OK, I finally took the plunge!!! I got inspired (my God, THANK YOU Sinister Scribe!!! You are awesome and totally ROCK!!!) and finally challenged that damn mocking blinking cursor… and just dove recklessly headlong into it, just went with it.
This is based loosely on the whole House/Tritter thing, but do not expect it to follow ANY of the real episode lines, it won't. I borrowed the bits and pieces I needed, and then it became it's own story and wandered off on it's own, as these things tend to do when you let them off their leash. Rated M/Adult for strong language and a lot of pain, and what my naughty little muse has begun to whisper to me as to what happens down the road…
All the usual and applicable disclaimers and warnings apply, such as don't like - don't read; I don't own House or any other characters, or anything or anybody else, blah, blah, blah…
Note: Hey, this one is my first in a very, very, very long time… it's kinda my own emergence from a long, dark, dry spell. Hopefully I kept the babble and rambling to a minimum. So, review away, but please try to be a little gentle with me… more will come to continue this saga… I had to publish this first piece, before I lost my nerve… but I am still tippy-tapping away as we speak…
COMFORT, Part 1
House MD fanfic by NiteJasmine
Cold gray rain pelted the window of Greg House's bedroom. House woke with a groan, slowly opening his tired eyes. It had been another fitful night, not much sleep. His entire body ached, but his leg was howling above anything else his brain could process. He reached down and grabbed his right leg, helping himself roll over and swing his legs off the mattress and onto the floor. He gritted his teeth and grunted with the motion as a fresh wave of pain coursed up from his damaged thigh. "Fuck," he muttered as he hunched over, his face drawn with lines of the agony he was in. He held his leg with both hands, slowly massaging his wounded thigh with his right palm. He eventually looked up to his nightstand and saw his Vicodin bottle. His last Vicodin bottle. And there weren't that many of the little white pills left in it.
Normally he would have popped 2 pills before going to bed, and another 2 as soon as he woke up. But he was already forecasting how many he would need to just get him through the day, and the bottle was looking emptier and emptier. He reached out and grabbed the bottle, flipped the lid open and palmed one pill, raised it to his mouth and dry swallowed it. That will have to do, he thought. He sat there for a few minutes, waiting for the drug to kick in, and his mind started to replay the events of the last few weeks.
Tritter. Fucking Tritter. This whole fucked up mess that was turning his life inside out, was all Tritter. OK, so House had been an asshole to him. House was always an asshole, everybody knew that. Unfortunately, though, this guy was an even bigger asshole, and apparently a stubbornly vindictive one. Tritter had followed him, and arrested him 2 weeks ago, and he should have taken the hint. But, no, not the mighty Greg House. You are such a fucking idiot, he thought to himself. Why the hell didn't you just back off, just this one time? Spending the one agonizing night alone sitting on the cold hard concrete floor in the chain link holding cell, waiting for Wilson to finally arrive with his bail money and his Vicodin… He really should have just backed the fuck off. But he hadn't. He had thought that the little cop bastard would just go away. But that had not happened, and things had gone rapidly downhill, and he knew they were going to get even worse. And soon.
He looked around his bedroom. Piles of clothes, shoes, books, upside down dresser drawers, mounds of his stuff were all over the place. It had been 8 days since his apartment was raided by the little prick, and his entire drug stash had been confiscated. Tritter had been a man on a mission, and he had been quite thorough. House's place had been totally trashed, and the asshole had found every last pill and vial and needle that House had. Everything. Gone. Gotta learn to hide that shit better, his brain mocked. But that wasn't going to help him now. He hadn't bothered to do much straightening up, his apartment looked like a bomb had gone off in it. There was stuff strewn everywhere. Nothing was where it belonged. Kinda like my life right now...
