Part VI (Final)
Summary: Altering one thing in the past can change everything. House and Wilson. SLASH. Angst, Hurt-comfort. Warning! Primary character portrayed (in part) as a child.Story contains some paranormal events.
Pairing: H/W Father-child, family difficulties.
Rating: Adult (just in case I decide to put in some W/H nookie). Some swearing. Possibly violence. Mentions of child abuse and child abduction.
CAUTION! For THIS chapter there is a character death warning (but not really a character death! Those who've read other stories of mine understand what I mean).
Disclaimer: The cutie with the stuffed horse doesn't belong to me, neither the guy with the cane...yadda, yadda...
The Kabbalah I do not pretend to truly understand - but I found it a rather fascinating read, and realized it suited perfectly for this story. All errors and sloppy applications of the Kabbalah and its teachings to the events in Amendment are on me, with apologies.
Watching Gregory ostracized from school-mates, seeing him fail at sports and sit by himself on weekends, knowing that he felt friendless and alone, watching his body change as he grew up awkward and leggy, thin and clumsy, even seeing him everyday struggling to overcome the nameless shadow that permeated his heart and stained his young life, even that was dust on the scales to this.
Wilson sat beside his son in the emergency room of Mercy Hospital. Gregory had been brought in, his airway cleared of vomit, his breathing stabilized, his stomach pumped of the fist full of narcotics and what-not he had swallowed trying to end his own life.
Wilson had found himself perched on the knife-point of a pain so profound, it left him mute. No words were enough to describe his helplessness and the pain that filled him, body and soul, to see his son like this. To know his son had wanted to die. Gregory had found his exit and stepped through rather than seek help to a new road.
Rather than speak to his father.
Wilson held his son's limp hand in his own two, and prayed for the first time in forty-five years, for God to do something - anything - to save his son. The way things had been going, though, he really didn't expect an answer. Hope had taken a back seat a long time ago.
Gregory finally stirred,opened his eyes and the first thing they fell upon was his father's anguished face bending over him, his eyes bloodshot. Wilson blinked to keep the water-works at bay and tried his best to smile down at his beloved only child. "Hey. Gregory? It's your dad." He said, hoping the drugs had not taken his son beyond hearing him.
Gregory stared back dully, but there was recognition there. Tension drained from Wilson's shoulder's as his son looked back at him, and blinked. "How are you feeling?"
The nose prongs fed him extra oxygen while not interfering with his speech. "Like crap." He whispered.
Wilson could not stop a tear or two, but wiped them away with the heel of his left hand. His right never let go of his son's fingers for a second. "Why did you do this, Gregory? Why didn't you come to me?" Trying to lighten it, "I'm not so bad, am I?"
Gregory sighed and shook his head, but he didn't answer.
"The doctor's want to keep you here for a few weeks. They're going to transfer you to Unit 21." Wilson hated to see it but if it would save his son's life... "That's the psychiatric ward. They need to make sure you're physically fine plus they want you to talk to someone." Better there than with Tyler or even at home with him. At home, he couldn't make Gregory talk about anything. In the Unit they could hold him indefinitely until he did talk. Until he was helped to work through whatever his problems were. It was the best and safest place for him.
Gregory sighed again. "I'm tired." was all he said before his eyes closed again.
His patient was doubled over in his padded chair, trying to control his breathing, unable to articulate why he was so anxious, upset and depressed.
Doctor Carl Chang had seen this before. But he had a suspicion that this patient was special. He was a male soon to be eighteen years old, slim though filling out somewhat and tall. Very tall, having already reached his full adult height at almost six foot-three.
That could be a distinct advantage to a fully grown man in life, as height tended to command respect and a healthy fear. But it could pose difficulties for that man while still young. The very physical overshadowing could make it awkward for a parent to talk to that child about anything personal. When a child stood eye-to-eye, or taller, he no longer seemed to be a child, and therefor a person no longer requiring any help.
But his height was where Gregory Wilson's resemblence to an adult ended. Emotionally he was little older than perhaps eleven or twelve. His mental assesment, however, had shown him to be especially bright. Doctor Chang's newest patient was a very intelligent, very emotionally disturbed, profoundly unhappy young man.
