COMFORT, Pt 9 THE VISIT
Installment number 9 in this series. Dr. Gregory House and Dr. Lauren Sheridan, a neurosurgeon at PPTH, have a solid relationship. Stacy finally hears all about House's new love and struggles to deal with it, and House has to deal with an angry ex-patient that shows up demanding his attention.
This one ended up pretty long, lots of stuff going on!!!
Rated M/Adult for strong language and mature themes.
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…
COMFORT, Pt9 "THE VISIT"
House MD fanfic by NiteJasmine
Dr. Jim Wilson sat alone at the linen covered table, watching the light from the overhead chandeliers bounce off of the crystal glasses. Light string music was softly wafting through the poshy restaurant, mixing with the low hush of conversation and silverware tinkling against plates. He picked up the wine list and flipped it open, just as he felt a warm hug and a quick peck on his cheek. He looked up and smiled as Stacy slipped into her chair across from him.
"Hey Jimmy," she said, returning his smile warmly. "It's so good to see you again. God, it's been months!" She spouted cheerfully.
"You too, Stace," he said, putting the wine list back in it's little silver holder on the table. He folded his hands in front of him, giving his friend his full attention. "Yeah, it's been way too long. You look great. How are you?"
Before she could answer, a tuxedo clad waiter appeared, introducing himself, conveying polite greetings and asking about drinks. After a brief discussion, wine was ordered, and the waiter glided off. Stacy looked back at Wilson.
"Sorry, where were we? Oh, yeah, me. I'm good. You?" she asked.
"Oh, I'm fine," he answered, and they shifted into a comfortable easy conversation.
They chatted about this and that, their drinks arrived. Ordinary banter, catching up on each other's general lives, sipping their wine.
"How's Mark? How's the rehab going?" he asked, and saw her tense up slightly.
She took a deep breath, and sighed. "Slow. Very slow," she looked down at the table. "He still goes to therapy three days a week. Even after almost a full 8 months of physio and rehab, he's still really struggling. He's able to get in and out of his wheelchair, and he can walk across a room, but it really takes a lot out of him. He's tired, frustrated, has a lot of pain. And is generally just pissed off at the world." She huffed quietly, "Sound familiar?"
Wilson gave her a knowing, understanding grin.
"Sounds like it's been pretty tough on you," he offered.
"Yeah, it's had it's moments. Good news is, he is gradually getting better. It's just taking so much longer than anyone thought it would."
Wilson nodded. "You gonna be OK? I mean you, and your marriage?" It was a rather pointed question, but she didn't mind.
"Yes," Stacy said, looking at him resolutely across the table. "I love him. He loves me. We're going to be fine." She sounded like she was trying to convince herself as much as she was trying to convince him.
"Glad to hear it," Wilson said, just as the waiter reappeared. The evening specials were discussed, and they both ordered their entrees. They went quiet for a moment after the waiter left the table.
Then she asked. Much too soon, Wilson thought.
"How's Greg?" She tried to sound casual, but didn't quite pull it off. Now it was Wilson's turn to take a deep breath. He felt distinctly annoyed that House always seemed to have the power to ruin his evenings. And without even being in the god damn room.
"He's fine," Wilson's voice was edgy and sarcastic. "Now that he's no longer suspended from practicing medicine. And the felony drug charges against him were dropped. And the Detective he managed to completely piss off finally stopped harassing everyone at the hospital. His arrest for possession with intent will stay on his permanent record though," he paused, seeing Stacy nearly drop her wine glass in her lap. She was completely stunned.
"What? What the hell are you talking about?" she demanded.
He proceeded to fill her in on the whole episode with Detective Michael Tritter. How House had finally managed to piss off the wrong guy. And then House's stubborn refusal to apologize to him had quickly escalated into disastrous consequences. How everything went all to hell in a handbag. House was arrested, spent the night in jail until Wilson bailed him out the next morning. Then how Tritter had pursued a relentless vendetta against House. Wilson's anger bubbled up in his voice as he told her how it had nearly destroyed his own practice, not being able to treat his patients himself and completely undermining their trust in him, all part of Tritter's plan to get Wilson to roll over on House. And of course, House's life had really been turned upside down. His pain meds had been severely rationed, then cut completely off. His apartment was raided and thoroughly trashed. And then House had been suspended from the hospital as well. Tritter had been out to totally ruin him and bar him from ever practicing medicine again.
