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La Casa en La Boca del Infierno

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Summary: (The House on the Mouth of Hell) Shortly after the Hemery High School gym is burned down, Joyce Summers dies unexpectedly from a brain tumor. And custody goes to the biological father.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > House, M.D. > Buffy-Centered(Past Donor)SnagFR181264,02368427129,53821 Mar 0730 Dec 08No

Welcome to Plainsboro - Part 5

Wow. Just.. wow. You lovely, loony people. I can't say it enough, and I can't come up with different ways to say it every time, so... Thank you all.

Alrighty! Here goes the stuff y'all have been waiting for. A great many comments and questions will be clarified this chapter. (Although I suspect some of y'all have been peeking in my brain when I was sleeping or something.) No hints, tho'. Nyah!

Also: blackfire, I left you a present in this chapter.

Read on! If you're somehow under the delusion I own any of the intellectual property that this is derived from, go back to chapter 1.



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An odd 'clanging' sound made Buffy look over her shoulder briefly, but by the time it'd caught her attention, there was already a swarm of students between her and the possible source. She hoped nobody was hurt, though.

However, she had more pressing matters to attend to. Like picking up her schedule, getting all of the assorted things that were inherent in going to high school. The inevitable meeting with guidance councilors and whatnot. It was like they were determined to make a long, arduous process even more mind-numbing.

Then again, her mind could use some downtime. This week had been fairly overwhelming. She was coping, and going back and forth with her father helped take her mind off things, but they couldn't keep up the banter indefinitely.

Also, her neck kind of hurt from the sleeping on the couch. Something was mentioned about moving into a bigger place soon, but for now.. ouch.

The process of getting signed in, receiving her schedule/locker/school paperwork wasn't terribly noteworthy. Although it did go faster, by simple virtue of the fact that she was the only student going through it. An unexpected side-perk of having to change schools.

But the guidance councilor. That was an entirely different bucket of cheese. Buffy fidgeted for about five minutes outside a door with the words, 'Andre Platt - Councilor' etched into the frosted glass. Finally she took a deep breath, placed her hand on the doorknob, counted to five, and turned the knob.

In the office, there was a rather calm looking, dusky skinned man waiting with a patient expression. There was also a plump, balding man looking a good deal less placid and clutching a plain folder.

"Hi," she greeted uncertainly. "Um... I'm Buffy Summers, I'm new...?"

The balding man gave her what he hoped was a benevolent, yet authoritative expression. "Hello, Miss Summers, and welcome to Plainsboro High! I'm Bob Flutie, the principal. This is Mr. Platt, the school councilor." he gestured to the darker gentleman, who stood and offered his hand and a quiet word of greeting. Everyone got seated, and Principal Flutie took the floor.

"Well. I see you're transferring here from California," he began, flipping through the folder. "Very.. interesting record you have. Colorful, you might say." Extracting the page of the transcript that had nothing to do with grades, Mr. Flutie promptly tore the paper into neat quarters.

"A fresh start, that's what you get here! We don't care what some record says. Even if it says...." he glanced at one of the squares and paled visibly. "...school gym?"

"I -" Buffy began hastily, hoping to revisit the story that she'd given House, while Principal Flutie began to fumble with the page sections and some scotch tape.

Mr. Platt reached over and placed a hand over the torn pages and Buffy's folder, "Principal Flutie, I think you have an appointment you need to keep, shortly. I can handle the rest from here," he suggested gently.

Flutie drew a shaky breath and nodded. "Yes, thank you Mr. Platt. I do have something that I need.. oh! Speaking of which, if you need anything, feel free to make an appointment with either of us, Buffy." He offered Buffy a slightly damp handshake and beat a hasty retreat.

The councilor gave a half-smile to the new student, reached over to pick up the torn page and dropped them into the wastebasket where Buffy could see. "There. Like he said. Clean slate."

