a/n: m'kay so I've just re-read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and thought to shape it into a House story. There's going to be ghosts, tombstones, decorated trees, dark rooms, hilson, huddy, House!Dad, and loads of contemplation... with a nice medical mystery unfolding throughout the story. Setting is a hypothetical season 8 Christmas Eve, with a parolee House who has lost or failed at pretty much everything he tried to be happy.
I plan on publishing the last chapter on Christmas Eve :)
Man of Goodwill
- Variations on A Christmas Carol -
a House M.D. fanfiction by Ale
John House was dead. There was absolutely no doubt about that. He had met the end of his long life a little more than three years earlier, on a rainy October night. He was sleeping his peaceful way to another morning, laid beside his wife, when he had quietly shifted beyond the gates of white. There had been nothing she could do for him, except to call an ambulance when she had realized he wasn't breathing anymore. But it was too late already. The next phone call had been to their son, Gregory. Whose dry comment on the event had cut the conversation in a matter of seconds.
But the point is that the old man was fully part of the ranks of the deceased, and there was nothing anyone could say to deny that his only son knew that: he had reluctantly attended his funeral, and even more reluctantly signed the register of his burial, just below the wife's signature. John House's gravestone had been placed and had been exposed for three entire years to the sun and the rain and the snow, not shaken by the winds or eaten at by the damp.
Yet, his son still had chills running down his very spine whenever the time came to hear from his family: he still perceived his father's oppressive presence as if he was still among the living, and the memory of his tyrannical ways, behind which he very well succeeded in masking his fatherly affection, was a curse to his already tainted feelings toward Christmas holidays. There was just no need to revive the bitterness with a phone call to his otherwise innocent mother, whose festive mood would have been spoiled by his incapability for acceptance and peace.
House threw a glance around the office. It was almost time to close the blinds and turn the computer off, waving merry Christmas to his team. The mere idea sent a bout of sickness to his stomach: he just could not pretend he meant something he didn't. What was a 'merry' Christmas anyway? Just a day when you act like nothing in the world matters, except being seated around a table, sticking forks into the same food you will regret having eaten twenty-four hours later, while whining about your protruding stomach and the weeks it's going to take you to get back to normal. That was it: food that makes you feel nothing but guilt, and people you won't probably see until the next year. This was Christmas. A time when you remember your deceased abusive father with just a bit more resentment than the rest of the year, the exact amount that prevents you from swallowing it over, at least now that he's dead.
A time for pretending you don't see how ugly and wrong the world is, is not a time that deserves celebrating. A time requiring you to act blind just needs to pass as quickly as it can: and certainly that can't happen if you keep talking about it and living it as if it deserved to be held dear in spite of its being special.
House snorted. No, that was not like him. He just needed to go home and have a good night sleep.
Someone cracked the door open.
House raised his stare up to the entrance and saw Wilson standing in the doorframe, hands entwined, raincoat on.
"What." He exhaled.
Wilson raised his brow.
"Nothing. I'm going home. Just dropped by to say merry Christmas."
"Good for you."
"Just..." Wilson walked in and reached the desk. He leaned forward against the backrest of a chair, facing House. "I've got a patient."
House sat back.
"You've got lots of them."
"Yeah. This one though... She's been worrying me."
"You already went through this. Cancer girlfriend is not a keeper. It's not even something to begin with. And you're a professional."
"Since when you're concerned about my image?"
"Well, you know. If you lose your job over this who am I going to steal lunch from?"
"Yes, that must be it." Wilson went silent for a few seconds, but then it looked as if he had just realized they had gone off topic. He spread his arms.
"What the... Shut up, House. My patient is six months old."
"Oh. 'Kay then."
"I need a consult."
"On a cancer patient."
"Oh, come on!" Wilson raised his stare. "House. It might be an interesting case. And there's a baby girl whose life's hanging on by a..."
"That's always the case!" House muttered. He stood up and went for the blinds. The office went dark, except for the desk lamp still shining light onto his papers. He turned back to Wilson. "You don't need a consult. It's cancer: boring. What else do you need to know?"
"I think you might find this interesting. Her x-rays showed mild deformations in her hip-bones..."
"Okay. Bone cancer is extremely rare in infants this age. This is none of my business."
"She has kidney cancer."
"Fine, then tell her mom she also has hip dysplasia. The other one thing she has is going to kill her anyway."
"House. She's just a baby."
"I know your kids. They're all brave, every story is a story of courage. Guess the majority of them is just crapping their pants like everyone else... but this doesn't sell health magazines."
"Don't be a jerk."
House lowered his stare. For a moment he felt as if somewhere inside him he wasn't even sure whether or not he believed what his lips were saying. But it was a momentarily hesitation. His tone was slightly less certain when he addressed Wilson again.
"It's just not a case for me, I'm sorry."
Wilson grabbed his handbag from the floor and turned to leave. But then again, he turned to House.