So far that young man had told him nothing relevant, except that he didn't know why he had tried to kill himself. "Just try to breath slowly. Big breaths in, and out." Chang gently advised. The hyperventilation in this case was a reaction to stress. Gregory no doubt felt trapped. He was being forced to discuss his deepest self to a stranger, and he didn't want to.
His patient, however, listened to his advice and tried to slow don his respirations. After a few minutes, Gregory was breathing easier. Chang asked. "Better? Want something to drink?"
The youth shook his head no.
"I understand, Gregory, that you don't want to be here, but you took a hand full of pills and almost died. That tells me that for some reason you wanted to die or at least thought you wanted to." It was Doctor Chang's belief that beneath any addiction lay an emotional issue, a trauma; something that had gone long unresolved. Perhaps unexplored, ever. Never talked about, and as long as such a trauma remained mute or hidden, then the patient would continue to struggle, and to fail. Together they would dig up whatever issue or trauma Gregory had been living with, probably for years and, with time and proper therapy, render it impotent.
Chang chewed his pencil while he waited for Gregory to bring his breathing under control. He had found his interview with the father and interesting half hour. The dad in this case (there had been no mother present since the child was three), had been, according to himself, loving and attentive - even doting. Perhaps he had spoiled his son too much, but it was the father's belief that a spoiled child shouldn't necessarily lead to an "uncontrollable, suicidal addict" had been Doctor Wilson's words. He had looked guilty for that, come close to tears, and then done his best to assure Chang that he loved his son more than anything and would do "anything in the world" to help him.
Chang had sympathized but, as with most cases, he highly doubted he had been given the whole truth about the father/son relationship. During their brief time together, the father had guilt written all over his face every moment, and had blamed himself for everything that had gone wrong in the parent-child dynamic. An unrealistic conclusion, which Chang knew Doctor Wilson understood deep down. Parenthood was fraught with guilt, missed opportunities and sometimes, no matter how loving the parent, even unintentional abuse or neglect. Chang wondered which of these might apply to his patient. "Why do you think you took those pills?"
Gregory brought his eyes around to the doctor, which up until that moment had spent the last minute or so staring out the window, looking at the books on his shelves, and at his bitten fingernails. "I dunno'. I got tired."
"Tired of what?"
"I dunno'. Everything. I'm sick of this...stuff."
"What makes you happy, Gregory?"
The boy obviously thought it an odd question and pondered it a moment. Even more oddly, and sadly, the youth couldn't think up a single answer. He shrugged.
"There must be something."
"I liked it when dad and I used to go camping."
According to the dad, that had ended at age eight, when his father's schedule became too busy for take any significant vacation time. He was , instead pouring money into "activities" for his son that lay outside any shared time together. Piano lessons, sports, Boy Scouts and, later, expensive gifts. All to try and forge some sort of bond of happiness between them, as far as Chang could surmise. To the father's credit, his child had been extremely intelligent and such children tend to be withdrawn, ostracized and difficult to understand. "I mean recent things. What makes you happy, or not, today? Yesterday? Last week?"
Honesty and defiance. "I like getting high." Chang knew Gregory was waiting for the older man's disgust.
No disgust. Sympathy. Not pity. "Getting high doesn't create happiness, it temporarily medicates, masks pain. What pain are you trying to treat?"
Gregory looked away, his expectations as to being labeled a stupid addict had not transpired and it made him uncomfortable. "This is stupid."
"Maybe, but we're still doing this. Together. For as long as necessary until you feel better."
"I don't know why I took the pills,....I'm,...I was...sick of everything. Nothing good's ever going to happen anyway."
Nothing he had said. Not even few good things will happen, but nothing at all. Ever. "Lots of things in life can disappoint. What are you disappointed about? You're angry at something or someone, something you've been unable to do anything about. Nothing has alleviated the pain it causes you."
Gregory stared at him for the first time with fear in his eyes, and not arrogance. "Dad's always been good to me."
Interesting that his mind came around to his father right off. Chang's summation of Doctor Wilson was a caring but depressed man, incapable of maintaining a relationship with the opposite sex. Gregory's father had also spoken, very haltingly, about a childhood trauma his son had undergone. A short time away from home. Doctor Wilson had said, while Gregory's mother and he had been trying to work out their differences, Gregory had been sent to stay with an uncle for a while.