She still felt like she should say something, "Listen, about the fire--"

"I said, 'clean slate'," he reminded her gently. "No charges were pressed, so, no need to keep that in your file. Frankly, I'm amazed they still expelled you from your old school. But that's not why we're here." Platt got up from his chair and moved to push his office door the rest of the way shut. Then he moved to open one of the windows.

"Then, why..?"

He glanced over his shoulder at her. "I think you know why," he replied, fishing a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from one of his pockets. He lit one, and sat down across from Buffy. "Grief is a very powerful emotion, Buffy. Sometimes it makes us say things or do things that we generally wouldn't, under normal circumstances."

Buffy's head bowed. "It's okay to grieve. It's part of life, part of how we deal with loss. Just so long as you express it in a healthy fashion." Mr. Platt continued, "I'd like you to come see me after your last class of the day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for the rest of the semester. And, of course, if you need to talk about anything that can't wait, please come see me right away. We can revise and edit the schedule as needed, of course, but I'd like to help you work out your feelings about your loss. If you'll let me?"

She chewed her bottom lip for a few moments. "I.. I can try?" Uncertainly, she looked up to see Mr. Platt giving her an expression of sympathy.

"That's all I ask. But it can wait for another day. I'd imagine you're anxious to flee with as much dignity as possible, and go get your textbooks so you can start getting caught up?"

"Yeah. I'd ... yes. I'd like to get started," she agreed, immensely grateful that he wasn't going to want her to start talking about such painful subjects right off the bat. It'd give her a day and change to steel herself for the conversation.

Platt nodded. "Alright, then. Take this pass, so they know you weren't just running amok through the school. And enjoy yourself. Get to know a few people. Say hi to a teacher or two. Contrary to popular belief, some of 'em actually do like students."

At Buffy's involuntary smile, he tilted his head and flicked his cigarette out the window, extracting a can of air freshener, "Welcome to Plainsboro High."


-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-


It took Buffy a minute or three to extract herself from the maze of the school's administrative offices. It was necessary, in a way. Time to gather herself, after a near-miss with having to talk about Bad Stuff. The councilor did seem kind of cool, but... it was still too fresh. Repression was still working for her, so why mess with a good thing?

Her musing distracted her from her surroundings, because as she entered the main hallway to try and find her way to the library, Buffy was sideswiped by another student's elbow, knocking her bag and papers from her hand and to the floor in a spectacular scatter of clutter. Sighing, she knelt down to gather everything back up, when a different student came scrambling over to stoop beside her.

"Can I have you?"

Buffy blinked. She couldn't have heard that right. However, the boy's face was a picture of horror. She chidingly raised her eyebrows at him.

"I mean.. Can I help you?" He amended, his ears turning red.

"That's better." She gave a half grin. "Sure, thanks."

He began to gather the papers, while she worked on the contents of her bag. "I'm Xander," he managed, after the initial mortification had worn off.

"Buffy. I'm new, obviously." Well, at least people were friendly in this school?

"Only one owner? I like that. Low mileage and everything?" Clearly, Xander wasn't exactly the most reverent person on campus.

Buffy grinned again, now closer to familiar territory. It's something she's gotten used to during her few days in her new home. "I'd make a pun back, but I can't think of anything that doesn't involve some kind of innuendo."

"Good call. That's the only one I had on tap, myself." Having stacked the papers, he moved to help with the few remaining objects from Buffy's purse, fairly certain that any potentially embarrassing 'feminine' products had already been secreted away. His hand closed around.. a piece of wood, the end carved into a point. He held it up with two fingers, a curious look on his face. "This is either part of a fence for midgets, or you're in quest for a square hole in which to fit a round peg, and... no, that's not coming out right either."

"Nice save," Buffy snorted, amused. "I .. just moved here. Still have stuff in all the wrong places." Hastily snatching up her stake, she tucked the last few things away.

"Okay. The helping is now done. I'm going to retreat to computer class. No doubt, I have an email waiting for me." Xander pantomimed typing on a computer.

"Dear Xander," he recited, as if reading aloud. "Your slip is showing. Embarrassingly yours, Sigmund Freud.."

