"So you are a faggot are you? It figures."
The tone of the words cut through him worse than anything else had ever done.
He remembered standing in his room, watching, helpless… hypnotized, as his father pulled the belt through the loops on his trousers. It was the day he'd been thrown out of his disastrous three month stint at military school. He just wanted to learn about the world and everything in it. All they wanted to do was shout at him about haircuts and make him do pushups for hours on end. Flying the flag up side down had seemed like a good way to finally piss them off enough to toss him.
But he'd forgotten about his father until he'd been standing on the steps of the school, next to his cheap little brown cardboard suitcase, waiting for his father to finish meeting with the commandant. He'd watched as his father shook hands with the man and then the two of them, both standing there in their stupid gaudy uniforms decked out with meaningless ribbons, had both looked at him like he was less than dirt. The ride home had been conducted in complete silence.
Then his father had made him wait until evening, sitting there on the edge of the bed, jumping at every noise. He hadn't heard a word of the lecture about country and honour and respect. He'd been fixated on the belt in his father's hand. He had hung his head and said yes sir, no sir, he was sorry sir. His sincerity had nothing to do with respect. It had everything to do with fear. It hadn't worked either. He and the belt became very well acquainted.
He remembered standing in disgrace in front of the Dean's desk as he'd told him liars and cheaters never got anywhere in life. The Dean had said that peoples' lives depend on doctors and God help them if one day someone ever had to rely on his lazy ass. He was expelled. He'd gone home, smoked a joint and found it hilarious.
He remembered being pulled and pushed around by the cop. No humiliation had been spared. He remembered staring intently at walls while they checked him over – his hair, his mouth, his dick…
He remembered standing in the cage trying to hold up his pants and his dignity as the cop had told him he was nothing but a pathetic junkie and this was where he belonged. He remembered listening to the click of the lock as the cop shut and locked the door, leaving him in darkness.
He remembered trying to run away from himself. Getting out and feeling giddy with freedom and its possibilities. Raiding and plundering like a pirate then bolting as fast as he could through the corridors until his joints began to ache and nausea threatened to overcome him.
But someone had told them where to look. They found him in a corner of coma guy's room, sweaty and shaking beside a pile of his own vomit. He'd taken too much, too fast. He'd been punished. Cuddy had ordered it. She was furious. Otherwise he'd never learn she'd said. There are some things you just don't do. She didn't need to add the 'or say': that moment in the shower was still fresh and painful for both of them.
He was strapped down and locked up until he nearly went mad with boredom and pain. Maximum security rehab. Taken out only for what he called 'interrogation sessions' – made to sit for hours on those little crappy plastic chairs and badgered time and time again to admit he was screwed up.
He never did. He didn't break. He was like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. He could take anything the Nazis threw at him. Inside he knew different. Maybe he was screwed up, but he'd had been dealt some really crappy cards in the great poker game of life. Maybe he was the biggest stupidest screwed up loser on the face of the planet. He screwed up – a lot.
But this was different. This was coming home to the lights on and food in the fridge and clean iron fresh shirts and strong arms that caught him when he was tired and wanted to fall… and something else he didn't want to think about too much because it scared him.
Eventually he'd just decided to call it 'safeness' and leave it at that. It wasn't a word, but hey!
He raked his hands through the wet gravel but there was nothing there, nothing to hold on to: just a menagerie of gawping idiot relatives staring at him from the porch as if he was the centerpiece on a bar mitzvah party. He knew coming here had been a mistake, but The Bastard had insisted. It was stinking hot and you could cut the humidity with a knife. The air conditioning in The Bastard's car had broken. And now the storm that had been threatening all afternoon had come with a vengeance.
He pulled himself to his feet and, still dazed, swayed around looking at them through the sheeting rain.
"What are you fucking staring at? Where's my cane." No one answered. They just kept staring at him.
He looked up at the shocked faces. He was just a stupid cripple. He didn't know how to cope better than anyone else. He wiped the water from his eyes. Where was The Bastard he mentally whined? That's right. Playing the good girlfriend and making fucking brownies in the kitchen with his mom. That was sure to impress his dad.
"Fine then," he mumbled at the onlookers as he stumbled off into the darkness.
