Andrea served lunch buffet style, there wasn't enough room for them to all sit at the table so it made things slightly easier. Mia was chatting to Buddy and House, Callum was just entertaining everyone. Daniel was sitting with Andrea and Maria, all in all things seemed to be going well so far.
It was a nice sunny autumn afternoon so Andrea made a suggestion that She and Maria took the children to the park for a while. Giving her and Maria a chance to get to know each other and leaving House and Buddy on their own for a while. Daniel could decide for himself what he wanted to do.
"Daniel, you coming with us or staying here?" Said Andrea as they were getting ready to leave.
Daniel looked at House "Pop?"
House "You can go if you want - upto you - I don't think I need a babysitter" He said quietly.
"Ok, I'm coming" Said Daniel.
Once everyone had left, Buddy got up and went to their car they had rented and came back with a box. He put it on the table and took the lid off.
"What's this?" Said House
"This is my treasure box. It has all the letters that your Mom sent me and some stuff that I have collected over the years. You want to take a look with me?" Said Buddy hopefully.
"Not right now. Why are you here?"
"Straight to the point - I like that. Because I couldn't stop thinking about you and how much I have wanted to meet you, so I took the plunge, booked a flight and came. "
"If you knew that I was yours why now, why not 30 years ago"
Buddy sat down at the table and took a photo album out of the box. He opened it up and stared at it. "I promised your Mom that I wouldn't until she said it was Ok or unless you came looking for me. I wouldn't lie to you if you came looking. I knew in my heart that you were mine, but reality was another story."
He took a breath and looked at some more photos. "Blythe didn't want to rock the boat with John, I couldn't physically give her what she needed and for all his faults she really did love him and wanted things to work for them. We didn't have any DNA testing in those days, she wasn't sure who the dad was initially, but she hoped you were John's and even when he thought you weren't his at about 3 she told him to stop being silly and that you were his regardless. She so wanted John to be a good Dad to you, she always wanted what was best for you - she was a wonderful woman" He said sadly with a tear slipping down his cheeks.
"That we can agree on she was a wonderful lady. But having John as my Dad was not best for me and she knew that. She was there whenever we fought and was there when he didn't turn up to my graduation and she still thought he was best for me. I don't understand why she didn't tell me sooner, I knew at the age of 12 that I was not John's child so why keep it from me then"
"You told him didn't you? That you knew you wasn't his?"
"I wish I knew why your Mom didn't tell you, maybe it was pride, maybe shame - the fact that she honestly didn't know for sure which one of us it was. Did he really not talk to you for the whole summer?"
"Yep - best summer of my life, although he made me pay in other ways" He said with a distant look.
House was thumbing through some items in the box when he came across a photo. He pulled in out and looked at it hard "This is of my graduation from Johns Hopkins, but it's not my graduation photo - where did you get this?"
"I took it!"
"What? You were there?"
"yeah - your Mom didn't know, I just wanted a chance to see you... all be it from a distance"
You really did care He thought but would never say out loud
"House I am very proud to be your Dad, if I could have shouted it out to the world, I would have. I'd gladly shout it out now to the world if you want me to" He said with a chuckle.
"You know, I can't change the past and if I am honest, I don't know that it would have made alot of difference at the time. I was not in a very good place when my children and you were young. I didn't see my own kids properly for a long time, so in some ways it may have been better this way"
How do you mean not in a good place" Thinking of himself as that is exactly what he had told Daniel
"I couldn't keep a job, moved around alot to try and find work or a place to live - anything but stay in the RAF. I was really stupid when I enrolled. My Dad had sent me to military school when I was about 10 - I hated it, I got into so much trouble it was untrue. Although they didn't kick me out, when I was in my senior year I had calmed down a bit by then, and one of the instructors that I had - we got on really well, he seemed to have time for me, he advised me to enrol and I did. But found out later that my Dad had had a hand in that, he always wanted me to follow in his footsteps, I hated it from the get go, but once I was in it was hard to get out. I got my girlfriend pregnant so we married, again another big mistake, a year later she was pregnant again. I couldn't cope with it all so I left. Got into loads of trouble with the RAF and got kicked out. I don't think I had a stable job or relationship or home for about 6 years after that, until the job with the Navy." He said with a smile.
"yeah I read what you wrote to my Mom - you found your niche" House said thinking how much their lives were similar.
"I did, it became my life actually, I virtually lived there most of the time" The sparkle in his eyes was telling House just how much he had enjoyed it. "I then made amends with my ex-wife and we communicated alot more about the children and eventually she let them come and stay with me, it took us along time to get to know each other again. "
"What about your son does he know about me?"
"No, he hasn't spoken to me...pphhhhh...in I don't know how many years. We never seemed to get along very well. He hated me for being away so long and I don't blame him. My ex-wife remarried and her husband was a good Dad to them. Maria was just more understanding"
"Why did he stop talking to you altogether?" Said House already knowing what the answer was but wanted to know what he said.
"Because I came out as being gay - do you have any problems with that?"