His Vicodin supply had been strictly rationed, actually damn near cut off. How could anyone expect him to survive without his meds? Everyone was pulling back, under Tritter's scrutiny, afraid of losing their own jobs. House had managed to finagle a few Vicodin prescriptions from Cuddy, but she had given him this last one only 2 days ago, and she had said that was it. He was royally pissed about this whole thing, but he had been trying his damnedest to keep his cool and not crack. But he felt his desperation starting to fray at the edges of his harsh, armored cover. The days of his free flowing drug supply had come to a screeching halt. Tritter was pressuring everyone around the defiant Dr. House, pushing everyone's buttons, trying to get someone to buckle under the stress and give him up. Wilson was getting the worst of it, he had gotten suspended. At this point, the poor guy couldn't even give an aspirin to a stage 4 cancer patient. And none of his little ducklings would write him a scrip, no amount of hollering, threats or bullying had worked on them. He had thought Cameron would have caved, given her feelings for him, but she hadn't, and only tossed him some Midol PMS crap, with some flippant remark about how it should work wonders for him. And Cuddy had turned him down flat when he had asked her for more. The little amber bottle staring at him was his last one, and he had no idea how long he could make it last. The thought of another bout of detoxing when he eventually ran out of pills loomed it's ugly head in his thoughts, but he squelched it and quickly pushed it away.
The pain in his leg had finally notched down to a low wail, and he decided it was time to get his ass in gear and get moving. He slowly picked up his cane from the floor and hauled himself up, grinding his teeth and wincing as he limped toward the bathroom, careful not to trip and fall over any of his stuff.
The hospital was humming at it's usual level of business. In a way it was comforting, a little slice of something normal. House walked past the front desk and punched the elevator button with his cane. His little ducklings would be upstairs, waiting for him. He hoped there was a case. Please let there be a case. Anything. He needed to focus on something besides all this Tritter bullshit. Something to distract him. A puzzle to solve. But when he arrived at his office, he saw his team being ushered out by a tired and pissed-off-looking Cuddy. "There's no case House," she said flatly as she brushed past him, "you've been suspended, Board decision." She caught his gaze for a moment, then averted her eyes. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. "I'm sorry," she said softly, and put a hand on his arm, "there was nothing I could do about it. Your team is being temporarily reassigned. Go home." The four of them were in the elevator and the doors slid shut before his brain caught up with him. He was left standing in front of his office door, alone. Fuck.
He stood there staring at the floor for a few seconds. Then reached into his pocket and took another Vicodin. The rattling sounds were getting lighter. He had nowhere to go. The hospital suddenly seemed too bright and too busy for him. No longer comforting. Not at all. He slowly made his way to the elevator, retracing his path of just a few moments ago, and headed towards his apartment. He had a bottle of Scotch waiting for him.
…It was 3 AM. He was laying on his bed, rolled onto his left side, holding his right thigh fiercely with both hands. He was sweating and shaking. His T shirt and pajamas clung to his shivering body. His chest was heaving like a racehorse after a flat-out steeple chase. The only sound in the room was his ragged breathing. Pain. No relief. Just pain. Pain piled up on top of more pain. Relentless, twisting pain that was threatening to crush the life from him. He had run out of Vicodin just over 4 days ago. The cold fingers of detox were getting a firm hold on him, but it was nothing compared to the hellacious pain. His leg was absolutely screaming. He had been steadily climbing the pain scale for 2 days now. He was not at a 10 yet. He knew what a 10 felt like, he remembered it vividly well. He had tapped that number just before slipping into the chemically induced coma he had asked for. And then Stacy… No. Fuck that. Don't go there. His leg howled a little louder, scrambling his thoughts again. He clamped his hands around his leg a little tighter and a strangled moan escaped his throat. Right now he was hovering at a strong 8, pushing towards a possible 9. And there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. He had no avenue of relief.