Wilson finished the grim tale just as their food arrived, but now Stacy wasn't the least bit interested in eating. She was absolutely in shock at what she was hearing.
"My God," she said to Wilson, her voice a little cold. "Why didn't I know anything about this? I'm a lawyer for God's sake. Why didn't you call me? Why the hell didn't you tell me?" She demanded, nearly hissing out the last sentence.
Wilson put his hands out, placating her.
"I had enough on my plate without adding more to it by bringing you into the picture," he said evenly. "Besides, everything eventually worked out. House did go and finally apologize to the guy. Tritter backed off, and the whole thing just slowly went away. And House and I eventually patched up our friendship, or what passes for it. Anyway, it's all history now. So… eat your dinner, before it gets cold."
Stacy's mind was reeling. She looked down and began poking at the plate of food in front of her, but couldn't have cared less about it. This was supposed to be a nice catch up dinner between friends. But now she was sitting here hearing about some hellish ordeal that Greg had gone through, and she hadn't heard a word about it from her friend, until now. After it was all over. And she was damn upset about it.
They both sat and nibbled at their food for a few minutes in silence.
Finally, Stacy dropped her fork onto the plate of barely touched food and looked across the table at him.
"I have to go see him," she said flatly.
Wilson sighed heavily, and slowly put his fork down on the table. He looked at her with a serious gaze.
"No, you don't. You don't have to go see him. You shouldn't go see him. That is a very, very bad idea. You should do exactly what you have been doing, Stacy. Stay away from him and leave him alone."
"Jim, I have to explain to him why I wasn't there. He should've called me. You should've called me. Somebody should've called me. But nobody did. I didn't know. I should've been there and I wasn't. I wasn't there for him when he needed me..." her voice began to soften.
"When he needed you? Oh, God, don't start this bullshit Stacy," Wilson retorted sharply. "Mark needed you. You know, the man you're actually married to? Your husband? Remember him?" Stacy shot him a searing flippant look. Wilson ignored it and continued. "You were exactly where you needed to be, with Mark. With your husband." he paused. "House is the one who pushed you away and out of his life. Leave him be and leave it alone. Don't go stirring things up again."
Stacy was insulted. "What are you so worried about? God, we've been through this how many times now? We are all adults. Well, at least two out of the three of us are. Greg will always behave like a 10 year old child. But I should be able to go and visit the man I used to share my life with, just so I can make sure he's alright. Jesus, Jimmy, you know how I feel about him. It sounds like he had to go through all that bullshit alone. That's not fair. I just want to let him know that I'm sorry. You've always told me how miserable he was after I left. Both times. He's got to be at a whole new level of being miserable with all that happening to him too."
"Stacy," he started, but didn't know how to continue. This evening was not supposed to go like this at all. He should've known better. Shit. This had obviously been a bad idea. He hadn't wanted to talk about House. And Stacy didn't need to know anything about Lauren. Shit.
"Jim," she said, focusing an intense stare across the table. She narrowed her eyes and leaned in closer. Her deductive attorney powers focusing in. "OK. You've told me an awful lot. But there's more. Isn't there? You're still hiding something. What? What are you not telling me?"
He pulled both hands across his face, then looked down and pushed the plate of food away. "So much for a nice dinner," he muttered.
"It's about Greg, isn't it?" she asked, in her best courtroom tone. She saw by the look on his face that it was. Oh, it had to be bad. She had to get Wilson to fess up.
He chuckled nervously. "Why do you have to be so analytical? Can't you just enjoy a nice dinner with an old friend?"
"Jimmy," she said, her gaze never wavering.
Wilson sighed nervously, looking up at the ceiling, then quickly looking around and back at her. "Would you like another glass of wine? Because I could sure use one," he turned to scan the restaurant for their waiter.
"James," she warned, not backing down an inch.
He kept up his search for their waiter. These 5-star guys were always silently popping up at the table every 9 minutes when you didn't want anything, but now where the hell was he when you needed him?
"Wilson!" Stacy demanded, her voice low and piercing. "God Dammit. Talk to me. Spill it. What are you trying so hard not to tell me about?" She was clenching her teeth and getting more and more upset with him by the minute.
