No Man's Land
DISCLAIMER: House isn't mine.
AN. The long awaited sequel to 'the exception'. You may want to read it first, if you haven't already but its not necessary. Brownie points to those who find another shout out to Delta Goodrem in this story. (HINT: near the end).
It was snowing quietly outside, the first snowfall of the year as House softly slid open the door to his wife's hospital room. She didn't stir as House sat in the chair beside her bed. House's eyelids were heavy, it was the early hours of the morning and he hadn't slept in twenty hours. Yet he had no desire to sleep, he was too keyed up.
Eventually though, he must have dozed off, because the next thing he knew, the sun was rising and a nurse was entering the room with a tiny blue bundle in her arms.
"He just woke up and he's a bit restless. I thought some food might soothe him," she explained softly, meeting House's eyes.
House shook his hand and stood up. "Don't wake her just yet, she's exhausted. Give him here, if he doesn't settle soon, I'll wake her."
The nurse didn't argue, just nodded and handed the baby to his father. As she left, House eased himself into his chair and gazed into the face of his son. The baby boy made soft noises as he looked up and met his father's gaze. House smiled slightly to see his eyes the exact shape and colour that he loved so much in his wife. The baby looked expectantly up at House, as though waiting for him to say something and House took a deep breath, awkwardly cradling the infant in his arms.
"Hey kid," he finally spoke softly.
He wasn't quite sure what to say... what do you say to someone less than a day old? And he sure as hell wasn't going to talk baby talk to his son- he and Cameron had firmly agreed on that, although his wife had warned him that her mother and friends would be unable to resist the temptation, something House suspected his own mother would succumb to.
House cautiously eased the baby into a more comfortable position and relaxed in his chair.
"So... Lucas James House... you ok with that name? Your mom really likes it, she says you look like a Lucas. Whatever that means," House rolled his eyes.
Lucas stared intently up at him and House continued. "So James is after Wilson... we're going to ask him to be your godfather today; and knowing your mother and Wilson he'll probably be Uncle Jim from this day on. Your mom says she just liked the name Lucas, but we know better, don't we Luke? We all know Lucas came from One Tree Hill, Mom got a little hooked on the show during her third trimester. You can thank your godmother for that."
Zoe had lent her DVD box sets of One Tree Hill to Cameron when she went on maternity leave in her sixth month of pregnancy, and House had been forced to buy her a copy for herself only a few days prior.
"Call it my present for giving you a son," Cameron had informed him gleefully when he had come home and given it to her.
"I wasn't aware I was supposed to give you presents. Do I get a present?" House had asked her eagerly.
Cameron snorted. "Why? I'm doing all the work. Traditionally your job is to hand out cigars when the baby comes and hold my hand. Actually, just be thankful I'm satisfied with DVDs. The traditional gift for childbirth is jewellery."
House considered that for a moment. "Enjoy the DVDs."
"You're pretty lucky," House said to Lucas after a moment. "Not many kids can say their godparent delivered them... actually, your mother can, but that's a whole other story."
Lucas reached out a tiny hand and grasped House's fingers with his whole fist. House froze, having a sudden moment of déjà vu and brought Lucas a little closer, inhaling that sweet baby scent. Lowering his voice, House glanced at Cameron to make sure she was still sleeping soundly before returning his attention to the baby.
"Listen kid, I'm gonna be straight with you... this is all new to me. I guess you could say I'm in foreign territory.... no man's land. I don't know what kind of father I'm going to be, and it's going to be hard on me at times. I can't run after you, or play sports. Except on playstation... I'll beat the pants of you on the PSP. And I'm probably going to be a lot older than any of your friends Dad's. But you're lucky, coz you have the best mom in the entire world. She'll do anything for you, no matter the sacrifice. Your mom will be the one who will encourage you to do anything you want. Make sure you appreciate everything she does for you."
Lucas met his gaze steadily, which House interpreted as silent agreement.
"Another secret? Just between us guys... I'm terrified that I'll screw this up. But we're doing ok so far, right? And just because I can't play sports doesn't mean I can't teach you the rules. It just means Wilson's the one who you can throw a baseball at. And yes, I said at, not to. It's much more funnier that way."
His son waved his hand through the air, and House smiled, stroking the velvet skin softly. It seemed impossible that him, Greg House, who admittedly showed affection to few things besides his wife, could be so moved and touched by every move or sound his son made, in just a few short hours. From the instant Zoe had held him up, crying and covered in gunk and then placed him in Cameron's arms House had been awestruck. Maybe it was the way that Cameron's eyes simultaneously lit up and filled with tears as she held him; or that second when mother and son had held one another's gaze for a long moment and Lucas had stopped crying instantly. But it had suddenly struck him that Lucas was here as a product of him and Cameron. They had created him, he was theirs, and House had never seen his wife look so fulfilled or content. Anything that gave his wife that look was fine by House, after everything she had endured in her life.