Chang saw no signs of an abuser in Doctor Wilson, not directly anyway, yet to remove a child from his home and the nurturing care of his mother, and then for that nurturing parent to die, would leave a child in pain and confused. A child does not know why he hurts, he simply hurts. Children also, especially so young, have difficulty articulating deep pain and how bewildering it feels. Gifts and toys cannot possibly make up for a lack of parental touch and communication. After the death of the mother, Chang wondered how much guilt both father and son had felt and if Gregory and his father had each found their own familial intimacies compromised by that guilt. "Yet you don't talk to each other? You ran away from home twice."
"That wasn't his fault. He tried. But I'm...it's just - there was no point."
"No point to..?"
"Me being there."
"At home? With your father?"
"Anywhere. I'm a fuck-up, okay? Case closed."
"No. Not case closed." Chang decided to voice a suspicion that perhaps some abuses might have occurred during Gregory's stay at his uncle's. "Your father said you went to stay with his brother when you were three, for a short time. He and your mom were trying to work out their differences."
Gregory started as though he'd been stung. "He said that?"
"Does it bother you? That you were sent away?"
Chang could not place the expression on the kid's face.
"No. Why would being dragged from my own home bother me? I was three. I never saw my mom again. I didn't even know him, and he took me from her."
Very curious choice of wording that Gregory was using. "Your mother and father thought it was best while they tried to save their marriage."
"Right. They weren't married. They didn't even - "
"They were stran-...l-like strangers." He stuttered. "And Dad had no right to do that to me. But then Mom died, so there was no point in going home after that."
"Do you blame your dad for your mother's death?"
"No, but he wouldn't bring me home."
Doctor Wilson had spoken of traveling quite a lot, then finally settling in San Francisco. Chang doubted Gregory was ever granted the opportunity to properly to deal with his mother's death. Had he been allowed to grieve, even? Parents often assume protecting a child from grief spares them pain. More often than not, it adds to it. "What do you remember about your mother?"
"She was nice. She did all the usual things I guess. I remember my first birthday party."
"How old were you?"
Rare for people to recall things that far back. "How were things between your mom and dad then?"
Gregory fell silent, as though he'd forgotten what they had been talking about. "Um, I don't know. He,...dad...was always too busy for me, and when he was home..."
Chang frowned at the sudden drop off. Gregory's memories had hit a glitch it seemed, or dropped off the planet altogether. There had to be something he was suppressing. "Yes? When he was home..?"
"When he was home, he was always in his study or with Mom."
"So you and your father never did anything together?"
"'Course we did." He sounded angry. "He was my dad. He was cool."
Chang couldn't sort out Gregory's narrative. One moment he was discussing a man who was removed, almost a stranger, then next his dad was cool. "What happened after you went to stay with your uncle?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean did things between you and your dad change? Were they better, worse, the same?"
"I don't know. Look, this had..he has nothing to do with what I did."
"You tried to kill yourself."
Chang had suspected a low level of self esteem. Gregory obviously thought no one would miss him, not even his dad whom he seemed to be protecting. Chang sat up a little straighter. That was what had been bothering him about Gregory's whole narrative from the start of their session. The young man was protecting something in his past; something to do with himself certainly that he wanted no one to see. But also, was he protecting his father? From what and why? "After your mother died, things changed between you and your father, didn't they?" They usually do.
"Sure. But it wasn't anything I couldn't handle."
"What did you handle?"
Gregory realized he may have already said too much and clamped his lips together. Chang saw the wall come down between them. "Well, just the usual stuff." Were the last words from the youth's mouth. Their hour was up.
"Gregory is in great pain." Chang explained to the father. James Wilson listened very attentively. He leaned in, his whole upper body listening to every word, leaning on every inflection, trying to glean every positive thing he possibly could find contained in the words of his son's psychiatrist. "Our tests show he is exceptionally bright but emotionally disturbed. Something is eating away at him and until I can get him to open up and talk about it, I think it would be a danger right now for him to go home. I'm not discharging him."
James Wilson's face crumpled just a little. "Do you think he'd try again?"
"There is always that possibility. We don't know what precipitated his first suicide attempt, and until we do and can treat him for its effects, he remains a risk." Chang studied this distressed, contradictory father seated before him, slumped over with depression, resting his elbows on his knees as though it were the only way he could hold himself up. "Gregory said that, after his mother died, his relationship with you changed." Actually the boy hadn't mentioned any specifics, but Chang wasn't going to let on. "Can you tell me anything about that?"