He finally spotted their waiter and got his attention, pointed to his wine glass, and the waiter nodded. Then Wilson turned to back to face Stacy, and before she could say anything else, he held up his index finger in front of her, with a sheepish 'hold that thought' expression. She glared at him. He thought he could see wisps of smoke coming from her direction. Her withering stare was fixed on him, boring holes into him. He remembered House telling him in the past what a hell-on-wheels fireball she could be when she got angry. And he could certainly see that. No wonder House would run away and go hide up on the roof. Sounded like a damn good idea… His second glass of wine arrived promptly and he took a long sip, slowly setting the glass on the table.
"Well?" Stacy asked, her tone menacing and insistent. She looked like she was ready to pounce across the table at him. "James Wilson, so help me, if you don't tell me what the hell you are hiding right now…" she threatened icily.
"Alright, alright, Christ," Wilson sighed, then leaned back in his chair, looking resigned. "House… is not miserable. At least not like he used to be. And, he's not… alone."
It took Stacy a full minute to fully process and comprehend what he had just told her. She gaped back at him, her anger now completely diffused. She had moved her mouth to say something, but no words came out. She was speechless.
"I don't see him nearly as often as I used to," Wilson continued. "For about the past 6 months. He doesn't just drop into my office like he always did." He looked down at the tablecloth again. "He's had someone much better looking occupying his time and attention. Not to mention his apartment." He finished, looking up at her cautiously.
"He's living with someone?" Stacy felt like someone had kicked her in the stomach. Someone had taken her place. No, couldn't be. Impossible. Who the hell could have possibly taken over so quickly?
"Who?" she asked quietly. "Who is she? Is it Dr. Cameron?" she asked. Someone on his team. Familiarity. That would kinda make sense. And she knew the pretty young doctor had been interested in him…
Wilson scoffed. "Oh, God, no. That whole thing with Cameron… that was also quite a disaster. No, it's not her."
"Then, who?" Stacy asked, incredulous. She couldn't fathom who on earth could have moved into Greg's life like that.
"Dr. Lauren Sheridan," Wilson replied. "She's a neurosurgeon. Up on the 4th floor. It's kind of complicated how it all happened, but basically she's the only one who had the stones to step in and help him when the whole Tritter thing flared up. They've been pretty much inseparable ever since."
Stacy sat in shocked silence for what seemed like eternity. She had never even heard this woman's name before. Had absolutely no idea who she was. "Does he love her?" She finally asked, trying to squelch the pangs of jealousy lacing through her stomach.
He nodded. "He says yes. And Lauren definitely loves him. And she protects him. God help anyone who tries to do anything to hurt him. She will take on anybody. Which is also why you should just stay clear. Go home. Be with Mark. You have moved on with your life. Now House finally has a chance to do the same. Leave it alone."
He saw the look on her face turn from disbelief, to hurt, and angry, and then to sad acceptance, all in a matter of seconds. She reached out and took a big drink of her wine, setting the glass down and staring at it.
"I'm sorry Stace," he finally said softly. "I didn't mean for the evening to go like this. I thought we could just get together and talk, like two old friends. I guess there's just too much water under that bridge, huh?" He felt as sad and guilty as he sounded.
"I guess so," she replied. She suddenly felt very tired.
Wilson felt defeated. He realized there was no way to salvage this. "Let's get this stuff boxed up. No sense wasting it. And we can get out of here," he offered, and like magic, the waiter appeared and began clearing the plates away. Wilson handed the man his credit card as Stacy finished off her wine, then reached across the table and took a sip of Wilson's half-full glass. They didn't say anything else as they waited for Wilson's Mastercard to be returned and their uneaten dinners to be brought back wrapped in styrofoam and foil. Wilson snagged his glass of wine back and finished it off, and they left the restaurant. There was a cursory hug just outside the door, the polite 'it was good to see you' exchanges, and promises to call. Then they both headed to their cars parked at opposite ends of the lot.
Stacy's hands were shaking just a little as she fumbled with her keys. She leaned her forehead against the steering wheel for a minute once she got in, trying to collect herself, before finally starting the car and pulling away.
Stacy called Mark to tell him she was on her way home, keeping her voice light and hanging up quickly, never revealing the torrent of silent tears streaming down her cheeks.
