"How's the bike?" Wilson asked, for lack of any better conversation. He settled into the other chair in Jess's room
"Totalled." The police had called to let House know where the wreckage had been towed.
"I mean, is she, you know, your fiancé?"
House sighed heavily. "No."
"So you have no power over her medical treatment."
"No. I called her mother. She's on her way in. I've met her once before, she's old, getting a bit senile. I think she'll let me make any decisions that have to be made."
Wilson watched as House searched in his jeans pocket for a while and then produced a small, antique ring.
"Is that it?"
"Yeah, that's what I was thinking. It was my grandmother's."
"Sapphires and diamonds, isn't it?" Wilson bent over to look more closely. "It's lovely."
House gave Wilson a look that conveyed his contempt for Wilson's girlie appreciation of jewellery, despite the sombre expression on his face.
"So why haven't you asked?"
House gave his head an irritated shake, but he wasn't sure whether he was annoyed by Wilson's question, the fact that he hadn't asked Jess to marry him, or the whole situation. "There was a thing," he said lamely.
"Yeah, she applied for a job here. She sought me out at that conference on purpose to give herself an edge for the job."
"Oh Julie's job? The PR job?"
"Well, I guess an inside running on you would be an advantage." He frowned. "But House, you don't think she faked an entire relationship just to get a job. Really? Because – no offence – but why would anyone want to fake living with you? No pay cheque is worth that."
House grit his teeth. Yeah, no offence.
Before House could reply their attention was drawn to Jess as she stirred in the bed. She was still not quite conscious, but groaned quietly and shifted her head a little.
House rose from the chair and leaned over her. "Jess? Are you okay?"
She grimaced and let out a small, feeble whimper. The sound went through House's body like a shiver.
"Jess, you're in hospital. You had an accident on the bike, and you got a bit banged up. But everything's okay. You're going to be fine."
Wilson had moved to the bottom of the bed and read her chart. "Sounds to me like she's in pain, House. We can probably give her some more morphine."
House didn't move from his position hovering over Jess. He barely glanced over his shoulder to answer Wilson. "Yes, do that."
Wilson hurried off to collect the medication.
"Stomach hurts…" Jess mumbled without opening her eyes.
"I know, sweetheart. We're just organising some more pain meds for you." House stroked a lock of hair away from her face.
"You shouldn't be here." Jess's words were slurred and murmured, but House had no problem deciphering exactly what she'd said.
"What do you mean?"
Jess frowned again and Wilson returned with the morphine. House gestured for Wilson to hurry up and Wilson went straight to the IV line to administer the drugs.
"Shouldn't be here…" Jess mumbled again. "You don't want baby…"
"What baby?" House asked, startled out of his concern by the comment. He looked up at Wilson who had stopped in the process of inserting the syringe into the line. They shared a wide-eyed expression.
"Our baby," Jess insisted, though weakly. "You don't want me…"
House shook his head at Wilson. He knew that Jess wasn't pregnant and was completely at a loss to explain her comments. Then it clicked; he closed his eyes for a moment.
"She's confused," he explained to Wilson.
He put a hand on Jess's forehead, brushing her hair back, leaning closer to her. "Jess? Listen to me. That was a long time ago. This is Greg. There's no baby. You didn't lose another baby. You had a motorbike accident. And I'm not going anywhere."
"Staying?" Jess sounded like a child, not just with her one word question, but the vulnerability and desperation in her voice was unlike any tone House had ever heard from her.
"Yes, I'm staying. I'm going to be right here. Forever, if you'll have me."
The faint ghost of a smile crossed Jess's face as she fell back into unconsciousness, the drugs having done their work.
House got up from where he'd been sitting on the bed and moved around to the left-hand side, sitting down carefully next to her. He gently lifted her left hand, being cautious with the IV, and slipped the ring onto her ring finger.
"In sickness and health," he said quietly.
A/N: Some of you might have guess by now what inspired this unusual approach. Basically, I had an idea that ended in the O/C character's death. But being the sucker for a happy ending that I am (and I know some of you are too)I wondered how I could do that AND still have a happy ending. Then inspiration struck: have TWO endings!
Thank you so much for your encouragement and reviews. And now, if you want, you can go back and read all the 'A' chapters and then all the 'B' chapters!