Disclaimer: As we are both girls, it is highly unlikely that either of us are Frank Capra or David Shore. I'm not sure if I'm relieved or terribly upset?
A/N: Ok, I want you all to know that there is a scene in this that is so…abhorrent, so…nauseating, that we took about three disinfecting showers after writing it in order to cleanse ourselves. You have been warned…now excuse us as we go throw up.
A/N 2: A special shout out for a Prince among men: A Mr. Ethan Poe. Ethan settles our writing disagreements. His word is law. If we are the Zeus of our writing universe, he is Cronus. Except he doesn't get defeated. Too smart. Anyways, to our good friend and constant mediator: the ever-diplomatic Ethan.
"What the hell?" House looked down at his perfect leg, trying to register the impossible. "Am I dreaming?"
"You're not dreaming, Dr. House." A man was watching him with an irritatingly knowing smile on his face. "And hell has nothing to do with it."
"Oh, really?" said House, taking in this bizarre newcomer; he kind of looked familiar. Maybe. "Then how do you explain, O figment-of-my-imagination, that my leg which has been a mass of useless scar tissue for over five years now is suddenly looking as if I never had an infarction?"
"You never did have an infarction."
That knowing smile was starting to irritate House. Acting omnipotent was his bit. "What, it was all a nightmare? A dream I had in my drug-induced coma?" House's voice dripped with sarcasm...and a touch of hope.
"Well," said House after a pause where he almost wished he had his cane to tap impatiently with, "are you going to explain or not? 'Cause it's kind of cold out here and I, unlike you, don't have a coat."
The infuriating smile was replaced with a look of concern. House didn't think it much of an improvement. "Here, take mine. It's not like I'll die of cold." He chuckled. House didn't see the joke. The odd man answered his question as he watched House pull on the coat. "You didn't have an infarction, Dr. House, because you were never born. You got your wish." He held his arms out and smiled. "Merry Christmas!"
"Dr. Cuddy!" screamed House, running, (boy, was it nice to be able to do that again, if a little...odd,) back into the hospital. He sprinted through the halls, ignoring various shouts of "Stop running!" and "This is a hospital, you moron!" As he skidded around a corner, he nearly knocked over a nurse, who yelled at him for being a clumsy idiot. He was about to yell back something about treating cripples with more respect, when his new situation registered once again and he ran with renewed vigor until he found the door he was searching for, barreling in without a glance at its inscription.
"Dr. Cuddy!" he shouted, "Is this your idea of some kind of sick..." He trailed off, a very guilty looking Cuddy was looking up at him with wide eyes and a bottle of cooking sherry in one hand. Her eyes were bloodshot and her clothes ill-fitting. "What? Are you celebrating having finally one-upped me? And why are you hiding those funbags I love so much?"
"Th-this isn't (hic) what it looks like. I, uh, confiscated this from one of the nurses. I, er, thought merely confiscating it would do...first, uh, offense." She stammered, apparently scared out of her wits.
"What are you blabbering on about?" House asked, derision in his voice masking the concern...what was wrong with her?
"I wasn't drinking!" Cuddy was screaming now.
"Of course you weren't, the smell of your breath is because of your new mouthwash. C'mon Cuddy, I'd hardly blame you for drinking, though I'm sure people who care about such things more than I do would disapprove of the Dean of Medicine getting sloshed on the job."
"Dean of Medicine?" Dr. Cuddy, apparently having ascertained he wasn't going to snitch on her, clumsily poured herself another drink, splashing sherry all over her desk. "I haven't been 'Dean of Medicine' since the hospital stopped being Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Who (hic) are you, and what rock have you been living under for the past couple of years?" She grinned drunkenly, perhaps impressed by this amazing wit on her part, not aware that slurring had lessened its impact.
"What do you mean, 'who am I'? I'm Dr. House! I've been the head of your diagnostics department for two years now!"