She couldn't quite suppress a giggle at that. "You get little emails from Freud often?"

"Only at the worst possible moments," he agreed, "and only after I've already done something to get his attention. Personally? I think he's in cahoots with Murphy."

Buffy shook her head. "Damn them both. Hey, you said you have computer class this period?"

"How to point and click in ten easy lessons, yep." Xander nodded.

"Do you need any books?"

Xander considered this. "Don't think so. At least, not this week."

"Show me the way? I was going to go to the library, but I'd rather not get any more behind than I already am. I can pick up my books after."

He shrugged agreeably. "Sure. This way." Waving an arm, he set off class-ward, "If you want to catch up, I know just the person for you to talk to."

"It's not Freud, is it?" She quirked an eyebrow at him.

"Not unless Freud is now shaped like a thin, redheaded female." Xander chortled, "My best friend, Willow. You can usually find her outside eating lunch. She likes to eat out there until it's too cold to get away with it."

Buffy nodded slowly, "I'll do that... oh, hey. Computer class."

"Point and click, here we come!"


-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-


The next few hours passed without further incident, belongings-wise. Buffy got caught up in being able to not think about anything but school, and forgot to swing by the library. Instead, she ended up in History class, and sharing a book with a girl that later felt terribly chatty. It was hard for Buffy not to roll her eyes at the girl's somewhat shallow ramblings, but she did want to fit in, so she went along with it for the time being. Plus the girl, Cordelia, showed her where the library was, so she was going to try and give the benefit of the doubt for the time being.

Saying goodbye to Cordelia, she looked around the apparently empty library. You'd think that a few students would be milling around in here. "Hello..?" Buffy called. Maybe the librarian was out to lunch early, forgot to close up the library?

An older, bespectacled face peered out from behind one of the rows of shelves. "Yes? Can I, erm, help you?" He called, his accent suggesting that he hailed from the land of bangers, mash, very large clocks and unsmiling royal guards.

"I'm a new student," Buffy explained. "Came to pick up my books for the semester? Here's my schedule."

He took the schedule. "Ah, yes. Of course. Welcome to Plainsboro High, Miss Summers. I'm Mr. Giles, the librarian."

"Yeah. Kind of figured that, what with you being in the library and all."

"Hm? Oh.. quite.." He gave a sheepish smile, and began to putter about, assembling her needed books into a pile. Giles placed the final book in front of her, and crouched down for a moment, considering. No, this wasn't the time or place for that. He'd have to arrange something else.

"Well, I believe that's everything," he concluded. "Would you care for a hand taking those to your locker?"

"No, thanks. I'm good." She shouldered her bag and hoisted the pile in both arms without apparent effort. Giles carefully schooled his expression to stillness. Slayers. Always forgetting their strength.

"Alright, then. I trust I'll see you again?" It was something he was supposed to do, encourage students to read.

"Probably. Thanks, Mr. Giles!" Flicking her hair over her shoulder, Buffy strode quickly out of the library.

Giles' brows furrowed, and he removed his glasses to absently clean them with a handkerchief extracted from his jacket. Well. She was.. unique, wasn't she?


-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-


Another class, and it was lunch time. As that boy Xander had suggested, Buffy went out front and began looking for a slim redhead. Which, luckily, wasn't too hard to find. Even if everyone and their poodle wanted to be a redhead these days. Home hair dye kits were making the tracking game horribly difficult these days.

She found someone matching Xander's description sitting off by herself, shyly avoiding looking at anyone. Buffy came walking over. "Willow?"

"What? Am I in your way?" The poor thing asked wearily, starting to gather up her things in anticipation of being evicted.

"No, no... here, let's try that again. Willow? I'm Buffy. There, we've gotten past the introduction phase. With that out of the way, mind if I skip directly to the part where I ask you for a favor?"

Willow slowly began to unwind from her wary state. "Such as?"

"Well, I have this thing going on, where I just moved here from the opposite coast, a new father that's a freaking doctor, and an immense desire to avoid F's in all my classes. I was wondering if you'd help me get caught up?"

