Disclaimer, etc., in chapter 1

So this is it. It should be true to the show in that House avoids or denies his issues and we cut without any real resolution. I'm a little sad it's over. I enjoyed writing in this voice. It was like taking a pleasant vacation. I hope you enjoyed reading. Thanks again to everyone who reviewed. You should have awesome fic karma. Cheers.


Present Perfect

I know I'm dreaming but I can't wake up. I know why it's this dream. I hate this dream. I can't stop it from unfolding before me.

I'm a kid. A teenager. In Japan. I have to tell my father about the climbing accident.

I know it wasn't my fault the same as I know he won't see it that way.

I know he'll ask why we didn't go to the base hospital the same as I know it wasn't my decision to make.

I know he'll make me dig a hole as long and tall as I am even as I know we don't have a yard to dig in on this base.

I know he never lifted a finger to hurt me and I haven't feared his punishments since I was twelve but my leg burns and I'm terrified.

I piss myself waiting for him to get home and have to change my pants.

Mom isn't around. I have to do this alone.

I have to be a man. I have to take everything like a man.

I stumble over the words. I'm four years old and sniveling. He's an angry giant in a uniform with a high and tight.

My voice cracks, breaks, squeaks. I can't explain. I can't wake up.

If he'd only forgive me. Say something. Anything. But he won't speak. Just stands, large and quiet.

My belly aches. I'm afraid he'll hit me there again. Then he'll make me drink a quart of milk and run till I puke.

I did what I thought was best, I tell him. I'm crying. I'm a sniveling four year old, afraid I'll lose dinner. I'm eight, afraid of mummies and desert night cold.

He never touches me. I wish he would. I'm afraid he will. My leg burns as I run in the heat, stop to dry heave, run again.

I bury myself alive in Germany, 5'1" deep, 5'1" long, 2'5" wide. I sleep here tonight.

I did what I thought was right. My gut aches.

I hyperventilate in school. I'm seven. My hands and feet tingle and numb. My heart pounds. I'm scared I'll throw up in front of everyone. I can't stop the tears. I don't know why I'm crying. The other kids laugh, punch me in the gut later in the bathroom, call me a pussy. I tell no one.

He still hasn't said anything. I did what I thought was right. He looms over me. He never speaks any more, just puts the container of milk on the table if it's hot, looks toward the shovel if it's cold.

I'm doing this alone. I'm stoic. I'm a man. I can't afford not to be.

I can't wake up.

I know it's not real but I run in terror, wish I had something in me to puke. At least I'll sleep inside tonight.

My terror is real.

Suddenly I hear him calling me from far away.

House. House. House.

I'm awake. Breathing fast, sweat-soaked. Wilson was calling me. I'm in my pajamas on the hospital bed. My forearm's taped where the nurse removed the cannula.

I fell asleep waiting for him.

He asks me if I'm all right.

I breathe slowly and nod. "Bad dream."

He knows I have them. He has them too. He finds something else to look at.

"Ready to go?" he asks.

"Yeah."

The sweat's drying already. I feel better. I hate that dream.

I get up and gesture to let him know I'm making one last bathroom stop.

I rub my tired face. My gut's better. Cramping less.

I have a few minutes in the bathroom to let the dream sensation wear off.

I know I had that dream because of the kid's case and the abusive father. It happens with abuse cases. I should have seen it coming.

I know what he'd say if I told him about the dream. He'd tell me I'm looking for a mystery in the case because I don't want this kid to have died only because daddy hit him. That I'd find such a death ignoble and without meaning.

No. I'd find such a death boring. Abuse cases are boring.

Maybe he'd tell me I only find them boring because of my past. If he knew.

Again, no. They're just boring: nothing infectious, nothing to diagnose except a bad case of asshole-itis.

So what if I don't want this case to have been boring?

I'm tired of running around in psychoanalytic circles.

All of his cases are boring.

I hate that dream. It was never as bad as the dream makes it seem.

I need a Vicodin.

He's waiting with my coat around his arm and my cane when I'm done.