Almost a week had gone by. Stacy had gone home to Mark that night, having dried her tears and put on her best 'everything's fine' mask before walking through the front door. She had spent the rest of the week burying herself in work, and focusing completely on Mark, trying to distract herself. Trying to do anything to keep from thinking about Gregory House and his new love. His new life. She should be happy for him, and in a distant, objective sort of way, she was. She did want him to be happy, she loved him, and she always would. But the hurt, angry, jealous voice inside her just wouldn't let it go. Now that Wilson had spilled the beans and she knew about it, she couldn't quite get herself to put it away and leave it alone. She wished she could just see House for a few minutes… And she really wanted to see who this new woman in his life was…
It had been almost 7 days exactly, since that dismal dinner with Wilson, when Mark dropped his own bombshell on her.
"Stacy, I want to go see House." He had said as he rolled into the living room from his latest physio therapy session. It came out so matter-of-factly that it didn't even register right away. She had to blink and shake her head, not sure she had heard right.
"What?" She had asked him.
"House." He had replied flatly. "I want to go back and see House again. I need to talk to him."
"So pick up a phone," she had told him dismissively. "If you want to talk to him, pick up the phone and call him. We don't need to go traipsing all the way out there again. Besides, now that you're not some mysterious puzzle to be solved, he probably won't even give you the time of day."
He looked at her questioningly, tilting his head, not smiling. "Since when do you want to keep me from doing something that could help me walk again?" She could hear his anger building. Here we go again, she thought to herself. He was always so irritable and had such a short fuse. Anything set him off. She was so tired of arguing with him about everything, about anything, about nothing. God, she wanted a cigarette.
"You can walk now," she said, trying to keep her voice even.
"Oh, yeah, I can walk. About what, 10, maybe 15 steps? Then I gotta sit down and take a fucking nap!" He spat the words out. "I'm tired of waiting for this to get better. I need House. He knows about this shit. He was a big part of this happening to me, and now I want him to fucking fix it!"
"Mark, there's nothing he can do…" Stacy started, but Mark spun his chair around to wheel off down the hall.
"I'm going to go see the bastard!" He hollered over his shoulder as he rolled away.
"You can come along, or not. I don't fucking care. But I'm going!" She heard the bedroom door slam shut so hard she wondered if it was still on the hinges.
She sighed heavily, sat forward on the couch and put her head in her hands. Going to see House. Careful what you wish for, she thought bitterly.
Dr. Lauren Sheridan headed back towards her office after finishing her morning rounds, feeling pretty chipper, even for a Monday. She smiled, remembering the past Friday night. She had put the silver "you-belong-to-me" chain around Greg's neck, and had rocked his pleasure centers off the planet with a fun but intense little lovemaking session when she had tied him to the sofa. The rest of the weekend had been relaxing and fun, she and Greg had gone to the horse track Saturday afternoon, just for the hell of it. She lost about $50 bucks, he won about $70, but it was entertaining. They had a bite to eat, then came home and watched a blow-up-the-world action movie on cable.
Sunday was spent reading the paper, doing some grocery shopping, and catching up on other domestic stuff like laundry and then finally attacking the eternal stack of dirty pans and dishes that Greg always left in the kitchen sink. That's when Greg had wandered up behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist and started kissing her neck, knowing what a near 'instant-on' switch that was for her, smugly humming to himself as he nibbled and nipped just the right spots, feeling her nearly melt in his arms…
They had made love again that night and fallen asleep in the big sleigh bed, contentedly wrapped around each other. And Greg had yet to take the chain off of his neck. He said he liked it, and wanted to keep it on. Who was she to argue? Besides, the masculine silver links looked quite nice on him.
She walked around her desk to sit down, and noticed a small gray box sitting there. She opened it up and looked inside. There she saw a beautiful large gold barrette. She took it out and looked at it. It was large enough to hold all of her long wavy locks of dark hair in it. Attached across the front of the barrette was a delicate gold angel, her wings open and spread along it's length. In the bottom of the box she found a folded piece of paper and opened it up. It was one word scribbled in familiar blocky handwriting on one of Greg's prescription pad sheets. It read simply "Angel" and signed "-G." He wasn't one for long mushy words. She wondered when the hell he had found the time to go buy this for her. The guy was always coming up with little surprises. One of the many things she loved about him. She smiled warmly to herself, pulled her hair back, clipped the pretty barrette in place, tucked the note into her pocket, and got back to work.
