First, I can't thank you all enough for your support and reviews. They helped make this piece a lot less stressful than it could have been. One of the pieces of contructive criticism was that I skipped a lot of pertinant scenes such as their first date. Actually there are a lot of scenes that I tried to write that I just couldn't get to sound right. And rather than make them Ooc I left them out. The good news is that I plan on going back and working on some of these (without time pressure of wanting to get a chapter out I might find the right rythmn) If I do get some of these to work, I will put out a companion piece to 'Nothing to Fear' that will be the deleted scenes. In the meantime... I have no newHouse stories ready to go, but who knows. Next week we are supposed to get a peek at House's parents and Musethinks that could be fun.
Epilogue – Four+ years later
House looked at the clock for the fourth time in as many minutes. Still an hour left before he could sneak out of the clinic and head home. While on a normal day the time spent in the clinic was monotonous, today time was absolutely crawling. But then it was his 50th birthday, and he was anxious to get home to the celebration he knew Allison was planning. Not that it would be anything huge. It was a Tuesday and the big party was going to be on Saturday. Allison hadn't even tried to keep it a secret. No tonight it would just be him and his girls, which was fine with him.
He thought back on the last couple of milestone birthdays he had celebrated. At thirty he had been a carefree single ambitious doctor, who had worked hard, and played even harder. Forty had been spent in a haze of booze and Vicodin, his life having fallen apart a few months prior. Fifty was looking pretty good. At least it would be as soon as he could get out of this hellhole, he thought as he picked up the next chart.
A half hour later he was wondering if he should call Allison and warn her he might be late. The three-year-old girl he had treated in the clinic had soon become a patient in the diagnostics ward and House and his current staff were busy on the whiteboard. However another twenty minutes of work had given them a list of possibilities and a series of tests that they needed to run, and two of the newest ducklings were assigned to stay and monitor the girl and perform the tests.
Dr. Laura Weber was the one who had been delegated to go give an update to the parents and get blood and urine samples. When she walked in and introduced herself, she was immediately asked where Dr. House was. She explained that Dr. House had left for an appointment, but that they would be updating him later in the evening.
"Your daughter is in excellent hands, Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair. Dr. House is one of the best diagnosticians in the country. However you will probably be seeing more of his staff than of Dr. House himself. He usually leaves the bedside care to us," she explained.
"That's too bad," Connie Sinclair commented. "He was wonderful with Sara this afternoon and she really took a shine to him."
Laura looked at their young patient and smiled. Despite being ill, the girl was a positive angel, with blond curly hair, and bright blue eyes.
"Well I can see why he was so good with her. Except for the blond hair she could be his daughter," Laura agreed with a grin.
"Dr. House has a daughter?" Mrs. Sinclair asked.
"Dr. House has three daughters," Dr. Weber replied.
At about the same time House was hobbling through his front door to be greeted by a banner wishing him a 'Happy Brithday'. Katherine, at 4 was obviously the main contributor to the artwork, although the red handprints were definitely 2-year-old Emma's. But it was the tiny orange footprints that caused him to grin the widest. He wished he could have been a fly on the wall to see Allison getting Grace to sit still for that. He'd barely cleared the front door when a tiny whirlwind raced up to him and hugged his legs.
"Happy Birthday, Daddy!" Katie exclaimed.
On her mother's hip, Emma joined in the excitement, clapping her hands and issuing a loud "Happy Daddy".
In a well practiced move, House balanced his weight on his cane as he leaned down and swept Katie into his free arm, nuzzling her neck with his whiskers and making her giggle.
"Is it my Birthday already?" he asked with a smile.
Katie's face lit up. "Yes, and we have presents and cake!" she told him.
"Wow, I'm one lucky guy," he said, moving over to Allison and giving her a meaningful look before leaning down to kiss her briefly. He would have loved to have made it a more passionate kiss, but that would have to wait until later. For now he gave her a quick preview and then leaned back to add a kiss to Emma's cheek.
"And where is the monster child?" he asked causing Katie to giggle and Allison to frown at the nickname.
"Gracie is sleeping, believe it or not. It was a very exciting day and we actually wore her out," Allison admitted.
While Katie took after House with her desire for perfection and quick wit, and Emma was the calm, cheerful clone of Allison, Grace defied her name in every sense of the word. She'd been conceived when Emma was just six months old and Allison was faithfully taking her birth control, making Emma the only one of the three that they had actually planned. She was born a month early, perfectly healthy and been progressing at breakneck speed ever since. She was currently crawling and pulling herself up on everything, only the fact that her legs just weren't strong enough yet to hold her weight preventing her from walking. And while she slept well at night, naps were something she scorned as if she was afraid she would miss something.