"Celebrity Wrestling's on tonight," he tells me as I put the coat on.

We watch that show together. The light tone in his voice—he's backed off entirely. Surrendered. Good. I like winning.

I check to make sure I've got everything—keys, wallet, PSP, iPod, phone—and follow him out of the room.

The dream is nothing. Only a dream.

"Guess we're taking your car," I say.

I find myself saying these inane, boring things around him now.

"We can take yours if you want," he responds.

Really, I'd forgotten all the mundane conversations that comprise a relationship. We have them all the time. What's for dinner? What's on TV? What do you want to do tonight? What do you want to do tonight? Movie? Stay in? Go out? It's as though if we don't make plans, the world will end.

"Your car's fine," I tell him.

"Okay. We can pick yours up tomorrow," he says.

Verily the world would end if we did not know when we'd pick up my car.

"Sure."

He asks if I want to stop on the way home for attapulgite and simethicone.

"Sure."

When he returns to the car and tosses the pharmacy bag in my lap, I notice he bought a thermometer as well.

"She's not going to chop your balls off if you ignore her just this once," I grumble.

"We didn't have one," he deflects. "We should."

"If I'd known you wanted to play doctor…" I leer and grab his crotch to see his reaction.

He grunts in surprise.

"Don't start something you can't finish," he mumbles.

He's easy to torment. I smile and increase the pressure.

He groans my name. "Trying to drive," he whines.

"Trying to annoy you," I whine back.

Once he's tented his khakis I take my hand back. I can't do more than torment him today. We both know it.

He glares at me.

I'm ready for a Vicodin and some quality time with the couch once we're up the steps and in the door.

I get my coat off and then it's my turn to grunt in surprise when he wraps his arms around my chest.

"You stink. You need a shower, Stinky."

He's spooned himself against me and he's kissing the back of my neck.

I missed this. Four days of nothing. Whatever he just called me, he gets away with it.

I relax. What he's doing…I want to stand here and let him keep doing it.

"House?"

"Mmm?"

I'm leaning against him so hard that if he moves I'll land on my ass. If he wants to talk he's gonna have to quit doing that to my neck.

"You scared the hell out of me. Get well and stay that way for a long time."

I grunt something. He can have what he whatever he wants.

He pilots me to the couch and backs off. He stands and watches while I flop down. Bastard. He knows I left my knees on the other side of the couch.

I look at him and he's smirking. Pure evil. That's what he is.

I threaten to do some outrageous thing to him that isn't done except in pornos and by extremely flexible people.

He bends down to kiss me lightly on the lips and then on my neck where the stubble stops. I want to curl up against him and go to sleep. Right now.

But he goes away. Probably hungry.

Fine. I can wait a few hours. And tomorrow he can sleep late with me. On rare occasions such as this, I think Cuddy is a genius.

I swallow a Vicodin for the ache at the incision site and chase it with doses of the over-the-counter stuff to ease my gut.

I don't care about the case any more. It's over. I'll get a new one tomorrow or the next day, whenever I stop crapping long enough to go back to work.

He brings ginger ale and half a banana. I make a face, but sit up so he can sit next to me.

He's got a beer and a bowl of pretzels. He's a real bastard.

"Oh, almost forgot," he says and reaches in his pocket.

He tosses me a pill bottle. Ciprofloxacin.

"Culture came back?" I ask.

"Salmonella," he nods, stuffing pretzels in himself.

I grunt and nibble at the banana. I'm not hungry but I know it'll get me back to normal.

My normal. I miss my normal. It includes everything to the left of me: beer, pretzels, him.

I grumble about how unfair it is that he gets beer while I'm stuck with fizzy nothing.

I don't listen to what he grumbles back. He has a beer. He doesn't get to grumble.

He's sitting next to me, his thigh warm against mine, laughing with his mouth full at some sports thing on television I'm not paying attention to.

I like this present tense.

I put my legs up and fake a yawn to wrap an arm around his shoulders.

He slips an arm under my back and leans in.

I smile, just a little, just to myself.

Everything is okay.

END