Title: The Promise

Author: pgrabia

Disclaimer: House M.D. and its characters do not belong to me. I am only borrowing them for entertainment purposes only and I'm not making any money from this.

Genre: Drama/Romance/angst

Characters/Pairing(s): G. House, J. Wilson, S. Warner, E. Foreman and other canon characters, OCs/ House/Wilson preslash, House/Stacy friendship-UST.

Word Count: ~1300

Spoilers/Warnings: General spoilers for all seasons up to and including the series finale, 8x22 "Everybody Dies". Major character death. Drug and alcohol use, coarse language, adult content.

Rating: R (M) (to be safe) unless otherwise advised.

A/N: This is my attempt to deal with my hatred of the final story arc in the series. The characters may be OOC. Sorry about that. Sorry too that this fic includes major character death. I don't usually write about that and if you find it to be a trigger for you then you best not read this.

Unbetaed, sorry.

The Promise

Chapter One

The TV in his cheap motel room wasn't even a flatscreen, and the digital converter box on top of it barely made visible the three channels it managed to pick up. Still, House could make out the famous Times Square ball as it dropped, bringing the 'official' end of old year and beginning of the new.

He took a deep swallow from the bottle of scotch he held. House was stretched out on the lone bed in the room, half-drunk and alone. He was still kicking around because of his promise, made last minute, to the Manipulative Bitch.

"Promise me," said Bitch had gasped. "Promise me, House. I need...to know…that you'll…be okay…."

So House had promised him he would be, never intending to keep the promise. How could he have? He'd lost the only person in his life that made his life make any kind of sense.

That had been a month and a half ago, and without trying—without doing much of anything—he had still stuck around, but to say that he was okay…well, that would be stretching it. A lot.

Still, a promise was a promise. House rarely made them because once he did he felt obliged to keep them. It had been the last wish of the most important person in the world.

He set the bottle down on the bedside table, next to the phone, and picked up the receiver. He'd memorized the number and now, even through the haze caused by the alcohol, he remembered it, and dialed. It rang a few times, and he was about to hang up for the second time that night when someone picked up.

"Happy New Year!" a female voice said over the background sounds of noise-makers, kazoos, and Auld Lang Syne.

For a moment he had no voice, and no courage, either. But he'd promised.

"Hello?" she said.

House cleared his throat. "Hello, Stacy."

There was no actual response from the other end of the line though House could have sworn he heard her curse.

"Stacy," he said a little more loudly. "It's me. It's Greg."

There was another pause about the length of a heartbeat before there was a response. "You bastard!"

Her voice was quavering and soft.

"I'm alive," he told her. "Don't hang up! I had to do it…for Wilson. But I made a promise to him before he…well, he's…he's gone. I need your help to keep it. You can hate me after that. Okay?"

She was crying.

"Okay."

She met him in a small, non-descript diner on the outskirts of Trenton. He sat at a table in the far corner of the dining room, nursing a cup of coffee when he looked up and saw her enter. Just as always she was beautiful, her dark brown tresses pulled back; she wore a minimal amount of make up and was dressed in a blazer, blouse and pencil skirt.

He stood up to greet her. "Stacy—"

She cut him off by hugging him tightly, burying her face in his shoulder. House could feel her body trembling. He briefly hugged her back then gently pushed her away and gestured that she sit down.

"I can't believe you're really here in front of me," she told him as she sat opposite him in the booth. "You have a hell of a lot of explaining to do."

A waitress came over with a pot of coffee. She topped off House's cup. Stacy turned over the cup in front of her and the waitress filled it before leaving them both a menu and moving on to the next table.

"Rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated," he said quietly, keeping his head down and looking around almost nervously. "I had to do it. Wilson needed me for his last few months of life and there was no way I was going miss that by heading back to prison for flushing some tickets down a toilet. I had to do what I did. I don't expect you to understand."

"I understand that you loved him," she replied gently, nodding. "I understand why you faked your death, but how you did so is a mystery to me."

"I had someone in the coroner's office that owed me a big favor," House told her, keeping his voice low so as not to be overheard by anyone at neighboring tables. "I gave him my dental records and he switched them with those of one of my clinic patient's, who died of a heroin overdose in that factory. I went with Oliver to the factory to meet up with his dealer. I…I shot up with him and when I regained my senses I found him dead. When I managed to escape the fire, I realized that faking my death was the only way I was going to be able to be with Wilson until the end. I called in my favor then lay low until the funeral. Wilson didn't even know the truth until I texted him at the funeral during his 'moving' eulogy. I hated the idea of making you all mourn me but it was necessary that only Wilson knew the truth. I went under an assumed name with some very good and very expensive fake ID. We left town together and travelled the country on motorcycles until he became too sick to continue travelling. We rented a beach house in southern Oregon until…." House didn't finish. He simply couldn't say the words; the experience had been bad enough.

Stacy touched his hand briefly. "I'm sorry, Greg."

House nodded. "Anyway, one of the last things Wilson did was make me promise to carry on with life and be okay without him. I considered leaving the country…I probably still should but I'm not going to. I'm going to reclaim my life, for what it's worth anymore, because I think that's what Wilson would have wanted. I called you because I need you to help me find the best legal representation possible before I turn myself in to the police."

Stacy spoke up. "You'll still face prison time. You realize that, don't you? The law doesn't look favorably on felons fleeing from justice."

"I have no illusions," he confirmed with a curt nod of his head. "That felony vandalism charge was bullshit. If it hadn't been for that I wouldn't have needed to flee justice, as you put it. I had to be there with Wilson. My hands were tied."

"A jury just might understand that, if you even get to present your case before a jury. A good lawyer would be looking at arranging some kind of plea deal," Stacy said with a sigh. She reached across the table to touch his hand; it was like she had to do so to convince her that he really was substantial and not some trick of her imagination. She then reached into her purse and pulled out a business card, handing it to him. House took it and looked at it. The name on the card was Deacon Bernard, Attorney at Law, followed by a couple of phone numbers. Scribbled on the back of the card in Stacy's hand was another phone number.

"The number on the back is his private number," she told him. "Call that number. He's waiting for your call. He's one of the best criminal attorneys on the east coast, if not in the country. For your sake you need to hire me as part of your legal team. That way this entire conversation is privileged information and I can keep your secret. When you've made contact with him and set up a time to meet, let me know and I'll go with you."

House nodded, then smirked wryly. "I'm certain that Mark is going to be thrilled that I've insinuated myself back into your life."

Stacy shrugged at the mention of the name. "Mark and I broke up four months ago. We're in the process of a divorce, so what he likes or dislikes doesn't make one damned bit of difference."

House hesitated a moment before commenting. "I…wish I could say that I'm sorry to hear that, but I'm not."

She smiled sadly and shook her head at him. "I know," Stacy told him. She sighed. "I wish I knew what it is about you that I can't stop caring about you. You're like my Vicodin."

"I should be," he replied, pulling out a bottle of Vicodin from his pocket and rattling it in front of her. "I've ingested enough of these things in my life."

"I was a mess when I was called concerning your death, you know," she told him softly. "The next time I receive news like that you had better damned well be dead!"

He smiled knowingly, covering her hand briefly with his own and squeezing. He then lifted his coffee cup up as in a toast. "To my resurrection."