Doctor Wilson looked immediately wary, sitting back and crossing his legs. A classic defensive pose. "Um, no. I don't know what you mean."
"It was Gregory's meaning I was referring to, only he wouldn't give me any details beyond that it was "nothing he couldn't handle" to use his words."
"We moved a lot. He changed schools a few times."
Chang remembered his first interview with James Wilson, doting father. Multiple schools had been listed. Low grades, chronic misbehavior, disciplinary actions by the school and by the father, and expulsions. Gregory had also spent some time in Juvenile Hall. He began to drink at age thirteen and, according to his father, to use drugs at age fourteen. By fifteen he was involved in petty thieving to support his drug habits, and he and his father had not spoken for a year. After a brief stint trying it at home once more, at sixteen Gregory ran away for the last time. And for the first time at seventeen going on eighteen, he tried to kill himself.
Chang hoped to make it the last time. "Are you certain there is nothing else you can tell me, Doctor Wilson? Your son is in a great emotional agony. He seems to hate himself without reason. He also loves and hates you, and blames you and yet is trying to protect you from something. That, in my experience, although not uncommon, often occurs when there is a lack of closeness. Sometimes when there has been abuse." Chang knew he wasn't likely to get a straight answer. "Did you abuse your son in any way, Doctor Wilson?"
The man before him blushed with anger, and then went as white as an oyster shell. "Of course not." Doc' Wilson said while looking guilty as hell.
It was a weird sort of guilt. He didn't look so much guilty at the implications of Chang's question, but at another secretive guilt that wasn't in the room with them. Some awful thing that lived elsewhere, beyond his reach. There was some deep, dark creature being kept from him, and Chang felt it was probably the key to Gregory's pain. It was curled up inside this mans' son and was slowly consuming Gregory. It could kill him. It almost had. "If there is something you're not telling me, Doctor Wilson, it could inhibit Gregory's recovery. You may think you're protecting him, or yourself if that's the case, but in the long run, you'll only hurt him more."
Doctor Wilson was a physician, and so he knew these things. Knowing was the intellectual part of him. Acting was the human part. "No." Doctor Wilson said, swallowing hard, his brow sweating. He looked like he might be sick. "There's nothing."
Wilson sat by his son's bed in Unit 21. this time there was no hand-holding, just confusion and fear on both sides. "I agree with Doctor Chang, you should stay here."
Gregory was having none of it. "I don't want to stay here. Can't we just go home? I promise I'll get off drugs, I'll get a job or finish school or whatever you want me to do. Just don't leave me stuck in this nut house."
"It's not a nut house, and you're not a nut. You're just sick. Here you can get well. You've got your whole life ahead of you."
"Are you mad at me again? I didn't say anything to Chang about you taking me, if that's what you're worried about."
Wilson tried to take the statement at face value. his son loved him enough not to turn him in. and he loved his son enough not to deny that one terrible mistake. "I'm not worried about that. If it meant getting you well, I'd turn myself in. All I'm worried about is you."
"It won't make any difference."
Wilson, sitting so close to his son, saw the smallest indications of the adult in him, at least physically. His skin had darkened from the childhood porcelain white to the tanned shades of a young man who spent a lot of time outdoors. His hair had darkened from ginger to Jack-rabbit brown, his face had grown longer, slimmer and there was just a hint of the need to shave. He looked more like the House Wilson had known all those years ago in that other life, where ever that was.
Each day the resemblance between the two, the older and the younger, had become more and more pronounced. Wilson's heart ached for both of them, sometimes for different reasons, often for the same ones.
"You have so much potential, Gregory. So much talent and you don't even know it. You've all the makings of a genius."
His son scoffed, angry at the big words that proved only what he wasn't. "Quit the crap - I'm a loser, dad."
"No, you're not. Whatever's wrong with you is my fault." He lowered his voice. Admission of guilt didn't mean he had to be loud or stupid about it. "I know now I shouldn't have taken you from your mother, but I did and I can't change that. It's too late to go back and fix what's already broken." He bit down on the last word. "Not that you're broken, I...I screwed up. But there's no reason you have to pay for it."
