A/N: If you can, read this while listening to Ronstadt's "Goodbye, My Friend." This small piece was inspired by a chat I had the other night with Jazelle1996 and AtreidesHeir, while discussing the "I'll start writing your eulogy" scene in Devil, You Say. My thanks to Magdala for an on-the-fly beta, complete with brilliant suggestion! And I feel a terribly strong need to apologize to all readers in advance…. mjf
The argument, he thinks, had to have been one of their worst. No, he admits to himself, ruefully, the worst. His own words echo in his mind, and run roughshod over his soul. "Ya know what, I never would've left—you pushed; oh man, did you push. And I stayed anyway. You know why?"
And House had zeroed in on him with those eyes like ice. "No, Jimmy, but I'm sure you're gonna tell me; you're always so big on sharing." He'd sneered the word, made it… ugly.
He couldn't have left then, when things could still have been fixed. No, House was right—he'd had to share. "I stayed because I cared. You were my friend, my best friend. And now, I'm going for the same reason. I won't watch you kill yourself; I can't watch you die, because—God help me—I'll always care. And you make that hurt."
And just before he'd left the apartment, in that split second between the opening of the door and the angry slam, the eyes like ice had melted; his last look at House's eyes had been a journey into House's pain.
And so, now, he sits at his desk, staring at the blank computer screen, wishing that he didn't have to do this, that he didn't have to pull all these things out of his heavy heart, but he owes this to his best friend. He places his fingers on the keys and looks down at them, but what he sees are House's fingers on the keys of a piano. He closes his eyes so he can better hear the music in his mind. It helps, a little, and when he opens his eyes again he's able to start typing the tribute.
I am privileged to say that I knew Gregory House, M.D. for the better part of a decade. He was an awe-inspiring diagnostician; most of you already know that. And most of you are here today only out of respect for that part of his life.
What I want to do today is share with you a part of House's life that very few ever saw. I am honored to know these things; some of them hurt, but most of them bring me comfort.
When I picture House, I like to see him at his piano. He was an artist, and all the emotions he hid from his colleagues, and his patients, he poured into the music. It was through his music that I learned he could hurt, just like the rest of us. I call myself his best friend, but I may be wrong; his best friend may have been that piano, where he felt safe spilling out the pain he couldn't show to us.
You know he had a motorcycle; what you don't know is that a dying nine-year-old girl touched his heart—and yes, I assure you, he had one—and inspired him to get that motorcycle. He gave her one more year of life, and she gave him some of his freedom back. There was no disability when he was on that bike; he could fly again, and maybe even be happy, for a little while. He was free.
His freedom—something he felt he lost the day they took away part of his leg. He always felt that they stole more than muscle from him; he thought they'd taken his independence, too. He was wrong; he was the one who took that from himself—he gave it away to a little amber bottle. And that's what hurts the most for me. I'll always feel that I could have done more to help him. I'll always wonder why his pills meant so much more to him than his life did. And I'll always be just a little bit angry with him, for trusting me less as he trusted the pills more.
I can't change anything for him now; I can't help him anymore. I just want everyone to know that Greg House was my friend, and that I'll never be prouder of anything in my life than that I was able to be his friend
His pager goes off then, and he leaves the office in a hurry as the cursor blinks steadily over the word "friend."
And another mournful man enters the office. Finding it empty, he walks to the desk to leave a note. His face is sad, thoughtful, as he reads the words on the computer screen, and he denies aloud to the empty room—denies even to himself—that the dampness on his face might be tears. He sits there, rereading the screen, for quite awhile before he finally picks up a pen and begins to write.
He'd run a successful code; he'd saved a life. He contemplates the irony in that as he returns reluctantly to his office. He knows he must finish the eulogy; it is the most important thing he can do for his friend right now, this clearest, most loving message.
He sees the note left on his desk by the other mournful man. He reads it with a small, sad smile on his face, and then he slowly reaches over to the keyboard and hits 'delete' while he rereads the note:
A bit melodramatic, don't you think? Message received, point taken, let's discuss the Vicodin tonight over beer and pizza at my place. 7:30. Be there.