Welcome to Plainsboro - Part 3
Sweet, leaping Jeebus on a mini-bike! Y'all sure know how to make a body feel loved! Seriously, I'm totally blown away by the reviews I've been getting. I appreciate all the kind words, critiques and feedback, immensely.
The spelling errors and potential continuity trouble areas that some were kind enough to point out, have been fixed. The people have spoken - my pesky little author's note in the middle of chapter 2 has been done away with. I have a nasty habit of inserting little asides into things, on occasion. Lucky for me, I have you folks to keep me honest.
A few folks have noted that my Buffy voice seems to be a bit off. And I'm feeling that myself, truth be told. It may just be me getting a slow start. It could be that I just haven't ever been a sixteen year old girl that's mourning the loss of her mother. I'm going to keep at it, and hopefully I can liven her up for y'all, as time works its inevitable magic on her poor li'l heart.
Finally, an apology. I know that I said I was going to try to avoid copying from episodes as much as possible. But this particular sequence towards the end, it was a very firm picture in my mind as to how these events should go, with our favorite Slayer in the mix. I hope I can keep from doing it too often, and if I start to backslide, I'm relying on you guys to stop me.
Again, thank you all for your support.
But, that's enough of that. Onward with the saga! Disclaimer is on the first page. Previous story on previous pages. More story down below. Food is in the kitchen. Go make a sammich. And bring me a beer while you're up!-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
Buffy awoke after a fitful slumber and had a few moments of panic, not recognizing where she was right away. Once the adrenaline from her abrupt start had burned the sleep from her brain, she calmed down slowly. Oh, right.... I live in New Jersey now.
A distinction she could've done without, really. California was a place that she thought she'd live her entire life.
Then again, she also figured she'd be middle aged before anything happened to her mother. Or, that's what she thought before she became the Slayer. Afterwards, Buffy thought that she, herself, would be dead before she was old enough to legally drink. Or possibly by voting age - she hadn't settled on which.
And that line of thought needed to stop for the time being. Down that path, lay mental meltdowns galore.
To distract herself, she puttered carefully around the apartment. It seemed that House was already gone to work for the day. She couldn't hear him anywhere in the small apartment, at any rate. However, there did appear to be a folded note affixed to the fridge via magnet, with a word that might be her name. Boy, they really do all have bad handwriting
, Buffy mused to herself.
She unfolded the piece of paper and squinted as she read. Buffy - At work. -House
Below that, in a somewhat less messy hand: Loosely translated, that means, 'Make yourself at home. There's money on the end table if you want to order pizza or something. If you get bored hanging around the apartment, feel free to catch a cab and come visit the hospital.' He just writes in shorthand. -Jim Wilson
Buffy couldn't quite suppress a faintly amused grin at that. The bottom of the paper was crumpled, as if the two men had gotten into a tug-of-war over the note. One would think she'd feel a bit put out that she didn't get a more personal note from her own father. Somehow, the fact that his handler had to translate his almost-sentence was more humorous than upsetting. She ended up leaving the note sitting near the money left on the table, and went about the unmemorable process of getting showered and some breakfast into her.
Once that was over with and Buffy was feeling very nearly human again, she decided that some mindless TV, followed by a bit of equally mindless busywork. Just straightening up, really. So she felt like she was doing something other than being a lump on the couch. Nothing too invasive. She straightened up piles of stuff into less disorganized piles of stuff. Cleaned up the kitchen, did some dishes. She would have cleaned out the fridge, but... well, there really didn't seem to be much to clean out. Maybe she'd use that pizza money for a few groceries, instead?Nah
. Besides, Buffy still had the money allotted to her from the trust fund for some spending fun. Now there was a thought. Maybe later, she'd go and start learning the lay of the land in the malls nearby. That was always good for killing a few hours...
However, she wasn't feeling adventurous enough for that quite yet. Around midday, Buffy was curled up on the couch, holding Mr. Gordo and debating which of the midday soaps to watch. She'd just settled nostalgically on General Hospital
, when there was a light rap on the door.
Buffy hopped up to answer, opening the door to reveal a familiar face. "Oh! Dr. Wilson! C'mon in." She waved vaguely. It was likely that the man knew the apartment better than she did by a large margin.
Wilson came in. "Hey, Buffy. And call me Jim, please. I had a lunch coming, thought I'd stop by and see how you were doing, if you needed anyth--" Stopping dead in his tracks, Wilson stared at the television for about fifteen seconds and then quietly did his best not to collapse in a fit of laughter.
