opening and someone walking in the room.
Wilson saw and left off trying to be quiet. "Morning."
House sat up, pulling himself into a more or less sitting position and reaching for a cup. He sipped and made a face. "Tea again?" He said it almost every morning.
"Yes. Your poor stomach can't tolerate the levels of caffeine in coffee. You're a tea man now." Wilson sat on the edge of the bed and sipped his own drink. It was okay, but House was right, he missed coffee. He'd sworn off of it as a way of supporting House in his caffeine abstinence. "Last night was great." He added, pleased at the slightly red flush on House's face from his remark. House was pleased Wilson was pleased and Wilson was delighted with that, too. "You may be turning sixty-nine in two days but you still got it, House." He leaned in and stole a kiss between sips. "You're still a damn sexy man."
"My birthday. Please say you've made every plan to ignore it."
"Nope. We're having cake at least. And presents. I wouldn't torture you with music, hats or streamers, but cake and presents are mandatory."
House forced his brows into an extra deep pinch, the little fleshy hills between brows and lines all jumbled up together, making him appear very stern.
Wilson saw through it like trace-paper. "What do you want for your birthday, babe'?"
"A cup of coffee."
House stared into his cup. Softly - "You know what I want."
Wilson nodded. He wanted the same thing he had asked for the last twelve years, though he wished House had picked something else, or at least something in addition to this his usual request. "Yeah." Wilson answered. House wanted to see his twin boys again. He wanted them to come home. Wilson wondered if House had it stuck in his head that the twins were somehow still babies and if they did by some miracle come home, House could hold them in his arms again.
"They've got to be thirteen now." Wilson felt choked up about it, too. Two beautiful blue-eyed children he had produced from House's amazing belly, which babies he had not set eyes on for more than a decade. Each year they had re-applied to the Office of Declaration at "Community Seven.", where they had first made that next to useless two and a half week trip, and each time their application for visiting rights as the birth-parents had been denied without explanation. Thirteen trips. Thirteen applications. Thirteen denials. Suddenly, he wished he had not said anything more, as the very thought of missing out on two of his children's growing years left him feeling depressed, and he didn't want to feel depressed right now - not with House's birthday coming up.
But they had the other children. Eleven had been enough to handle, enough to worry over, though it had never totally appeased the old anguish over his stolen two. Funny how so many offspring still present (as marvelous as they were), still couldn't quite make up for the two that had been lost.
House nodded, drained his cup, casually waving away any more talk of them. It was an old subject. "I doubt we would recognize them now."
House was making great effort to speak as though his own anguish had faded to manageable doses, and Wilson thought it best to change the subject. "Come on, I need to go to the Exchange and barter for some cake-making ingredients, and you need to get out of the house."
"I'm sixty-eight. I need to pee, then I need breakfast, then you can drag me where you want to."
It was a fair bargain. Wilson loved doing all those things for him. Except for the peeing of course.
House's sixty-ninth came and went with pleasant food, a round white cake (Wilson only put a single candle in the middle. Sixty-nine flaming wax sticks might have sparked a House tantrum and a mashed cake), and presents. Foreman had made him a rocking chair, earning him a dark scowl from House, who barked "Thanks, but just so you know, I'm never sitting in it." Never-the-less, he looked grateful.
Foreman just grinned. House would use it. As soon as his back was turned, his retired BM would sit his bony ass down and test its comfort. Foreman knew House knew as well as he did, that rocking in a chair released endorphins which relieved pain.
Chase and Brad had spent spare hours combing through some the un-used tumbled down houses of Rio Dell, and collected together a dozen books of every description - a prize for any household. House would have plenty of fiction and non-fiction reading material for his hours spent in the lovingly carved rocker.
Wilson had sewn House half a dozen new long-sleeved shirts, mostly white and blue, which was about the only colors available in the traded-for cotton material. He had even taken the time to secretly barter for three tee-shirts, which he either dyed alternate colors or embroidered with a design he hoped House would find cool enough to wear.