House cruised through the hospital cafeteria quickly, snagging things and tossing them on his tray. He expertly timed his arrival at the cash register to match the exact moment when Wilson was standing there with his wallet out. House swept by him, with just a quick nod for the cashier. "He's got this," he said simply, and disappeared through the other side of the door. The cashier was unimpressed, having seen this little act so many times before. Wilson just sighed and forked over the extra cash. Then went and sat down with his own tray across from his abrasive friend.
"Greetings to you to," Wilson quipped as he plopped down at the table. House was already busy shoving food into his mouth, and merely grunted in reply, chewing loudly. Wilson gave him his classic incredulous look and sighed. "You should teach a class in lunchroom etiquette. How-To-Eat-Like-A-Barbarian 101."
House answered him, his mouth still jammed full of food. "Watch and learn, grasshopper," he said, somehow managing not to spray any food. House swallowed a big gulp, and studied the younger doctor sitting in front of him. "Gossip mill says you had a date last Friday. Was it just your hand again or Bonnie from accounting?" he asked, taking another huge bite.
Wilson flashed an annoyed smile. "It's Nancy in accounting, and my hands had nothing to do with it."
"Thought you weren't seeing her anymore, what with her getting engaged to that other guy and all… You helping her plan her wedding?"
Wilson sighed. "She's not the only woman on the planet, House," he said indignantly. "There are other women I see."
"And which other woman was it last week? Should I be expecting in invitation to another one of your weddings?" House asked, grinning at him.
Wilson mentally slammed on the brakes. "None of your business," Wilson answered flatly, wanting to desperately avoid this line of questioning. House did not need to know about his dinner with Stacy, even though it had gone so dismally poor. But House caught the little bit of tension that ratcheted up in his friend at the rather innocent question. He seized on it. He needled and grilled Wilson relentlessly, not giving the man a chance to even eat his lunch. Finally, just like in the restaurant when he was sitting across from Stacy, Wilson caved in.
"Alright. House," Wilson blurted, clearly frustrated. "It was Stacy. OK? I had dinner with Stacy. It was just dinner with an old friend, and I didn't think you needed to know about it. Alright?"
House paused for just a second, then shrugged his shoulders. "Fine," he said casually, then lowered his head and peered at the man. "You do know she's married, right?" He asked sarcastically.
"You're upset," Wilson said with another sigh.
House shook his head, "No. I'm not." Then he smugly bit off another mouthful of his lunch.
Wilson looked at his suspiciously, watching him continue to munch and gulp away. "Aren't you going to ask how she is?"
"Nope," came House's quick reply as he finished off the last bite of his food.
Surprising, thought Wilson. He really doesn't look upset. Or even interested. Hmm. But he must want to know… "Mark's rehab is not going well. It's been pretty rough on her. She needs a friend…" Wilson started, but House cut him off.
"You're right. None of by business. And, not my problem. That's what she's got a husband for," he said flatly, then grabbing his cane and getting up to leave. "Thanks for lunch Jimmy," he said brightly as he limped off and out of the room.
Wilson sat quietly and finished his lunch, alone with his thoughts, amazed at House's actions. He had never seen House refuse any kind of free information. Not ever. And especially anything that involved Stacy. He had always wanted to know everything, in detail. But not this time. House had just cut him off and calmly walked away. Wow. Maybe he really is finally going to be able to move on…
House had just finished shuffling all the accumulated paperwork from their previous couple of cases into piles. Mail, charts, patient test results and all the other junk that cluttered up his mailbox and his desk. He ended up with one huge stack, Cameron's, and one tiny one, his.
He thought briefly about his lunch with Wilson. He had known Stacy was going to have a rough time with Mark. He certainly didn't wish anything bad on her, but he really didn't want to hear about it. He honestly didn't. He remembered he used to want to know every detail of every moment of Stacy's life. He had needed it, had clung to the hurt and pain he got from it, because he had convinced himself that he would never have anything else. But now he had Lauren. His Angel. She had come into his life and brought him comfort and love, and soothed away so much of his pain, in so many ways. She had helped warm his cold, empty heart and heal his damaged, broken soul. He was definitely one incredibly lucky guy. And all that ugly baggage was in the past now, and he wanted to leave it there.