Gregory lay back on the pillow, pressing held the heels of his hands to his eyes, pressing down hard, as though trying to blot out the memory or the light in the room or his father's face or his ability to see any of it anymore. "I've been paying for it all my life." He whispered, revealing his feelings for perhaps the first time. "You never came near me those first few weeks, you kept your distance. Gave me toys and ice-cream and talked to me about everything but her. You never even mentioned her. Not once.
Gregory keened, a high pitched wail, like a crawling insect might let escape just before he was about to be eaten by a black thing with wings. "I was so scared. I didn't know if you were going to kill me. All I wanted was to go home. I just wanted to go home." He hiccupped, and in between hard falling words, he took in great draughts of air through his mouth to stay upright, to feel his body still working like it was fully alive, though he had not felt fully living since that night under the bush. "I felt like I was dying I wanted to go home so bad, but you wouldn't even talk about her."
Gregory began to babble behind his hands, his eyes shielded from his father's face, the darkness where he took himself; where his worst memories lay waiting for an open door, like a smoldering cinder ready to burst into flame, even that was preferable to the room of the here and now where his life was based on a lie, suspended on a lasting terror, resting on a foundation devoid of any reason a three year old could have grasped. He had been with his mother, then he was with a stranger and he saw his mother no more. And between those two he had grown a hole in him so deep and hurting it seemed nothing on earth could have filled it. "You took me away. You had no right to do that. I was in that car for two days and then one hotel after another. I was so scared, I was so fucking scared. Then all I became was your dirty little secret, and you must have felt that too 'cause you never came near me."
Gregory let his hands fall, and they crashed to the blanket, at his sides, useless appendages now. In his grief they were merely two parts of him of all the other parts he no longer cared about. "Then you told me she died. You said she was dead - you fucking liar!"
Wilson felt the world turn over, the earth crack beneath him and his slow fall into remorse-filled insanity start. All quietly and without a murrmer, his ending had begun.
"I remembered my name, a year back, and looked them up. I wanted to see where she was buried. Only I found out she was alive up until two years ago. My mom was alive all those years. By then it was too late to go home."
Wilson cradled his head between his hands, overcome by a regret far too large to carry all at once, so he went numb. All he could manage was to utter over and over again: "I'm so sorry, Gregory. Oh, God, I'm so, so very sorry..." His accuser, his son, looked over at him, his own crying jag ending. Gregory reached out one tentative hand and placed it on his father's head.
Wilson snapped his head up, expecting to be slapped, punched, told with extra venom what a criminal he was and that he deserved to die for what he had done.
But Gregory, his own tears stopped up, his face drying, just said "But I forgive you, dad. You're right, I can't change anything either. It can't be fixed." He sighed, a great weary exhale. "I still love you, no matter what you did. But I sorta' hate you, too, because of what you did."
Wilson wiped his eyes, and laughed the rueful chortle of the totally screwed. He didn't know what to say. How do you answer that sort of soul-cleansing forgiveness? What words would be appropriate? What would even sound real? Wilson settled on "S-so...so w-what now?"
Gregory shrugged. "Why don't you go home. They won't let you stay here overnight anyway." He pointed to the television "floating" above his bed on its mechanical arm that was bolted to the ceiling. "See? I've got TV."
Wilson impulsively hugged his son. "Okay. I love you, remember that. I love you more than anything." He stood up, wiped his eyes and walked to the door. "Goodnight." Wilson turned and looked back, reluctant to leave. Gregory gave him a reassuring nod with just a hint of a smile. It was enough. "See you in the morning, son."
"Yes, this is Doctor Wilson."
A new voice. "You need to return to the hospital right away." A nurse. A clerk.
Wilson felt the crack widen. "What's wrong. Is Gregory all right?"
"You just need to return, Doctor Wilson, as soon as possible."
They led him to where his son's body lay.
"He hung himself from the television arm with a bed sheet." Had been the reluctant report from his son's attending physician.