House held up one pale green tee-shirt and examined the embroidery. "When did you learn to embroider?" He asked, looking at Wilson like he had just morphed into a girl.
"Secretly. Do you like the design?"
House frankly admired the workmanship. Wilson had clearly spent countless hours embroidering in a picture of a red Corvette. Like the one he used to own before the world went missing. "And when did you learn to spell?"
"Very funny." Wilson said. "Do you like it?"
House folded it and placed it on the dinner table. "'Course I like it." He glanced around at all of them. "Thanks for the gifts." He coughed.
"You okay?" Wilson asked.
House nodded. "Don't start fretting, Martha, it's just a cold."
Wilson ignored the back-handed reference to his Stewart-like home-making. To spare House from having to emote anymore of his feelings, Wilson instead raised his glass in a toast. "To House, without whom we never would have had children."
Chase added - "Or the best ass-sex anywhere west of New Jersey."
House's bottom jaw fell open a little. Then he realized he was gaping and remarked - "You're all sluts." But clinked his glass of home-made wine along with his mates.
Chase smiled openly, his eyes betraying the lustful memories that were playing about in his head. He had made four children inside House. The memory of all those sweaty nights were almost as good as the real thing. Almost. then he remembered what he and Brad currently shared; perhaps not the greatest sex west of New Jersey, but closeness, affection, and a love that was growing deeper every day. It made up for much of what he, what they all, had lost after House's operation.
Except Wilson. On occasion, Chase could still hear them at night in the next room, and from the noises and squeaking of the bed springs, Wilson had lost none of his enthusiasm for sleeping with his best friend and lover. The man was not a quiet lover.
Wilson extracted a folded piece of paper from his back pocket. "And now for the final gift..." He handed the sheet of paper over to House, who looked at it strangely, then unfolded and read its short contents. House looked up at Wilson, his expression difficult to gauge. "Nasty sort of joke." He said, his good mood instantly dissipating.
"It's no joke, House." Foreman said. "It came yesterday."
Chase finished with - "Wilson is leaving tomorrow."
House knew he was not healthy enough to go. He was tired and his leg hurt more and more, and now he was getting a cold on top of it - a bad one judging by the way he felt.
House re-read the paper silently, then got up from the table and walked out to the front porch, carrying the paper loosely in his left hand while his right worked the cane action. It was gorgeous spring day. He sat on the hard bench Foreman had banged together years ago - soon to be added to by a carved and well oiled wooden rocker, and let the sun fall on his face. It eased the aches he had begun to feel all over his body. When all this had begun he had been middle-aged and still having babies, all of them looking ahead, trying to keep hope alive as they had kept themselves alive. Now the years passed like days, the days like hours.
His children were alive and well and perhaps even coming home, and he, their father, was now an old man and had missed every minute of their growing. What would he even be to them? What was he at all anymore? House felt like he was falling apart. This news should be making him happy. Finally, after thirteen years, his twin babies were theirs to see if they wished. That was a good thing, so why did he feel so empty?
Inside, Brad looked around the table at the other men. "After all these years, I still have a hard time reading him - Is House happy about this?"
Chase nodded. "'Course he is. But he's probably upset, too - emotional, and he doesn't want us seeing him like that."
Foreman said. "Just leave him alone for a while." He looked at Wilson. "All packed?"
Wilson nodded but through the window kept his eye trained on House. "Excuse me." He said, and followed House onto the porch, sitting beside him. Wilson didn't say a word, he simply leaned back on the bench alongside House and let the sun fall on his aging face as well. He was only ten years House's junior and he could feel the years racing by like spring fillies. If he reached out his hand to try and still their galloping hooves, he would not have caught between two fingers a single hair from their backs. "Are you going to be okay?"
House nodded. He supposed it was shock. Though he said it every year, he had never actually expected his wish to come true. "I'm an old man with nothing to offer them." He was feeling used up, drained of purpose, his existence pointless. "I'm sixty-nine years old."
