Cuddy told the cab driver to keep the meter running and rushed into the lobby. Her heart was racing. She wasn't going to relax until she saw her little girl, safe and sound, with her own two eyes.

"John Wilson, apartment 7B," she said, sprinting toward the elevator.

"Mama, it's me!" Rachel said, popping up from behind the desk, with an impish grin.

Cuddy did a doubletake.

"Rachel, you're here!" she said, as her daughter rushed out from behind the booth and wrapped her in a hug.

"What happened to Dr. Wilson?" Cuddy asked Jose.

"He had to go," Jose said.

"He had to go?" She turned to Rachel, slightly ticked: "How long have you been sitting here?"

Rachel wrinkled her nose, consulted with Jose.

"Five minutes?" she said.

"Maybe six," Jose agreed.

Cuddy held her little girl at arm's length and inspected her. "Thank God you're okay," she said.

"It was fun!" Rachel said. "I saw the Washington Monument! It looked like an arrow! And then we drove past the White House but I didn't see the president! And John gave me this book!" She thrust out the book House had given her from the Smithsonian: A Child's Guide to Space.

Cuddy hugged her again. She was so relieved and grateful, she was on the verge of tears, but she didn't want to scare Rachel. So she smiled, perhaps a bit too broadly.

"A few more adventures are in store," she said. "A cab ride and a really fast train called the Acela. Can you handle that?"

"Yes!" Rachel said.

"Please thank Dr. Wilson for me," Cuddy said to Jose. "I wish he was here so I could thank him myself. " Then she reached into her purse, pulled out several bills. "This is for you."

Jose held up his hand in protest.

"Not necessary. She's a good kid. Well-behaved. And besides, Dr. Wilson is one of the best tenants in this whole building. Keeps to himself. Never asks for anything."

"I insist," Cuddy said, folding the money into his palm. She grabbed Rachel's hand and darted to the door before he could object.

"Thanks again!" she said.

"Bye bye!" Rachel sang, as they ran—happy and giggly—out to the cab.


From his spot in the hallway, House suddenly had a feeling of profound emptiness, bordering on dread. He had convinced himself that he was happy with his quiet little life, without any emotional entanglements, and now he felt like there was a hole in his heart that would never be filled. At times, his life with Cuddy and Rachel seemed like a dream. But seeing them together—so close and yet worlds away—brought it all back. But then he reminded himself, that was never meant to be his life. He life was meant to be in the shadows, with the rest of society's cast-offs.

He closed his eyes for a second and then approached Jose.

"Everything work out okay?" he said.

"Yeah, you just missed the mother," Jose said. "Too bad, too. She was a real MILF. But the classy kind. You would've liked her."

"Oh yeah?" House said. "Sorry I missed her."

He swallowed.

"That Rachel's a pretty cool kid, huh?" he said.

"Sweet. Real sweet," Jose agreed.

"Smart, too," House said.

"Yeah," Jose said, as though humoring him. "Real smart."

House suddenly felt like he had revealed too much about himself. He nodded at Jose.

"Thanks again, man. I really appreciated it. Good night."

"Good night, Dr Wilson."


Rachel fell asleep almost instantly on the train, as Cuddy watched her, overwhelmed by a sense of protectiveness and love. But she still had many, many questions. So the next night, after a long day at work (at least 45 minutes of which were spent reassuring the Pleasantville Elementary School that no, she had no intention of suing for negligence), Cuddy began the interrogation.

They were sitting at the kitchen table, eating the take-out sushi Cuddy had picked up for dinner. Rachel liked to eat the California roll and the shrimp (with chopsticks!), a fact that Cuddy proudly reported to anyone who would listen. (Getting your kid to eat sushi was like some sort of parental badge of honor.)

"Tell me more about this Dr. John Wilson," Cuddy said.

Rachel had known this was coming, but she still felt uneasy. Her cheeks reddened. She looked down at her plate, played with the ginger with her chopsticks.

"He was…nice," she said, finally.

"Nice? That's good. What else? How old was he?"

"He was old. Like, 50," Rachel said.

"That old huh?" Cuddy said, mirthfully. "What did he look like?"

"Um. Tall, with a beard, and very blue eyes."

"Handsome?" Cuddy said, idly.

"I guess." Then looking up cautiously, she added: "Actually, he looked a little bit like House." (Should she have said that? Somehow, revealing this fact made her feel less like she was lying.)

