Disclaimer: Same as before…..please don't sue me! Same goes for th e'Westlife' song. – I don't own it so don't sue me! Funny….and somehow poignant given the circumstances.

SpectralLady: No 'ta ta'? But I always get a 'ta ta'! Still, glad you liked it and rest assured Jess at the very least will miss her so muchly it's not even funny.

The Lilac Elf of Lothlorien: Well, kind of…..but I can do a follow up of you want. Let me know. I had to finish this like this as my Mum wanted a different sort of ending to what I normally do. However, I'm keen to get them together properly; so let me know if you think it would be worth it.

Calliann: 'Cruel heartless hag'! wow, don't hold back – just let me know how you really feel! ROFL I had this chapter ready to go as I knew you wouldn't want to wait. :O Yeah Molly got me teary at the end – but I couldn't just have her turn away from him as it's obvious she adores him. I think Wilson was worried it might – but Brenda definitely did. I'm glad you like her; my friend, Rose, was lovely –she died about 5 years ago from a heart attack aged 56 and was the sort of woman every one would love as a friend. That was my best bit as well. Hope you like this chapter. . I had to finish this like this as my Mum wanted a different sort of ending to 'the usual same old, same old' and also doesn't like it when I make them long stories like 'Fallen Knights…..' and 'Bethan & Lucan'. However, I'm keen to get them together properly (you know – same old, same old happy ending); so glad you like the idea of a sequel….and if my mate wants one - then as you decree, so shall it be done. (Don't ask me what film that's from – I don't remember!) But see what you think after this chapter – you may feel it doesn't warrant it. :O) Oh and I couldn't not understand about Colin Firth – it's all his fault for being so bloody gorgeous; so if I blame anyone it has to be him. ;O

house-lover: Yeah, she's lovely. No problemo – glad you liked it. Want more?

WARNING: BAD LANGUAGE, SO READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL.

All reviews, and constructive criticism, gratefully received – but no flaming please; and I will try to update regularly.

'—' signifies thoughts.

"—" signifies speech.

Anyway…chapter Thirteen

-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

Kindred Spirits

Chapter Thirteen – Damaged

Jaynie asked to see them a week after her collapse. She was in the final stages, everyone knew now. Mike was devastated, but couldn't be angry - it was typical Jaynie always trying to protect people.

Jess was bereft, the thought of losing her friend was unbearable; but she'd cope, for the sake of the others she'd cope.

House went in and Jaynie weakly tossed a paper cup at him as he turned to pull the door shut. "The dog did it…" she smiled wanly at him as it missed completely.

"You know I never did buy that - I just assumed that you and Jess were insane and had a little pretend friend…" He rolled his eyes "As for that throw…well, Molly could do better…"

Jaynie grinned "Hey I'm dying – cut me some slack here."

"Oh no, the old 'I'm dying' trick doesn't work with me Missy – get up and give me 20!"

She chuckled, he was still funny – but she noticed the haunted look round his eyes. She'd heard from Brenda how he was now distancing himself from Stacy, much to the latter's disgust. "House, what are you doing?"

He glanced round "I'm standing talking to a mad sick woman who has an imaginary dog that throws paper cups at people…"

"Oh, har de har har - I meant about Jess…"

House flinched "Monty? Nothing….I'm doing nothing. She has made her decision and I am abiding by that. This is one DNR I won't fight, I won't force her to be my friend – I can do that with the ducklings; plus I get paid for bullying them."

Jaynie sighed "She misses you. She wants things to be like they were."

"I doubt it. I think she's probably relieved to be free of this bitter old cripple…."

"You don't think she's one now? Well, apart from the old…."

He grinned "what is about women that they have to have the last word?"

"Make it up with her….."

"I will - when she wants me, I'm here." He gestured to his leg "it's not even like I could run away…."

Jaynie sighed. "I don't have long House; I want things to be right before I go."

"Do you wish to be responsible for the bloodbath that would ensue, the maiming and killing, if you forced us two to be friends when she didn't want to?"

Jaynie sighed, but smiled – knowing that he spoke the truth. She gave up with House – it was ridiculous to keep arguing with him; she knew Jess was her last resort.

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Her chat with Jess did not fare much better though. Jess came in and sat on the bed "So…how you doing?"