"And you've built a legacy of children who will grow up and thrive. Eleven - no - thirteen children, all alive and well." Wilson searched his lover's tired face. "You know how many years that is combined? A thousand years. A millennium worth of good life, all because of you." House had been the genius man, the doctor who brought new life to the sick and dying. He was still proving his worth, even now. Wilson put his arm around House's slumped shoulders. "I'll bring them home, babe'."
"I'll be a stranger to them."
"You're their father. It won't matter." Wilson remembered how often House had insisted his own father had not mattered in his life, how he had tried to avoid his father's funeral, how he had scorned him for years. And then Wilson remembered the months of therapy House had undergone trying to deal with his messed up emotions over his dead father that he had so vehemently claimed to not give a damn about, but had loved even so. Secretly, deep down where its goodness was stirred up with the unpleasant things, where it had all churned for decades, finally erupting in the need to speak about John House, if only to ease his own conscience about not saying goodbye. John House had not been perfect but, biologically or not, House was his father's son.
Wilson spotted a small group of boys walking, his boys, some running, some wrestling in the dirt, but all on their way home to lunch after a morning in school. He could tell each son by his style of walk, gestures, hair coloring and body language as they pushed each other around, raising up clouds of red dust and laughing, or trading insults back and forth.
Reid, David, Jordan, Callum, and Drake. Just five of the thirteen. It was time to get to the kitchen and cook up some lunch for hungry kids. "Look at them."
House turned weary eyes with the beginnings of cataracts out to the dusty street. His children were walking toward them, still a half block away. Strong looking boys, all, some taller than others, a few, House knew, brighter in mind, two brighter musical - one giftedly so. Several were turning into athletic marvels, but all of his sons - unique. Every one of them was his, and though he was getting too old to tolerate the noise, or engage in sports, or sit and listen to the ruckus of their shrill teenage voices, he was quietly proud to be their one and only birth father. They had filled his life and the miserable lives of his mates with purpose and hope for many years, and would still for many more.
"Look at them, House." Wilson said again. "They're magnificent."
House nodded. Of course they were. He took a deep breath and let it out in a solid bolus of air, it was the sound of winding down in life. He felt old. At least, other than being almost all gray now, he didn't look that much older. But his walk had slowed considerably, his broken down thigh muscles continuing to shrivel along with his energy. He would not be going on this trip to find his babies. Babies who were thirteen, fourteen years old now. Wilson would go, or Foreman.
Chase would stay here, along with his now official husband. He and Brad had married in a civil ceremony a year after hooking up. Chase always did like being married. This one, however, was lasting well. Brad was crazy about the wallaby, and adored the boys. He had become an uncle to them, forming baseball teams and taking them on hikes up into the scrub-dry hills around Rio Dell.
Wilson noticed House's quiet, withdrawn demeanor. "Don't be depressed." Then pulled House toward himself to plant a smack on his rough cheek. "I hope you know I love you more now than ever."
House nodded. "Yup. And I hope you know that you're even more sentimental now than when we met. And it's even more annoying." But he didn't pull away.
Wilson showed his official pass to enter Community Seven's "Meetings" festival in the town made up of Blue babies "adopted" out to surrogate parents to be raised, educated and socialized, and eventually married off to other Blues. All for the stepped up schedule to repopulate the planet. Wilson soon learned that the children's origins had not been kept from them. In fact, the entire system seemed arranged so the Blues understood the privileged of their placements and the specialness of themselves.
Today was one of several "Introduction" days amid the two week stretch of the "Meetings" celebration, where the biological parents were allowed to finally meet the children than had been taken from them as babies. The Community appeared to be treating it like the circus had come to town. As he waited for the time to pass until his own scheduled meeting with his sons, Wilson wandered the grounds. There were kiosks of food, tables where people sat and ate or drank, and chatted. There were tent-booths set up where families could reunite, at least for a few hours, in privacy, to discuss the things both of them might have had, or not, during all their years of forced separations. Tents of strangers trying to patch up their pasts and make sense of their present feelings.
