A/N: Well my friends we have come to the end of a long road. This chapter has had so many varied endings in my imagination that I'm not sure that I would ever be able to write it to my satisfaction. I hope that you all have enjoyed this story, and I have been asked if there will be a sequel. It will probably have one as soon as I figure out where I would like to take a sequel for this tale.
Thank you for taking this journey with me and thank you for your many reviews. Even though this is the last chapter I still want to know what you guys think, what more would you like to see.
Chapter 30: The Start Of Something New
Dr. Gregory House had never planned his life to go anywhere in the direction that it had. He hadn't really thought about becoming a doctor; a full time musician would have pissed his father off more than anything. He hadn't planned on falling in love with a cheeky underclassman, and leaving her pregnant with his child. And he damn well hadn't planned on being a single parent for the first 12 years of said child's life. He hadn't planned on spending five years in a relationship with a woman as a way to protect himself from what he felt for the mother of his son. He hadn't planned on working for the woman who held his heart in her hands, tormenting himself with being so close to her, yet farther away than he had ever been before. No where in his plan for his life did being a cripple ever come into play, and he sure as hell never planned on his only child becoming terminally ill. He had planned on having another child with the woman he loved beyond reason to save the life of their son, but that plan hadn't included a set of quads born too early. He hadn't planned any of it, but looking down at the small infant nestled in his arms he realized he wouldn't change any of it, especially if it meant that none of it would have happened.
"You've managed to surprise everyone with how well you're doing," he said as he held the small body of his oldest quad against his chest.
The days, nights and weeks that had dragged by, were by far some of the worse of his life. Caitlin had continued to do well and had been moved to DPOD within in the first day after AJ had plummeted. She gained weight rapidly and a mere four weeks after she was born she was home.
It had felt a little strange bringing her home while leaving her brothers behind, but it had also allowed him some time alone with his only daughter. Lisa had been a wreck when Caitlin had been released, trying to divide her time between her child at home, the boys still in the NICU, and her oldest son going through chemo. Some how they persevered and manage to get into a routine that allowed them to operate smoothly and efficiently.
Dylan had been a source of amazement, coming off the ventilator to breathe on his own, learning how to feed from a bottle and being able to maintain his body temperature. Greg was amazed when he went to visit the NICU to find that Dylan had been moved to SPOD, and that a short three weeks later he would join his sister at home.
Things with Bryan had been a little scary from the beginning, with him taking so long to take that first breath and cry, but they should have never been worried. He was one determined and gutsy little package, and being left behind by his siblings only seemed to spurn him on.
Dr. Preston had deemed that at the ripe old age of 22 days, Bryan was ready for surgery. Unfortunately his parents hadn't been. They had both been nervous wrecks, snapping and nipping at each other the hours proceeding the surgery. Once the team had wheeled Bryan out of the NICU, Lisa had almost collapsed; the strain of the last few weeks more than she could bear.
House was in agony seeing her like that, so he did the unthinkable, he sedated her. He had never played fair, and he didn't see any reason to start now. When she realized it, she was too furious for words; instead slipping into the comforting darkness and knowing that when she woke up she was going to kill him. Greg didn't care, the medication allowed her some much needed rest and he held her the whole time thanking the powers that be for leading him back to her.
After surgery Bryan wasted no time getting better, and Ashton wasted no time getting worse. As his siblings were thriving, AJ was putting them all through hell, himself included. The little boy had two seizures that Greg thanked God he was absent for; he didn't want to think about how he would have reacted had he been there.
Ashton had been in an all out war for his life; everyday brought something new, something worse for the prognosis of his survival. His temperature would skyrocket one day, and the staff would struggle to bring it down. Then when they felt they had won that battle, they would turn around to find that his blood pressure had plummeted, or his heart was racing, or his pulse ox was dismal, or his kidneys were failing; or his heart had stopped; and then one day there was nothing.
Three weeks after he had been moved to CPOD, bay one; Lisa and Greg walked in to find that there had been no crisis through the night. It had been the first night that one of them had not been there by his side, the first night that they had three babies at home. Anita promised them that if there was any change she wouldn't hesitate to call, and that they should go home, together.
"And look at you now," Greg said holding his son out for a head to toe inspection. They baby let out a cry, missing the security of being held close to his father's chest. It made Greg smile as he pulled the small body back in tight and looked into his stormy blue eyes.
"He has your eyes," he said as he felt his wife's presence over his shoulder.
It never ceased to amaze him that he was so in tune with another human being. He could pick her easily out of a crowd, eyes closed, mind wandering elsewhere. The very scent of her was stamped deep in the recesses of his body, and he reacted to the faintest whiff. She didn't know it, but he had plans for her later tonight; that was providing their brood gave them a few minutes down time.
"Yes, but he definitely has your tendency to scare the hell out of me," she replied wrapping her arms around his waist.
"We're just trying to keep you on your toes," Greg said loving the feel of her against his body. "If you don't stop that, we're going to shock your staff."
"I'm really not worried about them right now," she purred into his ear. She delighted in the feel of the shivers that coursed down his body.
"Be careful," he replied in a husky whisper. "I might drop the baby."
He turned around to face her, a smirk gracing his face. Ashton was snuggled up close to his neck searching out his next meal, and the sight made Lisa laugh. She would expect him to look awkward leaning on his cane, and holding the baby with one hand; but he looked amazingly sexy and something hot moved through her.
"Stop looking at me like that," he growled. "We don't have time for a quickie in your office."
"Just remember that you were the one to let the opportunity slip by later when you think you might be able to score," she said taking the baby from him.