Apart from Cameron's eyes, and the dark fuzz that covered his head that matched the hairs of his mother; Lucas was the image of his father. When House had shakily cut the umbilical cord and Zoe had handed him over, she had laughed,
"Let's just hope he gets his mother's personality."
House had been about to agree with her, but Cameron shook her head. "No, I don't mind about that. As long as he inherits my tactfulness," she grinned and House was filled with overwhelming love for his wife in that moment.
House turned slightly as he heard the door to the room slide open, careful not to startle the baby. He saw his parents cautiously standing in the doorway, and gestured for them to enter.
"Hi," he said in a hushed voice standing carefully with Lucas in his arms.
Blythe and John approached slowly, and House noticed both his parents had tears in their eyes as they set their gaze upon their grandson, the grandchild he suspected they both feared they'd never have.
"Oh, Greg. He's absolutely beautiful!" Blythe murmured.
House knew this already, but merely nodded as he handed Lucas to his mother. "Lucas James House, say hi to Nan and Pop."
"Pop?" John repeated in a constricted voice.
House shrugged. "Sorry Dad. Allison's parents already have Grandma and Grandpa covered."
John looked startled and met his son's gaze. "Pop is just fine," he assured him finally.
For the first time in his life, House met his father's gaze feeling as though he had finally done something to make his father proud- that had met his expectations. It was an odd feeling, but one that gave House hope they could have a better future than they had a past... for Lucas' sake, if not anything else.
"Here, John," Blythe addressed her husband, easing Lucas into her husband's arms. John held the baby as equally or if not more awkwardly than House had done but the look of rapture of his face as he looked at Lucas spoke volumes.
Blythe embraced her son warmly and House knew she was thrilled by her new status of grandmother.
House instinctively glanced over his shoulder at his still-sleeping wife. "Exhausted. But happy."
John handed Lucas back to House as he asked, "So, he's healthy?"
"Seven pounds, three ounces. He's perfect," House assured him, a slight note of irritation in his voice at the implication his son would be anything less than perfect.
Blythe and John both smiled at him, noticing his tone. "You're going to be a great father, Greg," Blythe assured him softly.
House doubted that, but he was willing to try his best. To his mother, he simply nodded and placed Lucas in the crib next to the bed.
"Are Isobel and Jack here?" Blythe asked him and House nodded. Cameron's parents had flown in from Chicago a week ago, Isobel under oath to be by her daughter's side for every moment of labour.
"Yeah. Actually, they're down in the cafeteria getting breakfast at the moment."
"Why don't we go join them?" she suggested to her husband, who agreed.
"Greg? Are you coming?"
House shook his head. "No, I'm going to stay here for when Allison wakes up."
They nodded in acknowledgment and left the room. House couldn't help but again study his son's every movement when a sudden sound made him jump.
House's surprised gaze went to his wife, who he now saw was awake and smiling contentedly at him.
"You're awake. For a second there I thought we had the smartest baby in the world. Speaking at less than a day old," House answered her.
Cameron rolled her eyes and sat up, wincing slightly as she did so. House moved closer to her bed, but stopped as she eagerly held her arms out for Lucas.
"Oh I see how it is now," he said to her as he did as she wanted and scooped up Lucas from his crib to hand to her. "It now goes the kid, then me. Right?"
"Right. Now gimme," she answered, stretching out impatiently.
The minute Lucas was in her arms, her face melted into a contented smile and her eyes locked onto her son's tiny features.
"Hey, Luke," she said softly. "How ya doing, little man?"
Finally his wife tore her gaze away from Lucas and looked up at House. "Is he okay?"
"He's fine," House assured her. "He woke up... about twenty minutes ago and the nurse brought him in. Apparently he was a bit restless and she thought breakfast might help."
"You should've woken me," Cameron admonished him gently.
"He's been fine, we've been having a chat."
"Oh yeah? Father-son bonding?"
Cameron smiled. "So, who do reckon he's more like? You or me?"
House studied the baby thoughtfully. "I don't know. Physically I think it's pretty even. My features, your eyes and hair. Personality wise, I think it's a little early to tell."
"So are you ready for this?" she asked him.
"Ready for what?" House asked, mystified.
"For a lifetime of raising him," Cameron replied as though it were obvious.
House rolled his eyes. "A bit late for that if I'm not, isn't it?"
Nevertheless, his stomach gave a slight twinge as the prospect of fatherhood loomed over him.
"You'll be fine," Cameron assured him softly, meeting his gaze.
House smiled and kissed her softly. "Course I will. I have you."