"Really?" Dear lord, Willow looked like a puppy that was expecting to be kicked. "Yeah, I could totally help! I've done tons of tutoring before. What classes do you have..?"

This led to a comparison of schedules, figuring out which classes they had in common, which ones were being handled by the same teachers, that sort of thing. Buffy and Willow were just starting to try and figure out where Buffy was behind, when Xander and another boy came along with similarly goofy grins.

"Hey, Will!" Xander greeted, flopping bonelessly beside her. He extracted a banana from his lunch bag and promptly dropped it into Willow's. At the same time, Willow produced a Snicker's bar and dropped it into his lunch. Buffy gave a slightly amused look at this automatic exchange.

"Hey guys. Oh! Buffy, this is Xander and Jesse," she introduced, waving to each boy respectively. "Guys, this is Buffy."

Xander waved a hand. "Oh, Buffy and I are old pals. We used to study psychology together. But then, we differed in opinion on how the human psyche worked, so there was that period of academic opposition. But now we're here, just like back in The Day. I may cry."

Jesse gave a skeptical look, tugging on his baseball cap. "I've never actually witnessed someone devolve into a gibbering idiot before, Xander. Thank you. My life is now complete."

"I live to give, bro."

That amused expression began to creep up on Buffy once more. "Lunch and a floor show. I'm starting to like this school."

After a brief group snicker, Xander piped up, "So, Buffy, what do y'think of our humble little town so far?"

"Haven't seen much of it yet." Buffy shrugged. "I've only been here a couple days. Pretty much, my interaction's been limited to home, school, the store and my dad's work."

Jesse chimed in politely, "What's your dad do?"

"He's a doctor.." Buffy provided hesitantly, uncertain if such a thing would constitute bragging.

Willow perked at this, "Really? What kind?"

"He's a... um.. infectious disease specialist?" She still wasn't clear on exactly whether or not that had another name, so she went with the initial description given to her by House's coworker.

"He in private practice, or does he work at a hospital..?" Asked Jesse.

"Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital," she confirmed. "Boy, you guys are a curious bunch."

"Well, Plainsboro isn't that much of a town. You're big news in these here parts," Xander supplied, while Jesse's expression turned into a mixture that Buffy couldn't read. The other two could however, and Willow reached out to squeeze Jesse's arm for a moment, while Xander automatically reached out to thump his friend on the shoulder.

"I'm a front page story... go me." Buffy didn't ask about the silent exchange of the three friends, opting to furrow her brow over being a little too much the center of attention.

Luckily for Buffy, the attention focus shifted when Cordelia came walking over. Jesse perked up slightly. "Hey, Cordelia! You look tense. Need a back-rub?"

Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Only if you let me use your scalp for a mirror." A double barreled glare was thrown her way from Xander and Willow. She heaved a careful sigh, and let the matter drop.

Buffy was confused. What was she talking about? Cordelia went on as if nothing happened. "Look, I don't mean to interrupt your social de-evolution, but I wanted to let you know that Gym's been cancelled."

"How come?" Not that it was going to hurt her feelings too much. But Buffy did want to get some variety of exercise soon. Just not the kind that schools tended to approve of.

"Because there was this outbreak of Very-Dead-Guy-In-A-Locker-itis. Aura found him, she's totally wigged out." Cordelia shook her head.

Xander, Jesse and Willow made assorted sounds of shock. "Dead guy?" Buffy asked, alarmed, "Were there any marks?"

"Ew! Like I'd get close enough to look, Madame Morbid." Cordelia made a face of supreme disgust.

Buffy began to stuff her lunch back into her bag. "I'll catch you guys later, okay? I forgot to get something out of my locker." So saying, the Slayer scampered back into the school. Cordelia shrugged and went back to talking to her friends. The other three shrugged and arranged themselves for communal lunchtime.


-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-


The door was locked when she reached the locker room. Fortunately, such things as locked doors were merely polite suggestions for someone with super strength. Apparently, they were simply waiting for the paramedics or the coroner's office or whomever to come by. Buffy crept closer to the body and pulled back the towel they'd covered the poor boy with.