Over the last 2 days he had desperately tried everything and anything he could think of, but nothing had worked. No amount of alcohol or harshly pacing the floor. And nobody was writing anything for him. He had called everyone. He had actually started to beg Cuddy over the phone when she had voiced her last and final refusal, but he had angrily hung up before he could reduce himself that far. Shortly after that he had thrown the phone against the wall. Yesterday, he had caught his reflection in the bathroom mirror, and the grizzled, ghostly face that looked back at him had startled him. His bleary eyes were bloodshot and filled with despair. His pale features were drawn and gaunt. He remembered thinking he looked so old. Old and broken. He had finally resigned himself to just lay down on his bed and try to find some way to keep a grip on his sanity while the unrelenting waves of pain flooded over him. That's where he was now. Just lying there, racked in torment. He had long since emptied his stomach and knew nothing would stay down. He had been unable to sleep much in the last few days, but exhaustion was not enough to overpower the agony, so there would be no refuge in slumber. He felt like his mind was being slowly shredded. The small bed stand clock behind him glowed 3:30 AM.
Just then, he heard a noise. He tried to get his fuzzy mind to focus, but it refused. Knocking. Then, was that his front door opening? Was someone in his apartment? He forced himself to open his eyes. The room was dark. He blinked a few times to try and clear his head, but his stressed out, sleep deprived brain would not cooperate. He wanted to roll over, to try to get up and see who it was, but he found himself unable to do anything but just lie there, listening. His breathing picked up a bit more as he heard footsteps slowly coming down the hall toward him. Wilson? His bedroom door squeaked a little as it was pushed open. The faint amber glow of the living room light spilled into the room, illuminating his shaking, sweat soaked body, curled up in agony. He looked towards the doorway and blinked, trying to focus. For a moment, the shadowy figure in the doorway didn't move. That's not Wilson, his mind yelled at him.
The silhouette wasn't anyone he could recognize. Not Foreman or Chase or Cameron or Cuddy. A pang of fear laced it's way into his heart. Am I being robbed? But still he couldn't get his body to do anything about it. "Who…?" he managed to choke out harshly, but could not finish the question. There was no answer from the shadow in the doorway. Finally, the shadow moved to the foot of his bed and around to the other side. He felt the mattress sag as somebody sat down in front of him. The face was still in shadow, he couldn't see any features. But there was long hair. Silky, dark, flowing hair. A woman. Who? Before he could say anything else, a warm hand reached out and touched the side of his face and gently caressed his stubbled cheek. "Oh, Greg…" he heard a soft female voice say. "Look what they've done to you…" It was barely more than a whisper, and he couldn't recognize it. "Give me your arm," the voice said. He was shaking badly. He felt her hand reach for his left arm, and he offered it with no resistance. She stretched his arm out and he felt a tight rubber tourniquet being strapped around his bicep. Then he felt the tiny pinch of a needle being slid into his vein. A delicious rush of relief swept over him, like a comforting blanket. He moaned and exhaled sharply, and then breathed a long ragged sigh as he felt his body sink into the sweat soaked mattress beneath him. Blissful relief. The tourniquet was removed, and the warm hand was stroking his damp hair. "Thank you," he croaked, "who are you?" It came out a jagged whisper.
"Shhhhhh," the voice said, "Sleep Greg. Just go to sleep." He could feel his body drifting away, taking the pain and tension and stress and everything else with it. He closed his eyes. Almost floating… The bed shifted slightly as the woman got up. He felt her lean over him, her hair brushed his face. That hair. He could feel it's feathery softness, and it smelled of pears and ginger. And then he felt a light kiss on his forehead. He let out a soft sigh, and his exhausted body and tormented mind could not hang on any longer, and sleep claimed him.
It was bright outside when he finally woke. He felt drained and limp. His mouth was dry. It was the familiar after effects of a healthy dose of morphine. As he slowly dragged himself out of the deep slumber, he felt something in his hand. He looked down, and saw his left hand was curled around a large, but familiar looking amber bottle. He picked it up to look at it more closely. There was no label on it, but the little white pills crammed inside were unmistakable. Vicodin. A big, fat, full bottle of it. The pain had not quite woken up fully yet, so he flipped the lid off and dry swallowed two. Then he laid there, trying to focus on his hazy memories of the mystery woman who had come to his bed in the middle of the night and stuck a needle in his arm and brought him comfort. She had called him Greg, not House. Long beautiful hair. Obviously knew how to handle a syringe. Another doctor? Nurse? Who the hell was she? He had no idea. He tumbled the puzzle around in his head as he slowly blew out the cobwebs. He was feeling a little better already. He carefully sat up and decided to go try and find something to eat. And he really needed a shower.
