So here it is. The final chapter: Home again.

I owe DIY Sheep a very big Thank You for helping me out with layout/formatting/grammar/spelling/reconstructing my sentences and so on to make it easier to read and keep me on my toes. (I wonder if they sell pre-printed Post-Its with TENSE and FORMATTING ? ) Which doesn't mean everything is perfect now, but hey, I really tried. I'm learning.

Thanks too to all reviewers, very encouraging!
It really helps me to write on, think of extra information to add and make me look at things from a different angle.
Constantly questioning if a character would indeed behave like that...

Anyway, I hope you've all enjoyed reading this.
Maybe it's best to read it all in one go because there are some referrals to the earlier chapters.
But, if I wanted everyone to do that I should have updated on a much more regular basis ?

I hope I explained everything that happened in this story, but if I left something out please don't hesitate to ask a question in a review or send me a message if something still is not clear after reading this last chapter.

CB/2006


Chapter 9. Home again.

After they got back to their own car, Chase drove them back to PPTH.

House had started rubbing his leg, despite taking two Vicodin. He was not saying much apart from: "Yes I am convinced I'm right, it all fits" when Chase had asked him if he was sure about his diagnoses, and a hissed: "God, where did you learn to drive!" when Chase unexpectedly had to brake because someone in a car in front of them suddenly decided they really did want to turn right there after all.
The sudden forward jolt had sent a sharp wave of pain traveling through House's leg, taking away his breath for a minute, as he braced himself to prevent a collision with the dashboard.

And then Chase felt guilty.

Not because his sudden breaking had visibly caused House pain,
but because he almost felt glad House so preoccupied with his own scar that he didn't even bother to bring up Chase's again.

He parked as close to the hospital entrance as he could, figuring House would want to walk as short a distance as possible, and they made their way inside.


Upon exiting the elevator they were met by Cameron who followed them into Chris' room.
Cuddy, Foreman and Chris' parents were already there. Cuddy looked slightly annoyed at House, but then she always did.
Foreman looked amused. Damn, thought House. There goes forcing him to do things by reminding him of his rap sheet. The parents looked at him with what he could only guess was admiration and gratefulness, but then loved ones always did once you'd saved the patient. If the kid had died he would have been met by eyes that said "you killed my son and broke into his house".

"House", Cuddy said. "You were right, it's CPT2, the lab just confirmed after testing the muscle biopsy we took."

"Have you started a 10 glucose drip?", asked House. Foreman nodded.
"Add Carnitor later, that should make him feel better."

Chris' dad turns to House, glancing over the cane. "Thank you".

House nodded and left as Cameron walked up to Chris and his parents and started explaining.

"Chris, you have a F.O.D. A fatty oxidation disorder. There are several kinds and yours is called CPT2.

Normally your body uses glucose as an energy source, and when glucose is not available it uses fat. Therefore it breaks down the long chains of fatty acids into smaller ones with an enzyme. But if that enzyme is missing or not functioning correctly you can't break the fatty acids down and instead the body stores them. Often in places where it doesn't belong - for example in the liver, the kidneys or the heart.

In your case the carnitine palmitoyltransferase II precursor, called CPT2 for short, is not doing it's job. So when all the glucose is used up there is nothing else the body can use to get it's energy from. That is why we just put you on a glucose drip.

You will get Carnitor later, and you will have to follow a diet from now on.
Restrict the intake of fat, and eat lots of carbohydrates. Never go without food for longer than about 8 hours.
You will work all of this out with a nutritionist. You should also avoid prolonged vigorous exercise, and extremes in temperature.

We will monitor your ammonia, liver enzymes and cpk in the future. Sadly this is not something we can cure, but now we know what's wrong we should be able to prevent things getting as bad as they are now, and you should feel better soon."


House walked out of the elevator into the foyer and headed for the front door, but he stiffened when a familiar voice came from the staircase. Not Cuddy, not now!

"House, where are you going?"

"Out."

"But it's only 3:15! You're not even close to being allowed to clock out!"

"I solved the case. I'm going home. I filled my walking quota for the day."
He knew he sounded as tired and beat as he felt, and he hated it.

Cuddy looked at him, instantly knowing the last part of that sentence was the real reason House was on his way out.
" Wilson told me what happened. You would tell me if something really was wrong, right?"

House scoffed. "So you can give me another placebo? No thanks."