There was a town market where people traded goods for food, or just passed the time with neighborly chatter. There was a playground for the younger brown eyed children. No area was devoted to Blue eyed children. Those not old enough to meet their biological parents were kept incognito lest those parents harbored secret plans to snatch and run.
And then there were people like him. Men who had arrived alone or in pairs to meet their sons, now of age to come and go if they wished. Most had not. Wilson couldn't blame them, life in Community Seven was luxury compared to the rest of the country.
A group passed by on their way somewhere, and Wilson heard snatches of conversations and caught glimpses of fresh faces and bright blue eyes. New men just beginning to explore life from within the power and energy of blooming youth.
Wilson saw a familiar looking face.
Tall, slim, hair almost right, thin faces, straight, even nose, robin-egg blue eyes emphasizing intelligence and spunk. Like and unlike. "Excuse me." Wilson followed them. Both turned, neither speaking, both curious. Both like and unlike him. One, the shorter one, though still on par with the top of Wilson's head, but whom evidently possessed not a shred of shyness - "Um, we're kind of in a hurry."
"I'm...uh..Wilson." He swallowed the lump lodged in his throat and tried to still his racing heart. Maybe he was wrong. "I'm,..I think you,...what are your names?"
The short one "Who wants to know?"
Even the voices, alike but unlike. But like enough, along with every other feature, not to be a coincidence. "I-I think..." He held out his hand for either of them to shake. "I think I'm your father."
Most of the first few minutes was spent in uncomfortable silence.
The shorter twin, John-Daniel, wearing jeans, a cotton tee-shirt and dirty sneakers, elbows on the table, fingers playing with a piece of straw, curious but momentarily bored.
His twin, Greg-Michael, sat very straight with arms crossed, reserved but not unfriendly. He appeared to be waiting politely for someone to start a conversation.
Finally it seemed John could stand the quiet no longer and broke through the stalemate. "So, biological dad," He began rudely, "where is our birth dad? Why didn't he come?"
Wilson linked his fingers together. "He's well, but not well enough to travel."
"What's wrong with him?" Greg asked.
"Nothing." Wilson was quick to clarify. "Nothing, but he's getting old now, and he's a bit crippled; walks with a cane. The trip would have been very painful for him." Wilson tried not to get emotional but it was proving a struggle as he stared into the eyes of his twins sons. At that moment he loathed the government's Communities more than anything on earth. "They had no right to take you from us. We were devastated. Losing you almost killed House."
"House?" The taller one, Greg, asked. His voice was softer than his brother's, and he appeared to be the calmer, more collected individual. Wilson hoped he had inherited that from his brown eyed dad. "You call him "House"?"
"His name is Gregory House. But we just call him House."
"So I'm named after him?"
"Yes." He looked at the shorter, more vocal twin. "You're named after his father and my brother."
John shook his head a little. He cared not about names. "So what is he? Where do you live? How old is he anyway. If he's too old to travel..."
"House, your father, had you when he was fifty-five years old. We started out older than most." But we made up for it. Even Wilson himself often had to remind himself that House, for all his health issues and constant pain, had given birth to sixteen children in under six years, though not all had survived. To him, to any Brown, it was an astonishing feat. Difficult to believe sometimes, but there they sat, just two of the fifteen, almost all grown up.
Greg offered "I don't think evolution gave anyone much choice."
Wilson shook his head. "No."
John asked "So what does he do?"
"He was a doctor. A very good one. Probably the best."
"Aren't you a doctor?"
John was quick with his questions. He didn't hold to social graces or etiquette. He was at least his father's son in that way. Wilson wondered how much more of House he would find in these young men. "Yes. And two other of your father's mates are doctors. They still practice."
John blinked. "My dad had four sire-mates? All doctors?"