He opened the two envelopes that made up his entire pile. One was an invitation to speak at some whatever, whatever, blah, blah, blah. He dropped it over his shoulder into the trash before reading it any further. The other envelope held the new game chip he had ordered for his Nintendo DS. But, damn, the game was at home in his apartment, where he had left it hooked to it's charger. So he slipped the tiny cartridge into his pocket, felt his bottle of pills in there, and popped a Vicodin. He got up, gathered up the huge other stack of papers and folders and limped across the room, where he dumped the whole mess unceremoniously into Cameron's IN box, with a smug, amused grin.
He had just turned back towards his desk when he looked up and saw someone standing in the middle of his office. He stopped still as a familiar voice greeted him.
"Hello Greg," Stacy said, standing there.
This is a fucked up coincidence, he thought.
"Hello Stacy," he answered her, then looked away and kept moving towards his desk. "What brings you here?" he asked, keeping his voice neutral.
"You," she said, with a little smile, tilting her head sideways, the way she always did.
He felt his stomach do a flip, and stopped in his tracks again. He narrowed his eyes as he turned to look at her. Oh, no way. No fucking way. His thoughts were yelling in his head. Oh, we are soooo not going down this goddamn road again…
"Stacy…" he started in a warning, stern tone, but she interrupted.
"I need a favor from you," she said, stepping closer to his desk. "I need you to talk to Mark. He demanded to come here to see you. He's convinced that his rehab's not working and he thinks you can do something to help him walk again. I told him he was wasting his time, and yours, but… he's bull headed and incredibly stubborn. Traits you might be familiar with," she finished flippantly.
House didn't respond. He looked away from her again and slowly covered the rest of the distance to his desk, and sat down in his chair. He looked up and fixed a steady gaze on her.
"You're right. It's a huge waste of time. There is nothing I can do for him." He said flatly.
She sighed. "I know. But would you just talk to him? Tell him that yourself? Maybe if it comes from you he'll believe it. Because God knows he's not listening to me." She paused, waiting for him to answer her. He didn't.
"Greg, I'm asking you for a favor. Would you please just go and talk to him? For me?"
House was quiet for a long moment. He did not want to do this. Not at all. But if it will get them both out of here any quicker…
He stood up, grabbed his cane, and slowly walked over and stood in front of her. "Where is he?" he asked.
"He's downstairs in…" she started, but got distracted buy something. She saw a flash of silver on his neck. She stared at it, trying to figure out what it was. He wasn't wearing a T shirt today, just a button down shirt and his jacket. And she could just make out a row of shiny silver links peeking between his shirt collars. A chain.
"That's new," she said incredulously and giving him a surprised look. "Since when do you wear jewelry?"
He looked down for a moment, realizing what she was talking about. The chain Lauren had put around his neck… the one he enjoyed wearing and had refused to take off. But he was not about to explain anything. Especially not to the woman standing in front of him. He was getting more and more irritated.
"Gift." He said abruptly. "Now where's Mark? Let's get this over with," he said, brushing past her and heading for the door.
"Looks good on you," she said, watching him stop at the door and look back, waiting for her to follow him. Must be from HER, Stacy thought, then wondered why she'd never thought of buying Greg something so nice…
"Thanks," he answered, clearly annoyed. "You coming?" He shoved the door open.
"He's downstairs in the Visitor's waiting room," she said, following him out the door.
Mark was sitting in his wheelchair, off by himself in a deserted corner of the huge waiting room, staring out the window, looking pissed. He looked up as he heard the unmistakable sound of a heavy limping gait approaching him. Stacy was following close behind him. He glared up at the tall doctor with the cane.
"Wow. You actually got up off your pompous ass to come down here and speak to me? I'm fucking impressed…" he said bitterly.
House interrupted him sharply. "I told you. You pathetic idiot…"
"Greg!" Stacy interjected, but House kept going, undeterred.
"I told you, when you tried to follow me up that fucking flight of stairs. I told you that you weren't ready, and that you were setting your rehab back by at least 3 months..." He was glaring at the man in the wheelchair. Mark was angry, but he was way out of his weight class when it came to matching House's intensity. He didn't have a prayer.
