I can't believe we're doing this, and yet here I am, writing an email to my parents to let them know that my friend Gregory House who's been taking care of me so far and living with me is my boyfriend, and his mother will be visiting when they are.
House has already called his mom about it, but I feel more comfortable writing. This way if they shout I can't hear them. As I hit send, I feel surprisingly relieved. As if everything got a bit simpler. I should thank him, but he's too busy — a standard email consult has turned into an urgent online one, and he hinted he may spend most of the weekend skyping and checking medical literature. He even got Chase, Taub and Foreman to help run a DDX over some kind of virtual whiteboard.
This has happened before, and funnily enough, I don't mind; it's an occasion to take care of myself and of him, too, making sure he eats at regular intervals and gets a minimal amount of sleep. They're good moments, in which I feel like myself again.
I wake up as House joins me in bed. It's one am.
"How did it go?"
"So-so. Diagnosis could have been faster, but it won't make a real difference; we can't heal genetic diseases, only treat them. The patient's life will be longer and better, but I wouldn't sell him a ten-year mortgage."
He's hugging me tight now, his body still tense. I touch him and find his leg cramping; I work on it until I feel the muscle relax, then press my body all along his.
When I kiss his face I can feel tears.
"What's going on?" I'm scared. "Is the patient a child? Someone we know?"
"No, and I'm not really thinking about him either. I'm just tired. Oh, and I think I need new reading glasses for computer use and a larger monitor, when I stare at that pathetic little screen I strain my sight so much it makes my eyes water. Leave any other questions for tomorrow, please, I'm so tired."
I do as he says; he certainly has missed sleep last night, and tomorrow is Monday and his day job waits. This is really too much, I think. I have to go back to work, so he can take it easy.
When he comes home Monday afternoon he's exhausted. I had planned on talking to him about our work choices, but I can't. We end up early in bed instead, and I give him what comfort I can, while he lies down, his eyes closed. My wives used to enjoy my oral abilities, and despite the anatomical differences so does House. I was very insecure at the beginning, but he patiently taught me what he likes. It's a great choice when he's too tired, or too much in pain from his leg. Or both, like today. He falls asleep while I clean him up. I remain awake for a while, listening to his breath going in and out, thinking. Thinking.
By Wednesday he's recovered enough, and I want to get this out of the way before our parents arrive in little more than a week. They're all coming, and no one has had extreme reactions; my parents' email was a bit formal but definitely polite.
It's as we sit together on the couch after dinner that I broach the topic of our respective work futures.
"You've been overworking yourself."
My fingers slide over his body. He always was thin, but now I can feel too many bones, muscles and sinews clearly defined by the absence of subcutaneous fat.
"Overworked and undernourished. You can't go on like this."
"We need the money."
His tone sounds wrong. Like there's something he's not saying.
"Because I'm not earning enough, right? I'll get my job back. Even with a pay cut it will be enough for both."
It's true, and yet he doesn't answer for a while. His cellphone rings that he has a message, and I can hear him checking it.
"I'm sorry, I think I have another consult question to answer. Don't wait up."
He limps away to the laptop, leaving me alone to wonder what he would have answered. I try to imagine the flow of his thoughts, and it suddenly hits me: since we started our relationship I've been completely, totally self-focused. I never tried to think of what he may need or wish for.
Once I finally take the right point of view my mistake seems blatant. Of course he doesn't like the idea of staying at home - the fact he's willing to marry me doesn't make him my goddamn wife. And even Sam, when we had our desperate rekindling of romance, made it clear she would never consider giving up her career.
And yet... how much can he really care about his current job? At PPTH he hated clinic hours with a passion, and now he doesn't even have the hope of getting an interesting case — if he finds any it would be passed over to a higher-level hospital.
House has given so much thought to my comfort and happiness, and I've completely ignored his, busy as I was dealing with my losses, and our new life together. Time to change this. I find myself happy that he's busy, since I have a lot to muse about.
It's Saturday morning again, and not one minute too soon. House has been working almost non-stop on his consult from Wednesday evening to Friday night, or rather Saturday morning, since it was past midnight when news finally came from Arizona that his diagnosis had been confirmed.
I've managed to get up without waking him, and now I'm sitting and thinking, trying to tie together my reflexions of the past few days. About who House is, what is important to him. This consult wasn't even for a big hospital; it's a charity institution treating people with no healthcare and no documents. I heard House's voice insist that he didn't need money, that he had a day job and that was enough.
He saved a nine year old girl, whose symptoms were masked by severe dehydration and heat stroke, probably due to illegal border crossing; when he finally made his way to bed he was exhausted, and yet I could hear triumph in his voice as he mentioned the incredibly rare syndrome he had managed to identify across a continent.
House loves his job so much he's willing to do it for free. House can save lives that would be lost otherwise. All stuff I used to know, and yet I have apparently managed to forget that House needs his patients as much as his patients need him.
House fought his family and kept somehow under control his own abrasive personality to get the job he had, and yet now he has a very different one, one he always disliked, and is reduced to do what he likes in the night, without a team or an office. He never even mentioned trying to get back his old job, or finding out about a new one... wait.