"So well I thought I'd go for a quick jog round the hospital while House was out of the way." She grinned.

She saw the way Jess flinched at the mention of House's name "Jess forget it, please; I know what you went through that last time with him, but I also know how you still feel about him.

Jess shook her head.

"I'm dying Jess – please, I worry; you're my two best friends…."

"I've got you Jiminy…" Jess squeezed her hand "at least for now" her eyes swum "What will I do without you? What about my conscience?"

"I'll still be there – just a bit quieter." She smiled "After all, you definitely need a Guardian Angel Jess. Look at you, shot – twice! – crippled and brain damaged! Good God, if anyone needs looking after it's you."

"I don't believe in all that 'angel on my shoulder' bullshit, you know that. You'll be gone and I'll be stuck on my own." Jess took a deep breath "I just want you to stay…"

"You have to let me go Jess…." Jaynie looked at her friend "You'll have House….."

Jess stood shaking her head and left. No one saw her cry in public, not even Jaynie.

0-0-0-0-0-0

It was 3 days later that Jess got the call from a distraught Mike "Come now….we need you."

She got to the hospital and went in, leaving Molly with Brenda. "She hasn't….?"

Mike shook his head, tears coursing down his cheeks "too soon, it's too soon…." He kept saying.

Jaynie's breathing was laboured; Jess avoided House – he closed his eyes in hurt as she brushed past him, deliberately not meeting his gaze.

The others in the team who'd become really fond of Jaynie, especially Wilson, gathered at the door until Mike gestured them in.

Jess went and sat on the bed and took her friend's hand; it took her a few moments to steady herself to speak "Jaynie its okay to go – me and House will be fine, one day….one day it will all work for the best." She took a deep breath.

"It's alright Jaynie, I'll be fine and I'll….I'll make sure he's fine." She couldn't lie really "Somehow – but….." deep breath "it's alright to go now….."

She felt her friend squeeze her hand, her breathing laboured and then………..stopped.

Jess sat for a moment unblinking and barely breathing herself as the realisation sank in that her friend had died, her conscience was gone; the better person she had hoped to be was lying lifeless in the bed before her. She stood and walked out; no one saw her cry anymore.

Stacy, a smug look on her face, went to say something as Jess walked into the corridor "If you even breathe at me right now I swear on all that's holy I will personally remove your lungs with a blunt and rusty spoon.

You have no rights here; you were no friend to her, you didn't care about her…..screw you." She hissed at the woman, her eyes and voice thick with unshed tears. The other ducklings and Wilson gathered behind her, all looking daggers at the woman – she left.

Jaynie's death was hard on Jess, but she coped….barely. She didn't grieve, couldn't – if she grieved she'd have needed House; and she wouldn't have been there to help Mike and the kids.

So she pushed it down, swallowed it whole and carried on. It left her damaged in a way that ironically only House would have understood, but it left her able to function.

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

6 months later House sat and watched Monty rush around after the kids, knowing that for once he had the advantage as she was completely unaware he was there – her life now taken up with helping these grieving people deal with the lose of someone so dear to them. But for Jess it was different, for her to even think of her sister/friend still brought immense pain.

He realised that she was actually coping really well with the kids, by treating them as miniature adults - even little Chloe, who was only 3½ and now attending kindergarten.

Patrick aged 11, a spitting image of his dark and very handsome father, rushed up "Lunchbox?"

"Sandwiches; do I win?"

"What?"

"I don't know…..you didn't say what the prize was.."

"Jess!"

"That's my name don't wear it out; though to be honest I think you did that the first day I got here."

"Lunchbox!" it was a demand now.

"Sand….wiches?"

"Why do you keep saying that?"

"Because I thought we were playing word association. You said lunchbox and I said sandwiches; so, do I win?"

"I've lost my lunchbox…."

"That's more than one word….now you're cheating."

Mike walked past with a smile "Stop tormenting the boy Jess…..it's cruel."

"I know….but it's just so much fun…" Mike rolled his eyes.

House smirked; it was good to see the old Jess starting to surface. Only he hadn't really been seeing the old Jess of late; in fact he hadn't been seeing Jess period.

