Soon, Jacob and Pan were ready to leave. The sun was just setting outside and a taxi was due any moment to take them to the airport.
Pan was stalking House's cane as he limped through the apartment as though she was a predator; tiptoeing lightly behind it.
House stopped walking and looked down at her.
"Why do you have a walking stick?" she asked, staring back up.
"It's a cane," he paused, "I got shot."
"Wow," she marvelled, "Being a doctor is dangerous, huh? Like dad's bruised eye," she said, pulling down her lower eye-lid and making a face.
Jacob joined them by the door carrying Pan's luggage over his shoulder and dragging a suitcase behind him.
"Thanks for this…err…dad."
"No problem," said House, not looking him in the eye.
Jacob shifted Pan's bag on his shoulder and awkwardly held out his hand.
House leaned his cane against the wall and shook his son's hand. They gave each other a conservative smile.
"No," squeaked Pan, "You've got to hug, like this," and she jumped at House with her arms in the air. He took her lightly in his arms, resting her on his hip and leaning her weight on his good leg.
Jacob smiled, which made his swollen eye look painful.
House and Pan looked at each other, their faces only a few inches apart, their blue eyes matching perfectly.
"Bye Grandpa," she said as she gave him a hug, then she jumped down and opened the front door.
House and Jacob shared a quick man-hug, complete with back patting, and then followed Pan outside.
"I have a conference in a few months, in New York. We could…well I could bring my wife, and Pan and her brother with me; we'll come down and visit for a few days. It's just before Christmas, so…I mean if you want?"
"Sure," House said quickly.
"James is growing up fast, he'll want to come, and you haven't met him yet," he stroked his daughter's hair out of her face, avoiding eye contact with House in a way that was very like his father, "but they could all…next time…come along?"
House nodded slowly and smiled a little.
"He's worse than her," Jacob said quietly.
He looked up and caught House's eye - an identical smile curled his lips.
"Right, well we'll be off. See you soon."
"Yeah. See ya," House said. Pan waved goodbye, and House found himself uncharacteristically returning the wave.
"And send my love to your mom!" House shouted to his son before they turned the corner.
Jacob laughed genuinely.
"Oh she won't like that," he called back and turned the corner out of sight.
House heard Pan questioning why grandma didn't like grandpa.
House chuckled to himself. He walked back into his apartment, and shut the door behind him.
With his apartment finally empty, House phoned Wilson as he'd promised.
"Who else would be calling you?"
There was a pause.
"Good point," Wilson sighed.
"Not even my parents know," House said, wincing in mild amusement as he waited for Wilson's reaction
"They…you didn't even tell your parents?!" Wilson shouted, completely shocked, "I thought you couldn't lie to your mother?"
"Well it didn't exactly come up in conversation," mocked House, " 'So Greg, that girl you banged when we were living in England, yeah - the one we never met, she's put on weight, know anything about that?'"
Wilson let out a long sigh. He'd sighed far too much today - it was all those deep, supposedly calming breaths.
"I see them once every few years, that's all. Send them money, and cards occasionally. Last time I saw Pan she was two."
He flashed back to his first meeting of Pan, in his apartment. She stood in a nappy and tiny dress, looking up at him with wide blue eyes, sucking her thumb.
"Jake only comes to me when he needs something; money, bail…and once, when he was sixteen, he called to ask how to get rid of crabs…So don't be all hurt that I didn't tell you, there didn't seem any point."
"Yeah," the deep breathing seemed to have worked it's charms on Wilson, "it's your life, House, and…I kinda like that you can keep on surprising me. Just…there's no more big secrets, is there? "
"I'm secretly a woman."
"I see," Wilson laughed, "grandma."
"Har-har," smiled House.
"Pan's cute," Wilson said, "imaginative, and really smart. I imagine a lot like you as a child?"
"She doesn't have to fear speaking her mind though," said House, but quickly moved on, "She opened a Pandora's Box of trouble. It was her fault her dad got arrested you know?"
"I was going to ask about that."
"She threw her food at this big guy and hid under the table. Turned out the guy was really friendly with the police. Jake got blamed for the fight that ensued," he chuckled, flicking through the TV channels.
"But," he continued, "the Greek myth goes that when Pandora opens the box a maelstrom of trouble gets released...along with hope."
House looked at the pink fingerprints along the dark walls of his apartment, and his pink cane that leaned against the wall. He turned back to the TV.
"Die Hard Trilogy is showing; you want to get a pizza?" House asked.
"Sure," said Wilson a little surprised, "I'll bring some beers."
They hadn't had an evening like that since Amber had died.
"See you in ten," House said and hung up the phone.
He scratched some pink paint off his nail and smiled. A plane landed on the screen. Bruce Willis gripped the seat.
"You don't like flying do you?"
"What gives you that idea?" John McClane replied sarcastically.
House hadn't mentioned he had a grandson called James; that one was too good to tell just yet.
Thanks for reading, and a big thanks to those who reviewed! Unfortunately real life is kidnapping me and forcing me to study - I'm off to university in Hugh Laurie's home town! :D where it's all very Hogwarts. =) excitement!!
I've left room for more, perhaps when I'm home for the holidays a christmas sequel will be inspired. I doubt I'll be able to keep away from fanfiction :) and I do have a few half finished stories.
Anyway, I really hope you enjoyed this! :)
Roll on the new season!