"Right," she giggled, "and I'm Donna Reed." She continued, slurring, "Diagnostics department? Nope, that's Dr. Chase, blasted little Aussi snitch, ooh I'd like to ring his oily neck." She giggled, spilling some of her drink.
House broke into a nervous grin, "Nice try, Dr. Cuddy, you almost had me fooled. But the idea of Chase heading anything is so ludicrous that even I'm not gullible enough for it. Though I like your description of the little turncoat. Of course, I wasn't aware that you knew he'd snitched to Vogler."
Cuddy choked at the name, starting out of her seat and looking around in fear. Finally she registered what he'd been talking about and said, "Well of course I know, how else would an incompetent little (hic) jerk like him get that job. It's obvious he's the boss-man's favorite." She sung a bit under her breath as she searched her desk for another bottle. "Boss-man's favorite, boss-man's favorite"
"Boss-man?" House felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"Yup, Vogler, 'generous beneficiary' to Ed Vogler Medical Center." She gave a happy cry as she found another bottle and poured herself a glass, not noticing the mysterious 'Dr. House' as he slid bonelessly into a chair by her door. She did, however, notice when the door opened to reveal a certain blasted little Aussie snitch.
"Dr. Cuddy, there's a problem down in the clinic with one of the nurses...What's that?" He stormed across the room and snatched the sherry out of Cuddy's trembling hands. "Drinking on the job again, Doctor Cuddy? I'm afraid Vogler won't like that. How many times does that make this month? Three?"
"It, it's not mine. I wasn't (hic) drinking. I, uh, confiscated it from a (hic) nurse in the clinic, first offense and all and...uh..." she launched into the explanation she'd tried to offer House earlier, and noticed Chase smirking cruelly at her. "D-don't tell Vogler," she said meekly, "I need this job, please." Chase's smirk grew as the woman abased herself.
"Well, as I'm a generous soul, I'll overlook it, but you really ought to think more of the...patients, Dr. Cuddy." She murmured a humble 'Thank you, sir' and avoided his eyes. As he turned to go, she added, "Say, er, hi to that pretty wife of yours, for me. Allison, right?" obviously trying to ingratiate herself to the 'boss-man's' ear.
At this point, House got over his shock long enough to exclaim, "Allison Cameron?" Chase swiveled around to stare at the man he previously hadn't noticed in the room. "You!" he said, recognizing him from earlier, "Security!"
"Comfortable?" teased Dallas, looking down at the man lying in the snow at his feet: where he landed after being tossed bodily out of the hospital...again.
"Ok," said House, jumping to his feet and grabbing the front of Dallas's shirt. "What the hell is going on here, Clarence?"
"Clarence? Please. You are no Jimmy Stewart. Don't you know my name, I was a patient of yours about nine months ago. You saved my life...of course, I got hit by a drunk driver a month later, but that just means I could be your, er, 'guardian angel' for this little trip."
House waved a hand. "Yeah, yeah, whatever. Enough backstory, just tell me what the hell is going on."
"Well, you wished you were never born. What do you think happened?" House stared at him for a moment, and then made a 'hmmph' sound. He wasn't believing this holiday-special hoohah for a minute. In fact, he was probably just in a coma from the overdose. Leave it to his team to not just let him die in peace. Bet it was Cameron who 'saved' him, the damned bleeding-heart. She would assume to know what's best for him...just like Stacy.
"Hey, speaking of Stacy," Dallas said. House stared at him, "How-?" but was cut off as his 'guardian angel' gestured across the street.
House turned. There was Stacy all right, clipping along in a typical lawyer girl-suit with her briefcase swinging at her side and her heels clicking on the sidewalk as she walked towards the Princeton-Plainsboro Teachin- the, uh, Ed Vogler Medical Center parking lot. Not quite sure why he was doing it, beyond the idea that this was a dream and he might as well go where the action was, he began to follow her. She pulled out a cell phone as she walked. She dialed a number almost without looking at the keypad, then held the phone up to her ear. "Hey, sexy," she said. House frowned momentarily. Nothing had changed with her, she was still with Mark, why would his delusion show him this? Dallas's voice echoed quietly in the garage opening behind him, "Um, she's not talking to Mark. She met Mark after leaving you."
