May, Spring: Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, Princeton, New Jersey
House awoke to the sound of music in the far distance. A mix of piano and violin filled his ears, the sound of musicians warming up for a concert. The violin stopped and then the room was filled with music from a piano. House immediately recognized the slow tune as it rose and became soft. He sat up in bed to Chopin's "Nocturne."
"So you're finally up." Sullivan greeted.
"Sullivan? What's going on? Why are you here?" House asked.
"We seem to be having a moment for some reason. I don't know why I am here? It is your head."
"I've gathered that." House replied as he noticed Thirteen in the orchestra.
House sat up from his hospital bed with ease and crossed over to the piano, running his hand across the polished varnish and looking at the outline of his reflection. Sullivan continued to play as House looked at him the way a father would silently look at his son. But what he felt did not feel like…what? What was he supposed to feel? Pride? Love? Something in between? What could be in between those two emotions?
"You got shot." House finally said.
"I did…I mean I was. Sorry, you seem to be unsure on that. Especially on the condition of whether or not I am alive? But here we are: in an in between moment between life and…I'd like to say Heaven, but knowing you. But then again, knowing you I am a figment of your dream. This is your head, House."
House crossed and sat down next to Sullivan.
"This could be it." House said.
"It very well could be. Maybe for me, but you…well that's always a different story, and what happens next is up to you."
"You almost have me confused, stop talking cryptically." House said.
"'Almost confused,' something I wasn't able to manage before. I'll take it."
"Tell me what you are driving at, kid." House urged on.
Sullivan stopped playing and looked at House and said, "What will you do next, Dr. House? You've had quite a year, but now what will it mean? You've dropped the Vicodin habit, but a relapse is always possible. You have that one good friend, whom you manage to keep at arm's length. There's this really amazing Jedi master/apprenticeship we started. And then there is Cuddy. What do you do?"
House's mouth went dry as cotton and a look of unresponsive timidness crossed his face. Sullivan continued, "Here's the situation: here on the dry erase board of your life" Sullivan stood, walked to the board and began to write: "You stand at a cross roads, just like you did when you sat with Amber on that bus. Your life can continue with one screw up after another and go to where you think everyone goes once they die: nothingness. Or, you can embrace life more, not try, but just be happy. It's not a challenge, you just have to be. I think you have seen snippets of it."
"I have been a mess for a very long time. I don't deserve anything." House asserted.
"You can follow that feeling and thought down the path of nothingness and allow yourself to be destroyed. Or you can embrace your gifts, your knowledge and ability to apply it. You were born to be a doctor, but no man can be an island, Gregory House. That much you taught me."
"Are you saying I have to go find Jesus or something?" House asked. The statement almost looked like it surprised Sullivan, but he was quiet for a moment and considered then said,
"Whatever you need, you have at your finger tips, House. You just have to be humble enough to go and do the things that make you happy." A light appeared behind Sullivan's shoulder and House saw Cuddy, with Rachel looking in, along with Wilson walking by and giving a wave. He also saw Cameron, Chase and the rest of his medical team.
"Friends, family and love are important for life." Kutner said, sitting on House's hospital bed.
"It's something you shouldn't take for granted." Amber interjected, closing House's file.
House looked at Sullivan and Sullivan back at him. Sullivan let go of a breath and a small smile appeared on the right side of his face.
"I guess this is it." House said.
"It's been an honor, Dr. House." House gratefully and proudly placed a hand on Sullivan's shoulder. Sullivan turned back to the piano and pressed one of the keys.
"How does that one piece go again?" He asked, turning back to House. House swooshed him away and took the center of the piano seat.
"Like this." House directed as he brought his hands down on the keys. Blackness eclipsed everyone and then it was dark.
Lisa Cuddy had not left House's side the entire time he was in his medically induced coma. They were now slowly weaning him off the drugs. She had been in and out of his room, waiting for some kind of response from him. A quip, an eye blink, anything that would let her know House was still House. Her heart constantly ached over everything that had happened.
As she had kept watch over House, she had fallen asleep, a dreamless sleep with images of everyone she knew walking by, smiling waving. It was an endless loop of a dream that caused her to wake up to change the position of her head. Cuddy peaked out of the corner of her eye to see that she had looped her hand in House's left hand, and then felt a jolt, a press of his fingers on hers.
