House was having an excellent day by anyone's standards. His leg was playing nice, it was an unseasonably warm Friday afternoon in May and he was on his way to Gina's school to pick her up for the weekend. He was looking forward to hearing her progress on the piano, and they were going to meet up with the Foremans who were taking care of their baby grandson for the weekend and take the kids to the zoo together. Not exactly Vegas alright, but then who needed Vegas all the time? Sometimes T-shirt weather, manageable pain levels and Wagner on a car stereo big enough to intimidate a Compton pimp were perfectly good enough to make for an enjoyable time. The car stereo was a recent acquisition, along with the car it was in, because after Wilson's illness they had decided to spoil themselves a bit. Of course it was a - YAWN - Volvo again, what with Wilson doing most of the driving and all, but House had made sure there was some fun to be had with the engine and the sound system would roughly double the value of the vehicle. It was also an extremely nifty shade of metallic blue and House was looking forward to surprising their granddaughter with it.
Still, he couldn't help clenching his teeth when he got to the school and the handicap spaces right outside the entrance were, once again, taken, and of course by people with perfectly good legs. There was no point in trying to find the culprits, so he just turned around and parked outside the gates. She'd find him anyway, wouldn't she? After all, how many Volvos with handicap plates would be parked there on any random Friday afternoon? He could see her coming out of the doors now, distracted from her conversation with another girl about her age by looking around for him. He honked the horn once. "Just look over here", he telepathed over to her knowing it was perfectly pointless to do so. Ah right, she had clocked the cars in the handicap spaces and was walking towards the gates, still talking to her friend. He honked again and she finally noticed and started to run, her friend following her. She was a dark-complexioned girl in thick black pigtails, south Asian maybe. He let down the window when Gina arrived. "Can Meera come, too?" She asked before even saying hi. He took Meera to be her friend, who was now standing slightly further back, with a shy smile on her face. "I told her we were going to the zoo, and your big piano and... Where's Grampa? Is he ok?" She looked anxious for a second. "He's ok, just wanted a sit down after getting in enough provisions to get us through a minor nuclear war." Gina giggled. "So we won't starve?" "No, I think we can be sure of that. Whatever happens, starvation won't be a threat." "Do you think there's enough for Meera, too?" "I'm sure there is, but shouldn't we ask her Mom first? Maybe she has other plans for her?" "My grandma is picking me up", Meera piped up. "She's come from India the first time since we moved here. I don't think she'll let me stay over." "Why not?" "Why don't you ask her?" House suggested. "Is that her over there?" He pointed out a lady in a sari walking towards them, very dignified, about Wilson's age. "But she doesn't know you, and she can't really speak English that well..." Meera shook her head in a resigned way. "I think I'll have to go home." "Bring her over, I'll talk to her." "But..." But Meera did as told anyway. House gave the old lady his best smile when she came to the window and tried to charm her in Hindi. What a delight to meet her, their granddaughters were friends, maybe Meera could stay the night, he'd bring her home straight after breakfast and so on. The two little girls were gawking, the Hindi, rusty as it was, had definitely come as a surprise. Grandma Meera, on the other hand, just seemed happy to be able to converse in her own language for a change. Yes, she was delighted to make his acquaintance, but no, she really wanted to see as much as she could of Meera for the fortnight she'd be in Princeton, any other time she was sure her son and his wife would be only too happy, but... Suddenly Gina had an idea. "Ask her if she and Meera want to come to the zoo with us!" "I would if I knew the Hindi for zoo..." Meera translated, but her grandmother wasn't giving in. No, not tomorrow, they were going to meet up with another family member who had especially flown in from California, but still, what a pleasure to meet him. House saw the point. "Sorry, Meera, I think you'll have to go home." She giggled. "It's ok, grandma is quite fun, too. Only in Hindi." They waved their good-byes and Gina got into the back of the car. He didn't have to get out, she knew the drill, throw in the backpack, shove in the booster seat, get in, put on the seatbelt. "Uncle Greg, how did you learn Hindi?" She was still amazed. "My Dad was stationed in India for a while when I was a kid; I picked up some bits and pieces." "Wow, that must have been amazing!" "India was. My Dad... Less so." She knew about his childhood in a vague way, so there was no need to beautify anything. On the way home she chattered about her school-day the way little girls will and House breathed an inward sigh of relief. He would have taken Meera along of course, anything for Gina, but two little girls did seem a bit much to look after and as for going to the zoo with two complete strangers, the very idea made him feel paranoid.
