When you thought about it, life was really, truly unfair.
So unfair, that sometimes the ever calm and collected Lisa Cuddy wanted to run up to the roof of the hospital and scream as loud as she could.
She wanted to do that now. But she couldn't, because House was about to wake up.
It was the universe's cosmic joke. House spent all his life diagnosing people - and saving them - but when he got sick, no one could help him. They tried, oh they tried as hard as they could. The whole team, hell the whole hospital, was working together to save him.
But not like they worked. Her and Wilson, and Chase, Cameron and Foreman, and Thirteen and Taub. People who - for better or worse - were different because they knew House.
They were all better doctors because of him, without a doubt. They looked at the world differently, analytically, and they saw things that other's didn't. Their eyes weren't as sharp as his of course, but they were an improvement on the rest of the PPTH staff.
And, whether he'd wanted to or not, House had watched them grow. From newly hatched fledglings taking their first tentative steps from the nest, to full grown eagles, spreading their wings and soaring. He'd seen Cameron return to the hospital, and get back with Chase - and he'd relentlessly mocked the couples therapy they'd participated in - and he'd seen the two kids they'd produced.
He'd watched Thirteen's Huntington's worsen, and he'd watched her self-destruct, then help herself, then self destruct, etc. It was a never ending cycle - or at least, it had been, until she'd got married to a cute Spanish musician with great hair. Since then, she'd seemed okay.
Foreman still was alone. And, oddly, more like House than House was now. He lived alone and had no friends. He was sarcastic, rude and relentlessly annoying - and he still wasn't House. House could out diagnose him blind-folded with a hand tied behind his back. And yet, Foreman had been right there, diagnosing as hard as could alongside them all.
Wilson had been trying to keep calm, but inside he'd been breaking. This was House, and despite all the crap he'd pulled, he was his best friend. A best friend who'd seen him through the fourth divorce, and the fifth marriage - which thankfully had stuck - and supported him all the way. He'd ridiculed him too of course, but the sentiment was there. Wilson was going to miss him, so much more than he would ever know.
Rachel had already been by to say her goodbyes. Cuddy had stood in the corner, crying quietly, while Rachel had described his place in her life in excruciating detail. How she remembered the third grade talent show where she thought she'd been awful and had stormed off, and then he'd talked her down and convinced her to go back on stage. She refused, so he'd compromised. He'd got up on the stage with her and by the end the whole auditorium had been on their feet clapping.
He'd been there at the Fight Of The Decade, where she told Cuddy she would be staying with a friend for the weekend when she actually snuck up to New York, and got arrested. She could still remember the looks on their faces, Cuddy's unhappiness and disappointment and House's pride. Yes, pride. And Rachel had loved him right there for making it seem cool. Cuddy had screamed about his irresponsibility but it had been worth it.
He seen every A, the occasional B, and the three consecutive F's that had been their cue to find out about the ten stone ten year old who was making Rachel cry everyday.
He wasn't just a familiar face, a stable - if you could call him that - adult in her life. He was her dad. He'd given her away last year, at her wedding. And he'd been so happy when she'd asked him. She could practically feel the love and protectiveness radiating of him as he handed her over to Jake, no matter how many times she assured him he was a great guy, the best she'd ever met.
Then he'd kissed her cheek and told her she looked beautiful, and walked her through the church, right to the front. And just before he'd let her go, he'd whispered: "If he does something wrong, you tell me and I'll help you hide the body." And Rachel had gone to the top of the altar with a smile on her face, knowing that he would.
Cuddy felt her vision blur and her hearing distort as the repetitive beating of the monitor filled her ears and eyes and nose, until she couldn't breathe. He didn't belong here. Not in this bed, so fragile and so... sick. Encephalitis. They'd been too late, his brain had swelled too much, and there'd been nothing they could do. Chase had just removed the drugs keeping him in his induced coma, so he should be waking up any second.
And Cuddy was scared. Mind numbingly scared, because she couldn't handle saying goodbye. Not now, not ever. Not to him.
He was It. He was the one she'd woken up to every morning for the last twenty years, the one she bickered with day in day out. The one she loved with all her heart.
And despite his many jokes, he loved her too. She knew he did. And though he did tell her often enough, she knew in other ways too. The way he looked at her, like he was looking straight to her soul. She knew that if heard her think that he'd tell her to stop being mushy, but it was true. When he looked at her, she felt open, and vulnerable. And exposed. But then, she knew that was always there. He was dependant in a different way from most guys. He wasn't there at Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and when Rachel was sick. But when she came home needing to empty herself onto someone else and to have someone hold her and tell her that the bad outweighed the good, he was there. And then, as the tears came, he was always there. And he knew just what to say to make her feel like the world wasn't filled with deadbeats and that she was making a difference being here and that it was worth it.
The bed covers rustled, shaking her out her cathartic reverie and back to the present moment. The present moment where House was dying. Dying very quickly, like he had twelve more hours quickly. She watched as his eyes blinked open, and then they just stared at each other for a while.
No one spoke, because there were no words. Nothing could convey what they wanted to say. Cuddy couldn't believe that all the lasts had been, well, the lasts. Last breakfast together, last night together, last evening spent fighting over the crossword clues. House was always right, of course, but that didn't mean it wasn't fun.