Two puncture holes, and a line of curving, ridged incisions connecting them. Vampires. Great, Buffy frowned. As if she didn't have enough to deal with. She thought she'd get to at least stay away from this gig for a while, before it came a-rearin' up its ugly head again.

No blood around the body. There was a small mercy at least. Buffy sighed and crept out of the locker room again. She'd have to make sure this didn't catch her father's attention. It was the kind of thing that he might get interested in, even if it wasn't a disease thing.

Some asking around in the office revealed that the ambulance wasn't going to arrive until after school. She decided the best way to pull this off, was to hitch a ride with them and intercept her father before word could filter to him about the strange condition about the body. It was the best she could come up with, short of contracting a weird, wasting disease herself.

After school, she caught the ambulance driver just as they were getting ready to leave. A bit of sweet talking and the revelation that she was House's daughter was enough for him to let her ride shotgun. He wasn't going to be expected to respond to emergency calls anyhow. He was just the driver of the fabled 'Meat Wagon'. However, he did reveal that he'd been busier than usual of late. A lot of strange deaths were happening recently.

This did nothing to improve Buffy's disposition.

Once they reached the hospital, she made her way to the conference room to see if House was busy. She happened to hear his employees talking.

"I don't see how you did it, Cameron," Chase was saying. "The ability to shop like that for four hours straight, can't be natural. It was like she had this sixth sense..."

"Oh, come on," Cameron snorted delicately. "You're just mad because we made you carry all the bags."

"I wasn't mad about that," he protested. "I was mad because you kept making me come into the stores with all the.."

Foreman began to cackle. "You got dragged into Victoria's Secret or somethin', didn't you?" Chase glared at him, but Cameron's incessant giggling was answer enough. "Cameron, if you need a caddy next time, just call me. I have no problem standing in a Shop Of Frills and giving my honest opinion when people want to model something pretty. I'm secure enough in my manhood."

Chase took this opportunity to bury his nose in a medical journal, while his coworkers had a laugh or three at his expense. Buffy, repressing a giggle of her own, decided to join in the fun. She walked casually into the conference room, setting her bag down by the door.

"Sorry, Foreman. You're too eager. Besides, you wouldn't blush nearly as pretty as Chase does," Buffy announced, drawing a fresh round of laughter from the tittering doctors and a put-upon sigh from Chase.

Once the hilarity had died down, she asked, "Where's my dad?"

"House?" Foreman glanced at the clock. "It's after three - he's down in exam room one, first floor."

Buffy furrowed her eyebrows slightly, "I thought he didn't have clinic duty for a month."

"He's not working," Chase snorted. "He's hiding from Cuddy and watching General Hospital."

"..ooh. First floor? Thanks, guys!" Buffy exited the room again, hair bouncing as she quick-stepped towards the elevators.

"See what I mean? A full day of school, and she's off to go watch a soap opera with her grouch of a father. It's not natural." Chase reiterated.


-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-


On her way down to find her father, Buffy strolled past the rooms that had the longer term patients in them, when she spotted a figure that was vaguely familiar. Wheeling a cart full of books, a pair of tweed-clad arms led up to..

"Mr. Giles? What're you doing here?" Buffy called, curious.

"Hm? Oh, hello Buffy. I volunteer a few days a week here at the hospital. Get the patients that can't go home a nice change in reading material. Are you here for..?" Giles gave Buffy a look that was full of concern.

"What? Oh! No, I'm not a patient. My father works here. You volunteer? That's.. nice. Y'know, I bet if you added some DVDs to that cart, you'd get business like there was no tomorrow," she offered.

The librarian chuckled. "I believe the hospital has the viewing material well in hand. And they charge for the privilege. My works, at least, are free."

"Well, there is that.." Buffy agreed dubiously.

"Actually, I do have something here I think you might be interested in." Giles paused the cart in front of one of the unoccupied rooms.