When they got back to the house, there was a crowd to twenty or so people holding placards outside the door who House was, for the moment, happy to ignore. Their downstairs neighbour, the Reverend, seemed to be talking at them through a megaphone. Strange place for a service, but hey-ho. He shrugged it off. Only then Gina pointed at one of the signs. "Uncle Greg... What's a Jew fag?"
Jew fag? WTF? House did give the placards a closer look after all. Ok, so the Reverend didn't like him or Wilson, that wasn't exactly news, but now he had obviously got some of his little play friends together to... To what actually? Asshole... He thought for a moment, then turned around in his seat to face Gina. "It's a very very nasty word for your Grampa that I don't ever want you to use, and it means these people out there don't like him... And me I guess. It also means that we'll get out of this car now and walk right through that crowd ignoring whatever they say. I'll explain what else it means later." "Why don't you want me to use that word?" "Cos it's a bad word." "But you use lots of bad words yourself... Especially about Grampa" "Yeah, but they're bad in a different way. Honestly, just don't use it, ok? And now let's go!" They got out and House felt the hatred hit him almost physically. He had never assumed he was liked, or indeed striven for it, but this was something different altogether, these guys really thought him the scum of the earth. What was the Reverend saying? "Look at the pathetic cripple dragging an innocent child down to hell with him!" WHAT? "The lord has twisted his limbs to show him the error of his sinful ways, yet he will not repent..." Wow... This was actually so over the top that it was nearly funny again. What wasn't so funny, though, was that those people didn't make way for him and Gina to get through. It was fine for her, she was small and sprightly and could wiggle through between their legs, but he found it hard enough to stay upright these days without having to squeeze his way through a crowd of religious nutjobs who seemed to take the risk of physical injury to the objects of their misgivings in their stride. He slowly edged forward, feeling pummelled from all sides. Careful... Shit, he had nearly lost his footing. Gina was turning around for him, looking concerned. He tried his best regarding an encouraging smile but was pretty sure it didn't really come out that way. Both heaved a sigh of relief when they had finally made it through the door and into the lobby.
Gina looked grave. "Why didn't they let us through?" "Because they're assholes? And I guess they don't care if the lord twists my limbs just a little more..." "What does that MEAN?" "It means they think God's given me my owee to punish me for being a bad person." "But you're not a bad person!" House smiled. "There are people who'd disagree with that, and some for very good reasons. These guys have picked out a really stupid one, though. Anyway, let's get upstairs, I think Wilson mentioned brioche before he went shopping..." "Mmmmmmmmm..." They stepped into the elevator together.
Upstairs they were received by a delicious smell of baking and some pretty weird music. "Wilson?" "Out here!" They went through to the balcony where Wilson was sitting sipping on a glass of Chardonnay and listening to... To what? "Show tunes?" House's jaw dropped. Wilson just shrugged and took another sip. "Ethel Merman's greatest hits. They want Jew fag, I'll give them Jew fag!" House gave him a big kiss for that; he loved defiance the Wilson way. "Right, so you've already noticed." "Well, being neither blind nor deaf... I saw them when I was vacuuming up the greasy donut crumbs in the bay window." House chose to ignore the "At least use a plate, silly!" Undertone in this. "You think we should do anything?" "Not before they do any real damage, why reward them with attention?" "But they nearly did do real damage!" Gina piped up. "Huh? Come to Grampa, tell him what the mean people did to you!" Wilson attempted to lift Gina onto his lap but she wriggled herself free. "Not to me, to uncle Greg! They didn't make way for him, he nearly fell!" "Oh shit, they really mean it, do they? Your call, House!" House sat down first. "Is there another glass? Gina, get your old uncle a wine glass from the kitchen. And some juice for yourself if you want it." "Thank you!" She went off to get her drink and another glass, and House turned his attention to the matter at hand again. "You're right, why give them the attention they're craving. I can have a perfectly good time ignoring them."