Doctor Chang had returned as well and done his best to comfort the father of his newest, and now deceased, patient. A mental patient, the extremely depressed, the suicidal, are often, by the time they reach him, too sick to do themselves harm. Had Gregory still been in the throes of a deathly depression, had he been so sick as to barely have the energy to move from the bed, he would still be alive. But Gregory had been just well enough to conjure up strength enough to kill himself. Chang knew not all severely depressed people possessed the where-with-all to stick around for the end-game, because the end-game scoring in one's favor was never a sure thing
Wilson stood staring down at the sheet-covered corpse of his only son. It was difficult to breath. Thinking was beyond him. Understanding was for God and even that was iffy. Closure would always be a thing to laugh at. Now and again over the years Wilson had tossed those careless words to his patients, back when he was an oncologist way long ago in the faded years of yore. What an insult they were. You might get closure on a mortgage, or a breakup with a girlfriend, or over a failed test that might have got you into an Ivy League school. But not this.
The death of your only child, the one creature you loved more than yourself, and thus the highest reason for living at all, could not be settled in your heart like the closing of a book. There is no closure when it's your child. It's far worse than your own death because in your child you see all that's the best of you, and often that which is better. And even if that child was never perfect in all the right ways, he was perfectly yours and his love to you was perfect as well, and so still he was perfect.
Wilson pulled over a stool and lay his head down on his son's cooling body. He would not survive this. Gregory walking out the door, never calling, even saying he hated his dad, his dad could live with. But never this. "Oh m-my god,...my son. My beautiful son...Gregory, I'm so sorry...this was all my fault. How am I going to live without y-o-o-u??"
The pain of his sorrow struck Wilson in the guts with a pain so sharp, it sent him to the floor. Dizziness and darkness, more pain and then...
It lifted and the harsh clean light of the steel and glass morgue was gone. In its place was the rough ground. Dirt, grass, leaves and rocks. Pain in his knees for kneeling on them. Wilson sucked in chilled night air. The odor of rotting leaves filled his nostrils, the smell of fall and the coming snow was the fragrance woven within it.
Wilson tried to focus into the dark, the light here so low that it was a moment or two before he could see anything clearly. To his right was a gravel driveway, snaking around a small house and out to the lanterned street. Before him was the house. Lights in the window, movement of shadow.
To his left sat a boy, beside him in the dark, looking up at him with bewildered eyes. Curious blue orbs that shone out into the dark. Beacons that shot straight to his soul and soothed his shattered existence. Wilson smiled down at the child, his hands shaking as he reached down and scooped up the child into his arms once more.
He had not been able to hold him for so many years, not been able to cuddle or sooth his pain with his daddy's fingers. But now he indulged in all three. He held Gregory in one arm and took out his cell phone with his other. One other person might be bale to explain to him what had just happened. Someone he knew and trusted now. "Ronnie?"
"James. Did you disconnect your home phone? I tried calling you and Greg, but the operator said your number was not in service." She did not wait for him to answer, evidently not caring now, since she had him on the phone at that moment. "So? How is your little adventure going?" Ronnie asked, as amiable as ever. No mention of complaint that he had rang her up in the middle of the night, and gotten her out of bed. No action, no matter how odd, or word, however puzzling or one she might even disapprove of, ruffled this woman. Wilson had begun to wonder if she was some sort of modern day sorceress. No wonder House ran whenever he saw her. She could read anyone, even him, like a dime-store novel.
Wilson began crying into the phone, staring down at the tiny face of the marvel that was his friend at only three. Tiny fingers played with a moth-eaten stuffed horsie while those blue eyes never left his face for a moment. "I don't think I can save him."
Ronnie took in a deep breath. "You went, didn't you? You took my advice and went to see the relics of his past."
"Yes." He could hardly speak.
"The universe had something to say to you I think, but truth isn't always easy, I know."
"How could you possible know what has happened, or understand it when I don't?"
"Why don't you tell me about it."
Wilson explained in between sobs and sniffles, in halting, choked words all that had happened. It was soothing to talk about it. By the time he was done, he was calmer, his agony had eased a little. He no longer felt on the precipice of falling forever into crazy grief.
"To be honest, James, I don't know that what has happened to you or why is real or not, but trust in the Kabbalah and God to sort out the universe. With the rest we just have to muddle through on our own." She sighed from over the distance, her heart going out to him. "Whatever has happened, whatever you've seen or experienced, remember that the relics of his past were and are the promises of your future. You and Greg are meant for each other, I knew that the moment I met him.
"But not all things are meant to be, dearest, and sometimes the things we think we know best are often other than what they might seem. We're not gods. Some things remain hidden from us, but what's best for us, perhaps, are upheld by that meaning."
