Chapter Three

Leona decided that she should talk to Dr. House. About ten steps away from his cell, she thought better of it, decided it was, in fact, a horrible idea, and walked back to where she had been standing, only to reconsider her reconsideration and walk back to his cell again.

From where she was standing, she could see House, but he could not see her. This was a good vantage point. It came in handy for being able to spy on prisoners who were up to no good, or, in this case, consider her next move.

Once she opened her mouth, after all, there was no going back.

"Hey," she called out, and she saw House jerk up, able to hear her voice but not yet to see her. She stepped out, right foot first, so as not to be some creepy disembodied voice coming out of the shadows. "Remember me?"

House stared at her.

"Can't say that I do." She rolled her eyes.

"Leona Baker." Still nothing. "Leona Crandall."

"Oh. Of course," House replied. "Little Miss Fraud."

"Yeah, that's me," Leona shot back, her voice coming out angrier than she had expected it to. "Except I'm not so little anymore."

"Still got Crandall wrapped around your finger?"

"Always," Leona mumbled. "But I'm not here to talk about me." She stuck one hand in her pocket and sighed. What was she there to talk about? Why had she approached him and not just continued on, kept doing her job like she was supposed to? Why didn't she just let the damn thing go? "Why did you do it? Run your car into your ex-girlfriend's house?" House shrugged and looked at her with an infuriatingly cheekish look.

"Seemed like a good idea at the time."

"You're a pain in the ass, you know that? I don't know why my father was your friend."

"Because he's a gullible idiot; that's the same reason why he took your little story at face value."

Leona stepped forward, her face flushing red.

"You told me that he was my father."

"I lied. Just like you." Leona glared, locked eyes with the prisoner. She could imagine drawing her nightstick, pulling him out, saying he'd tried to attack her and then beating him senseless.

The mental image was not an unwelcome one.

Leona took a deep breath, held it, heard a voice, a calming one: the Better Leona, she liked to call it; it was kind of like an angel on her shoulder that drowned out the devil on the opposite one.

The Better Leona was reminding her that she had gone into this profession to help people, to help the people that society had given up on. The prisoners, after all, were the most lost of the lost. They needed to be given some kind of second chance, just the way she had been given a second chance when Dylan Crandall had taken her in.

Not-quite-so-good-Leona, however, the devil on her shoulder, was telling her that she ought to slug the prick.

Better Leona, thankfully for all involved, won out.

"Forget it, Dr. House," she snapped at him. "Just do your time and then get out of her and don't do it again." She paused and sighed before adding, "I'll tell my dad," she emphasized the word as she glared at him, "that you said 'hey'."

She turned and walked, not looking back. How the hell was she supposed to deal with him? Maybe she really should have reported it, stated that it was a conflict of interest, but that would have more likely resulted in her being transferred than House getting sent somewhere else.

"How was your reunion?" The voice came seemingly out of nowhere, and Leona jumped, pressing a hand to her heart. When the owner of the disembodied voice turned out to only be a smirking Ameka, she glared.

"You don't need to sneak up on me!" she exclaimed.

"You must be always on your guard – or he will catch you, with his magical lasso!" Ameka teased. Leona rolled her eyes and continued walking. "So, seriously though, how did it go? I knew you'd go over and say something."

"It didn't go well," Leona replied, still walking.

"Okay, what happened?" her friend continued, "You should know by now that I don't give up all that easily."

"You don't give up at all," Leona grumbled.

"That's my point. So spill it or I'll bug you all day." Leona sighed, stopped, and whirled around.

"Things between myself and Dr. House didn't maybe go as well as I said before," she ventured finally. "At the time, I had just met my dad. I didn't know he was my dad for… ages, my whole life up 'til then. House was suspicious."

"Suspicious how? That you weren't really his friend's kid?"

"Yeah," Leona murmured. It sounded stupid said like that, it sounded like it was totally reasonable said like that – she wouldn't want her friend, or her boyfriend if she had one, getting played for a fool by someone who claimed to be their child. But at the time, and still burnt into her mind, was the thought that things had been perfect until House had shown up and tried to ruin it all.

But that, of course, wasn't true – she'd have never encountered House at all if she hadn't gotten sick, and she wouldn't have gotten sick if she hadn't hid out in the studio…

Everything would have gone to shit regardless, even if House hadn't been there. In fact, things would have gone more to shit if House hadn't been there… She might have died. Hell, she would have died.

But how could she reconcile that with the pounding rage she felt when she thought of the man? And how could she reconcile that with whatever else she kept thinking; that idea that maybe he needed a friend on the inside? A protector?

"Leona," Ameka called, but her voice didn't come through. Things had gotten more twisted in knots than she could have ever imagined.