"You look sad," he stated. He didn't seem unhappy, or scared... Just neutral. He was stating observations, and that killed Cuddy.
"Don't do that." She asked, moving closer and intertwining their fingers. "Don't give me Dr House. I want you," she asked, her voice cracking at the end.
"You have me. You've had me for the last twenty years," he pointed out.
"And I thought I'd have you for twenty more," she answered, squeezing gently. He squeezed back. Then there was another longing look.
"How long have I got?" He asked.
"Ten, maybe twelve hours," she told him, tears slipping down her cheeks.
"You can't leave," he said with an unmistakable note of panic in his voice. It was the first bit of emotion that he'd shown since he woke up.
"I won't." She promised. There was another pause. "Greg, I'm really, really going to miss you," she sobbed, leaning her head down onto his chest.
"You'll get by," he said.
"I won't be happy," she continued. "Not without you."
"That's not what I want," House answered.
"You can't always get what you want," she echoed one of his favourite phrases. He chuckled.
"Always a smart ass, huh?" He muttered.
She gave a watery smile. "Room for one more up there?"
"Of course," he shuffled over to make room in the narrow hospital bed. She climbed up beside him and nestled under his arm, her head on his broad chest.
"We can't...you know?" he asked typically.
"Not here," she said. "Not now."
"I know. Lisa," he sat up slightly and turned her face towards his. "I love you. I know I tell you that, but I mean it. You won't know quite how much you mean to me, and you never will. But you do, and I'll always love you."
"Don't go," she cried. "Please, please, don't go. I need you."
"I'm sorry," he said, running a soothing had up and down her back. "I want to stay with you."
"What am I going to do without you?" She asked. "How am I going to get by?"
"You're strong. Stronger than you think you are. You'll do fine," he told her.
"I love you," she told him again, kissing every bit of exposed skin on his face. "I love you, I love you, I love you."
He gave a small smile. "I love you too. It's kind of ironic, that I could have diagnosed myself but that I couldn't."
He was normally very eloquent, but the drugs were making him drowsy. Cuddy knew what he meant thought.
"Everyone tried, Greg," she told him. "We all tried to save you... And I'm so sorry we couldn't."
"It's not your fault." He told her.
She gave a non-commitall whimper.
"Hey," he said seriously, "do not blame yourself. I'll never forgive myself."
"You won't be here," she said, and burst into noisy sobs.
"Okay okay," he soothed.
"I'm never going to get over you," she said. "And everyone's going miss you."
"I'm not." And House knew that she wasn't.
"Tell them I said goodbye," he told her. "And tell Rachel that I love her."
Cuddy smiled. She knew he loved Rachel like he was her own, but he didn't say often. It was nice to hear.
"Stay with me till the end," he asked, tears shining in his eyes.
"Always," she promised, breathing him in.
There were no words, aside from a final 'I love you' as his heart rate slowed. And then the end came, peacefully, dreamily. He drifted off, his hand in hers. And Cuddy couldn't take it. After Wilson had had to almost surgically remover her hand from his grip she ran all the way to the roof, heart pounding and head swimming.
He's never coming back.
It's all over.
And then, finally, Lisa Cuddy let go and screamed. She screamed, she cried, and she let the emotions flow like a tsunami until she was a shell. She'd tired herself out with too much feeling. Wilson laid her down on her bed, and she bunched the sheets in her hands.
One Year Later.
Lisa walked the short distance to the grave site. This was the first time she'd been since the funeral. Until now, it had been too painful.
But she was ready.
It had taken weeks. Weeks before she didn't crumble at anything that reminded her of him, which was almost everything. Weeks before she didn't feel like the world was collapsing underneath her. But she did it. She pulled through, like he said she would.
He was always right.
Stopping in front of the grave, she took in the sight before her. You'd think the grave of Gregory House would be stark and barren, but it was blooming. Flowers, so many flowers. Fresh ones, someone had laid them here recently. People cared.
She gingerly sat down on the grass. "It's me," she said after a while. "I'm here."
"I still miss you like it was yesterday," she told him. "I miss you so much."
"I know you're not here, and you never will be, but...I want you to know that you're always with me. And I don't care how corny you say that is, it's true."
"It's not the same without you," she told him truthfully. It wasn't the same, not by a long shot. Foreman had taken over and was doing a good job, but...every time - every time - they had a theory there an unspoken thought hanging over the room. What would House think of this? What would House do?
And they did the best they could. They didn't save as many patients, but they saved a lot. And Lisa knew, he was missed.
"I don't know how to tell you how I feel, because I can't find the words. There's nothing express the aching pain in my chest when I wake up and you're not there. Nothing to tell you how much I miss you."
"I will always love you," she told the stone. "And I still see you. All the time, in a million different ways. Don't ever stop. Don't ever leave. I love you Greg, always."
With a sob, she got to her feet. "It's not the same without you," she repeated.
It wasn't the same without him. But he was still with her, in her heart, and she still saw him. And he was missed. By all, even though that was hard to imagine.
"It's not the same without you," she said for the last time. "And it never will be."
Not the same. You're gone, I love you, I miss you...
I wish you could hear me. I remember the day you went, so clearly. And it's not the same now.
I love you.