"Why don't you come over for Christmas?"
"Don't you have anyone else to spend it with?"
"Actually, I would like to spend it with you as well."
"I said no. It's me, don't take it personally. I'm sure your eggnog is fine."
"Come on, House. You're going to be alone. On Christmas day."
House slammed his cane onto the desk, knocking over his red ball and a couple of pens and books.
"What's with you and Christmas? You're even Jewish, for god's sake. Leave me alone."
"Please, come. I'm not asking another time, but..."
"Why do you care so much about me, Wilson?"
Wilson dropped his arms.
"Okay, leave it alone. I just happen to care about you. And Christmas is... nice. A nice time to be friends. Say what you want," He held up a hand. "but I'm happy with my hypocrite display of love on the day that fake Messiah was born."
This time he really walked out.
"Merry Christmas, House."
"Yeah, yeah. You too." House exhaled.
Merry Christmas, Wilson. I'm happy we're best friends and I love you. Wilson mumbled to himself. Soon after, he was revving the engine of his car, clapping his hands to warm them up a bit. Princeton was slowly being covered in snow.
"House?" Foreman's voice echoed in the silence of the office.
House was napping on his lounge chair, waiting for the team to show up so they could be dismissed. It was almost time to finally go home and do whatever one likes to do on a winter night. Like, burying yourself alive in your bed with an insane amount of opioids in your blood stream.
"Look who doesn't have a life." He announced.
Foreman scowled. "Look who does." He sarcastically replied.
"I'm fine, thanks. I'm not going to ask your permission to go to the Mass or anything."
"I didn't come here to offer it."
"Then how can I help you?"
"We're raising money. Christmas charity."
"Yeah." House sneered at him.
"Every Head of department is contributing. Cuddy did it every year, you always gave her money."
"Cuddy's not here anymore."
"Are you in or not?"
"No, I'm not."
"Too bad you just can't be nice."
House sat up.
"Too bad you can't do anything which doesn't benefit someone while speaking volumes of your prodigality as a Dean."
"Oh, come on..." Foreman shook his head. "Why do you care? It's money. We'll open up another histology lab."
"Which will be the best equipped histology lab of the whole East Coast, thanks to Dean Foreman's tireless efforts and dedication."
"It'd still be the best lab."
"Answer's no. I'm a felon, on a minimum wage. This is so inappropriate."
Foreman released a deep breath.
"Fine. Merry Christmas, House. Leave the police alone tonight... Leave me alone."
"Intrusive ankle monitor is intrusively ankle-monitoring."
"Yes, I'm sure of that."
"House. Wake up." Taub patted his boss' sleeve.
"Uh." House blinked awake once again.
"We're going home." Chase bent over him. "Home. 'That fine?"
Half an hour had passed since Foreman's visit. The team had their clinic hours done and finished with. Their faces betrayed the impatience to go home and have a day off. Park grabbed her jacket and handbag.
Before House could reply, she dashed out.
"Merry Christmas, House." Adams followed Park and disappeared down the corridor.
"Guess it leaves the three of us then." Taub wound his woolen scarf around his neck.
House slowly sat up, massaging his leg. He popped a couple pills from an amber bottle.
"Look, House..." Taub bit his lower lip. "I'm spending Christmas day with Rachel and the baby. But Ruby wants me to be with her and my other kid on the 26th, at least... Do you think..."
"Come on, House. He's not gonna be of any use if he's all whiny and sad." Chase raised his brow. "It's just one day."
Taub inhaled. "Just the day after Christmas."
"Not my decision. We all have clinic on the 26th. Go tell Foreman you're not showing up for that."
"You have clinic on the 26th. This would be us forging your signature on the register."
"Okay. Point is," House buttoned his motorbike jacket. "You're not going to be anywhere else than here."
"House." Chase's tone was drier than before. He flashed his boss a freezing glance.
House released his breath.
"Okay, fine. See you when you're done being a parent."
"Let's go." House mumbled.
They all went for the door.
House's troubled walking got him left behind, his cane tapping rhythmically onto the floor. All around him, the hospital was still fully operative, but the atmosphere looked somehow brighter, cozier, less hurried. Everyone seemed more relaxed, from those who were working on a Christmas Eve, to those who were spending it in the hospital, sick, very sick, or terminally sick. The nurses were piling plastic plates and cups on some carts, probably ready to wheel pudding around the wards; a couple of residents from Cardiology were dressed up in Santa clothes and were leaping and hopping around the giant Christmas tree standing tall in the main hall, singing out-of-tune carols with a small crowd of kids in pajamas.
House felt a tickling sensation at the bottom of his stomach. So that was how people did it. He felt even more estranged and just went for the automatic doors as fast as his only functioning leg allowed him to. He threw a last enigmatic glance at the lights of the hall.
a/n: soooo... what do you think? Fulfill my Christmas Wish and leave me a review :)