Author's Note: This is it - the final chapter. It's been quite a ride and I'm sad to see it end. However, several ideas for a sequel are bouncing 'round my brain. I'm going to let them percolate and see what I come up with because, frankly, I will miss writing about House and Sarah and hearing from all of you. Thanks a million to everyone who read and especially to those of you who signed up for alerts and sent in reviews. I am still stunned by the enthusiastic response and I really appreciate it. As always, I do not own House.
House had been about to get out the bed, Chase or no Chase, when Sarah arrived. Her face was flushed and her eyes were flashing. House froze, watching her stalk into the room.
"Everything ok?" Chase asked when she didn't say anything.
"That woman…" Sarah began, then she shook her head. "Everything's fine and I'm not going to let her try to ruin that. Thank you so much for taking care of Maggie today. I think she would've been a nervous wreck if I'd left her alone in my apartment."
"Glad I could help," Chase said.
"We're going to go and get some dinner," Thirteen said. "We'll bring you back something." She caught Chase's arm and pulled him from the room. House watched them go before looking back to Sarah.
"So…" he began.
"Well…" she started. They both stopped.
"This is getting to be a habit," Sarah said. "Why don't you go first?"
"Did you get everything done from your list?" House scooted over on his bed to make room for Sarah.
"I did. I've got my things back, my car's being towed to a shop where new tires will be installed, and I talked to my boss." Sarah came over and took a seat on the bed next to him, dropping her purse into the visitor's chair. He felt himself relax a bit; he'd wanted her here all afternoon.
"And?" House knew that Sarah had been particularly anxious about her job. Calling in to let them know she wouldn't be there had been the last thing on her mind the past few days.
"I still have my job. He was very understanding, actually." Sarah sounded surprised. "He suggested that I take tomorrow off and come back on Monday."
"They're releasing me tomorrow," he said.
"That's good. I…" A noise interrupted them. It took House a second to recognize it. It sounded like the red-alert alarm from "Star Trek." Sarah jumped up and dug into her purse. She pulled out her cell phone.
"Hi, Mom," she said. House could hear the woman's voice on the other end though he couldn't make out what was being said. "Yes, Mom, he's dead…. I'm fine…. Really…. Mom, I can't just leave. I have a job here for one thing…. Mom…. Mom, I…. I'll call you later, Mom…. Actually, I'm with a friend right now…. I'll call you later. Good-bye, Mom…. Good-bye." Sarah ended the call, sighing. She dropped back onto the bed beside him. House felt the anxiety he'd been fighting all day return.
The cell phone's ring interrupted her conversation with Greg. Sarah recognized the ring-tone; it was the one she used for her mother.
"Hi Mom." Sarah's hopes of keeping the conversation brief were dashed by the next thing out of her mother's mouth.
"Sarah, I just saw on the news that Todd Jeffries was found dead."
"Yes, he's dead."
"It said he was found in a hotel near Princeton. Did you know he was there? Are you alright?"
"I don't know how he managed to find you out there. I told you I didn't think moving away was a good idea. Your father and I think you should come home now."
"Mom, I can't just leave. I have a job here for one thing."
"You can get your old job back with the temp agency. You only left to get away from him and he's…"
"…gone now so you don't have to stay there."
"We'll clean out your old room for you and you can stay here until you can find a place of your own."
"I'll call you later, Mom."
"You're all by yourself there. All your friends are here."
"Actually, I'm with a friend right now…"
"I'll call you later. Good-bye, Mom."
"Good-bye." Sarah hung up the phone and sighed. She dropped back onto the bed beside Greg. She should've known her mother would waste no time in trying to get her home. Until a few days ago she would've agreed that going home was exactly what she wanted but now she wasn't so sure. Aside from wanting to escape from Todd, moving to Princeton had given her a chance to truly be independent. She loved her family, but sometimes she felt smothered by them at home and that was when she had her own apartment. She didn't think she could live in the same house as her mother without wanting to kill her. Greg put his hand on her arm and Sarah looked over at him wondering how much of the call he'd heard.
"You ok?" he asked.
"Yeah. She thinks I should move back home, now that Todd is gone."
"Oh." Sarah looked over to see that Greg was looking down. His face was still but there was a lot going on behind his eyes.
"I'm not going," she said and his head jerked up. A smile spread across his face and he put his arm around her.
"I'm glad," he said and Sarah smiled, thinking, so am I.
When Chase and Thirteen returned from their dinner run, they spotted Sarah and House reclining on the bed together. Maggie was between their legs and House had his arm around Sarah. Her head was on his shoulder. Chase and Thirteen both came to a stop a few feet from the room.
"I think we should go," Thirteen said.
"What if they're hungry?" Chase asked. "We said we'd bring back dinner." He started forward again and Thirteen grabbed at his arm. Their movement must have caught someone's attention because Sarah hopped off the bed and came to open the door.