Stacy continued her conversation. "I just got out of a meeting to find my car died, mind…giving me a ride?"
House stared between her and the 'angel', "Not Mark? Then who the hell is it she's practically having phone sex with?"
"Uh…well…" he looked uncomfortable.
"I'm in the garage. You know I love your new car, all red and gleaming with that excellent…stick shift" House started, and turned around. There, gleaming in all its glory…
"My car!" House stared in amazement at the beautiful classic convertible he'd gotten from the mafia. "How…?" Then he noticed the vanity plates. "No. No way." He felt nauseous…
He was still processing this horrific image when an all-too-familiar voice that chilled his very soul came from the elevators. "So, I hear you're stranded." Edward Vogler stepped out of the shadows into the light of the florescent bulbs hung periodically in the garage. He gave Stacy a possessive, greedy gaze and House watched in horror and revulsion as he walked up to her and with one meaty hand grabbed her ass. At this point, House snapped out of his catatonic state and was about to take action against this violation of natural law before it progressed to the backseat of his car when Dallas grabbed him from behind and yanked him behind an old pickup.
"Do you REALLY want to be a party to this?" asked Dallas in a hoarse whisper. In the background, House could hear moaning and the unmistakable sound of two people engaged in a game of tonsil hockey. He quickly decided that, no, he DEFINITELY did not want to be a party to this. He and his guardian angel hopped up and got the hell out of that parking garage.
The moment they cleared the entrance of the parking garage, House whirled on his angel. "Ok, Clarence, what the hell was that?"
"What do you mean Dallas? Like the TV show? Cause I already caught that this was all a dream"
"Uh, no...this is not a dream. Dallas is my name. Not Clarence. Jeez. And to answer your question...I would think it was fairly obvious what that was...your ex Stacy going at it with that creep Vogler."
House glared at him...Dallas' ever-present smile slipped a notch, and he gave in. "You always knew she liked power House...that's why she dated you. If you guys hadn't been together, then quit being together...she'd never have met Mark and learned to like the 'nice guy'. She still loves power, and she went for the guy who could give her the most."
House stood in shock for a few minutes...this was seeming less and less like a comotose fantasy. He sincerely doubted he was twisted enough to have imagined that scene...he quickly changed the subject. "Well, since I have no idea how long I'll be trapped in this stupid dream, I'll need a place to stay. Where's Wilson living? If anybody would take in a random stranger for the night..." Dallas looked at him, House saw a flicker of uncertainty cross his face. What was that about?
"I don't know that that's such a good idea"
"Nonsense, Wilson will be thrilled! And you should try the food he makes...truly excellent."
"Well, see, the thing is-" but House cut him off.
"I am not staying out here until I get frostbite in my leg and can't walk again. We're going. You are the omnipotent one in this hallucination, so make like Mapquest and..."
"Ok, ok...he's at the corner of Gutsy and Black." House ran off. "Just don't say I didn't warn you." Dallas finished under his breath.
House couldn't understand...this wasn't a house. Or a duplex or even an apartment complex.
"What is this? Why did you bring me here?" House stared at the icy graves around him.
"I told you that you wouldn't like it." Dallas said, tucking his hands in his pockets and trying to look like he didn't care.
"Wouldn't like what? That Jimmy is homeless and sheltering in a cemetery?" House tried to sound mad, but Dallas could hear a touch of fear in his voice, which caused his eyes to flick guiltily to one particular gravestone. House's eyes were drawn to the same place, and he fell to his knees in the cold snow. House rubbed the icy snow off the marker.
