Author's note: This is the last installment. I'm not good at endings. Again and again, profuse thanks to my wonderful beta reader yarroway. She made this fic the best it could possibly be. She helped me find my own voice.
You move the chair for her, glad that she found the time for lunch with you in her busy schedule.
"We have to make it short. I have to meet a donor - at least I hope he'll be a donor - at 2pm sharp. Start talking."
"Lisa, I've started a new relationship. With a colleague."
"I'm impressed I hadn't heard. My PA tells me the top current betting is about when House will reveal he has a new girlfriend; he's apparently unnaturally happy. Anyway, sorry for thinking about my ex. So, how did you keep it secret?"
"We've been very careful. We did fill in forms at HR, and apparently they take the confidentiality clause seriously."
"You filled in the forms? That seems to suggest that it's long term, right?"
"I think so. I know I have a bad track record, but this time I'm going the distance."
"So who's the lucky woman? Doctor, nurse or admin?"
You take Lisa's hand in yours. She looks surprised, but before she can say anything you answer: "Gregory House."
She pulls her hand back very fast. "You must be crazy. What is this, a prank?"
"No, Lisa. It's the truth. That's why I'm telling you. House figured out you wouldn't believe it if he told you."
"I don't believe it when you tell it either. What's this supposed to mean? You're neither of you gay! You've been friends for decades!"
"Actually, I am bisexual and so is House. It just took us very long to realize that we could have a relationship beyond friendship."
"How long has this been going on, supposedly?"
"The relationship, not so long. A couple of weeks. But I've known for months that I'm in love with House."
"So he left me for you. I can't believe it."
"Lisa, I didn't take him away. He chose to end it."
"Oh yes? Or did you woo him while I was sick? My oncologist took the opportunity of my illness to seduce my boyfriend? You're disgusting, James."
"Lisa, believe me, I'm your friend. I didn't do that. I never tried to take him away from you."
"You were my friend. And don't think either of you has made any favor to your career either. I'm still your boss. Excuse me but I have to go back to work."
She gets up, puts on her jacket, and her three-inches-heels start ticketing on the restaurant's floor towards the exit.
"Lisa." She stops and turns her head to look at you. She's still near enough that you don't need to raise your voice. You feel like a tiger baring his teeth to an enemy. "Before you try to sack me, or try to retaliate using your position as my boss, you should know that I taped this conversation. And in the name of our past friendship, I will never make House listen to it. Unless he has to do so in court."
She nods, and walks away. You knew you were going to hurt her, but you didn't know how much. You feel guilty, not because of House leaving her but because you suspect he might not have started dating her at all if you hadn't encouraged him so much. Your only solace is the knowledge that you had this conversation so that House doesn't have to.
"So Blythe, can I tempt you with one more slice before I go to the kitchen and try to achieve a semblance of order?"
"No, thank you James, but it was delicious. It was good of you to invite me to Thanksgiving dinner."
From the kitchen the voices sound slightly muffled, but you can still follow the conversation. You're a bit anxious.
"Now I think I'll call a cab and go back to my hotel. Are you leaving with me, Greg?"
"Actually, mum, I'm not going anywhere. I live here now."
"Oh yes, you told me you had moved in together when Lisa got sick. But isn't it about time that you go back to your own place?"
"Mom, in case this escaped your notice, James and I are together. As in, a couple. Partners. Boyfriends. Fiancés. We're in love. We fuck."
"Oh." The silence expands and you can hear your heart beating. "Well, this explains many things."
"Hope you're not too upset."
"No. I actually had vaguely wondered when I received the invitation. But I figured out you would tell me."
"I'm doing so."
"Well, I'm sure glad your father can't hear of this. He would have been most distressed." Another pause. "And yet, he should be thankful. You would never have made it to the funeral if James hadn't forced you, right?"
"That's for sure, mom. Should I call your cab now?"
"Sure. James! Can you come here?"
You go back to the living room, drying your hands on your apron.
"Thank you very much for the dinner, and congratulations. I had almost lost hope of seeing Greg happy, but better late than never. Take care of each other, won't you?"
Before leaving, Blythe kisses you both on the cheek.
You are not sure that it was a good idea to have House take part in your coming out dinner at your parents' place. At least it's just the two of them, without your homophobic brother, so you expect no violence.
But nevertheless, you're bothered that a large part of the scarce conversation was devoted to discussing the nuptial and reproductive activities of various members of the extended family. Luckily dinner is now over, and you'll soon be driving back home. Time to talk.
"Mom, dad, there's something you should know. Gregory and I are a couple. We live together and are considering getting married in the not-too distant future."
Your father wasn't paying attention enough, and apparently only got the last part of the sentence. "Married to whom?"
"To each other! He doesn't have a ring, but he's to all intents and purposes my fiancé." You squeeze House's hand under the table, and he squeezes back.
Your mother starts to cry silently. You can't hear sobs, but her cheeks get a deeper pink hue and become wet with tears.
