Author's note: If you are confused about the person House is talking to, you might want to read the first chapter again.
Chapter 30: The End
"Am I dying?" he asked the girl in the white dress.
Kayla shook her head. "Nope. It's going to be a long surgery. I thought you might like some company."
"Can we go see her?"
"Of course," she replied, and the walls of the OR seemed to fade and then they were standing in the NICU. He stared down at the tiny scrap of humanity that was his daughter. Immediately, he started cataloging all of the tubes and wires. A C-PAP was helping her breathe. Not good, but a hell of a lot better than a ventilator. She was so damn small, and it was as if every last bit of her energy was consumed in the effort to draw breath. All he could think of was everything he could have done differently – fewer pills, less time sitting at the piano, a hundred different things.
"It's not your fault, Dr. House. There's nothing else you could have done." It was as if she could read his thoughts. Maybe she could.
They stared down at his daughter and he tried to summon the courage to ask the next question. He swallowed, trying to dislodge the lump that had formed in his throat. "Is she gonna be OK?"
She nodded. "Eventually. It's not going to be easy. She'll have some pretty serious setbacks, and it will be 39 days before they'll allow her to go home. The main thing is that she's small, even for 34 weeks." She immediately looked sad. "I guess it's my fault, seeing how birth weight correlates with first trimester weight gain. Maybe if I had given you some warning, you wouldn't have spent the entire time puking."
He had to smile. Did every 12 year old pick up random medical knowledge after death? "Yeah. Thanks for the lack of warning on that." His words were sarcastic, but there was little malice behind them. "So, she really will be OK?"
She nodded. "She'll be a little behind in her developmental milestones for a while, but by the time she's two, you'd never guess that she's been premature. I should probably warn you that her favorite words will be 'why' and 'no'."
Finally he could relax, and when he looked around the room, he spotted Wilson standing off to one side, looking slightly lost and out of place. The only reason why he was even allowed in the NICU as they worked on the baby was professional courtesy.
To most people, Wilson would appear perfectly calm, but House had spent years observing his friend. House watched as Wilson fingered the hospital bracelet that now encircled his right wrist. Once again, Cuddy had come through. With a single piece of plastic, Wilson was now officially a parent, at least in the eyes of Princeton-Plainsborough Teaching Hospital. House would be willing to bet that when he woke up from surgery, there would be a matching bracelet on his own wrist. He wished there was some way he could reassure Wilson, to let him know that everything would be all right.
One of the nurses moved away from the incubator, and House inched closer to get a better look at his daughter. "What color are her eyes?" he couldn't help but ask.
"Blue. She has your eyes and your nose." She smiled impishly. "Luckily she has Dr. Wilson's smile, because no one would ever recognize yours." As he stared at her in shock, once again she seemed to read his thoughts. "Oh, come on, Dr. House, you've known since the beginning that Dr. Wilson was the father!" For once House couldn't formulate a snappy comeback, and she laughed at him. "If you don't believe me, in two weeks you can ask Dr. Chase and Dr. Foreman for a copy of the DNA results. When Dr. Cuddy finds out they ordered an expensive test to settle a bet, she's going to assign them both clinic hours to work it off." She grinned. "But that didn't stop her from looking at the results!"
He laughed, wondering how he could best use this piece of information to his own advantage. "So, how long am I gonna be stuck in the hospital?"
"Eight! People with heart attacks are out in less!"
"Well, as you saw when we were downstairs, they couldn't leave the placenta intact, like they had planned. Because it was already pulling away, they had no choice but to remove it entirely. By the time the surgery is done, they will have given you eleven units of blood. Last time was minor compared to this. Plus the pregnancy and thirteen weeks of bedrest have been hard on your body. They're going to keep you here until you've regained your strength a bit."
He sighed, reluctantly accepting the inevitable. "So how come I didn't see you the last time I had surgery."
She grinned, wryly. "To tell you the truth, I figured you'd be mad at me, and at the time, I couldn't tell you how it all turned out." She thought for a moment. "Come on, let's take a walk."
He hesitated, not wanting to leave his daughter, but his only source of conversation had just walked out the door, or, more precisely, through the nearest wall. He shrugged and followed her, enjoying the novelty of walking through a solid barrier. He sprinted down the hallway, finally catching up with her in front of the nurse's station.