JAMES WILSON: March 3, 1960- September 7, 1982
"But...no...that's not possible. Jimmy...Jimmy's an oncologist...a...a hero, he treats the patients with the least hope...he...he can't...twenty-two? He died at...twenty two?" House's voice sounded lost…broken. Dallas winced at the raw emotion he had never, even in his research, heard in House's voice.
"Every one of those patients died because you weren't there to save Jimmy," he said, still avoiding eye contact with the man before him.
House got shakily to his feet, and stared at Dallas in horror. "This isn't a dream, is it?" Dallas moved to pat his back, do something to comfort him. House shoved him back hard. "Stay the hell away from me!" he screamed, and ran off. "House! House, wait!" Dallas tried to scramble to his feet in time, but he was too late.
The cemetery. Jimmy's...Jimmy's grave. He'd stumbled to his feet and ran, not paying attention to anything around him...he was so, so...scared. The thoughts were flying so quickly through House's head that he did not immediately realize he was in the middle of the street.
Until he found himself plastered to the front of a VERY familiar red corvette with some equally familiar vanity plates and an even more recognizable driver.
He blacked out.
House awoke to intense pain in his ribs and right arm. It was broken, he diagnosed, and the ribs were bruised. But his legs were fine. Gotta love irony. He felt the unmistakable course of pain medication through his system and heard the chaotic sounds of an ambulance.
"Foreman? Is that you?" He turned to the man in the stretcher next to him...who looked shocked and wary. He was dressed shabbily, mostly in black.
"Thanks for being out in the middle of the road, dumb shit. You have any idea how long it took to hotwire that damn thing?"
House stared at him and then collapsed back against his stretcher. "Well at least one of you does something that makes sense." He was actually a little relieved with the familiarity of their relationship; it was about the same…he reckoned he even remembered being called a 'dumb shit' by him before. The two lay in comfortable silence for the rest of the trip.
Their individual reveries, Foreman's of a lost opportunity and House's of a really screwed up day, were broken by a too-loud ambulance tech making a hasty request in his radio. "I got two car wreck victims, one to be picked up by police after treatment, coming into Ed Vogler Medical Center. Page Dr. Chase in the clinic."
House groaned, but was too hyped up on meds to make a huge fuss. He really couldn't deal with Chase again, he'd just have to hope the effects wore off in time for him to make an escape…maybe his 'angel' had healing powers like on 'Charmed'…man those girls were sexy. Why couldn't he have gotten one of them? Oh wait, they were witches. Damn. He vaguely realized he was being wheeled into the ER, but everything mostly flowed in a rather pleasant manner…until he saw his doctor. She was a looker…
Problem was, she was Dr. Cameron…and they'd said it'd be Dr. Chase, which could only mean…
With that final thought, he passed out again.
House awoke to the irritating, but familiar sound of a heart rate monitor to find himself mercifully lucid. He was going to need all his wits to deal with the fact that Dr. Allison Cameron…Dr. Allison Chase, as he was reminded by the flash of a gaudy wedding ring…was checking his vitals.
He turned his head from left to right. He was in one of the long rooms with 3 beds. The curtain was pulled partially around his bed, and Allison was to his left, checking his morphine drip. He found himself staring at her, where had she gotten that shiner?
She looked up from her work to see his stares. "Ah, you're awake. You got hit pretty bad by that car." She smiled at him. "Actually, this hospital owes you a debt of gratitude. You stopped some criminal from making off with our benefactor's car...though I suppose you don't particularly care about that so much...how 'bout I show you how to use your morphine drip?"
He smiled back, he really couldn't help it. "I know how, thanks. I'm a doctor myself." He double-clicked the handheld button dangling from the IV and breathed a sigh of contentment. Allison covered a little giggle with her hand.
"Allison, can I talk to you for a second?" The petite brunette jumped and whirled at the sharp words. "Oh, um, of course, dear..." Chase grabbed his wife by the arms and dragged her behind a curtain. House strained his ears to listen to their hushed words.