Cuddy swallowed, not regretting injecting him with saline, but regretting not immediately noticing House wanted to get home bad enough to resort to insulting her, thinking that was the fastest way to get rid of her.

"Come on, I'll drive you."

House started protesting.

"Shut up and hand me the keys."


Home, finally.

House flung his coat over the back of a chair.
He sank down on the couch and stretched his legs out in front of him. Consciously relaxing his shoulders, trying to will the tension out of strained muscles.

He sighed, tried to get his mind to push the pain aside, think of something else.

He took two more Vicodin, and switched on the TV, but didn't really see what exactly was on. It was moving and it produced sound, but it could have been anything. He didn't care.

Noise was good, any noise.


Home, finally.

Chase flung his coat over the back of a chair, loosened his tie. He sat down, turned the TV on, but his mind didn't register what was on. He made dinner, switched the TV off again.

His head was full of thoughts and emotions he didn't want there.

He brushed his teeth and took a shower.
The steam isolated him from the rest of the world, with only the sound of the water keeping him company. The warmth was causing his muscles to relax a little. He stepped out of the shower, sat down on the edge of the bed for a moment, before sliding in. As he closed his eyes the one memory he had been trying to push away would no longer let itself be locked away in one of the far corners of his brain.

He remembered part of the lyrics of a song in some foreign language Chelsea once had him listen to. She had even translated it for him.

I only come when you are asleep, when you are ready for the night.
I come in images, in fragments.
Hard, suddenly, and when you least expect me to.

Sometimes I come in the middle of laughter,
That then changes into crying.
The tears are the same, their names are different.

I hide in faded pictures, in something you find under the couch.
And no matter how much you try to drown me, it never works.
I hide easiest in alcohol.

Chelsea had not known about his mom.

He had loved her. They had met at the beach.
There were always girls watching him when he was surfing, and afterwards he had bought her ice cream. They had sat down on a towel, the hot sand beneath them, the rustling rumbling sound of the waves hitting the shore. Talking, smiling and flirting.
He had trusted her. But he hadn't told her.
He hadn't told House he had been right either and he never would.

He rolled over on his other side.

His mom. The fight.

He remembered how he had come home from school one day, finding his mom drunk and angry. It hadn't been the first time either.
She was yelling, something about his dad not being there for her.

When he had tried to calm her down she had thrown the nearest object she could find at him. It was a glass figurine of a dog. He hated dogs. He hated the sharp edges of the damned figurine that had cut right through his T-shirt.
He hated how he had stood there, shocked and scared and bleeding. He hated that his mom had shouted at his dad. "So now you're coming home after all!" The words still echoing in his head, he knew he had shouted back at her. He had been so mad.
She had cried and locked herself in the bathroom as his dad had stitched him up without saying a word.

His mind jumped to her unexpected death only weeks after.
She never apologized, he never did either.

He remembered the funeral.
The overwhelming silence when everyone but him and his dad had gone outside again, afterwards.
How his new black leather shoes had disturbed that silence when he finally walked out as well. How his dad had looked at him as if he had somehow done that on purpose. How things were different ever since.


Home, finally,

Wilson entered House's apartment, and as he switched on the lights discovered House had been lying on the couch in the dark, but he was not sleeping.

"Are you… testing your night vision?"

"No."

"Are you hungry?"

"No."

"It was Hodgkin's. Good call." He let himself fall into a chair closest to House's feet.

"Another day in the oncologists' life, telling a young girl she has months of treatment ahead of her, and even then changes of her making it are pretty slim." He got up, walked to the fridge and got two cans out. He sat back down again, handing House one, which he opened.
A good sign, Wilson thought, if he still wanted to drink something. He sighed.

"What did she ever do to deserve this… And Chris. Another person whose life from now on will never be the same. And you…"

He paused, not sure if he should continue, not sure how House would respond.
But House just took another gulp of the beer.

"I'm sorry about last night…" Wilson said.

"What the hell is this", House said, "I am sorry about last night? What are we now, dating?"

Wilson looked at him. "You know what I mean. You have been in agony all day because I wanted to get back at you."

House put his beer down.

"People always assume life is fair.
They assume that the universe evens it all out, that one thing counterbalances the other.

If something bad happens it probably is because of something bad they did, or something good they didn't do.
At first they think they deserve it. If they want something good to happen they try to make a deal – with themselves of with a God.
It doesn't work. Never does. Life doesn't work like that. Life isn't fair. It's not unfair either. It just is.

I will be fine. Now, go away."

FIN.