"So what do you think?" House asked Wilson.
It was Sunday and they were having a pick-nick in House's new house. House's team – this time with Cameron as well, Cuddy – who had got out of the hospital after one night of observation, only to endure House's endless taunting about all kinds of periods, Blythe – naturally, Kasumii and Grey – or Grey and Kasumii, House had taken to linking their names in all kinds of ways just to be annoying, and succeeding admirably – and naturally Wilson. Aiko, of course was the centre of attention; House said that she needed to stock on that since the trips would steal quite a bit of her thunder once they arrived.
Currently House and Wilson were sitting on a blanket under the chestnut tree with Aiko and Mr. Panda while Blythe and Cuddy were getting the pick-nick set up inside the house on garden furniture they had brought with them (ready to be set up in the back yard once they moved in properly) and Kasumii, Grey and the ducklings were playing with a Frisbee near by.
"It's a huge house," Wilson said eyeing the building.
"Well it has to be big enough for Cuddy and me," House pointed out.
"Hmmm," Wilson frowned a little. "You know, now that I have time to really consider the matter, it's not a very big building at all."
"So funny, Jimmy," House ended up smiling even so. He felt good, at peace and almost happy, though he wasn't so sure about the last emotion, it being somewhat strange concept to him all in all. However, he didn't know what else to call it.
"You know, I'm beginning to suspect that you like that Panda more than Aiko," Wilson suddenly observed out of nowhere.
"How so?" House wondered.
"You never let her play with it unless you are with her," Wilson observed. "And usually you have a hold of both her and her toy when you do. Yet it's her favourite toy!"
"And how long do you think it would be her favourite toy if I left her alone with it and it toppled on her?" House lifted an eyebrow at Wilson. "Mr. Panda is bigger than she is and though she is almost eighteen weeks old she could not push it away. She needs to feel secure with me first to enjoy the toy. Once she grows up to be bigger than it, then she can play with it alone."
Wilson stared at House like he had suddenly grown two heads or something. House frowned at his stunned friend: "What is it Jimmy?"
"Sorry, but this responsible House," Wilson shook his head disbelievingly. "I have seen you be a father to Aiko for about four months now, and I really ought to be used to it by now, but I still find myself disbelieving the evidence of my own eyes and ears. I'm so used to thinking of you as this irresponsible jerk who happens to be a brilliant doctor that seeing you as a responsible father – and one who thinks of everything – is just so disconcerting. It's great, don't get me wrong, I'm not wanting the old House back, not when this new, improved version is here, but I haven't quite adjusted as yet."
"If you have adjustment problems, how do you think I feel?" House scoffed.
"I don't know," Wilson was a little surprised. "You seem to be taking to it almost like a duck to water. Like this was what you were always meant to be, you just fought against it until now."
"Actually, Mom said something like that, too," House smiled ruefully. "She said that I had always been meant to be a father but that I had tried to avoid responsibility all this time because I always knew how seriously I would take it once I took it."
"House, it's a Sunday afternoon, I'm sitting under a big tree waiting for a meal to be served feeling relaxed and almost drowsy," Wilson itemised. "That was way too convoluted for me at this stage."
"Live with it," House instructed sliding down against the tree to lie flat on the blanket. "Here you have Mr. Panda." He handed the toy to Wilson and lifted Aiko up, above himself. Aiko smiled into his face as he lifted her up and down and moved her a little sideways, too, singing to her: Ooki na kuri no ki no shita de / anata to watashi / naka yoku asobimashou / ooki na kuri no ki no shita de."
Wilson hugged the panda and watched his friend, thinking how different things were than what they had been only a few months ago. Had some fortune teller told him last Christmas that this would be in the future, he would never have believed it. He hadn't sat there long watching House play with Aiko before the rest of the family gathered under the tree, too. Blythe and Cuddy came from the house and the ducklings and Kasumii and Grey finished their game and they all sat down under the tree.
"What's that song you are singing," Foreman wanted to know when House finished it for the third time – much to Aiko's obvious disappointment.
"Just a children's song," House shrugged as best he could while flat on his back.
"The words go something like this: Under the big chestnut tree / you and me / are playing happily / under the big chestnut tree." Kasumii translated them.
"That's why this house got your attention!" Chase exclaimed looking up to the canopy shading them.
"And a good thing it is that it did," Blythe stated. "This is a perfect house for the family."
"House as the head of a family," Cameron laughed – it seemed to House that whatever it had been that had been bothering her for the last year or so was gone, and she really was back to her cuddly self. "Who would have thought that a few months ago!"
"Not me," Cuddy laughed. "And especially I wouldn't have believed that I would be the one expecting his triplets!"
"I still claim it's not my fault," House maintained.
"And I think you did it on purpose," Cuddy insisted. "And nothing you can say will make me change my mind."
"Hey, people, help me here," House appealed to the rest of them as he carefully rolled over to lie on his stomach and placed Aiko on the blanket. She copied her father and rolled over, too only she ended up on her back. She seemed to find the patterns of light and shadow under the tree quite fascinating. "You are almost all doctors; tell Cuddy that I couldn't possibly do any of it on purpose! There is no way I could have known she would end up with triplets."
"You keep on telling us that you are always right," Foreman reminded him. "How are we supposed to know you didn't know this, too?"
"How's this for a clue?" House huffed. "Do you really think that if I had something to say about it all I would have chosen to be the father of three daughters? I mean, really!"
"He has a point there," Chase conceded. "Just consider: they are all the same age, or near enough, which means they will all hit puberty at the same time, start getting interested in boys at the same time, start dating at the same time, they will all have the prom at the same time..."
"Stop, stop, stop!" House yelled – though not loud enough to startle Aiko. "Have mercy on me! No need to paint the devils on the walls yet. It will be horrible enough when it happens, no need to anticipate any of it."
"Actually who I really feel sorry for are the boys who will try to date his daughters," Grey observed with some feeling. "He will put them through hell."
All the men present shuddered just imagining what it would be like to meet House as a potential father in law! The ladies, however, laughed.
Soon after that they moved inside to eat and discuss the house and its furnishings and colour schemes and curtains – or the ladies did. The men were more interested in what size TVs House was going to get and if he intended to have a game room or something. As far as the decorating thing went, House said that the women could do what they wanted as long as they stayed out of his flat. That was declared oestrogen-free zone. Permanently.
The Sunday was spent firming the bonds of this odd family that House had gathered around his children. They laughed, talked even discussed different philosophies of child raising – though House declared that choosing the way the children were to be raised even before they were born and before anyone knew what their personalities would be was silly. To which Cuddy replied that they all knew already what their personalities would be like: difficult. No other possibility with House as their father. Even Aiko laughed at that.
And that's all folks!
For now, that is. Hopefully I can go on with The Pregnant Days in a few weeks time, early June latest if things go as planned. Till then, thank you for your encouragement and reviews. It has been nice. :)