He vaguely recognized the nurse behind the counter as one of the nurses in the NICU, though she had not been assigned to his daughter. The other woman, Nancy, was a physician's assistant that often worked in the clinic, as well as being one of the biggest gossips in the hospital.
"Guess what the name of our newest patient is," said the nurse.
Nancy leaned in, knowing that whatever the secret was, it was going to be good. "I don't know. What?" she asked eagerly.
"Kayla Marie House-Wilson," the nurse supplied.
Nancy was confused. "I didn't know Dr. Wilson had a sister."
"But I thought that Dr. House was an only child."
"He is." Clearly Nancy wasn't getting it, so the nurse had to spell it out. "Dr. House and Dr. Wilson are the parents."
Comprehension dawned. "You mean they're together. Oh. My. God. How long have they been dating?"
The nurse shrugged. "No clue. Long enough to decide to have a baby and find someone to be their surrogate."
As far as Nancy was concerned, the gossip just kept getting better. "How'd they manage to find someone who'd put up with House for nine months?" She shuddered theatrically and House scowled at her, remembering why he disliked the woman.
The younger woman replied, "I don't know. Probably paid her a bundle of cash. Too bad she won't get to enjoy it. Her car was hit by a drunk driver, and she died right after they took the baby. Unfortunately for the kid, she was only at 34 weeks, 2 days."
"Oh no! How's the baby doing?" House was surprised to hear genuine concern in her voice.
"Lungs not as developed as they could have hoped for 34 weeks. Lethargic. The usual—the next 24 hours are critical." The nurse was unemotional, a sign that she was on her way to becoming one of the many who burned out in the high-stress NICU. She gestured to the ward, where Wilson was standing guard over his daughter, and her voice became more impassioned. "Look at him! All by himself. So, where's Dr. House as his kid fights for her life?"
"Surgery," explained Nancy, offering up the news from the other end of the hospital. "I heard he was in a car accident, and they're trying to stop the bleeding. They've been at it for hours, and they've had to order more blood at least twice."
"They must have been in the same car, going to an appointment or something," suggested the nurse.
"I hadn't heard that there was a passenger, but it would make sense."
The younger woman nodded. "First cancer. Now he can't even see his own daughter born. He may be a bastard, but even he doesn't deserve all of this."
Kayla looked over at House. "Looks like the cover story is going to hold up."
"Yeah. It helps that everything went down after normal business hours, and having a hospital administrator and a lawyer with a few shady contacts on our side."
She nodded. "So how come you didn't mention you'd named her after me."
"Who says I did?"
She clearly wasn't buying it. "Like she only has both my first name and my middle name."
"So, I named her after long-dead relatives," he said imperiously.
"You don't have any dead relatives with those names." He tried to respond, but she interrupted him, "and Dr. Wilson doesn't have any relatives with that name, either."
He quit arguing, realizing that it was impossible to fool someone who apparently knew everything.
They walked down the hall, and he decided to ask her a question. "So how come you've been wearing a dress the last two times I've seen you? You never dressed that way when you were alive."
She seemed to be considering the question, and finally she answered, "you don't need to be tough in heaven."
He nodded. Apparently you didn't need to be a cripple, either. It hadn't escaped his attention that he didn't have his cane, and even though he could still feel that the muscle was still gone from his right thigh, there was no pain and he could move with ease. He looked down at his clothes—favorite Tshirt and a pair of well-worn jeans. He laughed, knowing that Wilson would probably choose to meet his maker in an expensive suit and a hideously striped tie.
They arrived at the surgical waiting room, and he was surprised to recognize so many people there. Some he had fully expected—his parents, Lisa Cuddy and Allison Cameron. He hadn't expected Eric Foreman, or Mark and Stacy Warner. He had assumed that Jane Wilson would be up near the NICU, but she was sitting next to his mother. The man next to her looked vaguely familiar, but he couldn't place him.
"Dr. Wilson's father," Kayla supplied helpfully.
"But he hasn't spoken a single word to his son in three months."
"True, but he finally realized that if he wasn't here today, he'd be out of his son's life forever. He also realized that this might be his only chance for a grandchild for a few years. Mrs. Wilson has been working on him for the last few months, and he's finally started to come around. Give him some time, and he'll be one of the strongest supporters of you and Dr. Wilson's relationship. And he'll be an excellent grandfather."