"What's so funny?" Buffy's eyebrows drew together in confusion.
The oncologist shook his head, wiping at his eyes. "Nothing, just... if I ever had any doubts that you were House's child, that just dispelled it right there." He pointed at the soap operatic antics on the screen.
Buffy glanced over her shoulder, then back to Wilson. "My... he watches it too?"
Wilson gave her a sympathetic smile. "He almost never misses an episode."
The Slayer's nose scrunched up. "Really? I'd have thought he'd get enough of that kinda thing, y'know, actually being
a doctor. The weird situations, the drama."
"I don't think there's a such a thing as 'enough' when it comes to drama for your father," he chortled, not unkindly. "You tired of hanging around the house yet? I thought I'd take you back to the hospital with me, let you see where he works. Although you might not be able to see him right away. His team is kind of occupied with a tricky case."
Buffy pursed her lips thoughtfully. "Know what? I think I could use some time out." So saying, she abruptly shut off the show, and tugged on her shoes. "What's so tricky about it?"
Wilson was briefly stunned at the fact that she'd just willingly turned off General Hospital
. That practicality must've been a trait inherited from Joyce. "Tricky about what?" he asked, distracted.
"About the case that... his team is working on?" Buffy gently prompted.
"Oh, that!" He shook his head. "Well-"
"Bear in mind, if you get too medical on me, I'm going to be totally lost." she interrupted.
"Understood. Layman's terms it is." Chuckling, Wilson held the door open as they made their way to his car. "Well, they have a boy in his late teens who got into a car accident with his girlfriend driving. The boy started bleeding for no reason, and his girlfriend freaked out and wrecked the car. He developed complications shortly after arriving, and now his symptoms point to a few different things. That's... pretty much what his team does. They take on the cases that have multiple possible solutions."
Once she'd buckled her seat belt, Buffy processed this information. "And he does this willingly? Isn't being a doctor hard enough, without adding that kind of..." She trailed off, not able to find a word.
"He likes it." Wilson shrugged. "He likes solving the puzzles."
Her brows knotted up. "How does he treat the patients?" she asked at random.
He took a deep breath. "He... treats them. They get better, most of the time." Wilson really didn't want to have to tell Buffy about House's immense mistrust of humanity in general. At the same time, he didn't want it to just end up smacking the poor girl in the face. This'd be so much easier if he was best friends with a normal doctor.
Buffy frowned. That wasn't an answer. But she wasn't familiar enough with these people to know when it was a good time to push. Happily for Wilson, Buffy had lapsed into silence and remained so for the rest of the trip to Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. -:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
"Wow." Buffy glanced around as Wilson gave her the tour. "This place is huge. I didn't know there were that many sick people."
"Well, it's also a teaching hospital," he clarified. "We get a lot of interns in here. There's even a lecture hall or two."
Hm. Cute young doctors-to-be? It had possibilities. Buffy entertained herself with a random fantasy along those lines, until she was derailed from dreamland by Wilson herding her into the cafeteria.
"Thought you could use a bite to eat," he explained. "After we're done, we'll go see how House is doing, see if he has a few minutes to talk or something."
Buffy nodded, accepting that as the aroma of food made her stomach gurgle softly. "How long have you been the buffer between him and the rest of the world, anyhow?"
If it was possible to laugh and sigh at the same time, that's what Wilson did. "Oh, my... since pre-med, I guess." He paused delicately as they waited their turn. "That's where he met your mother. I didn't see her very much, myself - too busy studying. But she was nice. I'm sorry." Buffy's head bowed sadly, moving Wilson to pat her shoulder in awkward sympathy. He wasn't like Cameron, he couldn't just give a complete stranger a hug, let alone a teenaged girl. But he did feel for the poor child.
Accepting her obvious wishes to take a few moments to compose herself, he left Buffy to her thoughts until they got to the head of the line. He glanced thoughtfully at House's daughter. "Double cheeseburger with everything. And... a reuben, dry, no fries, hold the pickles. With a second one of those to go." The cashier looked around, confused. She didn't see Dr. House anywhere.
Buffy looked up at Wilson, confused. "What...?"
"Just thought you might like to try something new. I take it, you haven't had one of those before?"
The Slayer shook her head. "Corned beef is way fattening. Plus, I like fries!"
