Here is the final chapter. Thanks to all who have read and reviewed!
The American didn't make a half bad cup of tea. The Doctor sipped from the mug, allowing the hot liquid to infuse his body with warmth. He hadn't realized just how cold he'd been feeling until he'd sat down and wrapped his hands around the warm cup. He must have allowed his thoughts to wander for a few moments, because suddenly he was aware of House watching him intently.
"You in pain?" the physician asked, glancing down at the site of the Time Lord's injury.
"No." The Doctor took another sip of tea.
"She's going to be all right." House's voice had lost some of its acerbity.
"This time, yeah."
House considered the brief response before replying. "You really care about her."
"Wouldn't be with her if I didn't."
"You two are…" House lifted an eyebrow suggestively.
"No!" The abruptness of his own reply surprised the Doctor a bit. "That's not why we're together," he amended. In these situations, it was usually best to change the subject. He was pretty damn good at that. "You an', what was it, Cameron? You two together?"
House shook his head. "She works for me."
"Doesn't answer the question."
House shrugged. He was obviously enjoying being obtuse. He could match the Doctor almost barb for barb—almost.
"S'pose you're still the most brilliant diagnostician on the East Coast," the Time Lord commented idly, taking another sip of tea.
"Yes. And don't even think about trying to compete with me."
"Me?" The Doctor lifted his hands placatingly. "Never."
"Cuddy almost offered you a job last time."
The Time Lord chortled. "She'd've loved tryin' to find my qualifications. Almost would've been worth the trouble just to see her face—"
House smiled, too, then he grew more serious. "You probably saved two dozen people's lives that day."
Unmoved by the attempt at a compliment, he replied, "Yeah, 's what I do."
"Probably saved her life, too." House glanced back toward the bedroom.
Hand closing tightly around the mug, the Doctor said, "Wouldn't've needed to if I hadn't put her in danger."
"Then why do you let her travel with you? You were alone before—"
"Yeah, an' I'm sure I will be again someday. But Rose…she helped me, does help me, makes me better somehow."
House's eyes moved from the Doctor's face to the bedroom doorway. "I can see that." When he looked back, he added, "I'm glad you found her."
This required no response; the Time Lord simply nodded and finished his tea.
When Rose awoke several hours later, the Doctor was waiting by her side. One unit of blood had been sufficient to restore her vitals to normalcy, so he'd removed the cannula and lowered her sleeve while she still slept. Her leg was neatly bandaged, and, while she'd have some pain, he thought that she'd be able to manage satisfactorily until he could get her back to the TARDIS. Once there, he would repair the damage completely.
The first thing she did when she opened her eyes was smile at him. And he smiled back, sincerely glad that she was conscious, coherent, and relatively comfortable.
"How're you feelin'?" he asked, resting his hand against her warm cheek.
"I know the leg's sore, but think you can manage for a little while, just 'til we get back to the TARDIS?"
She nodded. "'M fine."
That earned an even broader grin from him. She was a plucky little human, his Rose. Her eyes had been on his face, but now she looked around, taking in her surroundings.
"Where are we? Did you say this is a friend's place?"
The Doctor nodded. "Yep."
"'S he here?"
"In the other room. You wanna meet him?"
"'Course. I wanna thank him for lettin' us stay… how long's it been?"
"Couple of hours."
Rose pushed herself up to sit against the pillows, wincing a bit as she moved her leg. The Doctor called for House, who came shuffling in a minute later.
"Rose Tyler," the Doctor said, "this is Gregory House."
She extended her hand. House took it with a small half-smile.
"Thanks for helpin' us," she said warmly.
"Just returning a favour," the American replied.
"I need one more," said the Doctor. "Can you give us a ride back to my ship?"
"Yeah," House replied. "But you can stay here as long as you want."
That last comment surprised the Time Lord a bit, but he simply gave a nod of gratitude. "We appreciate it, but we should be goin'." He was already helping Rose out of bed.
"I'll get the car." House hobbled away.
Rose watched him go. "He seems nice."
A scoffing laugh erupted from the Doctor. "You're probably the first person who's ever used that word to describe him."
"What? Nice? Am I missin' somethin'?"
He took her arm and pulled her up gently. "Could be, or maybe you just have that effect on people."
"You know—bringin' out the niceness in 'em."
She wrapped her arm around his waist, partly for support but mostly out of affection. "I'm workin' on it."
House drove them to the alley where the TARDIS sat, incongruous as always yet oddly unnoticed by passersby. He got out of the car and held the door while the Doctor assisted Rose.
She took House's hand and thanked him again, a sentiment echoed by the Doctor. House simply shrugged and muttered, "Any time."
The Doctor paused for just a moment before entering the alley. "I was serious about the leg," he said. "If you ever want my help, just call." He pressed a scrap of paper into the American's hand.
"You have an intergalactic calling plan?" House retorted.
"Somethin' like that." The Time Lord turned and escorted Rose toward the TARDIS.
Once they'd entered the ship, she asked, "What happened to his leg?"
"I'm not sure. He wouldn't tell me the details."
"But you could sort it?"
"Yep. If he'd let me."
"Why wouldn't he want you to help him?"
"That's just the way he is." The Doctor strode up to the console and set the coordinates for the void; he wanted a nice, quiet destination so that Rose could recuperate fully. Once he'd dematerialised the ship, he returned to his companion.
"Luckily you're not like him," he said. At her questioning look, he added, "You're gonna let me fix your leg, make it good as new in no time."
Rose smiled. "I can't say no to that."