"What were you doing?" Chase stormed, albeit quietly. "You like him?"
Cameron mumbled something that sounded like "Honey, of course not..."
"Cause I'll have you know Security's already kicked him out twice today; he's a lunatic."
Cameron whimpered. "Bobby! Bobby, you're hurting my arms," she whispered.
"Don't try that whining with me!" House tensed, he sounded slightly crazed. "My mom used to try that with my dad. He never let it stop him from teaching her a lesson, and it won't stop me. And don't call me 'Bobby' while we're at work!"
"Sorry doctor," she whispered.
"Now you're not going to talk to him again." Chase continued.
"But he's my patient," she exclaimed. Her words were cut off with a loud smacking noise as House watched the silhouette of Chase backhand her across the face...
"No!" House jumped up, dragging the morphine drip after him, ripped aside the curtain and dealt Chase a blow squarely on the jaw even before she hit the floor.
Chase rose, a thin stream of blood trickling from the right side of his mouth. "That's it, this time, when Security kicks you out, you're going to stay out," House ignored him as he checked Allison for any injuries. She was unconscious. He held her in his arms as he wondered vaguely how all this could have happened. Jimmy...Cuddy...Stacy...now her... It wasn't right, "I wish I'd never said it," he whispered, "I wanna live again." As the sound of pounding feet came to his ears, he noticed vaguely that it was beginning to snow. Outside the room, Dallas smiled slightly and then, in a blink, disappeared.
House suddenly became aware that the room, which had been noisy a second ago, was now dead silent. He rubbed his free hand against his sore leg as he strained his ears for the sounds of security blasting into...wait...his leg? His eyes shot open. He was no longer holding Allison, but his own cane...and he was alone in the room. He struggled to his feet, glancing around in shock. He quickly hobbled to the window and glanced outside. Through the thick snow, he could barely see the sign that read "Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital".
He stared at it for a second, and then he grinned. "Shit...Merry Christmas, Princeton-Plainsboro" He continued to stare out the window, and then started out of his reverie...where was everyone? He threw his cane in the air, deftly grabbed it, and started out of the room.
"Merry Christmas, clinic!" He shouted as he passed it. A few nurses bemusedly waved.
He continued down the hallway as fast as he could, oddly not missing the ability to run. He smiled at the familiar rhythm of his cane thumping.
"Merry Christmas, MY diagnostics office!" He said, stroking his name embossed on the door with relief on his face. He whirled at the sound of clicking heels.
"Merry Christmas Stacy!" he called to her.
"What are you all cheerful for?" she asked him sarcastically. He just grinned. Giving him an odd look, she handed him a folder. "Well, I have to get back to Mark, but here...I got them to drop the law suit." She smiled at him briefly. "Merry Christmas to you as well, just know I'm not bailing you out again." He saluted her. "Got it, and say 'hi' to Mark for me!" He rushed off, leaving her to stare, shocked, after him.
Finally, House heard some noise coming from a nearby room. 'Of course,' he thought, 'It's Christmas, the party!'
He threw open the door. "Merry Christmas, everyone!" The room fell silent, except for the strains of "Jingle Bell Rock" in the background.
Chase and Foreman, over by the eggnog, exchanged looks. "Uh, Merry Christmas, House," ventured Chase.
"Is that eggnog?" House asked as everyone began talking again. "Make me a glass, Chase. Man I love that you work for me." Chase raised his eyebrows and gave him the glass. House raised his glass to him and Foreman, and hobbled off. Chase rolled his eyes as he turned back to Foreman. "I sure as hell hope that wasn't spiked 'cause he's smashed as it is," he muttered. Foreman nodded, but added, "He doesn't need alcohol to be a dumb shit." House grinned. All was as it should be.
