This is my very first fan fiction ever so please be gentle. Posted first on the Fox [H]ouse website but I have received some requests to post here as well and therefore, am doing so. Also, this story begins after the season 6 episode, "The Tyrant" but hopefully I have explained enough so most folks, even the season 6 uninitiated, may follow along.

The music quotes I use at the top of chapters are the lyrics that correspond to the theme or to a particular character's emotion within that chapter. Please note that I have provided the appropriate lyrics (sometimes the entire song, though not posted, is valid or connected to the chapter), song title and the artist whose rendition I appreciated most, not necessarily the songwriter.

The majority of chapters can be categorized under the "T" rating but several will rate "M." I will post that rating at the top of the said chapters.

Please read and post your reviews. Hope you enjoy. Thank you.

Parallel Lines

1 – "So what he was may have been beautiful, but the pain is right now and right here" – "Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)" – Live

What was that noise? God almighty, it was annoying! The desperate nature of it was making it completely impossible to cling to sleep. So he rolled over onto his back and gave it up. It was then he realized that the sound was coming from between his own lips, starting deep in his chest and rising into his throat as a low, animalistic groan.

Dr. Gregory House opened his vivid blue eyes but quickly shut them again, squeezing tight against the pain. The scar on his right thigh felt scraped and hollowed out, with smoldering ashes packed inside the wound for good measure.

He groaned again before he could stop himself and reached an arm towards the night table. His long fingers grasped the bottle of pills and shook it, listening for the sound of multiple tablets. He kept his eyes shut, not wishing to count the pills, and pressed the now open bottle to his dry lips. He downed the remainder and waited, lying on his back, for the drug to take effect.

How long the pain had been getting worse, he could no longer say for sure. It was as if any step forward toward less pain was immediately followed by five steps backward.

He opened his eyes again. Where had he left that damned cane? He vaguely remembered having left it by the piano, limping into the bedroom under his own steam when the bourbon he was drinking the night before had finally prevailed over the insomnia.

He longed for the oblivion that Vicodin had given him but feared, just as strongly, the madness it had also engendered. Everything in his life seemed just a temporary fix for the pain, both physical and mental. But returning to diagnostic medicine was his best shot. His best shot to keep his brilliant mind occupied and thereby his excruciating pain under control.

He sat up and swung both legs over the side of the bed, not in one smooth motion but in several jerking ones. The wood floor was cool beneath his bare feet as he gingerly raised up, balancing his full weight onto his left leg. He stumbled and almost fell the first time he used his right to support himself midstride but several steps beyond, he achieved a swinging, faltering lope down the hall.

It had been more than two weeks since he had moved out of his friend, James Wilson's apartment, and back into his own. He hadn't been completely by himself in months and the solitude, like the Vicodin had been, was both a blessing and a curse. He was free again, to do as he wished, whenever he wished. If he wanted to play his piano at two o'clock in the morning or turn up the amp on his guitar before sunrise, he could do it. But he was also alone. And in the long hours of the night when his insomnia plagued him, he would feel powerless in the grip of an ache and a longing within that had nothing whatsoever to do with his damaged leg.

Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital had become his refuge then. Like a lighthouse to a ship struggling in a storm-tossed sea, the hospital and diagnostic medicine had become a beacon, helping him to stay off Vicodin and giving him a reason for getting up in the morning. And it broke up the monotony of the fearful loneliness of his life.

There were people who cared for him at PPTH, cared for him and who he cared for as well, although sometimes it seemed that he would rather endure a lifetime of pain than to ever admit it out loud. Of course there was always Wilson. Wilson who would still answer the door or pick up the phone in the middle of the night knowing full well, probably just by the knock or the desperate sound of the ringing, that it was House. Wilson, who with his understanding nature and soulful brown eyes would, time and again, be there for House, to support, to argue when necessary and always, to forgive.

And there were his team and his former team members. House would always have an adversarial relationship with Eric Foreman, due more to their similarities than their differences. But in between the verbal and professional sparring, both doctors would grudgingly acquiesce to a great deal of mutual respect, even admiration. Chris Taub and Remy Hadley, or as House always referred to her, "Thirteen," were not currently on his team, having left PPTH while House was thought to be leaving the hospital for good. But House felt certain that he could regain them within his sphere of influence to once again challenge each other while reaping the benefits that only House's tutelage could give them.

In more distant circumnavigation, there were Robert Chase, surgeon, and Alison Cameron, head of Emergency medicine. Chase and Cameron had been brought back to work with Foreman when Taub and Thirteen had left and now House was enjoying the dynamic interplay that he had missed having once again regained them within a closer orbit. Chase had begun looking up to House as a kind of father figure since, well even before, his own father had died. And Alison Cameron . . . well Cameron would always be Cameron. Wide-eyed and innocent, like when he first hired her, one minute, strident and self-righteous the next. Certainly never boring, probably the most important criteria for people remaining in his life.

Too, there remained between House and Cameron an unspoken contract. Even though she was recently married to Chase, there still remained for her, the never altered, now quite buried feelings similar to a schoolgirl crush. Or perhaps, that was simply denigrating her true emotions. For her exceptional ability lay in the fact that she recognized in House a damaged but remarkable soul, a wounded genius whom she longed to fortify and to heal. And for him, the wish to reciprocate those feelings only mastered through his stronger need to protect her, even from himself.

And there was Lisa Cuddy, his resented boss and yet, cherished friend. It was she that realized exactly what he needed those first terrifying moments of his final breakdown. She had brought him to Wilson. House's saving grace was that Cuddy only knew part of the story. Cuddy had surmised that during his downward spiral, House had hallucinated a night of passion with her. But he would never admit and had absolutely forbidden Wilson to give Cuddy any further details. Details like that when he was pushed to make a choice, he had chosen to give up everything, to make the drastic changes and sacrifices necessary, if only to be with her.

House limped into the bathroom and was shocked by his reflection. When had he gotten so old? At times he still expected to see the teenager that he once was looking back at him. But his days of lacrosse and beer parties and unhooking a girl's bra on her parents' sofa were a lifetime ago. Well, maybe just the lacrosse.

Although he hadn't played the sport in many years, he still retained the build of a midfielder; tall and lanky with lean musculature running tautly through his arms, legs and upper torso, partially hidden by a small amount of extra middle-aged weight. He passed his hand over his two-day beard, deciding to go ahead and make it an even three-day stubble. House had not yet decided whether to grow out his hair. It remained close-cropped as he had worn it in Mayfield Psychiatric hospital. Once chestnut, almost auburn in the sun, the base color was now a deep saddle with copious amounts of grey and thinning in spots. He stared into the mirror and the well-lined face, with its high cheekbones, straight-nose, and cobalt-blue eyes stared back. And then, for no particular reason, the stranger in the mirror gave House an impish, crooked grin. He bent down to turn on the tub's faucet and as the steam from the showerhead rose, it obliterated the stranger from House's sight.