Buffy waffled a bit, "You could just give it to me tomorrow at school.. I was on my way to-"

"Oh, it's no trouble. I believe I have it.. ah, here we go!" He brought out a dusty looking, leather bound hardcover and thumped it down on the top of the cart. Buffy stared in shock at the title.

Vampyre.

"I am not interested in that!" She held up a hand to fend Giles off, and started to turn to walk away from him.

Giles picked up the book, leaving the cart behind to keep pace with her, "So, I'm mistaken then? You aren't Buffy Summers the Vampire Slayer? You'd think the Watchers would keep better tabs on these things..." Clearly, he wasn't buying her disinterest.

"Why can't you people leave me alone?" She wheeled on Giles, poking him in the shoulder. "I had a Watcher! He got killed because of me! And I got kicked out of school from all this Slayer stuff! And then my mom--" She cut herself off abruptly and took a deep breath, blinking her eyes rapidly.

Giles' expression of sympathy returned. "I was informed... I'm sorry for your loss, Buffy. But you need someone to train you. There've been a great many unexplained occurrences here of late. I was dispatched to continue your education in the supernatural. I volunteered here to keep tabs on the morgue, in case any fatalities occurred that involved.. exsanguination."

"Exsangria-wha?"

"Exsanguination. It's what they call it, when a body is drained of its blood." Giles sighed.

Buffy glared at the Watcher. "Yeah, well, you got something to do other than bother me. That guy that they found at school today? Vamp attack. Had the bite mark and everything."

"Good lord." Giles blinked. "Do you think he will rise tonight?"

Frowning, she eyed Giles warily. "No. He didn't have any blood breath."

"Blood..?"

"You know? No blood in his mouth. In order to be made a vampire, they have to suck your blood. And you have to suck their blood. It's a whole big suck-fest." She paused. "And that sounded less wrong in my head."

Giles shook his head, "Be that as it may, you have a duty here! I mean, you've accepted your destiny, haven't you? You've slain vampires before?"

"Yes, and I've been there, done that, and wound up having to throw the T-shirt out because it had blood on it. So now, I'm moving on. Why don't you kill the vampires?" She stomped her foot.

"I'm not the Slayer.. The Slayer does the fighting, while the Watcher-"

"Watches?"

"-prepares the Slayer, trains her, provides the support required to follow her fate." He finished in irritation.

"I can't talk about this right now. I'm on my way to see my father, and it's still daylight, so it's not like there's going to be any vampires floating around right now. If I see one, sure, I'll get it while I'm there. But I'm not going to go out of my way. This thing has already ruined my life." Bitterly, she spun on her heel and stomped away from the Watcher.

Giles sighed sadly. Watcher training didn't cover the emotional issues of a teenaged girl. Wasn't he too old for this sort of thing?


-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-


Buffy walked into Exam 1, after carefully checking around to ensure Cuddy wasn't on the prowl. After all, she didn't want to get him in trouble. House looked up from where his chin was leaning on his cane. "School still in one piece?"

She clapped her hands together and shrugged cutely. "So far, so good. You spit on anyone today, or is this just ritualistic hiding?" Buffy bobbed over to where House was sitting and parked herself beside him on the exam table, focusing on the little screen of his portable television.

"The less I have to see Cuddy on general principle, the happier I am," he assured her, tilting the small screen to face her just a bit.

"You do this every day?" She asked, while waiting for the commercial to end.

"Only on the days that end in 'y'."

"They don't have General Hospital on the weekends."

"That's what the Soap channel is for on cable." He paused to fiddle with the antenna. "Everything go okay at school? No problems getting registered and whatnot?"

"Hm? No! No problems. They're making me see a councilor, though." Buffy made a face.

"Tell him the ink blots all look like dead people. Or penises. That oughta be good for a few laughs." There, the reception was.. well, as good as it was going to get in the hospital.

"Ew. Thanks for that mental image. Besides, I'd just as soon not get fitted for a white jacket with extra long sleeves, thank you very much." She absently thwacked House on the arm, who winced and rubbed the spot. Strong girl.

