Welcome to Plainsboro - Part 2
Good heavens. Thank you, everyone for the nice reviews! It was so nice, I just had to do what I could to get through more of the introductory phase. I can't really take all the credit for it, though. BuffyCharmed planted the actual challenge seed. I'm just your humble gardener.
To answer a question regarding timeline - I'm starting at the beginning of Season 1 for Buffy, and halfway through season 1 for House. Hoping to keep them roughly balanced out, and I'll try to avoid direct scene quotes from either show, though there are going to be the occasional moment where the original dialogue just needs to be used.
Questions regarding the appearance and role of characters from either series, well.. We'll see, won't we? ::Evil::
Disclaimers - See chapter one. Story - keep readin'. Reviews welcome. Flamers will be sentenced to the MRI of Doom. (It's a House thing.)-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
The flight kind of passed Buffy by in a blur. A regular blur, followed by a dark blur, once they crossed the time zones far enough east, so that nighttime happened a couple hours sooner than Buffy was used to.
This blur would be due to the fact that her mind was reeling from the dislocation of her entire world rotating about ten degrees to the left. Her mother was dead. Her father wasn't her father. She was being sent to live with a father she never knew existed.
Wasn't just being the scourge of the forces of darkness confusing enough? What deranged story editor decided this added twist was going to be fun? Obviously, her life had hit a major snag.
It seemed like the more fretful she got about her soon-to-be-new living arrangement, the faster the plane ride seemed to be going by. Wasn't that just the way it always goes? When it's something you want, time didn't pass - it tailgated. When it's something you're worried about? Zoom! Time suddenly could travel at the speed of... well, time.
No matter how much she tried to quiet her brain, it kept rambling off on tangents that she'd rather it didn't ramble toward. Would he even want me around? I mean, he's this big time doctor! That's what Lindsey said, anyways. Am I even going to like it in Plainsboro? Doesn't it snow in New Jersey? Maybe this wasn't such a good-- Hey. Was that the plane touching down? Ohh, boy.
Buffy went about the procedure of disembarking, finding the luggage carousel and fetching her bags, and shambling along with the rest of the travel sheep to get past the security checkpoint. Lindsey had told her that her father would be picking her up, once he was able to get a hold of him. And if not, she had the address of the hospital that her father worked at. She could take a cab, if needs be. It wasn't like she was a stranger to the concept of the taxi, what with living in L.A. and all.
She cleared the security gate and looked around with a lost little sigh. There were clusters of people being greeted by families. Friends greeting friends. Mothers (oh God) greeting children. Buffy paused and closed her eyes, giving serious thought to having a major crying jag. But, no. Not in the middle of the airport. And not when she still needed to see if she was being met, or if she had to deliver herself. Maybe she should call Lindsey first, see if he'd managed to get a hold of her doctor-father, or...
Wait, what was that over there? Three people, standing and watching the security gate.. a pretty auburn haired woman, a guy that put off a 'wholesome uncle' kind of a vibe, and... someone that looked kind of like the Marlboro Man had been stretched on the rack, and given a cane to help him walk afterwards. And the woman was holding a sign that said, 'Welcome, Buffy!'.
Dear gods. It even had a smiley face on it. Was she a potentially overachieving stepmother? This day just couldn't get more surreal.
Buffy took a deep breath and began to proceed toward the trio. While the uncle-ish man and the woman were still anxiously watching the gate, the older one noticed her as she approached. He blinked in vague recognition. "Wilson..." he muttered to his friend.
All eyes focused on the displaced Californian. "Hey," she greeted, feeling foolish as she waved her hand half-heartedly. "That's me. I'm Buffy."
The woman immediately gave her a bright, welcoming smile. "Hello, Buffy! It's good to meet you! Was the flight okay?" She passed the sign off on the younger man, (Wilson?), and reached out to envelop Buffy in a tentative hug.
Buffy could very well have kissed her for that. Well, not really, but the gesture was nice. Joyce had been a very tactile mom, always ready with a reaassuring caress or motherly hug. Since she had... since she left, Buffy felt like she was the only person on the planet, because suddenly there was nobody that would touch her in any sort of reassuring fashion. (She wasn't counting the boys at school, whose idea of 'touching' was a great deal less platonic.)
"It was.. y'know.. a flight," Buffy replied quietly, closing her eyes again briefly.