Stacy was shocked. She gaped at Mark. "Mark? You did what? You tried to chase him up a flight of stairs?" She said, pointing to House. "What, were you out of your mind?"
House never blinked or broke his stare. He just kept going. "So, now, here you are, still in that chair, and still in rehab, and still all pissed off about it all…"
"You wouldn't talk to me," Mark seethed. "I asked you to be a human being for five minutes, and you turned your back…"
House cut him off again. "Well, listen up, asshole, because I'm talking to you now. I could spend 3 days running a whole shitload of tests on you, and come up with the same thing I'm going to tell you right now, so I'll just save us all the time. There's nothing I can do for you that you're not already doing. There is no instant, magic answer. No miracle cure. Your rehab will work…"
"No, House," Mark hollered, "the rehab is not working! It's been 8 months! Eight fucking months and I can barely walk across the room without it wiping me out!"
House yelled right back. "But you are walking! So it's not happening as fast as you want it to. Well, tough shit! Life sucks. You have two choices. You can give up and go wheel yourself off a bridge, or you can stop whining like a spoiled brat and go back home, go back to your rehab, and keep working on it. And if you love your wife at all, you will stop taking your bullshit out on her. She loves you, she saved your life, and she's there to help you. So stop being a dickhead and let her. Grow the fuck up and start acting like the man she married."
Mark was still wound up, but he didn't have a reply. He felt like he had brought a knife to a gunfight. He felt like an idiot. Once again, House was fucking right. He had spent the last few months angry and feeling sorry for himself, lashing out at Stacy. He had been a total insufferable bastard. No wonder House could recognize it so easily. God, he hated that guy. And he wasn't going to make the same mistake with Stacy that House had.
"You're right," Mark finally said, defeated. "I fucking hate you, but you're right."
Finished with his scathing tirade, House turned around to leave, pausing for just a moment in front of a stunned Stacy, who was staring at him. She couldn't believe what he had said. "You're welcome. Go home." He said quietly, and limped away. He slipped into the elevator car and quickly punched 4, skipping his floor completely.
Ten minutes later, Stacy was pushing Mark's chair towards the main lobby doors when he reached up and stopped her.
"Stacy," he said, pulling her around in front of him. He looked up at her quietly for a minute. "I'm sorry. For everything. I love you."
"Oh Mark," She said as she leaned down and hugged him, and they shared a soft kiss.
"Hey, listen. I know this whole thing wasn't easy for you. Dealing with me and having to deal with House. So, look, if you want to go back up and talk to him, tell him thank you, whatever. I understand. And I'm OK with it. Actually, I think maybe you should." He paused as she reached out her hand and touched a loving hand to his cheek. He smiled up at her. "Go on. I'll just wait outside for you. And then we can go home. OK?"
"OK, honey. Thank you. I love you too," she said warmly, and kissed him again before stepping back.
Mark wheeled himself across the lobby as Stacy turned back towards the elevators.
Lauren returned to her office to find Greg sitting in the chair in front of her desk, staring at the floor, toying with his cane. Odd, she thought. What's up?
"Hey," she said, pausing in the doorway, hugging her neon orange clipboard. "This is just as pleasant a surprise as the little package on my desk this morning," she said warmly. "Thank you, it's beautiful."
He looked up and smiled almost tiredly at her. She could see something wasn't quite right with him, there was something troubling in his eyes. She walked over and set her clipboard down on the edge of her desk, he went back to staring at the floor again. She grabbed the other chair and pulled it up close next to him and sat down, leaning towards him, studying his face.
"Hey. You OK?" She asked softly. "What's wrong?"
He looked up at her again, his deep blue eyes soft and warm, studying her lovely face in silence for a moment. His Angel.