"Riddles. Nonsense. It shouldn't have happened this way. It's not fair, I...I d-don't know what to do. I love him so much. He doesn't deserve this."
"No one deserves it, but these things come never-the-less. I know you love him, so my question is what do you think you should do that's best for that one you love so much?"
"I think,...I think I'm supposed to leave him behind, but I don't think I can. I just can't give him back." Gregory had fallen asleep in his arms, oblivious to the anguish of the stranger who had stopped to speak to him.
"Listen, dear. Remember that you'll be giving him to yourself as well. We are all where we ought to be; the golden city - the best place for each of us. Even if we think it isn't."
"This isn't right. It's not fair."
"I think you've learned that many things are not fair, before you even left home. I think the universe needed you to understand that."
It was true. It was not fair that he should have to give up this precious child. But it was fair that he missed his House terribly now, as all those years of missing him, coalesced into a hungry ache in his heart as he sat on the cold ground in the dark, the pebbles biting into his backside.
Wilson whispered into the phone. "What do I do?"
"Where ever you and he happen to be, love him."
Wilson nodded, unable to speak for a moment, not even to say goodbye. He shut his phone, unwilling to dig deeper into what Ronnie insisted was some sort of mystical occurrence. He collected his nerve together. "Gregory."
Gregory woke up and looked up at him, eyes big and round with curiosity. Those eyes that would see the world and learn so many wonderful things. And watch as his father filled a bath tub with ice, and cry when the pain came. But also grow up and live well, and go on to be wonderful in his own very special way.
Wilson hunched over, cradling the child for one last time, soaking the child's shirt with his wet face, unable to let go. Just a moment longer. Only a minute, that's all I ask for. Then one more, just one more..."Please, God, if you have any soul at all, take care of him." He whispered. No other voice interrupted. No owls hooted or crickets chirped in this leafy back yard where a small child would hurt for many years to come, and survive.
Finally Wilson set the boy down on the gravel, his tiny red cloth sneakers barely warm enough for such a night. "I think you better go back to your bush now. I h-have to go. Your Mom will be out to get you soon." Wilson's throat hurt from holding back the sobs.
Gregory did not yet know of such deep-set grief and did what he was told. He obeyed without a word, crawling back under his bush, his second home. He played with his toy, his temporary comfort of the mane and fluffy tail.
Wilson stood and walked like the dead, feeling as soulless as the shadows, back down the lane. When he looked back, the fence sagged and the leaves blew in, piling up at the corners of the broken-through back porch. The house was dark once more, its warm lighting doused by time, his windows boarded up like eyes blinded to the living.
The child had gone, too. His dearly precious son who had been but never was. Wilson kept one foot going in front of the other until he made it to the rental car. Even it was a temporary thing. There it was like the dead thing it was, right where he had left it. He climbed in and sat for a while, looking out at nothing, thinking about everything Ronnie had said.
Staring at the yellow street lights and the slowly swaying trees, Wilson wasn't sure now if he had left his car to begin with. He felt cold, but he had felt that since reading the letter and seeing the pictures. Perhaps he'd been sitting here, cold, all night long? Perhaps his chance to fix his friend or repair whatever was left of the pain in them both, lay in driving home and simply loving House the best way he knew how. House who, as deeply as he loved him, was also only temporary. So take him, love him, and treasure him while you still can, Wilson. Get your ass home.
Wilson slid the key into the dead bolt and he pushed the door open with a creek. Everything was so quiet. He thrust one arm in first and fumbled for the light switch, but could not find it for a moment and panicked that perhaps he was not home after all. Perhaps it was still happening. Maybe House was gone from here, too? Or maybe he was?
But his fingers brushed across the light toggle and the living room was bathed is soft lamp light. Wilson stepped in all the way. Everything seemed as usual, just as when he had left. He did not have the courage, however, to look in the bedroom. What if he did not find what he expected? What if he had lost both of them? It was too terrible to think about.
As he bent over to remove his shoes, he heard a noise behind him and spun around to see.
"Hey." It was House, up, disheveled in pajama bottoms and a torn tee-shirt. Sleepy-eyed but looking at him with those same blue eyes that sucked at the marrow of the world, curious about everything and everyone, but most especially about him, humble old Wilson. Evidently House had heard him come home.