"How'd you find me, anyway?"

"Think you're getting predictable. Chase ratted you out to me." She giggled slightly, "Foreman wants to come with the next time you want to pansy out of a shopping trip. He heard about the Fredericks of Hollywood incident."

"Foreman just wants to ogle Cameron while she's wearing a naughty bit of nothing." He paused, "Come to think of it.. I wouldn't mind ogling Cameron while she's wearing a naughty bit of nothing. Fair enough. Next shopping trip, I'm in."

"Okay, could we not talk about you staring at your coworker that's like, fifteen years younger than you? Ish!" Buffy shuddered.

"Shh. Show's coming back on." He solemnly informed her.

They sat in silence for a little while, watching the overly dramatic antics of the faux doctors. "This is nice," Buffy murmured after a while, leaning her head on House's shoulder for a moment.

"Hm?"

"Watching this. Me and mom used to do that a lot, when I was sick or during the summer..." She sighed quietly.

"It's her fault I watch this now, y'know. She got me going on it, back in college." House stated mildly.

"Really?" A sad smile started to grow on Buffy's face, and she lapsed into silence for a while longer.

When the next commercial came, she turned slightly to look at House. "Dad?"

"Hm?"

"How come you and Mom didn't.. y'know.. stay together?" She asked tentatively, twisting her fingers together in a slight case of nerves.

One of House's eyebrows went up, "I'm not exactly much different now, than I was back then."

"What do you mean?" She frowned.

"Are you kidding?" He faced her directly, now. "You have met me, right?"

"Yeah..."

"I'm not a nice person. And I was a jerky college guy. She was an art major, I was pre-med. We weren't going to end up in the same place, after I went on to grad school. Eventually, we just.." He shrugged, and rested his chin on the cane again, motioning his hands in a separating fashion, to demonstrate the concept of 'drifting apart'.

Buffy couldn't argue that, though she did still sigh. "She was the only other person that would go back and forth with me the way you do, though." He added. "Other people try, but you two are the only ones that can keep it up for more than a few sentences. Must be another thing you got from her."

This elicited a sniffle from Buffy, who didn't quite know what to say. She wasn't sure she could say anything, without starting to cry. House began to shuffle uncomfortably. They were getting into emotional territory. Best to just pay attention to the asinine ads on the television.

Just then, the door opened and Wilson poked his head in. "House? Better go see Cuddy after you get done with your show. She's talking about swiping your cane and replacing it with one made from paper mache. Hey, Buffy. How was school?"

"Hey, Jim. It went okay," she greeted, taking a deep breath and giving Wilson a smile that she didn't really feel.

"Paper mache? That's just plain mean. She's coming along nicely." House mused.

Wilson shook his head, "House, can I borrow your offspring for a bit?"

"Just remember, she's underage."

"Dad!"

"House!"

Wilson gave House a disbelieving look. Buffy just smacked him on the arm again. "Sure, Jim. I'll come with." House hid a smirk as he rubbed his sore arm again. Man, that kid could hit.

Wilson turned away, after giving House one more look, Buffy following in his wake. "I've known him for more years that I care to admit, and he still finds a way to surprise me once in a while."

"He's wacky that way." She agreed. "What'd you need?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah. Could I draft you to help me with something? I have a leukemia patient that's waiting for his test results. To see if he's in remission yet. He's about your age, and they always get nervous when this phase comes. I was wondering if I could get you in there to distract him and his friends from waiting. I'll handle the family."

"What? I dunno, Jim... I mean, what'm I going to say? 'How's that chemotherapy workin' out for you?'," Buffy hedged uneasily.

"I'm not asking for me, Buffy. I've done this dozens of times before. He's just.. edgy. He can't help it. Maybe if you're there distracting him from it, the wait won't be so bad." Wilson tried to cajole, as they rounded the corner to his office.

"Yeah, but what do I say? Won't it be a little weird to have a complete stranger come along when he's--" Buffy caught a glimpse of a gangly teen in a baseball cap. "Jesse?"