Although Allison had returned to work when each of the other girls was three months old, Grace had been the straw that broke her back, and after her birth she had decided to take some time off. She planned on staying home another six months at which point Katie would start kindergarten, and Emma would start pre-school. Grace would then go to the PPTH nursery.
In the meantime, she was enjoying her time as a stay-at-home-mom, knowing that it was precious time that she probably wouldn't get again. House had willingly agreed to a vasectomy after Grace was born, figuring that they'd had enough surprises to last a lifetime. Beside even if he'd had some macho desire to try again for a boy, Allison had told him in no uncertain terms that she was done having babies and that if he ever wanted to have sex again, he knew what he needed to do. It was an easy decision, and one Allison had repaid him for many times over in the last few months.
House was aroused from his thoughts by a cry emanating from nursery. "And she wakes," he commented with a grin. Seriously, as much as Gracie tried their patience, the family already didn't seem complete whenever she was not around causing trouble. "I'll get her," he offered, lowering Kate to the floor.
"Katie, you and Emma go get washed up while I finish dinner," Allison told their eldest. "And try not to get water all over the bathroom!" she added as they scooted out of the room.
House chuckled as he headed for the nursery. Allison still hadn't forgiven him for teaching Katie to wash her hands as if she was scrubbing for surgery. His attention was drawn instantly to the crib on entering the room however as he spotted Gracie halfway into a maneuver obviously designed to get her over the top railing of the crib. He swooped in as fast as he could and lifted her up before she could figure out the next step.
"Gracie girl, you are going to be the death of me. Guess I'll be lowering the mattress one last time after dinner," he said with a sigh. Grace just smiled and patted his cheek staring back at him with eyes as blue as his own.
All three girls had his eyes. Allison said they'd be beating off the boys with sticks before they knew it, which made House rumble in displeasure. Seriously, what would be the harm in home schooling and keeping the girls locked up until they were twenty-one or so?
Dinner was a noisy affair, and after the cake, which was actually angel food with whip cream and strawberries to keep the sugar ingested by three active little girls to a minimum, it was time for presents. From the girls there was a t-shirt that was decorated with painted hand and foot prints. Obviously Allison had taken advantage of the mess from the banner painting to kill two birds with one stone. There was also a new set of pictures in a collage frame for his desk at work. But it was the present from Allison that really put a smile on his face.
Two tickets to the Monster Truck Rally, with a note that said she had babysitters all lined-up, and declaring 'This time it is definitely a date'. During the rest of the evening he was occasionally pulled back in time to that day long ago (had it really been almost seven years?) when he had first taken Allison out on what he insisted wasn't a date. Even in his repressed, determined not to allow himself to feel anything state he'd had fun. Too bad he had let fear rule him for almost another year.
Then again, he pondered as he helped give the girls their baths and got them into their PJ's, maybe he wouldn't have really appreciated Allison and her love if he hadn't been forced to realize how many ways he could have lost her. And he certainly couldn't complain about the ultimate outcome, although he knew there would be years that he would question his sanity. (Like when all three girls were teenagers, or the year he'd have three in college!)
When all three girls were finally in bed with the lights out he found Allison in the kitchen, bent over loading the last of the dishes into the dishwasher. He stopped to admire the view before walking up behind her and wrapping his arms around her from behind as she straightened.
"So did you enjoy your special day," she asked, leaning back into him and giving her hips a wiggle.
"Yes, I did. Only one thing needed to make it perfect," he confessed, nuzzling her neck.
"And what would that be?" she said trying not to moan.
"Please tell me you saved some of that whipped cream for us adults to enjoy!" he teased.
Allison turned in his arms and assured him, "Never fear, my perverted husband. The only thing you need to worry about is whether you'll be able to keep up, and just how late you can be tomorrow without getting a lot of knowing looks."
The way he was feeling at the moment he certainly figured he could keep up. And as for the morning, well it really wasn't all that bad to be envied for having a sexy wife and great love life. He took Allison's hand and led her towards the bedroom.
"Oh, I'm not worried," he calmly told her, his eyes darkening with passion.
And it was true. If he had learned one thing over the past five years is was to let go of the fear of being hurt. Now he put his energy into insuring that his family was safe, happy, and healthy. If they were, then he knew he'd be just fine. As Allison locked the bedroom door and clothing starting to disappear he corrected himself.
He was lot more than just 'fine'. He was one happy, lucky man.