The 'don't' was practically growled.
"I'll poke you with this big stick."
"It's wet and I am delicate."
"Then go inside."
"I'd love to, but there is this big lug I need to retrieve first."
"Don't know him."
The Bastard smiled softly. "I am sure you do. Stubborn, annoying, and currently wedged under the house."
"How did you find me?"
"The relatives loved the fight: the highlight of the event according to Uncle George. All the 'real' men are now hunkered down in the den drinking beer and comparing the size of their dicks... I presume. The 'girls' congregated in the kitchen. Cousin Suzie thinks it is a shame as I am so cute and told me to give her a call if I ever change my mind. Then your mom and me joined forces. She told me where you liked to hide out as a kid. How did you fit in there anyway?"
"I wasn't feeling very grown up." That was partly the truth. Places like this, small spaces, were where he used to hide, to lick his wounds, where he used to cry and rage after the fact.
Eventually he'd stopped crying and just kept the rage.
But The Bastard didn't know any of this. Some secrets were just too shameful to be shared. He felt the bruise on his face. One punch and he'd gone down, flat on his backside. He'd promised himself never again, but even now - all it had taken was one punch to send all six foot two of the fucking crippled fairy sprawling in to the mud.
"Not very grown up? Tell me something I don't know," said The Bastard as he held out his hands and cocked his head as an invitation.
House sighed. He knew The Bastard wasn't going to go away. He never did. Amazing really, considering all the crap House put him through. Maybe he had something going for him after all.
House crawled out from under the house and stood up. The Bastard held out his cane.
Always the thoughtful one he thought. Always the authority figure. Always the one with the looks of disapproval. Always the one with the finger in the air. Always the one to pass judgment. Always the one with ready with the belt and the fists. Always the one he could never ever please.
The anger welled up inside him. Why didn't it ever go away? He didn't know he couldn't move that fast. He hated him. He wanted to kill him. It wasn't fair. He hadn't done anything wrong. Why wasn't it fair?
He crash tackled him and they went down. Then he was on top of him, hitting and punching and crying and the bastard was just lying there in the slush and the mud, taking it.
Then he stopped. He looked down at the man he had been hitting. Wilson was just staring back up at him. There was blood on Wilson's face, getting washed away by the rain now. He reached out and gently touched it. He looked at it.
The Pudgy Sneaky Needy Volvo Driving Backstabbing Bastard – to give him his full title. His own personal honest to God bastard.
He was suddenly aware of the rain on his back, the wet sticky warmth of Wilson beneath him, the sharp gravel digging into his palms. "I hate you, you know." His breath caught in his throat. He was afraid.
"I know," said Wilson softly. "It's okay. I hate you too."
You don't know how lucky you are he thought. He didn't realise the last person who had said that to him had been his father.
He blew rainwater out of his mouth. "Jew bastard."
"Don't impugn my religion House or I won't buy you an Hanukah present this year and you'll sulk… and will you please get off me. There are several important organs you are currently crushing and I think you broke my nose."
"So did not." But he didn't get off. He settled down with his head on Wilson's chest, his ear pressed to his heart - Wilson's heart: listening to its precious thump.
"House… losing… feeling… in right leg…"
"Oh, don't over act. Just a minute longer." Then he suddenly looked up at him. "Hey – do you have a history of heart problems in your family?"
They sat together for a while. It was still raining, but that didn't seem to matter. He looked up at the dark grey sky, wondering why he'd just agreed to a battery of unnecessary tests to check for arrhythmia. Why couldn't the bastard buy a bunch of flowers or just say it like normal people? How did he get the one who expresses concern through an EKG? He sighed: because sighing a lot was what you did if you were in love with the total screwed up package that was Gregory House.
Blythe looked through the kitchen window and saw them sitting there in the mud and the rain. She watched as her son settled into Wilson's chest. She saw the way he clung to him. She saw how Wilson roughly grabbed Greg's head, thumped it a few times, then held it close. She smiled sadly. John would never understand, but that was all you wanted for your child.
She didn't care if it was a gorgeous woman or a cautious brown eyed oncologist. For him, for anyone, to be loved… in the end that was all that mattered.