"Oh! I'm sorry, you don't have any idea who we are." The woman straightened up after giving Buffy's arm a reassuring squeeze. "I'm Allison Cameron. This is James Wilson..." She gestured to the younger man, who gave her a kindly, sympathetic smile, "...and this..." Cameron trailed off, uncertain of the best way to introduce the two.
The cane wielding man took matters in his own hands, and leaned forward to offer one of said hands to Buffy with an unreadable expression on his face. "I'm Greg House. I guess I'm your father." There was a tightness around his eyes that Buffy could sort of read. He was either really tense, or.. no, he was in pain. A lot of pain. Was it because of her? Oh God, this was so confusing...
Buffy took his hand, watching her own delicate fingers vanish in his palm as they were concealed in a surprisingly gentle grip. Well, he was apparently a doctor, he must have a lot of experience in being gentle. "Hi. It's nice to meet you.. all." House withdrew his hand again, after the appropriate amount of contact.
Well. Wasn't this awkward silence nice? "So, you brought friends with you...?" she asked of House. How keen. Everyone wanted to meet her.
Cameron came to the social rescue. "We work with your father," she explained.
Wilson spoke up, "I've been his friend for a long time. I hoped it might be less awkward if you didn't meet completely alone." That, and he didn't trust House to greet a distraught sixteen-year-old by himself, without saying something to frighten her or hurt her feelings. The topic of House's unfitness to drive, due to his current detoxification issue, was a kettle of fish that Wilson wasn't about to touch.
Buffy glanced at the overly careful duo that had accompanied her father. "And, are you starting to see the flaw inherent in the plan..?" Truthfully, there wasn't much of anything that could make this less awkward. Although she did kind of appreciate the effort. And that hug had been nice.
At Buffy's question, a half smile quirked the corner of House's mouth. Perhaps some of his genes were
swimming around in that petite frame. Because she certainly didn't look anything like him. Well, perhaps the eyes...
Meanwhile, a realization was slowly dawning on Buffy. They worked with her father? They.. were all doctors? She began to feel faintly like one of the kids on the 'short' bus. Not that she was unintelligent or anything, but.. they were doctors. It took like, years and years of school to get that. And her years and years of school were all primary education. That
couldn't be good.
Cameron felt the awkwardness begin to pile up. "Oh! We got you a welcoming present. It's not much - just something we picked up in one of the gift shops before you landed, but..." She held up a yellow sweatshirt that read, You live in New Jersey? Which exit?
, complete with a cartoon picture of a tangled looking snarl of freeway roads that were all tied in a knot.
Buffy gave a half smile, not quite getting the joke, but it was kind of cute. And the occasional gusts of air coming in when the automatic doors to the street opened were
kind of chilly. "Oh. Well.. thank you." She murmured, bestowing a grateful smile on Cameron. Though, it really didn't touch her eyes.
House caught the bemused look that Buffy had given the shirt. “It’s a running gag. Sort of the state shame. It’s often said that you can’t hardly go anywhere in New Jersey, without ending up on a highway of some sort. The truth is.. You really can’t go anywhere without getting on the highway, unless you’re walking.” His reward was another of those almost-smiles.
Wilson glanced at the clock next to the screens that displayed when flights were due or had landed. “It’s getting late. I ought to get you two home, so you can get settled in, Buffy. Cameron, did you want me to drop you back at the hospital?”
Cameron shrugged. “Sure, I don’t think there’s much we can do that the nurses can’t for Keith.” At Buffy’s curious look, she explained, “Our current patient.. We can’t figure out what’s wrong with him, exactly. We’re sort of at the ‘hurry up and wait’ phase.” This explanation had the virtue of being true, without going into the sordid details of exactly why the boy was in such bad shape.
Buffy nodded, accepting this explanation for now. “I could stand to be somewhere that’s not moving for a while, anyway.” She paused briefly to tug the sweatshirt over her head, and the four of them began the trek to the parking garage, in search of Wilson’s car.-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
Forty minutes and no less than three separate highways and a pause at the hospital later , (The sweatshirt wasn’t lying!), they pulled up in front of House’s apartment building. (House’s House
, Buffy punned inside her head). Wilson walked them inside, insisting on helping carry Buffy’s luggage. He seemed so keen on helping, that Buffy didn’t have the heart to tell him no. Never mind the fact that she could’ve carried all of the luggage balanced on one hand. The hospital had been on the way, so Cameron was already dropped off.