Wilson shrugged. "Well, I wasn't sure what House might have in mind for later, so I didn't want to fill you up too much." If their respective love for snark was a genetic trait, perhaps some of their culinary preferences were similarly embedded in their DNA? If nothing else, it was something to take Buffy's mind off of her sorrow for a bit. Buffy pouted slightly, but only inside her head. How could Wilson know that she had the metabolism of a hyperactive hummingbird, courtesy of her Slayer powers?
After they were seated, Wilson carefully fussed with his meal while waiting for Buffy to finish inspecting her sandwich. His patience was rewarded when she took a careful bite and immediately her eyes widened. She then took another bite, bigger this time, and her eyes rolled heavenward for a moment.
"Oh... my gosh..." Buffy let out a happy sigh. "My life has so been incomplete. This is the best. Sandwich. Ever," she announced, forgetting to be embarrassed about talking with her mouth full. Wilson carefully wiped at his mouth, using the napkin to hide the wide grin he was trying to suppress.
"I hoped you'd enjoy that," he murmured through his napkin. "It's House's regular order, most days."
She exhaled blissfully once more. "Mmf. Well, good to know he's got similar tastes."
It wasn't too much longer before they were sufficiently sated, and off on a search for Dr. House. Buffy was toting the styrofoam container that her father's lunch was resting in, and chattering happily to Wilson about the tour thus far.
As they came up the stairs, they spotted House and his team walking along in a hurry, with Foreman arguing heatedly, "So, getting away from the poison is what poisoned him?"
House snorted, "Getting away from his dad's meatloaf is what's killing him."
Cuddy and another man came marching up quickly to House, with Cuddy getting in the crippled doctor's path. "You wanna explain to me why you stopped the surgery?" she demanded to know.
However, the gentleman with her apparently wasn't interested in the answer. He cocked back his arm and punched House in the jaw as hard as he could. House promptly crumpled to the ground. "I want him locked up
!" Keith's father roared, spittle flying from his lips.
Buffy's eyes flashed. Before Wilson could do or say anything, she'd handed him the lunch they brought for House, strode over to where the distraught parent was leaning threateningly over the crippled doctor, placed her hands on the patient's father's chest and shoved him backward hard enough to bounce him off of one of the pillars nearby. Chase and Foreman rushed forward to catch Mr. Foster by the arms, to prevent anything further from happening to House.
"You try that again, and you're going to be wanting him locked up while you're in traction." Buffy promised quietly, her voice far more threatening than any testosterone-laden shouting. This seemed to drain a fair amount of wind from the man's sails. After a staredown that Buffy won, she turned to help ease House to his feet.
House accepted the help without word, touching his bleeding lip. "Your cat did not
die of old age. He died of massive internal bleeding and acute liver failure caused by naphthalene poisoning. The exact same thing your son has.
Mr. Foster struggled in the grip of Chase and Foreman. "You lie to me, you mess up my son's surgery, and now you expect me to trust you?!" Buffy turned her head to glare at the man over her shoulder.
House absently placed a hand on Buffy's shoulder. "Give me twenty-four hours. We'll pump your son full of calories-"
Cuddy interrupted, "That liver is going to somebody right now."
"We're doing. That. Surgery." Mr. Foster reiterated as forcefully as he could, after being flung away from his intended victim by a girl that was a full head shorter than him, and then some.
After a deep breath, House sighed forcefully. "If you do that surgery, you'll be killing a mother of four," he announced doomfully, referring to the next person needing a donor on the hospital's list.
"Father of three," Cuddy stage whispered, rolling her eyes.
"I was guessing."
are now?" Mr. Foster huffed, but he was losing steam in his argument.
House released another, less gusty sigh. "Naphthalene poisoning is the best explanation we have for what's wrong with your son. It explains the internal bleeding, the hemolytic anemia, the liver failure... It also predicts what'll happen next." The infectious disease specialist straightened and leaned heavily on his cane. "If you do the surgery, he's going to lay on that table for fourteen hours while his body continues to burn fat and release poison into his system. Either way, I did you a favor.
"He's awake now. You've got a chance to say goodbye."
It was amazing how one sentence could bring an argument to a screeching halt.
Cameron's gaze flicked between House and Mr. Foster. "I think you should trust Dr. House," she murmured gently.
Mr. Foster's enraged expression finally faded to something less volatile - he was near tears. "Give the liver to the other guy," he choked out, before being led away by Cuddy.