Your father notices and becomes angry. "Why did you have to say that? You should be ashamed of yourself! First three divorces, who knows how many affairs and adulteries, and we kept hoping for the best, absurdly your mother kept hoping that her favorite son would do the right thing! And now you tell her in this cold-hearted way that you embrace the gay lifestyle!That she can never be proud of you again!"
"Dad, this is ridiculous. I'm not interested in having children and I don't think it's my duty to have any. And there's nothing disgusting or shameful in my love for Greg. Or his for me."
Your mother keeps crying, and now you can see her chest heaving with increasing sobs.
"You want to give her a heart attack? Out of here, both of you! And as far as I'm concerned, from today you're no longer my son!"
House helps you steady yourself as you quickly collect your jackets and finish dressing once already outside the door. When you're in front of the car, you collapse and cry in his arms for a long while. He holds you, your forehead against his shoulder, his left hand caressing your quivering shoulders while he gently kisses your hair. You stop abruptly when you realize his leg must be hurting like crazy. You climb in the car and drive away. Home.
It's December 21, and you're having breakfast. Yesterday evening you lighted the first candle of the menorah, and House has grudgingly agreed to hang stockings in front of the fireplace.
You already have bought lollipops to fill his up, together with a photo of the Wii you bought for him (which is currently hidden in the oncology nurses' coffee cupboard). You shouldn't be so excited about the holidays, but you are. Your first holidays as a family. The first of many.
"Are you listening, Wilson?"
"Oh, sorry. I was wondering what my Christmas present will be."
"You can start first thinking who will give you one, because I won't." House looks slightly embarrassed - is this really true? He keeps talking. "What I tried to say, in case you're finally listening, is that I've talked to my lawyer, and he thinks we should get a civil union. It's still not federally recognized, but it gives us a number of rights in New Jersey."
"Ok. Justice of the Peace?"
"Yes. I'm sorry but I don't want any official celebration. We can still have a party afterwards, if there's anyone who cares to attend, but I don't want anything even remotely similar to your previous weddings."
"It's your first and only occasion, so feel free to choose. I'm happy enough with having finally chosen the right spouse."
Everything is different this time. There's just the two of you, dressed in your everyday clothes (House's are unusually unwrinkled), in a very generic office in town. Blythe was unhappy when House told her she couldn't be there, but she had finally understood. House had called her, and explained that seeing her and missing your mother wouldn't make it a happy day for you.
Still, you think (as you look at your soon-to-be-husband, who seems handsomer than ever) it's a commitment. The last one, you tell yourself. If this doesn't work, or if House, as in all probability will be the case, dies before you, you're done. You will never meet anyone even vaguely like him, and you know it.
You smile a bit nervously as the Justice of the Peace, a middle-aged woman dressed like a bank clerk, reads you the relevant law articles.
Then it is House's turn to say yes, then it's yours.
And then you suddenly can't believe your ears: "You can exchange rings", she says.
House pulls out a small box, and opens it, and there are two plain golden bands and House takes the smaller one and he takes your hand and slips it around your finger, and as the blood buzzes in your ears you hear "I might very well regret doing this" and you notice that the ring fits perfectly.
And then you lift your eyes and you look in his face and you pick up the other ring and just say "I love you, too" because you can't think of anything else. And then he hugs you and you kiss.
The signatures take place in a dream. When you turn to go out you're so busy losing yourself into your husband's eyes that you barely notice the photographer's flashes.
It's 7.40am and you're sitting in the waiting room of the clinic drinking coffee, House's leg raised on a chair. You're wondering he's awake at all, since you've been busy in the hospital for a while already. At last the receptionist calls you with a smile - it's great you have good relationships with every single nurse you didn't have sex with (and a large percentage of those you did).
You and House start slowly approaching as Cuddy walks into the hospital with her usual, resolute step, and than stands stunned. Transfixed. Staring at the posters plastering every single wall or vertical surface, at eye's level:
Gregory House and James Evan Wilson
proudly announce their civil union!
followed by the photo (the best one, the same you have had framed and sent over to Blythe) and below "We will be celebrating with our friends on February, 26th at 7pm at home. RSVP".
As you approach she looks at you with an angry face, but before she starts shouting something breaks inside her. She tries to smile, but cannot. "Congratulations. Make sure you notify HR within 10 working days."
She manages to shake your hand, and she hugs House and kisses him lightly on the cheek. It's only as she turns towards her office that tears finally win against her makeup.
The best part of the day is the party organized by the Oncology nurses (you couldn't keep your mouth shut, but luckily they did) with the collaboration of the ducklings (the nurses didn't keep their mouth completely shut) in Oncology's lounge. There are even wedding presents, including a surprising large number of "Get out of one hour of clinic duty - I'll do it in your place" cards signed by colleagues. It's noisy and raucous and full of food and alcohol and laughter and goes on until Cuddy throws you all out - without animosity and one hour later than she should have.
Later, at home, you start yawning while massaging House's overstrained thigh; it has been a wonderful day but also a very long one. He sips a finger of goodnight bourbon, his fingers almost mechanically going through your hair, then descending along your neck and finally grabbing your shoulder. "Maybe I won't regret this after all."
Author's note: House and Wilson got married on February 13, 2012, because House hates Valentine's day.