He was tempted to disagree with her, but realized it was pointless. Suddenly the enormity of the changes that were about to occur hit him. He slumped down in the nearest chair. "Oh God, we have a baby."
"Well, duh! What did you expect?" She curled up in the chair next to him.
He shrugged. "We never thought much beyond today. What the hell do we know about being parents?"
"Hey, even people that think they have a clue find they really don't. It's all on the job training. At least you went to medical school. Some might say that you are overqualified to diagnose a case of colic."
"They don't teach you how to burp a baby in medical school," he protested.
She nodded, considering. "There's books for things like that. Dr. Wilson has several hidden in the bottom drawer of his desk."
Of course. Wilson, always the boy scout. All he could think of were all of the things that needed to be done. "We don't have anything – a crib, a car seat, clothing. Hell, even if we did, where would we put all of it?" House's apartment wasn't really big enough for two grownups—even without the addition of a kid.
She laughed. "I can't help you with the real estate, you're on your own with that. As for all of the stuff, I probably shouldn't tell you this, but Dr. Cuddy and Dr. Cameron are going to throw you guys a baby shower."
He groaned, not sure if he should be alarmed or relieved.
"I should warn you, there will be a frighteningly large amount of pink wrapping paper." She ignored him when he groaned again. "Surprisingly, hardly any of the actual presents are pink. I think they all realized you guys wouldn't use anything that was too girly."
"Anything good?" he asked, hopefully.
"Oh yeah, lots of cool stuff. A backpack that is actually a diaper bag. The entire oncology department chipped in for the baby furniture." At his worried look, she hastened to add. "Dark wood with simple lines. Just your style. The Warners bought a glider. The cushions are black leather to match your sofa."
He smiled, remembering the chair in which he had fallen asleep at their house. "I would have thought faking the paperwork would be sufficient."
She grinned back. "Stacy wanted to give you something a little more personal."
"What about Dr. Cameron?" he asked, trying to imagine what she would have come up with.
"She and Dr. Cuddy have been working on decorating the baby's room. Which she will have in your new place."
He groaned, imagining teddy bears and pink ribbons. "How bad is it?"
"Give them some credit! They know you and your style. They will finally settle on Winnie the Pooh because it has lots of pale greens and yellows. Surprisingly the only people that will break the pink barrier are Dr. Foreman and Dr. Chase. I guess they feel manly enough to judge what an acceptable level of pink is." She giggled, and then she froze, as if she was listening to a voice he couldn't hear. "It's time for you to go back."
"Wait!" Now that the time was up, he realized that he hadn't asked the question that had plagued him all these months. "Why this? Why a pregnancy? If you thought I needed to have a kid, why not just leave a baby on my doorstep?"
She gestured to the filled waiting room. "Look at all the people you've let in."
He was still pondering her cryptic words when the world faded around him.
The darkness was warm and comforting. It was tempting to give in to that warmth, but a fleeting memory tickled at his brain. There was someone his needed to see, a message he needed to pass on. He focused all of his meager store of energy, and after a struggle he was able to open his eyes. There he was. Wilson, looking tired and worried, his sleeves pushed up and his tie crooked in his collar.
As his other senses checked in, he could feel the fingers of his right hand entwined with Wilson's. Wilson leaned down to speak. "Cuddy is with her in the NICU." He paused, knowing that House would want all of the medical details, and was surprised when House interrupted him.
"I saw her. She's beautiful." House's voice was slurred from the aftereffects of the anesthesia, combined with heavy painkillers, but there was an air of certainty that was unmistakable. "She's going to be fine."
"Really?" Wilson didn't even seem to notice the tears that were running down his cheeks. "Are you sure?"
House nodded, and with his message delivered, allowed the darkness to pull him under as he slipped back into a dreamless sleep.
Author's Note: Well, this really is the end. I hope you have enjoyed the ride. I know some of you are hoping for a sequel, but given that it took me 3.5 years to write this, I don't anticipate posting anything new any time soon. I wish I had more time to write, and didn't write so darned slow. Thank you again to everyone who was kind enough to write a review.