Wilson finally overcame his shock at what Buffy had done. "What were you thinking?" he hissed fretfully. "That man wasn't in his right mind! He could've hurt
Buffy glanced around sheepishly for a moment, before snatching the lunch box from Wilson's hands. She turned to House with a bright smile. "I brought you lunch!"
House's expression lightened to something that might, with some squinting and imagination, resemble a grin. "Chase, Foreman... go to the Fosters' place. Knock a few holes in the kid's bedroom walls until you find those termites."
As Buffy, House and Wilson walked House to his office, Chase and Foreman looked at one another. "That's
his daughter?" Chase asked incredulously.
Foreman shook his head. "Damn. Remind me never to get in his face when she's nearby." -:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-
It seemed that House was, in fact, correct. Keith's toxicity levels were down, and his blood count was rising. Father, son and girlfriend were happy. Buffy witnessed this from outside in the hall. Heartened, she went to the roof to spend a few moments alone. Much to her dismay, it was a chilly few moments alone. Stupid New Jersey. She scampered downstairs to try to find some kind of coat that she could wear. A dress jacket, a lab coat, anything.
Outside of House's office, she slowed, hearing voices. Carefully keeping out of sight, she listened in with that Slayer hearing of hers.
"I'm not stopping," House declared.
Wilson's voice was disbelieving, to say the least. "There are programs! Cuddy would give
you the time. You could get on a different pain regimen-"
"I don't need
Buffy furrowed her brows. Were they talking about his Vicodin?
"You just said-"
"I said I was an addict. I didn't say I had a problem. I pay my bills, I make my meals, I function
Wilson, at this point, had transcended disbelief. "Is that all you want?! You have no relationships."
"I don't want any relationships."
"You don't have a choice!" Wilson exploded. "Sure, it was okay for you to alienate people when it was just you. But you have a daughter
"You think I forgot? Gosh, guess that pesky progeny just plumb slipped my mind! Besides, I've been alienating people since I was three."
"Oh, drop it, House! You don't think you've changed in the past few years?" Wilson wasn't ready to let this go.
"Of course I have. I've... gotten older. My hair's gotten thinner. Sometimes I'm bored, sometimes I'm lonely, sometimes I wonder what it all means. Sometimes, I spontaneously grow children from out of nowhere."
Wilson shook his head angrily. "No! I was there! You're not just a regular guy who's getting older. You've changed! You're miserable, and you're afraid to face yourself--"
A rare moment of true anger passed over House's face. "Of course I've changed
!" he roared, cracking his cane down on one of his shelves.
House's best friend wasn't going to let this go without at least another attempt or two. "You have a daughter. Do you really think this is the kind of thing she needs to be around?"
"Have you looked at that girl? At her eyes? She's strong. Willful. She's like me. Come hell or high water, she'll survive. She'll function. Just like me."
"And everything's the leg? None of it is the pills?" Wilson demanded to know. "They haven't done a thing to you?"
"They let me do my job. And they take away my pain."
Wilson's shoulders slumped, and he slowly left House's office, looking defeated. Buffy kept herself hidden until she was sure he was gone, tears stinging her eyes. She had no idea that House was hurting that much. Muscle death sounded awful, but clearly there were things that she had no conception of. And still. Through all that, he'd managed to see something like that in her? That kind of strength, the ability to push on despite such overwhelming obstacles?
After a few minutes of composing herself, Buffy eased herself carefully into House's office. "Hey..."
House was reclined in his desk chair with an expression that was very nearly devoid of pain, his eyes closed. "Hey there... so, how'd you like the hospital?"
"It was... interesting. Not boring. Does that kind of thing happen often?" Buffy answered wryly, hiding the concern she was starting to feel.
"Oh, you know. Only on the days that end in 'y'." House waved a hand dismissively. "By the way... I got you enrolled in school today. They said you could start tomorrow if you felt ready."
Buffy smiled slightly. "Sure... that sounds good. Hey. I was thinking.... you want to get out of here? I was thinking about picking up some stuff at the store, making dinner... I bet I could do a great job at making reuben sandwiches."
"You think so?" House cracked one eye open and considered Buffy for a moment. "Can you drive?"
She shrugged. "I have my permit..." Which was only ever sparingly put to use, but why bother him with such details?
"Good enough for me."
House started to lever himself upright. Buffy promptly dashed over to help him get situated, ducking her head under one of his arms and putting one of her arms around his waist. "C'mon. Let's get you home... Dad."
If anyone ever asked, House was smiling because of the Vicodin.