She walked confidently through the hospital halls, her neon orange clipboard always in hand, making her morning rounds. She had become very interested in Dr. Gregory House some time ago, after joining the hospital, but had not done anything in the way of approaching him. Instead, keeping true to her nature, she had quietly begun to gather all the information she could about the tall, enigmatic doctor with the cane and the deep blue eyes. He sent most people scurrying and scattering, those who were unlucky enough to have to stay around bore the brunt of his gruff, insensitive, and sometimes scathing remarks. He was very intense, that's for sure. Those eyes of his could turn into icy cold lasers and damn near bore through solid titanium.
She found ways to quietly watch him whenever she could. Not stalking, just admiring. In the cafeteria, in the parking garage, in his office, running a differential with his team. She would see him cruising through the halls with surprising speed and a sense of athletic grace, even with the cane and the pronounced limp. He exuded a strong sense of power even though he always had a rather disheveled appearance. He never played by the rules. Actually, never even seemed to acknowledge that there were any rules, except the ones he made up. He's brilliant, she thought. Intelligence in a man had always been a strong draw for her, along with a wicked sense of humor, and he definitely had that covered too. And he's got a nice body. She had made herself blush a few times thinking about what was under those rumpled clothes and filling out those jeans so nicely. But on very rare occasions, when he was alone, she would see tiny slivers of something else in him.
Hard to identify at first, but she eventually recognized it. A mixed blend of sadness, fear, hurt, and loneliness. He hid it all quite fiercely, behind a tough, thick armor that would have made both Attila the Hun and a Sherman tank equally proud. You had to look really close and really fast to even see a hint of it, but it was there. She had seen it. It made her want to help him. She didn't pity him, she just wanted to try and make him feel wanted and loved and not so alone. It would never be any kind of fairytale romance, he would never be that kind of guy. And she was not some starry-eyed school girl with a crush. She was level headed and realistic. She saw something in Greg House that she wanted. No rose-colored glasses. She just wanted to be with him. She wanted to comfort him. But she knew she would have to approach with extreme caution, and with a definitive plan, if she ever had any hope of getting close to him.
She finished her rounds and headed back to her office. She pulled her long dark hair out of it's looped ponytail and shook it out. The long silky locks spilled down her back and over her shoulders. She sat down behind her desk, leaned back, and closed her eyes. Her mind went back to what she had done last night. That had never been part of any plan I had… I still can't believe it. But the more she had heard through the PPTH grapevine for the entire week, the more angry and worried she had become…
She had bribed her way into getting her hands on House's medical files a while back, so she knew what he had been through physically, and she could venture a pretty accurate guess as to what he had been through mentally and emotionally. She knew about the Vicodin addiction. She even knew about the occasional dose of morphine he would shoot. And she understood it and accepted it. She couldn't believe what was happening to him with the whole cop-with-a-vendetta thing. Tritter, was it? She had never talked to the guy, she wasn't even a faint blip on the radar. But she had silently watched as every so-called friend House had, proceeded to shut him out and completely turn their backs on him. Leaving him to deal with this whole thing totally alone. Sure, he wasn't a warm and fuzzy kind of friend, but this was paramount to torturing the man. Leave him twisting in the wind and fending for himself. Then they had suspended him. And sent him home. She had decided to wait out the week. If things had not improved with this whole disastrous situation by Friday, she was going to have to take some kind of action, to jump into this mess with both feet and see what happened from there.
Friday's workday came and went. No sign of House anywhere, and the PPTH rumor mill was in full swing about him. Nobody wanted anything to do with him, and, nobody was writing any prescriptions for him. No one. He had to be out of his pain meds for what, at least a few days now? She hoped he had a stash at home, something to get him through all this. But what if he didn't? He would be a mess. She made her decision. She would go by his place, just to check on him, make sure he was OK.