"How strange. . ." Cuddy said.

"Strange?" Rachel said, with a gulp.

"Yes, because on the phone, I thought he sounded a little like House, too."

"I guess he did . . .a little," Rachel said. She suddenly found it very difficult to make eye contact with her mother.

"Maybe that's a thing," Cuddy said, musingly. "That people who sound alike, look alike, too. What else? How did you two even start talking to each other?"

"I was looking at the Voyager and he started telling me about it," she said. "He told me about zero gravity."

This was exactly what House had told her to say: "Tell your mom we were talking about zero gravity."

"So he's an astrophysicist?" Cuddy said.

"I don't know," Rachel shrugged. "He studies stuff about the universe."

Cuddy smiled. "Stuff about the universe. Well, that's important. Did you like his apartment?"

"It was kind of . . .sad," Rachel said. "John says that you're never alone when you have books and music, but he seemed lonesome to me."

"That is sad," Cuddy said, thoughtfully. She speared a piece of yellowtail with her chopsticks and dunked it into the soy sauce. "Maybe I'll send him an email, to thank him for taking such good care of you."

"That would be great!" Rachel said, not trying to appear overly enthusiastic.

"Okay, I'll do that," Cuddy said, with a smile. "Now eat your sushi."


She went on to the Smithsonian website and was relieved to see a small bio and email address (alas, no photo) of Dr. John Wilson.

"Dr. John Wilson is a graduate of the California Institute of Technology. He has worked in the Smithsonian's research department for three years."

(What she didn't know was that House, once he decided he wanted to work for the Institute, had checked the bios of every single researcher there. Two Harvards. Three MITs. One from Stanford. Not a single one from CIT. He has his guys forge the diploma and his records. It cost him 10 grand.)

She cut and pasted his email address and began to write.

Dear Dr. Wilson-

This is Dr. Lisa Cuddy, Rachel's mom. I'm so sorry that I wasn't able to meet you in D.C. You made quite an impression on Rachel.

I just wanted to thank you again for taking such good care of her. She told me the grilled cheese was "yummy" (her highest culinary praise) and that you were very "nice" (albeit old, she said you were—gasp!—50). She's had her head buried in that space book all night.

I'm so glad that Rachel is taking an interest in science and I must say, it's experiences like this, meeting a real scientist at the Air and Space Museum, that can really shape a life. So again, I can't thank you enough.

If you're ever in New York, I'd love to take you out for dinner, as my way of saying thanks. I know that Rachel would certainly love to see you again.

Yours truly,



House got the email the next day at work. His heart did a little flip when he saw the sender.

He read it, too quickly, then read it again. This time, he savored every word. You made quite an impression on Rachel. . . I can't thank you enough. And then his favorite: I'd love to take you out for dinner.

Of course, dinner was completely out of the question—a pipedream—but the email made him ridiculously happy.

He should've left well enough alone. The last couple of days had been a nice, unexpected visit from the best part of his former life. He got to spend time with Rachel (who knows, maybe he'd see her again? Maybe she'd come back to the Smithsonian when she was old enough to take the train on her own.) He had received this wonderful email from Cuddy, where he could almost pretend that she was absolving him of some of his sins. (Okay, looking after a little girl for a few hours hardly compensated for crashing a car through a dining room and disrupting a life, but it was something, right?)

He should've just accepted this tiny gift for what it was and moved on. . .But he couldn't. Because Rachel was right. He was lonely. He did crave human contact. Not just any contact. Her contact. Contact with the one woman he still fantasized over, the woman who still stalked his dreams.

So he hit reply.

Dear Dr. Cuddy-

It was my pleasure looking after Rachel. I was a loner, too, when I was a kid, a perpetual wanderer off the beaten path, so I was always getting separated from the group. My mother threatened to put a leash on me at one point. (Thank God she never did. I'm not sure I would have ever recovered from the humiliation.) Anyway, I recognized a kindred sprit in your daughter.

I also enjoyed talking to her about space. I'd be happy to send her some more books, if you think she might like them.

I'm glad that Rachel found me to be good company, despite my decrepitude (I'm actually 56, so I'm pathetically flattered she thinks I'm 50). As for my grilled cheese recipe, I'd tell you but then I'd have to kill you. (Sorry.)

So Rachel tells me you're the principal at Westchester General? I'm pretty sure she meant president, but I could be wrong, I don't get out much. Sounds like interesting work. Lots of responsibility. I guess you don't have the luxury of wandering off the beaten path, huh?