Finally, House made his way over to Cuddy, who was wearing a low cut Yuletide sweater. "Ah, nice to your funbags are festive," he commented. "Here, brought you a drink." She gave him an odd stare. "I hate eggnog, but I love treating Chase like a toady."
She shook her head and took the drink. "House, what the hell is wrong with you? Three hours ago you were elbow deep in several substances I would rather not talk about as I drink this, your patient died, and a lawsuit was brought against the hospital because of you. Hate to question your festive spirit, but what are you on, and where can I get some?"
House grinned. "Lisa, my dear, I'm high on life." He patted her on the shoulder and, while she fumed, he very nearly skipped off.
Wilson approached him with a whiskey. As he handed it to him, he commented, "Well, your chipper. Made any nurses cry, lately?" House smiled at him, took up his cane, and pulled him into a big hug. Wilson stood stiff with shock for a moment, and then patted his back awkwardly. "This is…awkward," he said. House let go.
"Jimmy, you were right. Wish me luck." While Wilson looked on, confused, House turned back. "Oh, and you owe me. Majorly. A thank-you card with cash inside will do." And he step-thumped away. When Wilson followed his path and noticed whom he was walking to, he smiled and shook his head. Whatever had happened today could only be for the good.
"Cameron," House tapped her on the shoulder. He smiled as she turned around, and breathed an inward sigh of relief that she responded to that name.
"House?" she smiled uncertainly at him. "Hey, what's going on with you? You were so…upset this morning and now…? What happened today?"
He took her hand and she jumped a bit at the unexpected contact. "Let's just say an old patient insisted that I'm not a complete bastard, and the shock of a patient telling me that made me think maybe he was right."
"An old patient…who-?"
"Allison, it's Christmas Eve, there's a healthy supply of liquor in the room, there's snow on the ground, why are you asking questions?" She was so caught up in the fact that he'd called her 'Allison' that she didn't hear it when Wilson yelled across the room "House, you're under the mistletoe. What are you waiting for?"
But she certainly noticed when House gently lowered his head and brushed his lips against hers. Again, silence fell on the room, but Cameron wasn't sure if it was because people were staring in shock or because time had stopped.
Then a bell began to ring on the tree next to them. House stopped kissing her and grabbed it. "Uh-uh," he muttered, "No bell for you. Just because you helped me does NOT mean you're getting off that easily for messing with my head." Cameron's confused question was cut off by Wilson making a toast.
"To Dr. Gregory House, the most annoying, misanthropic, pain-in-the-ass, obsessive, screwed-up, greatest doctor I've ever known, and my best friend."
And up in the clouds, Dallas stretched his wings, and smiled at the scene down below him; House standing in a room full of his closest friends, his arm around Cameron as everyone sang Auld Lang Syne, and commenting that he'd always liked this song because it was all about drinking.
A/N: Kudos and props to Jeeves' employer at the hospital, because her new job, as well as giving her medical experience, provides us with lots of useful information. And also, much love to all our fans who've stuck with us despite us being awful and not updating nearly as often as we should. In our defense, school was hectic and we take a LOT of hard courses…but it's summer now, so expect more updates from us! Wooster, you know you can't tell them to expect more updates when you're going to summer fine arts camp in a few days. Shut up! Yes I can! I WILL write more! You'll see! Uh, while I get Wooster her medication, I'll let her tell you about the hidden inside joke in this chapter. Oh, yeah! There's this really odd musical that I'm rather fond of, the movie version had Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, John Candy, James Belushi, and Christopher Guest. There's a reference to it in here. Find the reference and name the musical, you get a cameo appearance in the fourth installment of our latest (and quite amazing, if I do say so myself) fanfiction story: 'You Pyg!' (If you haven't checked it out…do so!) Wooster! You know you can't plug our stories so shamelessly! It's tacky. Oh whatever, I'll do what I want. Right. Ok, say hello to Mr. Needle, he has your nice medicine for you… -Jeeves and Wooster.