Wilson stared back, momentarily lost for speech. House looked as he remembered. Just the same. He looked fine. A perfectly beautiful sight. his heart ached because of it. A good, solid ache. One he would tuck away as a sweet memory for his old age. "Hey."
"How was the-?"
"- I lied to you about the family vacation." Wilson blurted. It felt so good to tell him the truth.
House paused, but only for a second. He nodded. "I know."
"I'm sorry about that. I went back to your home, where you lived when you were three. I needed to know..."
House's face showed his surprise and some small concern at his partner's weird little vacation. "Things you needed to know?" It had to have been his crazy aunt that planted this bug in his partner. "Did Ronnie the Really Weird Aunt send you off on this thing?"
Wilson didn't answer directly. "I needed to know that you survived all right. I needed to, I don't know, purge myself of the sorrow I felt for you. It guess it was stupid." It no longer even felt real. But House was. "You survived it. You did well. You're fine, House. You're fine in every way." Though Wilson needed to know - "Things weren't always terrible for you, were they?" He hoped. He damn near prayed.
"No. Most of the time, they were okay. Sometimes even fun." House still looked concerned. "So are you fine, after this little "purge"?"
Wilson smiled. It did sound ridiculous. How does one "purge" anything that wasn't part of yourself to begin with, and that happened forty-five years ago? "Yes. I'm fine."
House had suffered, but he also had experienced those things that were necessary for him to latch onto, things that helped him survive as well as he had until now. to this day, he had survived, and even prospered. Wilson loved him for that. He hated what John House had done to his son, and what his mother had allowed his father to do. The letter she had written threatening to leave had lain un-used in a drawer. She had not left, and the abuse had continued. Yet here House was, tall and strong and looking at him with those eyes he knew were about to comically roll at Wilson's soft-hearted stare and simpering smile of sentiment.
Sure enough, House rolled his eyes and turned away. All in the universe was righted. Maybe the Fates were happy.
"Come on." House jerked his head at him to get Wilson to follow him into the kitchen. "I'll make coffee and you can tell me all about your purge, and then afterward..." He raised his eyebrows suggestively, "Can I have a quick little merge."
Wilson smiled at his friend's sexual request. He followed House into the kitchen. "Cream and three sugars for me."
Yes, of course he did. But Wilson decided to test it just a little further. He followed House into the kitchen, wrapped his arms around him from behind and kissed him on the back of the neck. House allowed it without a twitch of complaint. "In a cup and saucer, not a mug." He added, and waited
"Did you purge your brain? After fifteen years, I know how you like your coffee."
Wilson rested his forehead against House's warm shoulder and luxuriated in watching his hands do their simple tasks. "I love you so much. I missed you."
"I know." House said. "Same on both counts."
Later on while House slept, Wilson looked the words up.
Purge: "To become cleansed or purified; to put to death or otherwise eliminate that which is undesirable or unwanted. To whiten the body or soul. To bring home an innocence."
Merge: "To combine, blend, or unite gradually so as to blur the individuality or individual identity of; unite into a single entity or body. A coming together. A joining."
Wilson thought maybe he understood what his aunt had been trying to say. He and House weren't only meant to be together in the here and now - the universe seemed adamant about it.
Zebul (ZBVL), meaning Habitation, is the 4th highest Heaven of Yetzirah, and is associated with the sphere of Tipareth.
"In the midst of a Golden City, with the fierce summer sun at its Zenith, I see the cool shade of a house; a home. It is my home, I realize, as it has always been, unbeknownst to my wandering soul.
I am lost no more, and even as the vision fades from the eye of my mind, and the dark clouds of my ordinary consciousness obscure its beautiful gardens, I am overcome by the certainty of my redemption.
There is a place where we each belong, a place in complete harmony with who we are, and its name, as I heard it whispered on the cool summer breeze as I flew above that golden city, is Zebul
Thank you for reading.
AN: I have found the readings of the Kabbalah to be soul-soothing, peace-bringing things. As a person with a history of serious depression, my thoughts and the motivations of my figurative heart came to a greater state of relaxation than I have experienced in a while, and this surprised me. I felt a deeper acceptance of my person and place in whatever this universe and life is, however short or long. I still question many things, the Kabbalah included, but perhaps I don't have to have all the answers right away.