“Well, make yourself at home,” House invited gruffly, waving an arm vaguely about. He was a bit at a loss as to what to say.
Wilson took over. “If you’re hungry, Buffy, I’m sure there’s... something in the fridge. Just don’t touch it if it’s moving.” He wished he was more than half-kidding. While Buffy settled her luggage out of the way, Wilson tugged House aside.
“You know you can’t stay in this apartment much longer, right? It’s not room enough for a teenage girl,” Wilson began in hushed tones. Not hushed enough, because Buffy could hear every word clear as a bell. Bless that Slayer hearing.
“No, I thought I’d traipse merrily along through life with my long lost daughter on my couch,” House snarked back, leaning against the wall and rubbing at his leg. “Yes, I know that. I just have a few extra preparations I have to make first. It’s not like I’m much good for carrying boxes.”
“Fine," House’s best friend sighed. "And... Try to talk to her. She’s got to feel weird enough as it is, without having a grouchy old man barely saying two words to her.” He glanced over his shoulder at Buffy, who was pretending not to hear. Wilson’s voice dropped to the barest whisper. “Do you want me to bring you some pills? Cuddy couldn’t have foreseen something like this happening.”
The crippled physician looked mortally offended. “What? And miss out on the chance to get out of clinic duty for a month? Begone, heathen.”
Rolling his eyes, Wilson began to make his way to the door. “Call me if you guys need anything, alright? Buffy, it was wonderful to meet you. I’ll see you soon, I’m sure.” With what he hoped was a reassuring smile for the girl, Wilson beat a hasty retreat so he could get home without waking his wife.
Silence reigned in the apartment for about five minutes. Buffy tried to fend off the oppressive quiet by puttering with her things, getting her backpack situated since it contained her most immediately needed items. She got so wrapped up in it, that she jumped when House spoke again. “So. Burned down the gym, eh? That anxious to get out of P.E?”
Of all the things he could’ve brought up first... “Pills, huh? That have anything to do with the fact that you look like you’d go around the world to the right, if it wasn’t for your cane?” Never put a Slayer on the defensive.
House gave a partial grin. She definitely had to have some of his DNA in there. Could love of snarkiness be genetically transmitted? “Do you know what a blood clot can cause?” Buffy shook her head silently. “If it’s in the brain, it’s called a stroke. If it’s in the heart, it’s a heart attack. I had one in my leg; the medical term is 'infarction'.” He paused, frowning. “The only symptom is pain. If there was any way for my physicians to know more info, they might have caught it in time.” He limped over to his wetbar, and poured himself a scotch.
Buffy’s brows furrowed. “They didn’t know more info, or they didn’t catch it in time?”
“Both.” House downed half the glass. “I had two options. One was to remove my leg. The other was to let it run its course. It caused what’s known as ‘muscle death’. So, the booby prize for keeping my leg, is chronic pain. I’ve been using Vicodin to manage it. But they think I’m getting addicted. I was bet that I couldn’t go a week without the meds. If I do, I get out of doing extra duty at the hospital for a month.”
Buffy stared at him for several moments. “Why are you telling me this?”
House glanced at her over his shoulder. “You asked. And I never lie.” Outside of work, at any rate. But there was no need to go into that. She’d find that out soon enough, he was fairly certain.
While Buffy was digesting this, House made his way slowly to his recliner. “So. School gym?”
Buffy flushed slightly. “It was a total
accident. There was this.. Gang that tried to crash a school dance. I tried to push one of them off of me, and I knocked over a candle, and...” She made a hand motion that was the equivalent of ‘poof!’.
One of House’s eyes narrowed slightly. She wasn’t lying, but she wasn’t telling the whole truth, either. Hm. Interesting. “There’s blankets in that closet over there. Like Wilson said, if you’re hungry, feel free to raid. I only have the couch at the moment, but it shouldn’t be too long before that changes.”
“Um.. Okay! Thanks, er...” Buffy paused, “What.. What should I call you?” That was one of the more confusing things she’d been considering on the plane.
“Call me what you want.” He shrugged. “Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure it’ll be nicer than what I get called half the time at work. I’ll take some time tomorrow to get you enrolled at Plainsboro High.” House heaved himself up from the chair and made his way to his room.
She watched him disappear into the hall. “G’night...”