Anyway, thank you for your note of thanks. (That may be the single most polite sentence I've ever written.) Say hi to Rachel for me.

Oh, and for God's sake, call me John. Dr. Wilson was my dad—uh, if my dad had been a doctor, that is.


He hesitated for a long time, his finger poised over the button, and then hit SEND.


Cuddy was surprised by the email. First, just the fact that he had written back at all. She assumed her letter was a one-and-done kind of thing. Then, she was surprised at how witty and personable he was. For some reason, she had imagined him to be a humorless, pocket-protector type. Reading it, she found herself smiling in a certain way—not just the way she smiled when something amused her, but the way she smiled when she was flirting, like at a party. For a second, she wondered if Rachel telling her that John Wilson looked like House had anything to do with her giddy mood (and such a weird coincidence on that last name, too), but then she decided that wasn't it. Here was a guy who liked her daughter (always the quickest way to Cuddy's heart), was brilliant (hello? astrophysicist), and, according to Rachel at least, was both handsome and a little lonely.

He clearly wanted her to write back ("call me John"). What was the harm in the exchange of a few emails? It wasn't like she was involved with anyone at the moment. It didn't have to go anywhere. If nothing else, she and Rachel could have their own private guide next time they went to the Air and Space Museum.


So they started exchanging emails. First every few days, then every day, then several times a day.

At first it was just basic getting-to-know-you stuff: Favorite book, favorite movie, favorite musician.

House was careful to never lie, but he also avoided things he knew she knew about him. For example, Cuddy knew his favorite film was Ferris Bueller's Day Off. But his second favorite film was 2001: A Space Odyssey, so he went with that. Seemed more fitting for an astrophysicist anyway.

As for his childhood, the funny thing was, he and Cuddy had never really talked too much about his childhood, so he was free to be pretty forthcoming. Also, it was somehow easier to tell someone that your father used to punish you with ice baths and call you a "waste of space" when you weren't looking them in the eye.

He learned things about Cuddy, too: How she was always her daddy's favorite, but how she could never do enough to please her mom. "I guess it's because my mother and I are so similar," she wrote. And House wanted to write back: "You are so much more beautiful than your mother, both inside and out, I reject that comparison completely"—but of course he couldn't. "I sometimes fear that I'm more like my dad than I care to admit," he wrote instead.

Eventually, their letters contained more quotidian concerns. Cuddy talked about some of her hassles at work, House talked about some new formula he was working on to prove the existence of dark matter.

Just once, she wrote about a particularly vexing case at work that not even her best doctors could solve: A boy with cystic fibrosis who was not responding to treatment, but instead was showing increased respiratory distress.

"I don't know much about medicine," House wrote back to her. "But in science we often say you have to look past your assumptions to see what obvious thing you may have missed, or as the expression goes: Don't miss the forest for the trees."

That night, lying in bed, it occurred to her: The boy's new respiratory symptoms had nothing to do with his cystic fibrosis. The next day they checked his body for rashes and discovered he had Lyme disease.

She wanted to write to John right away and tell him that it was his line of reasoning that had led to the diagnoses. Instead, she got a better idea. She picked up her phone and called the Museum, asked for his extension.

He picked up after one ring.

"John Wilson," he said.

"John. . .It's Lisa. Lisa Cuddy. I hope it's okay that I'm calling you."

House bolted upright in his chair. He gulped.

"No, it's. . .fine," he said. But he was starting to panic. A small conversation during a moment of crisis was one thing. Any sort of extended conversation and she would inevitably start to figure things out. People's voices were among their most distinguishing traits.

He figured his best strategy was to say as little as possible and try to disguise his voice.

"How are you?" he said, trying to over-enunciate every word.

"I'm good. I'm good. It's good to hear your voice. I've really enjoyed our correspondence."

"Me too," he said.

"I just wanted to tell you that your advice worked. I figured out what was wrong with that little boy. It was Lyme disease."

House grinned, despite himself. Of course, he knew that it was Lyme disease. He also knew that Cuddy was smart enough to run with his clues.

"That's treatable, right?" he said. (Of all the half-truths and outright lies he had told, pretending not to know the severity of Lyme disease may actually have been the most difficult to spit out.)

"Yes, very. A bit more complicated because of his previous condition, but we caught it in time."

"Good," he said.

There was a brief silence.