"Like this." House said groggily.
"House?" Cuddy thought half asleep. She forced her eyes open and saw that Gregory House was blinking his eyes, trying to bring himself out of sleep, as well as the after effects of the drugs that had been injected into him. A lightning bolt of action shot from Cuddy's brain and into her body. She stood and took hold of House's shoulders, and then reached up and touched his face. Her thump absent mindedly wiped away a tear on the left side of his face.
"House?" Cuddy gently called. House's groggy eyes opened.
"Hey." House managed to say with a smile, causing a smile of relief and joy from Cuddy. A small tear fell down the left side of her face.
"Hey." Cuddy replied.
Two Days Later
Cuddy listened absent mindedly as she sat on the side of House's hospital bed, while holding his hand. He would release a groan from time to time, either from his now patched shoulder wound or a sharper intake of breath from the new bullet wound in his leg. He had been in surgery for almost eight hours with two different surgeons working on him after the incident. One plugged the wound in his shoulder while another worked to save what was left of his leg.
There were a number of times during the surgery that his leg came close to being amputated. But through her insistence, the surgeon had been able to save the leg. After he had been shot in the leg, the artery had only been, miraculously, nicked. But House would be laid up for months and would no doubt have to go through months of physical therapy. And God only knew what could be done in the realm of pain management.
They listened intently to the report of Tritter's investigation. He revealed in detail in his report, through long paragraphs that Sebastian Mason had accumulated a vast amount of wealth through investments in business, both on Wall Street and in the major drug companies. A man who they found out had a truly dark mind and journals filled with deviant and malicious thoughts and plans. Mason had become bored with life and sought out a dark adventure, an adventure where he had chosen House as his adversary.
Cuddy felt like a fool, a dupe. She had been played, a victim. She felt weak while she mentally cursed herself out. House's hand suddenly took hold of her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"It's not your fault." House whispered to Cuddy, almost clairvoyantly. Cuddy accepted it, but a wound remained in her heart and would be for the time being.
All of them, the doctors, nurses, the hospital itself were all victims of this mad man who had infiltrated their lives. One of the best doctors, a young man who had become dear to them all hung in the balance of a mad man's insanity. Remarkably, his uncle was one of the most brilliant brain and spinal cord specialists in the country. Kathleen Sullivan had already reached out to him and arrangements were being made to transport Sullivan out west.
But healing and comfort would take time. Cuddy took House's hand strongly. He squeezed back. After a whole year, they had come back to one another. That was blessing in and of itself at least. And it was a comfort to Lisa.
Later that night, House dreamed and dreamed deeply. This time not as Sherlock Holmes or dreams that felt like revelations to complex medical questions. But a simple a dream, a dream of togetherness, something that felt like a family.
House saw himself, sitting in a round booth, Cuddy sitting next him, along with Wilson. He looked out and saw both of his medical teams. Foreman, Chase and Sullivan stood around the bar buying, drinks for everyone, and all taking their fill of the drinks as well. Thirteen, Cameron and Taub- along with his wife- sat at a nearby table. All of them looked relieved that the troubles and trials of the last year were over. House saw that both Cameron and Sullivan looked over at his booth table where he, Wilson, and Cuddy sat eating and drinking. House felt the closeness of the two people with him- House felt comfortable, tucked away and safe with everyone sitting so relatively close to one another. The talking, the drinking: the relief to be in each other's presence. Wilson got up to get a refill.
Cuddy turned to look at House, and he turned to meet her dashing blue eyes with his tired eyes.
"Thank you." Cuddy whispered.
"You're welcome." House replied.
The both of them looked back at the other doctors as they welcomed Wilson to the bar, immediately drawing him into their conversation. House and Cuddy took in the scene. Unbeknownst and unseen by everyone, Cuddy moved closer to House and placed her head on his shoulder. House playfully bumped her head off with his shoulder. She laughs and he smiles at her. Underneath the table, both of them take the other's hand in their own and both give each other an affectionate and affirmative squeeze. Both of their hands stayed clasped that way as House awoke, a smile on his face and Cuddy sleeping right next to him.