He watched as she settled Ashton in the car seat that he had brought in earlier. He couldn't believe that they were taking him home, that their time in the NICU was over. The staff had come through earlier to say their goodbyes, and extract promises of frequent updates. House had tried to hang in the background, not comfortable with all the attention, but several of the nurses wouldn't let him escape. They barged into his space, freely doling out hugs and well wishes. He knew that his wife had put them up to it, and he promised revenge when they were alone.
"Are you ready?" She asked as she placed the car seat into the matching stroller.
"As ready as I'll ever be," he replied as they walked out of one of the NICU's private rooms. The rooms were set aside to allow parents a night in a home like setting before taking their small charges home. It gave them a sense of empowerment that they could handle these small babies, yet they still had the security of the staff of they needed.
"Does he know were coming?" Greg asked as the double doors swung shut behind them. He breathed a sigh of relief, their journey was almost over.
"I told him we wouldn't miss it for anything in the world," Lisa answered as they stepped onto the elevator.
Greg's thoughts traveled to his oldest son, and he felt several things rush through him. It was the middle of September and both their lives had changed so dramatically in less than a year. Braeden had tackled his illness with a grace and determination that House just had to admire.
Chemotherapy had left the boy so sick and tired, no one was surprised that he had come down with an infection that halted the whole transplant. Braeden didn't let that keep him down, he persevered and kept marching on. The chemo was restarted, and Brae faced it all like a champ. The constant sickness, aching cramps, not being able to keep much food down, the mouth sores, but his one bright spot was that he didn't loose a single strand of his hair.
And now the big day had finally arrived. Today he would receive the treated cord blood from his siblings, today would mark the hopeful beginning of a long and fruitful life. Greg looked down at his infant son, fast asleep in his car seat, unaware of the role that he was playing today. If things went well today, and over the next couple of weeks, he'd have a big brother worth living for.
Greg shouldn't have been surprised to see all the people grouped out front of the large observation window that looked into Braeden's room. Many of them had come to see the boy during his stay, and when he had been moved to isolation they had come just to talk to him on the phone that linked to his room. His son had many friends and a lot of family, and he was loved by them all.
"I was getting worried," Mike said as the two of them approached. He leaned over and kissed Lisa on her cheek and shook Greg's hand.
"We had to pick up one more for the party," Lis said indicating the sleeping baby.
"Well then let's get this started," he replied clapping his hands together.
"Genevieve, it's your show now," Mike said looking at a tall woman with flaming red hair and beautiful green eyes. She nodded to him once and began the preparations to enter Braeden's room.
Braeden had pulled the curtain closed over his window a few hours ago, not wanting to see the people who walked by. He knew today might be the day that they finally transferred the cord blood, but he didn't want to be reminded of the fact that he was stuck in here, while the world zoomed by. He jumped a little as he heard the door click, swing open and a tall redhead walk in.
"There's a lot of people out there," she said as she breezed into his room.
She had on the sterile garb that was required of anyone who came into his little bubble. Even though precautions could be taken to prevent him from getting sick, a strict no contact rule had been enforced and followed.
It didn't take him but a moment to take in the fact that she was carrying a white bakery box in one hand and a bag if thick red fluid in the other. He felt the muscles in his stomach jump and his heart beat a little faster.
"So today is the day?" He asked trying to keep his voice light.
"Unless you have something else you want to do," she said with a smile, placing the box on the stand in front him.
"What's that?" Braeden asked poking the box.
"We'll get to that in a moment," she answered. "Would you'd be more comfortable keeping the curtain closed."
"No," was his short answer. He watched as she walked over and drew the curtain back. He let out a small gasp at all the people who were gathered outside.
"Looks like you're one popular guy," she said turning back to face him. "My name is Genevieve, and although you probably have no idea who I am, I have heard a lot about you."
"It's nice to meet you Genevieve," he said shaking the hand she offered him. "Do you work here at PPTH?"
"No, I'm a member of Dr. Crenshaw's team. It's my job to make sure that the cord blood has been properly treated and is ready for transplant."
"So, will this hurt?" He asked. He wasn't afraid of pain, but he wanted to prepare himself just in case.
"Not one single bit," she reassured him, with a light touch to his shoulder.
"Ok then, I'm as ready a I get," he said settling back against his pillow.
The process of getting the small bag ready didn't take long, and before he knew it the blood was going from the tubing into one of the ivs in his arm. Braeden didn't feel strange, or tingling, or anything and he had to wonder if it was working.
"I like to look at the time that a patient gets a marrow transfusion as a second birthday," Genevieve said looking at him. "If everything goes well, then today becomes the day that you start the next journey of your life."
"I kind of like that idea," Braeden replied thinking that it made a lot of sense.
"Then you'll like this part," she said opening the box and taking out a small round chocolate cake.
Braeden's smile was radiant as he looked at the decadent treat and read the words Happy Second Birthday. It meant a lot to him, so much so that her gesture brought tears to his eyes.
"Hey, don't let it overwhelm you," she said drawing his attention back to her face. "Hopefully you've reached the end of this road, and there's a long life out there with your name on it."
She gathered her clipboard, and glanced towards the window. There really was a lot of people out there rooting for this boy she had heard so much about from her boss. She wished she had more time to stay, get to know him, but she had to get back to Chicago soon. She headed for the door so that his parents could come in and visit for a while.
"By the way Braeden," she said just before she opened the door. "How old are you?"
He looked over at her, then out the window. He saw his family and many of his friends and knew that he was truly blessed to be so lucky. People cared about him, people loved him, what more could he ask for. He swung his gaze back to her, another smile lighting up his face.
"Twelve and counting."