Like Father, Like Son

Although House now lived with Wilson, he went to his own apartment once a week "just to check on things." House knew, and probably Wilson, too, that these visits had much more to do with House maintaining a sense of independence and autonomy than any need to keep track of his belongings. House hoped that someday he could live independently again, but with the purchase of the loft, House wondered if Wilson had resigned himself to the notion that House was always going to need support. House hadn't reached that conclusion, yet, and he wasn't giving into that notion any time soon either.

What House did at the apartment, on any given day, varied with his mood. Sometimes he would go to play his piano and his guitars. These precious possessions had given House the excuse he needed to continue paying the utilities. Variations in temperature could wreak havoc on the integrity of his instruments and they were worth thousands of dollars. On other visits he would read or just watch TV, enjoying the silence and the solitude that the space provided. Sometimes, as on this occasion, House would rummage through his belongings, alternately wandering through past memories and finding things to pitch. If House couldn't ever live alone, then someday keeping the place wouldn't be practical and the job would need to be done anyway. This way he could take his time and make decisions without pressure. Really the job had needed doing for years. Everyone collected unnecessary stuff and eventually needed to weed things out, House was no exception.

It was no surprise to House when he reached into a closet and pulled out a maroon folder with a label giving the name of a conference that he had attended in New Orleans. Memories washed over him that he hadn't thought of in years. He didn't remember the conference at all, even though he had been a featured speaker; what he remembered was the music. If New Orleans could be described in one word, to House, the word would be jazz....

Once his responsibilities had been fulfilled at the conference, House set out to visit every jazz club that he could before his flight back to New Jersey at the end of the week. It had been fabulous! Still, the thing that brought the smile to his face happened at the hotel where he had stayed. The last night, he returned early to his hotel because his flight left at the crack of dawn the next morning. In the bar, playing piano was a woman who wasn't afraid to take liberties with the music. She would change keys or improvise a piece, taking the melodies to places unexpected. She drew him in and caused him to forget his early flight, to forget everything, really, except that besides being a doctor, he was also a musician.

She stopped to take a break and because the bar was nearly empty, she allowed him to play when he asked if he could. House picked up where she left off because he had immediately grasped her style, and emulated it in order to remember it and take it home as his own. Impressed with his skills, she introduced herself and for the rest of the night, they had played a sort of "Dueling Pianos" taking turns and playing simultaneously, trying to outplay each other and learn each other's styles. By the time her last set was over, the bar had filled to capacity and was spilling over into the lobby. The manager of the hotel bar asked her to stay and play an extra set with House and they agreed, unwilling for the evening to end. Someone had taken a couple of Polaroid shots of them at the piano. She gave one to him and kept one.

Still giddy over the excitement of the evening, House asked her to his room for a drink and she had accepted. Her name was Renee Dubois, but initially he had called her Pheebs because she looked and acted like Phoebe on Friends. She commented that many people made that connection and it irritated her to no end. In the elevator, away from the crowd and the excitement, House took the time to assess her features. She was tall, almost 5"9". Her hair was blond with a hint of red, strawberry blond, some might call it. At first glance, House decided her eyes were blue, but the way they changed with the light and the mood caused House to reconsider his decision. They could be blue, but they were also green and a warm golden brown, too, when she spoke of something that she was passionate about. He decided that hazel was the most accurate description. She walked with the grace of a dancer and House thought to himself that a dance might help break the ice.

They entered his hotel room and Renee immediately noticed that House had brought his own CD player and CDs. As she suspected, his tastes were eclectic, ranging from Dixieland Jazz to Blues to a few of the Classics. She was rather amazed, though when he chose a Nat King Cole CD. Without asking, he took her into his arms and began to dance with her. He could have asked her, but he was afraid that if he knew she was a dancer that he would be afraid to dance with her or become awkward. As he suspected she was a dancer. She showed him a few steps that "would make the girls swoon" and he responded that stepping on their feet would make them swoon, too!

She initiated the first kiss. House knew that Stacy was at home, but it was just a kiss. With each kiss he told himself that lie but after Renee started to unbutton his shirt and he felt her warm hands on his chest, he tried not to think of Stacy again. From there he followed her lead, perfectly willing to believe that if he didn't initiate anything it was her seduction and he was the innocent "victim." Deep down, he knew that he was the most willing victim that ever was, but telling himself that lie, kept his conscience at bay. He also told himself that what happened in the Big Easy could just stay in the Big Easy. It suited his mood perfectly knowing that tonight he was a "Big Easy" too.

After making love, as they lay in bed, their talk turned to music and the future they would never have. House loved medicine more that music and Renee loved her life in New Orleans. She had been raised there and her roots ran deep. And House loved Stacy. For one night Greg and Renee had a beautiful relationship and they both knew that it was over as soon as it began.

House didn't keep in touch with Renee but he hoped that she kept with her memories the same fondness for him that he kept for her and that night. Stacy never heard the full story of House's affair. He did tell her that he had met a piano player and they had made beautiful music together. If she had believed that there was anything more than music, Stacy had never let on. House kept the conference folder along with the picture of Renee and him at the piano. As he looked at the picture again, his finger traced her outline and a faint smile came to his lips. House checked his watch and noted the time. He had been reminiscing over Renee and their brief affair for more than two hours. It was time well spent. He felt lighter somehow. Whenever he remembered her, he was left feeling that way and he liked it. It helped him remember that not everything was about life or death, sometimes living in the moment could be enough. He smiled and replaced the folder in his closet.

A knocking on the door pulled House from his reveries. From the intensity of the knocking, House could tell that his visitor had been knocking for awhile and was becoming impatient. House slowed his gait. They could wait a few seconds longer for their impatience and for ruining House's moment.

House opened the door to a teenager with wild, curly hair and familiar blue eyes. House had seen this boy in the mirror everyday of his teenaged life. The boy was the first to speak.

"Congratulations, Dr. House, You're a father! Where do I put my things?"