His life was a bigger mess now than ever; Stacy was gone, though thank God on that one (not something he'd ever thought he'd say – thanking any God, or being glad that Stacy was gone), he'd been in rehab and lost Jess.

He was off the amphetamines but was still on the Vicodine, though not as much – he felt he could kick it completely, almost, with Jess' help but she didn't want to know. Oh, she'd phoned him in rehab, offered friendly support, but that was it.

He knew she was finding coping without Jaynie difficult, knew she'd phoned him but then hung up before he could get her to speak – even if only to shout at him; he could see it was making her ill; she hadn't grieved, hadn't opened the e-mail Jaynie had sent her. That was why Mike had phoned him.

"House….get your sorry butt over here – I'm not about to lose her as well as my Jaynie; the kids need her, and so do I. If this isn't sorted soon, she'll run. Fix it."

So here he was, watching her spar with the kids.

Patrick came back, ready for round two. "Lunchbox?"

"Dear God, are we back on that? Are you under a therapist for your lunchbox fetish?"

"Where is it?" The older boy rolled his eyes, yet House could see he was trying not to laugh.

Just then Hewie, Dewie and Lewie, the triplets age 6, all came up (Jaynie always did have a sense of humour) "Jess – where's our lunchboxes?"

"Probably made the same break for freedom his did…" she gestured to their brother "Makes you wonder what you did to upset them that they want to escape so badly - either that or maybe they're having a wild lunchbox party somewhere…."

The 4 boys grinned "Don't you know where they are?"

"Did I have them last?"

"No, we did…."

"Then why should I know?"

"You're you….."

"Right! I'm me - thank you so much Dewie! Dear God that answers so much for me…I'm 'me'." She slapped her forehead and made a face of sudden, fake, realisation.

"Of course, and being me means I'm obviously telepathic too right?" She didn't wait for an answer, but pretended to concentrate hard "Scanning thoughts……" she squeezed her eyes shut tighter "Scanning….. nope……nothing…."

She heaved a theatrical sigh and shrugged "Could be one of two reasons; first, you learn in human biology 101, even before med school, that humans - huge surprise here guys – are not mind readers, not even me…I know, what a shocker!

Second, more likely – and not such a surprise – you lot have no thoughts to read." She rolled her eyes and dodged the missiles of homework that assailed her.

"You know you're going to need that right?" they scrambled to pick it up, as she noticed an empty box on the counter.

"Who ate the last frosted blueberry pop tart? What did we agree you plague of bloody locusts – tell me when you've scarffed the last of the food! Hang on; there were three in here – who's the pig! Come on, the oinker has to own up!"

House dipped into his seat and dropped the empty plate onto the floor.

"Fine! But you're a piglet whoever you are…." She shook her head; the only one she knew that could eat three of those things was House. She stopped, then shook her head. No, if he was here Mike would have said.

Suddenly there was much hilarity as the boom box burst into life in the kitchen and music blared out. He stepped to the door and watched her dance, well hobble really, round the kitchen with the others as she got stuff together for their errant lunchboxes.

She and Chloe started singing along to Westlife's 'World of our Own:

"You make me feel funny
When you come around
Yeah that's what I found out honey
What am I doing without you
You make me feel happy
When I leave you behind
It plays on my mind now honey
What am I doing without you

Took for granted everything we had
As if I'd find someone
Who's just like you

We got a little world of our own
I'll tell you things that no one else knows
I let you in where no-one else goes
What am I doing without you
And all of the things I've been looking for
Have always been here outside of my door
And all of the time I'm looking for something new
What am I doing without you

Well I guess I'm ready
For settling down
And fooling around is over
And I swear that it's true
No buts or maybes
When I'm falling down
There's always someone who saves me
And girl it's you

Funny how life can be so surprising
I'm just realising what you do

We got a little world of our own
I'll tell you things that no one else knows
I let you in where no-one else goes
What am I doing without you
And all of the things I've been looking for
Have always been here outside of my door
And all of the time I'm looking for something new
What am I doing without you

Well it's feeling right now
So let's do it right now
Praying that some how
You will understand the way
It's feeling right now baby somehow
I won't let this slip away

We got a little world of our own
I'll tell you things that no one else knows
I let you in where no-one else goes
What am I doing without you
And all of the things I've been looking for
Have always been here outside of my door
And all of the time I'm looking for something new
What am I doing without you."