"Well, I can tell by your voice that you're busy," she said, somewhat dejectedly.

"Yeah…I am a little. . ." He started panicking, though, thinking about upsetting her, putting her off in any way. "Any chance I can call you tonight? Say 9 pm?"

That would give him time to go to the electronics store and purchase one of those digital voice changers. Not fool proof—inflection and word choice were almost as telling as the actual timbre of the voice—but better than nothing. Besides, he didn't want to get paranoid. Cuddy truly thought he was dead.

"I'd like that," she said.

He could hear the smile in her voice and he felt himself begin to relax.

"It's a date," he said, merrily.

He was playing a dangerous game, he knew. But it was too late. He was in love with her. Again. Still. There was no turning back.


"Your voice sounds different," Cuddy said when he called.

"This is my cell phone," he said. "At work I've been calling from a land line."

"That must be it," she said, skeptically. Then she added, "You still sound uncannily like an ex boyfriend of mine."

A tiny part of him wanted to ask: "What was he like?" but he restrained himself.

"Sorry," he said instead.

"That's okay," she said, with a laugh. "It's not your fault. And besides, once I get past the vaguely disturbing factor—did I tell you he's dead?—it's not actually a bad thing."

"Good," he said. "I mean, not good that he's dead. Good that it's not a bad thing."

"On the other hand," she said. "You have a nearly nonexistent digital footprint. I mean, not that I'm some sort of cyber stalker or anything." House smiled. "But I couldn't find a single picture of you online. I thought that was virtually unheard of this day and age."

"I told you," he said. "I'm an off-the-beaten path kind of guy. But I could send you a photo, if you like."

(He didn't say it would necessarily be a photo of him.)

"No, that's okay. I don't care about stuff like that."

"I do," House cracked. "I only have online correspondences with extremely beautiful women. You passed with flying colors."

"I'm glad," she chuckled.

"I'm just kidding," he said. "I mean, not about you being extremely beautiful, because two can play at this cyber stalking game you know. But I'd still be pen pals with you even if you were a troll."

"That's a relief," she said. Then there was a tiny pause. "So that's all we are? Just pen pals?"

"No," he said. "I hope we're more."


Emails were mostly jettisoned in favor of phone calls. At one point, Cuddy recommended video chatting but House made up some lame excuse about the lens on his computer camera being broken.

They found a rhythm, somewhere between friendship and something more. They flirted now, quite often. But it never got explicitly romantic or sexual. (Although often, we he got off the phone, House would jerk off just to the thought of her voice.) They still weren't quite sure what they were to each other, and neither was in any rush to define it.

A few weeks after "John" and Cuddy took their relationship to the next level, Rachel came into Cuddy's room, just as her mother was hanging up the phone.

"Was that Joooohn?" she teased, in a drawn out, swoony voice.

"As a matter of fact, yes," Cuddy said, with an embarrassed grin.

"I can always tell when you've been talking to John because you look all happy and playful."

"I do not!" Cuddy said. And then she threw a pillow at her.

Rachel climbed into bed, curled up next to her mother.

"So you really like him a lot, huh?"

"I do, Rach."

"So what are you going to do about it?"

"I don't know," Cuddy said. "I'm not sure he feels the same way about me. It's weird. He hasn't made any attempt to video chat. He says he has a broken computer, but that can be fixed, right? And he's not once talked about meeting me in person. I'm beginning to think he's not that into me."

"Oh, he's into you," Rachel said, confidently.

Cuddy squinted at her.

"How can you be so sure?"

"I, um. . .all men are into you, mom. You're a babe!"

"I really need to raise your allowance," Cuddy said, and they both laughed.


It was Rachel's idea that they take a day drip to D.C. to visit John.

"We can't just show up on his doorstep," Cuddy protested.

"Why not?"

"Because it's rude."

"He told me he liked spontaneousness!" Rachel improvised.

"Spontaneity," Cuddy corrected.

"That too."

Cuddy laughed. Her daughter was turning into such a little wiseass.

"I don't know…" Cuddy hemmed.

"What happened to women's lib, mom?"

"Women's lib? What is this, 1974?"

"Nana told me that women's lib is why you have an important job and a kid and no husband."

Cuddy laughed.

"I suppose that's true. But still. . ." she wrinkled her nose. "I think we should call first."

"No!" Rachel said, vehemently. "That'll ruin everything."