Wilson blinked, "Oh.. does he go to your school?"

"Yeah, we just met today. Is that Xander and Willow in there with him?"

"It certainly is. See, they're not strangers, even." He patted her back, and then gave her a little nudge, "Why don't you go say hello?"

Buffy picked up the pace and headed to the door of Wilson's office. Wilson smiled slightly in satisfaction. Sure, he was nudging slightly. He blamed his Jewish upbringing.

Meanwhile, Buffy peeked inside the office. "Jesse? Willow! Xander! I thought I saw you guys," she greeted, having the presence of mind not to mention Wilson's suggestion.

The three friends greeted the Slayer, before Xander and Willow glanced uncertainly at Buffy. "It's okay, guys. I've got leukemia, Buffy. That's why I'm in the oncologist's office. We're waiting on test results, they came along for moral support."

"What're you doing here, Buf?" Xander asked.

"I told you guys, my dad works here. I came by after school to let him know how today went, father daughter thing, yadda yadda. Then I spotted you, thought I'd come say hello!" She explained, just leaving out a few things so they wouldn't know she was put up to it.

Jesse shrugged, but he was a bit less tense. "Hey, the more the merrier. This hurry-up-and-wait stuff is killin' me." He gestured to the door that led to the balcony from Wilson's office. "What say we get some quote-fresh air-unquote? Maybe that's what I need."

The four teens migrated out to the patio to chatter, tell bad jokes, pretend to do homework. In other words, they were simply being teens. Wilson passed by at one point, while en route to the lab to check on the progress of the results, and smiled in satisfaction. Jesse wasn't the only one he wanted to give a little distraction to. Buffy being regularly social, and not a hermetic grump like House, was the intent he'd gone into this thing with.

A while later, the sun was just starting to set, when Wilson called everyone into his office, holding a stack of reports. "Okay. We've got the test results back. Jesse.." Everyone tensed up again, making up for lost time from when they were being distracted. "According to these results... it looks like we're positive for full remission." He gave the boy a smile and offered his hand, "Congratulations."

A collective exhale occurred in the office, possibly rattling the windows somewhat, "Sweet leaping Jeebus on a mini-bike, doc! What is it with you guys and the dramatic buildup?" Xander blurted, before turning to thump Jesse's back in a manly man-hug. "Congrats, man." Buffy smiled contently in the background. It was nice, to be a part of this.

Willow took Xander's place for a Jesse-hug, a little teary eyed. "Oh-my-gosh-Jesse-that's-wonderful-I'm-so-happy-for-you..." she sniffled slightly, unable to repress the stream of babbling now that the verdict was in, and it was good news.

Jesse squeezed Willow tightly. "Thank you guys," he murmured. "You too, Buffy. Thanks for coming and hanging out, y'know? Plus, maybe in a couple months, you might get to see me with hair."

"That's right!" Willow exclaimed, "Goodbye radiation and chemotherapy, hello to prednisone, vincristine and.. well, less intensive doses of chemotherapy." Everyone turned to look at her. "...what?"

Wilson chuckled, "I think I'm the only other person in the room that can recite the meds by name, Willow."

"So, I looked a few things up online..." She shuffled her foot sheepishly.

Xander waved his arms. "Enough of the medical jabber. Jess, we should totally celebrate. Throw you a rousing Remission Party at the Bronze, yeah?"

"Sounds like a plan." Jesse nodded. "Buffy? You wanna come with?"

"I..." Well, she'd been invited by Cordelia as well. Only now, it wasn't just hanging out, it was a celebration. A party, even! "Y'know what? Let me go check in with my dad, and I'll meet you downstairs."

Jesse's family made him promise to be in before 10 - he was still prone to fatigue, and they didn't want him to overdo it. Wilson watched as the assorted people scattered, picking up his cup of coffee and walking out to the balcony, to watch the teens eventually emerge in an excited, chatty clump.

He smiled. Today was one of the good days.
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