They were all shouting the words at the end before dissolving into giggles. Mike looked aghast "You know if you were on the radio that would be good!"

"Really?" Hewie was impressed.

"Yeah, I could turn it off!" They all groaned and booed him.

House couldn't help but notice the similarity between the words and his current predicament. He wondered if he burst into the kitchen and sung them to her, before falling at her feet and begging her forgiveness, whether it might make her soften.

He thought for a moment and smiled – no, she'd think he'd lost his mind and probably club him to death with a lunchbox.

Of course her dance skills were extremely limited by her severely pronounced limp, and he wondered if she was aware he knew that she would be having surgery the following week to carry out a complete knee anthroplasty.

Her joint was degrading faster than Jameson, the orthopaedic surgeon, had anticipated; but then, as he pointed out to House, running around after 5 grief stricken kids and a widower as well your own kid, for 6 months would wear out healthy knees let alone the mess hers was.

He stepped away as she turned, so she wouldn't see him. He wanted to wait until everyone was gone before he approached her.

The triplets finally came up with their lunchboxes, but wouldn't let her fill them until she'd juggled the apples and dropped one in each as she went. She took a bow at the end and then started rocking out to the music on the radio with Chloe; Patrick stepped forward again, it looked as if round three was imminent.

"Where's my lunchbox?" They said it together "Where's my lunchbox?" they gradually shouted it louder and louder until Jess won by almost screaming it. They laughed "I don't know where you're damn lunchbox is, so go find it…"

"If I can't?"

"Then you'll be carrying your lunch around in your hands all day, which will prove interesting. Maybe I'd better teach you to juggle – at least then you can be entertaining as well."

He watched her limp away with a grin "You know you are the spit of him now in every way, right?"

"Who?"

"House…."

Everyone stopped as Jess paused, closed her eyes against the momentary stab of pain his name brought, and then carried on "Even the stubble? I'm hurt, I shave every morning…." She rubbed her chin ruefully.

House smiled, but saw the hurt in her face and mentally hung himself all over again for being the one to cause it.

The kids giggled, but watched as she shut the music off and was slightly less jovial as they finished getting ready for school.

"Why don't you know?"

"What?"

"Where Rick's lunchbox is?" Hewie was curious, he felt Jess knew everything. She'd had a very good explanation why his Mummy died after all.

"Well, I don't know everything. I let everyone think I do…but, you know…." She grinned and ruffled his hair.

He flung his arms round her waist "Love you muchly Jess. I miss Mummy, but we think you're a pretty good fill-in. Mummy would be proud."

Jess gently disentangled the little boy, patted his head with a smile and then went and sat on the stairs. Her head back she willed herself not to cry – it was hard without Jaynie, harder than she'd ever expected in her wildest nightmares. Before she'd come to stay, she would find herself picking up the phone to tell her something before she realised she wasn't there.

Even now, she and the others had caught themselves setting her a place at the table some nights. 6 months – had it really been 6 months? It felt both like a lifetime and only yesterday since her friend had died.

Of course not having House was proving harder than she'd thought too. She'd picked up the phone to call him more than once and then hung up when he'd answered.

Dewie came and sat on the stairs with her, Chloe climbed into her lap and put her arms round her neck "Muchly sad Jess?" she murmured.

"Yeah…muchly, kiddo. I had two best friends in the world, guys – and I lost them both the same week." She sighed "I have never felt more alone in all my life than I do right now…."

0-0-0-0-0-0

The other kids filtered into the hall – Molly looked mutinously at her mother "How long do you plan on staying mad at House?"

Jess sighed; Molly had taken the separation the hardest. She hadn't spoken to her for 2 weeks; and then even when she did, it was mostly to demand when she could see him.

Molly knew she only had to pick up the phone and he'd be there; but she was loyal, and until her Mummy said it was alright she couldn't see him or be a friend to him.

"Well, how old do you think I might live to guys?"

"My Granddad lived until he was 82…." Lewie offered.

"82 it is then."

"Only 43 years? You can't be that mad at him then…" Patrick smirked. Jess laughed then and all the others followed. "You're making yourself as miserable as him Jess, that's dumb. Even kids don't do that." He added with a smile.