Rachel knew that she was explicitly breaking the promise she had made to House all those months ago. But she felt in her heart, it was time for her mother to know the truth. Rachel had always known that House was the love of her mother's life. If she needed any further proof it was this: She even fell in love with House when she didn't know it was him.

She supposed there was a chance it would all horribly backfire: That House would be furious with her, that her mother might turn him over to the police. But in her heart, she simply knew it was the right thing to do. These were two people who were meant to be together. And it was her job as a loving daughter to give them their happily ever after.

"What do you say mama?"

Cuddy heaved a sigh.

"What's that expression you use?" she said, wrinkling her nose. "About how we only live once?"

"YOLO, mama! YOLO."

"YOLO it is."


They arrived at his apartment on a Saturday, at about 6 pm.

"Remember us?" Cuddy said to Jose.

"How could I forget!" Jose said. "Rachel and…Rachel's beautiful mother." He beamed at them. "Dr. Wilson is going to be so happy to see you guys. Should I call him and tell him you're here?"

"We were actually going for the element of surprise," Cuddy admitted.

"In that case, go on up," Jose said. And he buzzed them up.

Literally the moment they got to his front door, Rachel started to have second thoughts. Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea after all. Was she violating House's trust? Essentially admitting to her mother that she was a compulsive liar?

But it was too late. Because Cuddy was ringing the door bell.

House came to the door, headphones draped around his neck, wearing a white tee-shirt and plaid pajama bottoms and corduroy slippers.

He had looked sleepy, but he snapped to attention when he saw who it was.

"Oh. . .shit," he said.

They might've expected Cuddy to scream or even pass out upon staring into the face of her dead lover. Instead, she regarded him with a look somewhere between complete shock and confirmation of what she had already known.

"So it's really you," she said.

"It's really me," he said, sheepishly.

Cuddy continuted to stare at him, like a part of her still couldn't believe he was real.

Then, snapping out of her momentary fugue state, she began pounding on his chest, hard.

"You idiot! I thought you were dead! I thought you were dead! You put me through hell!"

House stood there, taking her abuse, his shoulders slightly slumped, until she stopped yelling and started crying. Then she lunged for him, but this time she didn't hit him. She was hugging him, tightly, squeezing him for dear life, her tears streaking his tee-shirt.

"You idiot," she kept wailing.

"I told you she still loved you," Rachel said, knowingly.

"I hate him!" Cuddy sniffed loudly, onto his shoulder.

"But you love him too," Rachel pointed out.

"Yes!" Cuddy said, hitting him hard, again, in the chest. "But not as much as I hate him!"

"Better come in, since you have all these feelings for me," he said, finally grabbing her arms to stop the assault.

They all came inside. House poured himself a scotch and poured Cuddy one, too, and got Rachel a glass of milk. He sat on a chair and Rachel and Cuddy sat across from him, on the couch.

"How long have you known?" he said, finally.

"I didn't know—not for sure, at least," Cuddy said. There was still an angry edge to her voice, but she was starting to calm down. "I suspected. More and more, the longer we talked. First your voice, then your last name, Wilson. And John? That's from your father, right?"

"Right," House said.

"There was the fact that you had no pictures, that you never wanted to Skype. Your sense of humor, your irreverence. It was all House. But I think the biggest clue was that day you figured out that kid had Lyme disease."

"You figured it out," House corrected.

"Yeah. . . because you spoon-fed it to me."

House chuckled.

"Yeah. I guess I did."

Then Cuddy turned to Rachel: "And I can't believe you kept this from me!"

"Sorry mom," Rachel said, looking at her sneakers. "I didn't want House to go to jail."

"Actually, I'm impressed," Cuddy said. Then she turned back to House, folding her arms. "But you start explaining yourself. And make it good."

So he told her. He told her about Wilson's illness and the horrible timing with the arrest warrant. He told her about the road trip that he and Wilson went on—how much fun it was, until it wasn't. He told her about not being able to attend his own best friend's funeral. "He got to attend mine, but I didn't get to attend his. Ironic, huh?" he said. He talked about thoughts of suicide that finally gave way to his own natural curiosity about the world.

"Life was just too damn interesting not to…live it," he said.

So he read a library full of books on astrophysics, hired some criminal types to give him a fake identity and fake credentials, and got his job at the Smithsonian.

"I was living a purely intellectual life," he said. "No human attachments whatsoever. Until a snot-nosed kid approached me at the museum, and turned my life upside down."