Wilson nodded, he had always felt a weird sort of pride about that for House. "Not all doctors but, yes, four - at one time or another."
"Wow. Horny bastard."
Wilson felt a sharp need to correct his son's manners, but held his tongue. "No more than the rest of us." He let the matter rest there. "Your birth dad wants to see you. Meet you. Are you willing to come back with me?"
John shrugged. "I'm game." He looked at his brother.
Greg thought about it, then shook his head. "I don't want to leave The Community."
John snorted and explained what he saw as his brother's idiocy to Wilson. "Greg thinks salvation lies in the hands of the government. He fully supports their bullshit program of steal from everyone and pretend it's for the good of them all."
Greg frowned, but was obviously used to his brother's outspokenness against the society that had raised them in safety and luxury. "The Community's program is sound. In a year and ten months, I'm free to mate with whomever I please - "
" - Sure! Just so long as he has pretty blue eyes."
"So? It makes sense to breed Blues with Blues. And Jerome was my choice." He looked at Wilson and said by way of explanation - "We're engaged."
""The Community"," John scoffed. "May as well call it Fatherland, heil a salute and be done with it."
"Comparing this congregation of caring, close-knit families to Nazi Germany is grotesque."
"A gilded cage is still a cage."
Wilson listened as his son's argued their cases of pro and con over The Community. He heard tones and inflections that were pure House in both of them. The belief in one's own judgement was there in their words. That restless House intelligence that never slept was awake and thriving in these young men. "Come and meet him." Wilson interrupted before they hunkered down into a lengthy debate. "Please."
Greg licked his lips. "Maybe some day, but not right now. I can't afford to leave my studies."
Wilson perked up. "What are you studying?"
"Horticulture. I'm looking to devise methods for improving crops by enhancing resistance to drought in wheat and barley. We need to increase yields without the use of heavy equipment or a lot of artificial irrigation."
John looked over at Wilson. "Fascinating, isn't it? Grass, dirt, casting seeds, it's almost biblical. Greg's going to make things grow and feed the little children."
"It's honest and, by the way, needed work." Greg said in defense of his chosen vocation.
"It's the choice they made for you." John said, his voice full of scorn that, Wilson suspected, was more for the Community policy makers than for his brother's acceptance of it.
"At least I made one."
Wilson, trying to curtail another argument between them, asked John - "What are you studying?"
"At the moment - nothing. I'm biding my time breaking stones until I can legally walk out of here and never come back."
Wilson had an urge to gently lecture his son about the benefits of higher education, but didn't think it would go over well. John seemed to be more House than House in his loathing of industrious work. Wilson suspected a porn magazine was probably tucked into the inner pocket of John's summer jacket with articles such as "Brown Eyed Babes Do Blues."
"Well, what are you interested in?"
"Everything. I'm enrolled in all courses."
Wilson's eyebrows climbed his forehead. "Really? You'd have to be some kind of genius..."
"So I'm told."
Greg chuckled. "Yeah. All courses until they kicked him out of World Religion."
"I didn't agree with the pre-requisites." John answered.
Wilson raised his brows in a quest for more information.
"You have to check your brain at the door." John said. "Besides, my studies are over until August."
"Then they'll probably let you take a two week LOA from your "nothing"." Wilson prompted.
John stood up, winking at Wilson in a ghostly reflection of his absent father. "They've learned not to say no to me."
"Really?" Wilson said. It seemed being a rare and precious Blue had a certain leverage.
Greg offered. "Yup. He's an ass."
John ignored his brother's insult and looked down at this dark-haired man named James Wilson who was his father. "I'll go pack. When do we leave?"
A bit startled Wilson said. "Um, tomorrow if you want. Foreman's waiting at the camp-site with the buggy."
"Another one of my horny dad's sires?" John asked. Strictly curious.
Wilson nodded. Keeping his reactions to John's attempts to get a rise out of him innocuous wasn't easy. "Forty minute walk from town." Wilson appealed to Greg one final time. "Please come?"