"it was just the Icing on the cake, I think he had been looking for a reason for a long time to not talk to me and I gave it to him. He does occasionally speak to Maria but it is once in a blue moon or if they end up at the same family gathering."
House was rummaging through the box and pulled out a scrap book. He opened it and was surprised to see paper clippings of himself. "You have paper clippings in here going back to 1999"
"I have paper clippings going back to when you first started getting famous, I have lots of these scrap books - this is just one. I have truly followed your career from day one. I even read all the papers you have published" He said a little embarrassed.
"You're a stalker!"
"Yeah sorry about that. That's how I knew when I couldn't find anything on you for over a year that something was wrong, I wrote to Blythe to find out if you were ok, when she wrote back and said that you had had an infarction in your thigh I was in shock. I was going to chuck it all in and come and see you, but she said that you weren't in a good place and asked me not to. I am really sorry that you had to go through that. She kept writing me updates on you. I knew deep down that you would get back on your feet - your just as stubborn as I am"
"That I am"
"So how did this happen to you then? I didn't read anything about it on the internet"
"Wrong place, wrong time, not news worthy - not like an infarction now that is news worthy!"
"mmm you say that but nothing showed up at the time about your illness, it wasn't until years later, you just disappeared off the face of the medical earth, you use the chair because of the leg ?"
"No I got hit by an SUV in a parking garage, the driver had passed out and just kept coming, I couldn't get out of the way quick enough because of my leg, shattered my pelvis, left hip and femur and had a SCI right at the bottom of my spine, although it was incomplete, I have some feelings in my feet and some other strange stuff goes on occasionally but nothing moves anymore"
"I'm sorry about that too - don't have much luck do you?"
"not really. So what about you, why are you in a care home?"
"To ease Maria's worries."
"Well " Buddy laughed " I had a few mini strokes and then had a proper one. My right hand side is very weak. I have balance issues. I had a few falls and the last one I knocked myself out and a neighbour found me a few hours later. Maria was heartbroken, she did say about moving in with her, but I didn't want to do that - didn't want to be a burden, so I agreed to go into a care home. It's great really - lots of lovely women to mess with"
"yeah well I like women and love their company and I'm out numbered 4-1 in the home and none of the men are gay"
House just snorted with laughter.
At that point Andrea, Maria and Daniel came back. They all sat around the table looking at the artefacts and having a trip down memory lane.
Some time later "Right Dad we had better make a move we have a plane to catch"
"yeah ok I guess we had better get going then" Said Buddy a little reluctantly.
They made their way out to their car. Buddy stepped to one side with House
"Thank You son for letting me have this time with you. I was very apprehensive when we came and at the dinner last night. You were right it wasn't the right time or place. If I go home and die tonight I will die a happy man, you do not know how much I have wanted to do this over the years and I am extremely grateful for you letting me in. This can't be easy for you I'm sure, but I hope it will get easier. I love you very much son and am very proud of you. "
House just nodded at him, not knowing what to say. Maria bent down to give House a kiss on the cheek "Will we see you again?"
"Yes you will, I'm not sure when, but we will sort something out to come up to you guys next time" He said sincerely.
House was sitting at his keyboard getting some alone time, analyzing everything that had been going on throughout the day when he heard someone on the guitar.
"So Pop what's your verdict?"
"mmmm I don't know, only met the guy for a few hours!"
"yeah right! you know people from the moment you see them!"
"Strange really, I have evidence that the guy cared and wanted to be part of me, but wasn't!"
"He does care you know, you can see it a mile away. I think he would have come clean years ago if Grandma would have been ok with it. I think that makes him even smarter."
"Maybe, I'll hold judgement until I see them again"
Later that night he lay awake with Andrea cuddled up next to him still trying to understand what had happened during that day.
He had met a man that knew and cared more about him than the man that he had lived with for all his childhood years, yet he didn't really know him at all. He could see lots of traits from his own life to that of Buddy and understood that maybe he wasn't as much out on the fringe as he thought he was. Knowing that Buddy struggled with many the same things House did gave him some kind of solace. He had finally solved the biggest puzzle of his life but he didn't feel complete. He now knew where he came from - well atleast he knew his DNA anyway. There was still lots to learn, he couldn't change the past no matter how many puzzles he solved - John House had been his Dad for all he was worth, he had endured years of his parental guidance and suffered as a consequence - in more than one way.
But now maybe with the help of seeing Buddy and getting to know him, he would be able to find out more about himself, maybe he wasn't such an odd ball after all. He could understand more now why him and John had so many battles, he didn't mould into John's idea of being a son, he didn't like nor want a military life. John obviously didn't understand him either and no matter how much parental guidance he gave him, he would never be 'his' and he knew that.
He had a small smile come across his face thinking of Buddy, he had to look to the future and not the past. And it was looking like it was going to be a positive experience and for that he was grateful, who knew what lay ahead...
Thanks to Oldsfan, Viskarte, Violetteblack, Momsboy and Guest for sticking with this story and reviewing. It is heart warming to know that people read what you write, let alone like it and review and for that I am eternally grateful. Thanks again. :)