"Some Days Seem Just Like All the Others, Except When They're Not!"
Author's Note: Well, guys, this is the swan song, so-to-speak. KidsNurse finished "Devil is in the Details" a few days ago. And this is the end of "Analysis Paralysis". It's been a long journey for House and Wilson and Cuddy as they passed by my doorstep on their way to a new beginning. If I've managed to entertain a few of you along the way, I am satisfied with that. I thank every one of you for the great reviews, and I hope we meet up again sometime. I am indebted to David Shore for his vision, and for the characters we have come to love like family. This has been a pleasure, and I thank you. Bets;)
Ye Gods! It seems as though I never get finished yelling at him. This morning was our first day back to work after our devastating bouts with "influenza", and I was doing my best not to look entirely like the rosy picture of health I actually was. I didn't blow-dry my hair this morning, and I didn't use the wrinkle-buster on my slacks. I didn't want to be too obvious, but there needed to be at least a little bit of residual suffering on my face when I finally showed up for work after a whole month!
Greg was a little antsy this morning as well, but I knew he'd never admit it even if he were jumping out of his skin. His left leg was still much too weak. All those spasms over that stretch of time had left it less than full strength, and he needed it to compensate for the crippled one. He was a little afraid it might give out on him when he least expected it, so he was being extremely cautious. I could understand his fears. To land unceremoniously on the floor again would just about tear it! And God forbid! Not on his first day back at work!
I stood in front of the stove making his favorites … the macadamia pancakes he loved … but I could see the uncertainty hidden deep in his eyes. When he walked slowly into the kitchen, I looked him over and nodded encouragingly. He still looked a little rough: a little pale, a lot underweight, and somewhat drawn about the face. In truth, he looked as though he'd just gotten over a nasty bout with the flu. His usual mode of "living under a bridge" look was padded with enough layers to hide the gauntness and the ports of the PICC line he still carried. He would need another two weeks of the nightly TPN to help boost his energy level and keep his weight gain heading upward a little more rapidly.
He sat down at the table and picked up the mug of coffee I'd poured for him. "Are those little slices of heaven that I smell?"
"I said, "You bet!" Or something like that. I put his plate in front of him, steaming with the fragrance of the plump little pancakes. "I'm reviving an old tradition from my family a lot of years ago. My Mom always made our favorite breakfast on the first day of school."
I watched him dig in with relish, and then I heard a soft knock at the front door. Cuddy? I went to answer it. It was indeed, Cuddy, and I asked why she hadn't used the key House had given her. She told me how much she'd appreciated his trust in giving it to her, but that she had never felt particularly comfortable using it. She was returning it to him, and allowing me to answer the door in the traditional way. I did not question, but led the way back to the kitchen.
Lisa placed the key on the work counter without saying a word, then walked over to the table and sat down next to him. I served her coffee and pancakes, and then stood off to the side with a plate of my own.
I saw her look him over without a word at first. He paid no attention, just kept his attention on his own plate. "Couldn't you have chosen something a little … nicer … for the first day of school? All the other kids will be wearing their nice starched lab coats … and you look a little like a bum …"
House never looked up, but I could see the smirk forming at the corners of his mouth. "You two are just determined to run this whole 'school' thing right into the ground, aren't you? Sooo … in the spirit of the game … I have a note from the doctor, excusing me from clinic duty for another two weeks. And that's on top of what you already promised me, ya know!"
Cuddy looked over at me, eyebrows raised. "He's already snowed Dick? That sure didn't take long."
House pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Cuddy, still smirking.
Oh how familiar that sounded!
"House, this is your signature!" Her voice was a little shrill.
"Aren't I a doctor? Cause if I'm not, then you and Daddy have a nice day at work. Bring me a present when you come home." He continued calmly, forking in the pancakes.
Cuddy glowered at the note. I tried to keep a straight face, but it wasn't easy. "Fine! So you've got … what? … a month of no clinic duty now? Guess what! I'm adding these two weeks onto the end of what you already owe me. Which takes us well into the twenty-second century!"
"Works for me," Greg said calmly. He finished his final pancake and placed his fork politely across the edge of his plate. He patted his stomach in contentment. Picked up his coffee mug and drained it. He looked up at me for a moment, and then struggled to his feet with the cane planted firmly by his right foot. "Let's get outa here before she realizes she's stuck with me for eternity."
"No quick escapes from me today, House!" Cuddy told him heatedly. "We're all going in my car. You can't drive, and Wilson's car is still in the shop. Remember? So, unless you want to scribble yourself another official doctor's note, you're restricted from the bike until the PICC line comes out. Looks like you're stuck with me!"
"Fine," he retorted in the spirit of the game, "but in that case, I get to start another tradition. The only one who gets to lay a finger on the music controls in that car is the guy with the cane!"
Cuddy and I did an eye-roll at the same time, and then smiled about it. Just another House-based moan! Actually, we'd both let him get away with almost anything today.
How great it was to see him all the way back!
He picked up his jacket and backpack. Cuddy and I picked up our briefcases and jackets and followed him triumphantly out the door.
We didn't talk much on the way to the hospital. Greg made it pretty much impossible with his choice of music, and the volume at which it was played. Lisa and I let him enjoy it. It was his first taste of freedom in a very long time, and he might as well enjoy it.
We already decided we were going to walk with him to his office. If the leg "went" … either one of them … we intended to be there to keep him upright and off the floor. We went up in the elevator after passing through the lobby without incident … other than long, searching looks from many employees. House stepped out on the diagnostics floor without a backward glance. When he figured out that we were following his slow progress, he turned around to glare.
I had my retort prepared. "Son … please let Mommy and Daddy see you off to your first day of preschool. You know we've earned the pleasure!"
Cuddy jumped eagerly into the game. "And sweetie … remember what you and Mommy talked about. Try not to insult the other kids. Don't steal their food at lunch. Keep your hands to yourself. Keep your cane to yourself! Remember to use your inside voice. And don't pull any of those nice red fire alarms, okay?" She added in a far more subdued voice: "And call us if you need us!"
I whispered at his shoulder, a voice inaudible even to Cuddy. House almost had to read my lips to get it all … but he did. His face softened, and his nod was nearly imperceptible. "Whatever it takes … always …"
For just an instant we locked eyes. Brothers. Strength, gratitude, trust. All there … and in spades. He moved slowly and with effort away from us.
We were in front of his office door.
Foreman, Chase and Cameron were seated in the other room, at the table. Some kind of discussion was in progress. We could hear their voices as Greg opened the door.
Cameron was speaking. "If House would just learn to trust someone besides himself, we could have helped him out. We could have made all this a lot easier on him … and on Wilson too. Would it really have killed him to trust someone?"
Chase was nodding his head, as usual, agreeing with whoever happened to be in the room at the time. But Foreman's head was turned, and he caught the blur of movement. He was the only one not startled out of his wits when the clarion call came from the doorway.
"Good morning people! What've we got?" He went into the room and began shedding backpack and jacket. He turned slightly to wink at Cuddy and me, still standing in the hallway. He smirked, and then unceremoniously shut the door in our faces.
Cuddy continued with me the rest of the way to my office. I pulled my keys from my pocket and inserted the correct one into the door.
God! It was so good to be back!
We paused there, looking at one another. Cuddy frowned for a moment before she continued on her way. "Dr. Wilson, don't you ever have times when you'd just like to wring his neck?"
I paused to smile indulgently before opening my door.