"I never said I was clever….." she argued, then sighed "it's complicated…."

"Yeah, I heard you and dad talking last night. But Stacy's gone, and he's trying to get better and on his own. That must be tough…."

The boy put his hand on her arm "I know he misses you Jess, we see him standing outside school watching Molly – sometimes he has that friend of his with him, Wilson; he talks to her as she won't talk to House.

I couldn't imagine trying to get through this without you Jess; yet that's what you're expecting him to do. That's not fair……on either of you, is it? Mum used to say how you two needed each other to even breathe."

"Proved her wrong on that one haven't I? It hurts to breathe without both of them, but I'm doing it. I'm living without him."

"No Jess….you're functioning – there's a difference. "

She hugged him "So reasonable – just like your Dad. Unfortunately, I am like your Mum, God rest her; I am as unreasonable as they come." But she smiled "I'll phone him….this week, I will."

He sighed "No….you won't. In 6 months, you never have."

0-0-0-0-0-0

House leant against the wall the other side of the open stairway door. Patrick wandered round holding Molly's hand and he held a finger to his lips to make them quiet as their faces lit up. Molly looked ill and his arms ached to hug the little midget. God he'd missed her carping and telling him off; seeing her from a short distance at school wasn't the same – insults didn't work with the just the eyes.

Ever since he'd caught Wilson and the ducklings discussing their 'find' and getting it out of them where she was, although he'd suspected – Jess would never break a promise - the state Mike and the kids had been in at the funeral pointed to that being where she'd bolt to, he had followed her around as much as he dared.

Of course he wasn't stalking her, no matter what Cuddy said, after rehab he just wanted to ensure his best friend was okay….without him.

He ran a hand over his face – oh, who was he kidding? She wasn't a friend, well not just a friend – he loved her, loved her so much he felt he wasn't even living anymore and that just sucked. So it was comforting to know she was suffering as badly as him….misery did love company after all.

He heard them all filing out along with a triumphant Patrick, having found his lunchbox; and then her laughingly arguing with Mike.

"But it's my turn to take them…..no, it is. Think – you took them Monday, me Tuesday, you yesterday, so me today. Right? Okay, okay….Sheesh take a chill pill already! Take them, take them….muchly good may it do you – one of them has had three frosted blueberry pop tarts; hyped on sugar isn't in it!" she laughed as he left.

She turned back to the war zone that had been a kitchen "Good God! Who let the army in whilst I wasn't looking?"

"I did it…just to get your attention…"

She spun round so quickly she almost went over "House! What in the name of all that's holy are you doing here?"

"I've been told to fix it."

"What it?"

"Us it."

"Were we broke?" She wouldn't look at him and instead made coffee.

"If you're intent on staying mad at me for 43 years I'd had hazard a yes on that one."

She couldn't help but smile, so did he.

"I hurt you."

"You did.." a pause "muchly."

"I'm sorry.."

"No, you're not." She looked at him "You're never sorry House. I've known you for just over 20 years now and you've never once been sorry."

"I am now."

She handed him a mug and they sat down. "I can't do this right now House. I can't, and I won't. So if there's anything else you want let me know, otherwise I'll be in touch."

"Actually there is something else…."

"Oh?"

"The Lung Fluke lady…"

"Abigail Mulholland….what about her?"

"She's back….infected again."

"But…how? I mean she responded to treatment."

"Well, she's back – she's having seizures, we think they've infected her brain much worse than before." He rolled his eyes "Damn worms…get everywhere. Just when you think you've got them licked, the pesky little blighters slip back…."

"I'll get my jacket….."

"No cane?"

"No…..don't want to be too much like you." She grimaced.

"No…two of me would be too much for this world."

"We can only take one lot of such egotistical greatness….." she smile slightly.

House watched her limp out the door. She turned and smiled hesitantly "race you…."

As he limped past a pebble hit his back, he turned.

Jess looked innocently at him "The dog did it…."

Suddenly, he had hope…….it wasn't much, but it was a start "oh yeah the phantom mutt…." He rolled his eyes "you know I'm sure you could get it exorcised…"

"Why - when he's so useful?"

Then House saw Hank Ditchfield draw up outside. "Shit!" House and Jess spoke together………

So the end…..worth a sequel?