"What have you got?" she asked them. "We're starving."
Sarah was up early the next morning. Chase, as he'd asked her to call him, and Remy had taken her and Maggie home shortly after 8. She'd gone through her apartment, straightening a few things that the detective, Lucas, had disturbed, before getting ready for bed. This time she had no trouble falling asleep.
Greg had said it would be mid-morning before he'd be ready to leave the hospital. He had to complete his discharge paperwork and a physical therapist was supposed to go over some exercises that he could do while his collar-bone was recovering. He was going to be in a sling for at least 3-4 weeks, and there would be more therapy after that. He'd grumbled about it and Sarah was afraid that if she showed up too early, he'd simply leave the hospital without getting the information.
She did a couple loads of laundry and finished putting her apartment back in order before heading outside. Greg's car was outside; Remy had followed Chase with it last night and Sarah had Greg's keys.
Sarah reached the hospital shortly after 10 and made her way inside. When she entered the lobby, she looked around cautiously. She didn't want another confrontation with Dr. Cuddy. She made it to the elevators without seeing the older woman and pushed the button to summon a car. She looked back at the lobby as she waited and her eyes went up to the second floor balcony. A man was standing there, watching her. Sarah couldn't swear to it but she thought it was the same man she had seen standing there with Dr. Cuddy the previous week. He flushed when she met his eyes and turned away. He looks sad, Sarah thought. The elevator chimed behind her and her thoughts turned to Greg as she stepped inside and hit the button for his floor.
House was ready to go home. He'd woken up early and demanded his discharge papers first thing. The nurses had rolled their eyes. One of them reminded him that he didn't have a shirt to wear home; the one he'd been wearing on Wednesday had been cut off of him in the ER. Now he was sitting on his bed, clad in jeans and a hospital gown, waiting for the physical therapist.
Getting dressed had been awkward and painful. He couldn't use his left arm as it was in a sling, but not using it hadn't stopped it from hurting every time he moved. His ribs were also sore. His feet were still bare; bending over to pull on socks and shoes had seemed an impossible task.
He was studying his bare feet when the door to his room slid open. He looked up to see Sarah coming in. She smiled at him.
"That's a great look," she said.
"They cut my shirt off in the ER," he said. "It was one of my favorites too."
"I'm sure we can find something for you," Sarah replied, coming forward and picking up his socks from the bed. She knelt and started pulling them on. House felt himself blush. "So, has the physical therapist been by yet?" She moved on to the shoes.
"Not yet," House said.
"Too tight?" Sarah asked as she tied the shoes.
"Fine," he said. She nodded and stood up.
"I don't see your cane."
"I think the nurses hid it – afraid I'd try to make an escape."
"I can ask about it when I go find…" The door to the room opened and Sarah turned, giving House a view of Cuddy coming in. She was carrying his cane and a pharmacy bag in one hand, and another bag in the other. She stopped when she saw Sarah.
"I brought you a shirt," she said, holding out one of the bags. Sarah stepped forward to get it.
"Thanks," she said, collecting the bag and House's cane. She brought them both back to him and Cuddy came the rest of the way to the bed. Sarah took the shirt out of the bag and House frowned. It was a duplicate of the t-shirt he'd been wearing on Wednesday. He wondered how Cuddy had managed to find one so quickly and how much it had cost her. Vintage rock band t-shirts didn't come cheap.
"I've got your medication here," Cuddy said, putting the pharmacy bag down on the bed. "It's prescription strength ibuprofen. Make sure you take it with food."
"I am a doctor too you know."
"Well, I think you're all set," Cuddy said, ignoring his remark.
"His physical therapist hasn't been by yet," Sarah protested.
"I'll see if I can find out what's keeping her," Cuddy said.
Greg had been surprised by the t-shirt Dr. Cuddy brought him. Sarah looked at it and realized that it wasn't something from the hospital gift shop. She looked over at Dr. Cuddy as the woman told Greg about his medication.
"I am a doctor to you know," he'd replied when she'd cautioned him about taking it with food. His tone was the same sarcastic one Sarah had heard him use with his fellows. Dr. Cuddy didn't seem surprised by his response; she ignored his remark and went on.
"Well, I think you're all set."
"His physical therapist hasn't been by yet," Sarah said quickly. Greg grimaced at her and she shook her head at him.
"I'll see if I can find out what's keeping her," Dr. Cuddy said. She left to go find the therapist and Sarah unfolded Greg's new t-shirt.
"A button-front might have been a better choice," she said, looking at Greg's arm. He started to ease the sling off and his face went gray.
"Maybe the therapist can help you with this," Sarah suggested.
"It's ok," he said between clenched teeth. "It's going to hurt no matter who's helping."
By the time they managed to get the shirt on, Greg was panting. The door to the room opened and Dr. Cuddy came in with another woman.