She had. She had been out in front of his apartment, and could see a little bit of his place through the front window. There was only one floor lamp on in the living room. No sign of him. No TV, no music. His bike was here, so he should be home. She stepped a little closer and could see a bit more of the living room. His leather jacket hung on a chair, keys on the table. So he was home. Probably in bed, hopefully sleeping. She walked up to the door and knocked. Nothing. Not a sound from inside. Knocked harder. Nothing. She had stood there and debated with herself for a bit before making the next move. Gonna be hell to pay if I get caught breaking into his home. Her mind raced through a thousand different scenarios of her coming face to face with a perfectly healthy Gregory House confronting an intruder in his apartment. But damn it to hell, I have to know, she mentally resolved, I have to know he's OK. So she started digging around the front of his apartment, looking for a key. Guys always kept a spare key around, it was just a guy thing. She found it above the door frame, slid it into the lock, and turned it. The door swung open and she stepped inside.
She had heard him breathing as soon as she closed his front door behind her. Labored, gasping, ragged breathing. Not good. She slowly started down the hall towards the sound, and pushed his bedroom door open, hearing it squeak a little. The sight before her froze her still. Oh. My. God. She had never seen anyone in so much pain. It sent her mind reeling. No human being should ever have to endure anything like this. He looked like he had been chained to the floor somewhere in the 9th ring of hell. Sweet Jesus. She had no idea how long she had stood there, rooted to that spot, but he was apparently aware of her presence and he had turned his head to try and look at her. His eyes were bleary and swimming in waves of pain, unable to focus. She heard a hoarse "Who…?" but it trailed off. Get moving, she told herself. She had slowly moved to his side and had gently administered the morphine she had brought. The overwhelming relief that washed over him was immediate. He had even managed to choke out a strangled thank you, and then had asked her who she was. She didn't answer him, just touched and stroked him softly and told him to go to sleep. She had decided that she was going to remain anonymous for now. She had kissed his forehead, then waited to make sure he was sleeping peacefully and his vitals were stable. Then she had wrapped his hand around the oversize bottle of Vicodin she had brought for him before she left.
Someone is going to pay for this, she thought with a cold scowl as she exited his apartment. Pay Big Time. She replaced the key above his door and headed for her car, her mind already racing way ahead of her.
House ate, showered, popped 4 more Vikes over the course of the short remainder of the afternoon, and fell asleep on the leather sofa just before the sky outside had turned to dusk. He popped 2 more after waking up at midnight and shuffling off to bed. Better. Settling gently back into his normal routine, the one before Tritter. He knew he would have to deal with all of that, eventually, but for now he was just glad to be back to being lucid and coherent. But the puzzle would not leave him alone. Who had it been? Who was she? He had no clues. Except the hair. He would have to check out every woman at the hospital with long hair. Systematically go through them. And find her.
Tritter finally did go away. It had taken a monumental effort, but House had finally acquiesced, swallowed his stubborn pride and a few extra Vikes, and humbly limped into the precinct on Christmas Eve, and into Tritter's office. He explained why he acts the way he does. His pain. He apologized. He was suitably humble and sincere enough that the vendetta-obsessed cop was satisfied. Tritter finally dropped the whole thing, and slowly, gradually, over a couple of months, everything fell back into it's normal pace and usual order. House was back to work, with his team. Fences were mended between Wilson and House, and Cuddy began harping about clinic duties again. Everything was solved as far as House was concerned. Except his ultimate puzzle. He had gone through about half of the female hospital staff photos, and eliminated a truckload of possibles. But he had a truckload more to still go through. He was a little frustrated, but he was methodically attacking the problem with his usual calculated logic. He felt that he was slowly getting closer to finding his shadowy "Angel of Comfort," as be had begun to think of her. The hair. Her hair. He remembered how it looked that night, how it felt, how it brushed against his face when she leaned over him. How it smelled. Pears and ginger. He had to find that hair, and he would have his angel.