"He means me," Rachel said proudly.

"Yeah," Cuddy said. "I kind of got that."

"So…now what?" House said, looking at her hopefully.

"Now . . . we're starving," Cuddy said. "Is there a Chinese takeout anywhere around here?"


They ate potstickers and moo-shu pork and Hunan chicken and Cuddy fired questions at House, that he tried to answer as truthfully and thoroughly as possible. He was never going to lie to her, ever again.

And all throughout dinner, he felt sort of dazed, like the thing he had wanted the most and feared the most was taking place, right before his eyes, and he still wasn't quite sure how it would all end.

After dinner, they retired back to the living room and Rachel fell asleep and House carried her to the bedroom. her eyelashes fluttering against his neck, and he thought how strange it was to love a child, how different from any other kind of love—and he tucked her in, as Cuddy watched from the doorway.

"So what are we going to do?" Cuddy said. They were now side by side on the couch. House was still drinking scotch. Cuddy had moved onto red wine.

"I don't know. We could . . . pretend this never happened. Go back to the way things were," he said, trying to be practical.

"Is that what you want?"

"No," he said. "That's not what I want at all."

"So what do you want?"

"I want to kiss you," he said, truthfully

She sighed, leaned her head against the couch, looked at him adorably out of the corner of her eyes. Her lips parted the tiniest bit, perhaps unconsciously. It was all the encouragement he needed. He bent forward and gave her a soft kiss on the mouth. Her lips met his welcomingly, the tiniest bit of her tongue grazing his teeth, so he kissed her again, harder this time, his tongue probing her mouth, his hands on her hair and face.

"You're so fucking beautiful," he said. "You're the most beautiful creature I've ever seen."

"I'm such a moron," she said.

"You're not," he said, planting another gentle kiss on her mouth, and then another one, because he could.

She closed her eyes.

"If your plan all along was to fake your own death so I'd forgive you for ruining my life and then get me to fall in love with you again under an alias, well played House," she said.

"It swear it was never my plan. I'm never expected you to forgive me for what I did. Hell, I still haven't forgiven myself."

He looked at her, earnestly. "It just happened, Cuddy. Somehow, we always just happen."

She laughed ruefully. Shook her head.

"It's true," she said. "I keep trying to get out and you keep pulling me back in."

House laughed.

"I'm sorry you love me," he said. "It must suck."

"It does," she said, half seriously.

"When I'm on my death bed, and they ask me to name the greatest accomplishment of life, I'm going to say, 'Getting Lisa Cuddy to fall in love with me—repeatedly.'"

And, despite herself, she laughed, too.

"But this is untenable, House. I can't love a man in the shadows. And more importantly, neither can Rachel."

"I have no choice. I have to live in the shadows."

"Says who? Have you even consulted a lawyer? Maybe there are options. Plea bargains. It sounds like the case against you is shoddy at best."

"Was," House said. "Was shoddy. Until I faked my own death and assumed a false identity and got a job in the government. From what I've heard, the law doesn't take kindly to that."

"Could we at least talk to a lawyer? Please. They're required to keep things confidential right? Like priests."

House smiled.


"You have character witness. Me. Your colleagues. Even Rachel. You're not a criminal. They have to see that."

She took his hand. "I want to start our lives together, for real this time."

Tears stung at House's eyes. He blinked them away.

"I want that, too," he said.

"So we'll try?" she said, folding herself into his arms.

"Of course," he said, kissing her head. "Of course."


Cuddy was partly right. There were extenuating circumstances, shoddy evidence, and impressive character witnesses—Eric Foreman, Dean of Medicine at Princeton Plainsboro ("best doctor I've ever worked with . . .or ever will work with"); astrophysicist Gordon Walsh ("A great guy and a genius, when he's not being a royal pain in my ass"); a solemn faced 8-year-old girl ("my best friend in the whole wide world"); and the beautiful and self-possessed president of Westchester General Hospital ("the love of my life—in all it's complication and beauty.")

In the end, Gregory House was sentenced to three years in the state penitentiary.

Cuddy cried, but House's lawyer was encouraging.

"On good behavior, he'll be out in 10 months," he said.

They had House in handcuffs now and were leading him out of the courthouse.

"Then behave!" she said to him. "Promise me you'll behave."

"Like a choirboy. Everything's different this time."

"How so?" said the lawyer.

"Because this time, I've got something to live for."