The softer-sided twin shook his head but offered - "Next year I can probably find time for a short visit. It's not that I don't want to meet my father, my birth-father I mean, but I've got papers due and I'm running a Triticale test half-acre. I can't leave."
Wilson's face showed his disappointment, but he did understand. This was House's child. Doing the job he loved well superceded everything. John, on the other hand, shirked responsibility and couldn't wait to get on the road, adventure in his blood. House's complex, multi-layered personality seemed to have been fairly evenly split between the two. "Okay. But I'm going to tell him you said that, and if there's one thing in this world that can break you dad's heart, it's making a promise but not delivering."
"Then I promise I'll come. Next June, after school's out." Greg stood and Wilson walked around the table, impulsively pulling him into a bear hug. Wilson felt some House-resistance but also a brief hug back. Greg was trying to make him, practically a stranger (dad label or no), feel better. There was some of himself in these kids, too, Wilson was delighted to discover.
Greg shook his brother's hand - it was clear he had learned that hugging his acerbic twin only provoked, Wilson could guess, an awkward moment or perhaps sarcasm. But John did shake hands, then watched his brother walk away.
Wilson watched, too. There goes my son, no longer a total stranger. If Greg didn't show up next June, he would return to The Community and drag his science-geek ass back with him. Wilson wanted to know him, and he wanted his son to know their real father's. It was a timeless right that transcended all man-made laws.
He chanced an awkward moment and threw his arm briefly around his son John's shoulders. John did not shrug him off. "Dad was a doctor huh?"
Wilson heard the curiosity in his son's voice. "Your dad's a genius. As a physician he was world famous. Smartest man I've ever known. He personally toppled Laurent's Breeding Facility Program."
John actually looked a little impressed. "Really?"
"A hell raiser, a genius, and a great doctor." John looked over and slightly up at his new dark-haired dad. He seemed like a nice guy, this James Wilson. "And you're my sire dad?"
"Yes. Sorry, but I'm not quite as smart as House."
"You are if you were smart enough to hang around with him."
Wilson felt a rush of pride and gratitude for how his son words. And his soul, running on almost empty, for so long, felt a little fuller right then. Even after all these years of not seeing, not knowing, he loved this child of his. Good things endure. The best things, if you tried hard enough. Here in John-Daniel was House-two-point-oh, if ever he saw one. "Thanks." Wilson removed his hand, not wanting to push the moment.
John asked. "If I like this Rio Dell dot on the map, think it'd be okay if I stayed more than a few weeks? I could spend the summer, that is if he and I get along. I'm not easy to live with. Greg reminds me about it every day."
Wilson took a deep breath of summer-fired air, heat-scorching his lungs. It was almost painful. But a good pain. Self-inflicted. No scars. No real harm done. Nothing that lingered. All good.
"Of course he will. He's your dad."
John walked beside him on the dust-blown highway. Drifts of soil and seed had moved in long ago, and now plants and scrub obscured almost every square meter of concrete. Free-living growth stepping in and again asserting its rightful presence. That, too, was all good.
"Come on. Let me show you the kind of Fatherland your dad built."
When the younger man approached the older, all others held back and allowed the meeting to occur in privacy. Voices drifted over the lawn as father House moved off in a hobbling gimp to take a walk, and son House stepping in alongside him, matching his pace step for step. One from the other, like and unlike the other, now with each other as they should be. Ought to have been.
Both had traveled a long, hard road for this walk. The father through a kind of dark hell, and the son through a hand-crafted heaven, to both arrive here at this time, un-spotted by either and in each others presence. House deserved this joy. His life had been too hard for too long. But just because things seem like their coming to and end, doesn't mean they are.
Life changes, but never, ever ends.
So perhaps there was some life left in the old world after all.
Like father. Like sons.
"If you're going through hell, keep going."
The END. Really! I MEAN it this time. ;^)
Thanks for reading.