I force myself to go back in memory to those first, dark days; to remember. He had job offers as diagnostician, and yet he never even went for an interview. He was so busy—my heart sinks. He was so busy taking care of me. He accepted the clinic because it was less than half an hour drive away. He did it for me.
He has put his whole life on hold to get me back on track. It's time for me to do something for him. I hear his steps and the cane move in our bedroom; as I switch on the coffee-maker, I smile.
"I have some homework to do with you. My therapist told me to."
House sighs, I can hear his feet landing on the coffee-table in front of us, his arm wrapping affectionately around my shoulders.
"Every word of the Witch Doctor is law."
"We both have to list what is it we miss most from our lives before."
I can feel him tensing near me.
"Is that really her idea?"
Damn. I used to be good at lying, I need to make more of an effort.
"Yes. She said it's high time. I'll start: I miss cooking. Your pancakes are either burned or soggy. At least today the bacon was crisp enough."
"That's mean. Can I say I miss running? Lacrosse?"
"No. By before, she means before I was hurt. Because this is All About Me."
"I miss riding my bike."
Surprising choice. "You could buy a motorbike again if you wanted."
"Yes. But I'm not likely to do it again, or not in the reckless same way. I can't, you know."
I nod. He can't risk his life anymore because he's seen what happened when I lost him.
"I miss choosing my suits, and especially matching my ties with my shirts."
House laughs so hard he has to stop and gasp for air.
"If I ever make a list of Stuff I'm Grateful For, this goes into places one, two and three."
I try to sound offended, but I'm not.
"I had impeccable taste. Your turn."
"I miss looking down Cuddy's cleavage." He's suddenly serious now, his hand holding my shoulder tight. "I miss Cuddy. She was a good friend and an excellent Dean, and," the hand tightens, his breath hitches, "and it was stupid for us to be together, I clearly couldn't be the man she wanted, no matter how hard I tried." He whispers now. "Christ, Wilson, I loved her so much, I even miss the brat a bit. I can still hear her little voice, calling me Scallywag. She really liked me in the end, I must have hurt her too."
I curl my right arm around his waist. He hasn't mentioned Cuddy since she called, so long ago.
"Everyone makes mistakes. Cuddy did, you did. I did, more than either of you."
We're quiet as we contemplate our mistakes, for a very long time. I wonder whether House knows I can hear him cry even if he doesn't sob. My answer comes as he takes my left hand and moves it so that my fingers touch his wet cheeks. I kiss him until he's dry, and we rest for a while quietly in each other's arms, exhausted with recollection and regret.
"I miss my job. Not the paperwork, not the Board, and not the Clinic. But I do miss being able to care for my patients. I know I was good at it, and even when I couldn't medically help anymore, I could still be there for them. I'm as proud of the deaths I made more bearable as of the lives I saved."
"You could have that back, too."
"True. Not easily, but I could." I take a deep breath, and add "Not necessarily in Princeton, either."
House tenses again in my arms.
"What do you mean?"
"I could get a job elsewhere. One with less administration and more patient contact. Where I'd deal mostly with therapy, since I can't diagnose so well without my sight."
House doesn't reply. He's ever so slightly shivering now, in a way I wouldn't be able to notice if our bodies weren't so close. I pull him in my arms and kiss him, my fingers getting lost in his thinning hair. Finally he pushes away and breaths deeply.
"I miss my job and my team. Although that shouldn't count, since I lost both well before your accident."
I hold him close to me. I've gotten used to being blind, but in my dreams I can see, and my worst nightmares involve seeing a car crash, and a tall, lanky man limping away alone into the sunset. In the worst dreams it's the same accident which starts with he destroying his car and ends with me totaling mine and almost killing myself.
"It does count. You could have a similar job and team, right? Don't lie to me, House."
"Not in Princeton."
"Probably not in New Jersey. So what? We can move. We can try to get two jobs somewhere where they would want both of us. We don't even need adjoining offices, you know?"
I hold him so tight he's now talking directly into my collarbone, his voice arrives to me both through the air and through my own body.
"How would you deal with a new place, a new office, a new city? I'm sorry, Wilson, but you're legally blind. You know this place and the neighborhood so well you have no problem going around, but what if you move?"
"I'll learn to know the new place to. Plus, I'm making some progress in my program. They're optimistic I will be able to see enough that I don't stumble into things. I might even cook again, you know."
This time he holds me so tight my ribs hurt, with a passion we haven't shared in a while. We kiss and kiss and then he says "Bedroom" and I help him up and he leads me down the corridor. I have no occasion to tell him that what I miss most is the blue of his eyes.
It's afterwards, when we lie down sated and relaxed, that he finally asks.
"You really would be willing to move? To start again somewhere else?"
"I have many good memories in Princeton, but also some spectacularly bad ones, starting with your infarction. We can make good memories for ourselves elsewhere, together."
His right hand is playing with my chest hair, getting distracted by my nipple. If he goes on like this we'll not be talking long. I feel like a teenager all over again. He kisses me before he speaks again.
"So when can I start job hunting?"
He tweaks my nipple harder so that I almost scream, while the his pianist fingers work their magic two feet lower.
"Whenever you want, so long as it isn't right now."