"I'll get that sling," the other woman said, moving forward quickly. Sarah stepped back, coming to stand beside Dr. Cuddy while the other woman helped Greg with his sling and then began to review some exercises with him.
"I hope you know what you're in for," Dr. Cuddy said quietly. Sarah looked over to see the woman turn on her heel and leave.
By the time they got to Baker Street, House was exhausted and his shoulder was hurting. Sarah had driven carefully but each bump in the road had made the pain worse. He wanted to take his medicine and go to sleep, but he had to eat first.
He followed Sarah into her apartment, heading straight for the couch. Maggie met him there. He stroked her absently as Sarah went in to the kitchen to start lunch. He thought about the next 4 weeks, trapped in the sling. It looked like he was going to have to go back to car-pooling.
After lunch, House took one of his pills and returned to the couch. Sarah wheeled over one of the ottomans so that he could put his feet up. Before long, he fell asleep. He dozed off and on throughout the afternoon. Sarah moved about quietly for a while before coming to sit beside him.
When House woke up, Sarah was still beside him. A movie was playing quietly on the tv and his arm was around her. He looked over and found that her face was just inches from his. She smiled, leaning forward to meet him.
Their lips had just connected when Maggie began to bark. Sarah pulled back and House gave an exasperated sigh.
"This happens every time," he said.
"It's only happened twice," Sarah said, getting up to go to the door. House could hear a faint knocking from out in the hallway.
"We've only done this twice," he retorted. "That would be every time."
"There's someone at your door, again," Sarah replied.
Greg was sleeping on the couch beside her, his arm around her. Sarah had put in a movie but she wasn't paying much attention to it. She was too aware of the man beside her. He stirred and she looked over to see his eyes opening. He looked over at her and smiled slowly. She leaned forward to meet him for a kiss.
She had just lifted her hand to his cheek when Maggie began to bark. She drew back reluctantly and heard him sigh.
"This happens every time," he said, sounding frustrated.
"It's only happened twice," Sarah replied, getting up to go to the door. Someone was knocking on a door out in the hallway.
"We've only done this twice," Greg retorted. "That would be every time." Sarah bit back a chuckle.
"There's someone at your door, again," Sarah said, looking through her peephole. She opened the door and stepped into the hallway. "Are you looking for Greg?" The man turned and she recognized the man she'd seen on the second story balcony at the hospital.
"Yes. I'm, uh, James Wilson. His friend."
"He's in here," Sarah said, opening her door wider. Dr. Wilson hesitated a second before crossing the hallway.
"I don't want to intrude," he said.
"In or out Wilson!" Greg called and the man flushed. He stepped in and Sarah moved the baby gate aside for him. Maggie ran at him, barking and wagging her tail and Sarah moved to scoop her up. Dr. Wilson looked around the living room, clearly nervous.
"I'm going to take Maggie out for a walk," Sarah announced.
"You don't have to leave," stammered Dr. Wilson.
"She needs the walk," Sarah replied. She got the harness and leash and pulled on her coat. "I won't be long."
House looked at Wilson. The oncologist stood half-way between the front door and the wing-back chair, looking around Sarah's living room. He'd been standing there since he'd come in. Sarah had left a few minutes earlier to take Maggie for a walk.
"What do you want, Wilson?" House asked.
"I… wanted to see if you needed anything." Wilson took a few hesitant steps toward the wing-back chair. "How are you feeling?"
"I hurt," House replied. "The ibuprofen makes it bearable, as long as I don't try to move around too much." Wilson nodded vigorously and perched on the edge of the chair.
"It'll heal," House said.
"House, I am sorry," Wilson said, looking over at him.
"It'll heal," House repeated with a faint smile. Wilson nodded.
"Ok." They sat in silence for a moment. "She seems nice." Wilson gestured toward the front door.
"She is," House replied.
"Are you two…"
"She's a good neighbor," House said. Whatever Wilson was going to say died on his lips as the door opened and Sarah came in. As soon as she took the harness off of Maggie, the dog raced over to leap into Wilson's lap. House laughed as the younger man leaned back, trying to avoid getting licked in the face. Sarah came to sit beside him, laughing at Maggie and Wilson. Her cheeks were pink from the cold and her eyes were sparkling. House suddenly wished that Wilson would get lost. He wanted very much to kiss her again.
Maggie finally settled for sitting on Wilson's lap and House made introductions. Sarah and Wilson made polite small talk for several minutes before Wilson got to his feet.
"I should be getting home," he said. "It was really nice meeting you, Sarah."
"It was nice to meet you, too, James," Sarah replied, getting up to walk him to the door. She returned to the couch, a small frown on her face.
"What is it?" House asked. She shook her head.
"It's nothing," she said, moving closer to him.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Testing an old adage," she replied, reaching up to cup his cheek in her hand. He smiled, slipping his arm around her and leaning forward to meet her. This time Maggie kept quiet.