Only ignoring the crowd outside the door turned out to be more easily said than done, and if only because Gina kept bombarding them with questions of the matter for the rest of the afternoon. "But why are they doing that?" House and Wilson looked at each other - good one. Total, stupid irrationality didn't really sit well with either of them as an explanation of human behaviour, however much personal experience spoke against that stance. Still... "Because they're stupid?" House ventured. "Lots of people are stupid, but they don't all do that!" "But that's still what it boils down to in the end. We all do stupid things. I nearly killed myself several times over for stupid reasons, they want to tell the world we're bad people for stupid reasons." Gina slowly nodded but still wasn't quite happy: "So what IS a Jew fag?" "A Jewish gay man", Wilson answered perfectly calmly. "But that's what you are, so what's so bad about the word?" "It's a word you only use if you really hate that Jewish gay man, just for being Jewish and gay. And besides I'm not." "Not what?" "Gay!" "Yes you are! My teacher said if a man is in love with another man it means he's gay. And you're in love with uncle Greg." "Q.E.D.", House muttered under his breath, ignoring Wilson giving him the evil eye for it. "Well, ok. Your teacher's not wrong there, but I've been in love with lots of women, too, before we got together. See, it's more complicated than that. Sometimes people just fall in love, regardless of gender or anything, and I guess that's what happened to us." House noticed his fond look in his peripheral vision and couldn't help but return it. "Why is it so complicated?" Here House felt his expertise was called for, he did complicated better than anyone. "Because love just is... Can we have some dinner now?" Most of the Q&A had taken place in the kitchen during the preparation of a gargantuan pizza that was now in the oven. "Five more minutes. You COULD set the table..." House rolled his eyes to heaven but set the table anyway, and a good five minutes later they were all tucking in, happily acknowledging that it had started to rain and the nutjobs outside were getting very wet indeed.
Still, they hadn't seen the last of it. Much much later that night, hours after they had found Gina an ancient T-shirt of Wilson's to wear to bed because she had forgotten to pack her PJ's and tucked her in, House woke up from his scar tingling. He did a mental scan for any signs of a pain attack but then noticed the actual cause - Wilson was fondling it. House ruffled his hair that had nearly grown back to its accustomed length and kissed his neck. They were just about to get down to business when the door opened and Gina was standing there with her stuffed tiger dangling from her hand. Wilson's T-shirt was all over the place, as was her hair and she looked scared. "Huh?" "I had a bad dream..." "Aw, come in, you can crawl in between us and then you'll feel all better." What? Hadn't they had other plans? House threw Wilson a murderous look. Ok, he was all for comforting small children, but sharing a bed with them when you'd just been about to have some adult fun? Wilson got out of the way so she could crawl in, then took her in his arms. "Tell me all about it, no point in keeping it in." "I dreamt of these mean people downstairs, they tried to take me away... And..." She started to cry. "And they said you'd go to hell and they were saving me. And they took me to one of these places where they show you what hell is like to make people scared. And they said horrible things about Mom and grandma, too... They said grandma was dressed like the whore of Babylon." House bit his pillow as not to laugh out loud. They did have a point there. And a very sexy whore of Babylon she was, too, still. Gina brightened up all of a sudden. "What is the whore of Babylon?" Wow, it was incredible what kids piled up in their subconscious without ever really learning about it. "It's a biblical allegory for all sorts of bad things basically." "Allegory?" But before House could come up with a good explanation for that, she had fallen asleep between them. So much for getting down and dirty with Wilson...
"Remind me to call the cops in the morning if they're still there then." Wilson agreed. Annoying two old men who could take it was one thing, but upsetting an innocent little girl was on quite a different scale.