"Kiss me," he said, leaning towards her. There was no hesitation, no questioning. She leaned over and pressed her lips to his immediately, reaching out and cupping his face with one hand, leaning her weight onto the arm of his chair with the other. She opened her mouth to his, letting him set whatever pace he wanted. His tongue danced around the inside of her mouth, sensuously. He put his hand up behind her head, pulling her closer and deepening their kiss. She moaned softly into his mouth. He didn't care about the glass walls or the glass doors or where they were or who saw them. He needed her. He dropped his cane on the floor and reached out, pulling her out of her chair, guiding her over to sit sideways on his good leg. All the while never breaking their fiery kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck, molding herself into him, and he leaned his head back, letting her tongue do some dancing of it's own in his mouth. They kissed until both of them were nearly breathless, then stopped and looked at each other. They just stayed there, holding onto each other, lovingly staring into each other's eyes, their hearts and souls silently speaking volumes. Time stood still.
House finally broke the spell. He smiled, and reached up a hand to Lauren's face, lightly brushing her cheek with the back of his knuckles.
"Thanks," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. "I needed that."
"Anytime," came her warm reply.
Stacy pushed the door to House's office open, but he was nowhere to be seen. His team was off doing whatever, there was nobody around to ask where he had gone. Then he remembered what Wilson had said, Dr. Lauren Sheridan… up on the 4th floor…
Pretty good odds that's where he'd be. But did she dare?
Don't stir things up. Leave it alone. Leave him be. Those were a few of the other things Wilson had also told her, all of it tumbling through her mind.
She walked to the elevators and got in. She was alone in the car. She stared at the numbered panel for a minute. She should just punch L and go home. She reached out and made a button glow. It was 4.
She remembered a few of the faces in the Neurology Department, and a couple of them remembered her too. She got a few surprised greetings as she walked up to the main desk. She kept her exchanges short and brief, she didn't want to be calling too much attention to herself. In no time at all she was pointed down the hall in the direction of the office she was looking for.
She saw them through the glass walls before she ever got close to the door. There was Greg, leaned back in a chair, his cane on the floor, his arms wrapped around a very pretty woman with long dark hair clipped back in a big gold barrette. She was wrapped around him too, half-sitting on his lap, and they were engaged in a deep, passionate kiss. She stopped where she was, and pressed her back against the wall, watching them.
She had an excellent vantage point. She could see them both clearly, even through the traffic bustling up and down the hallway, which would help disguise her presence if they were to look her way. She saw them break the kiss, and stare into each other's eyes. It made her heart melt as she thought for a minute about her own past with him. Greg had loved her, yes. But it had been years since she had seen anything like what she was seeing right now in his eyes, when he was looking at Lauren. That much warmth. That level of trust. And that much love. And Lauren's emotions and feelings mirrored his right back. That exact moment just froze in time for her, the image captured. It was a picture that burned itself into her mind, permanently, indelibly. It hurt, but she still couldn't help but smile anyway.
There would always be a part of her that would always love Gregory House. But circumstances had forced her to move on, and she had. And now he finally had his chance to do the same. There was no way she wanted to interfere with that. She and Greg had caused each other way too much pain over all those years. Enough was enough. She had done what she had come here to do. And had seen what she wanted to see. And now she knew what she had to do.
Stacy turned and silently walked away.
She headed to the elevators, and this time she did press L. She exited through the main lobby doors of the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, probably for the last time in her life, and headed for her waiting husband and her life with him. A few minutes later, she had loaded Mark's wheelchair into the trunk and they were pulling out of the lot.
Lauren was still parked on his good leg, they were leaned back in the client chair in front of her desk, happily wrapped around each other.
"So, let me ask you again. Are you OK?" Lauren quizzed.
"I am now," he answered, returning to his normal self. "I'll tell you all about it at home tonight," he said, then softly slapped her hip a couple times, motioning her to get up. "C'mon, time to get back to work," he said, grinning. They extricated themselves from each other, and she got to her feet, still smiling. He reached down and retrieved his cane, and stood up, pausing in front of her.
"See you at home, Angel," he said, as he headed for the door.
"You bet," she said lightly as she watched him disappear down the hallway. She walked over and looked out of her office window for a minute, basking in the warm sunshine streaming in. Her office overlooked part of the main parking lot, she briefly scanned the activity down there. There were nurses and doctors coming and going, Two ER guys taking a smoke break. A blond woman pushing a stroller while carrying a sleeping child on her shoulder. A woman with short dark hair folding a wheelchair into a car trunk. Three guys on cell phones. Just another normal day at PPTH. She smiled and turned back to her desk, picked up her clipboard, and went back to work.