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Title: Message with a Bottle.
Author: Avidreadergirl
Pairing: Gen. House, Lucas. mentions of Luddy, Huddy and brief Wuddy.
Rating: PG
Warnings: Spoilers through 7x23 “Moving On.”
Summary: House comes to terms with the ultimate consequences of his actions on the lives of his friends.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to David Shore and Co.
Authors Note: After 7x23 I needed a way to wrap up cannon for myself, this is what I think should have happened instead of s8.
Authors Note 2:I’m very lucky to have received the impeccable beta reading skills of [info]silent_snark, The Queen of Comma’s and Periods, all errors that remain are my own.



 
Message with a Bottle

It hadn’t taken him long to fall into a routine. He woke early, sometimes early enough to see the sun slip from the ocean and into the sky, turning the early coolness into a sauna. He’d grab a paper and wake up one of the local kids to lug his lounge chair out to the beach, a good distance from the crowds clustered around the resort. Then he would sit, a bucket of beers resting in ice by his side, and let the sun bake the illusions out of him.

His new life wasn’t all cold beers and warm sand. His money had evaporated when he’d first arrived, but this was a world that could use a man of his skills and now he spent a couple of nights a week producing small batches of profitable material that he supplied to the local nightlife and that earned enough to keep him in beer, snacks and Vicodin.

Life moved on, slowly.

He’d been dozing that morning, like most mornings, the paper over his chest and his cap pulled down low when he noticed that the urchin he employed had dragged another lounge chair out and set it up next to his. Another bucket of beer was dropped in the sand and a smallish man in a Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts fell into it with a sigh.

“House,” he said pleasantly.

“Lucas.” House looked at the other man and chose his tactics. “Long time no see.”

They sat together in companionable silence until the kid brought House’s lunch out; House wasn’t surprised to see him supply a second lunch for Lucas.

“I don’t care what you tipped the kid,” House said as they ate their pulled pork sandwiches.“ I’m not letting you move into my place, get your own hut.”

“I’ve got a suite at the resort.” Lucas was smug. “I’m on an expense account, ”he explained to House’s lifted eyebrow.

“Someone is paying you?”

“Yup.” Lucas took a long pull on a beer.

“To find me?” House said his tone as neutral as he could make it. He’d known that as much as he’d been enjoying ignoring his old life he couldn’t really expect it to keep ignoring him. The people he'd had in his life were-none of them-the kind of people who could leave things alone. That's why they'd been in his life after all.

“No.” Lucas wiped barbecue sauce off his lip and sucked his finger. “This is really delicious.”

“You aren’t here looking for me?”

“No, everybody knows you’re here."

Both of House’s eyebrows went up at this.

“Credit cards," he explained. “And your passport. Everybody knows where you are.”

“So they sent you to… bring me back alive?”

“Not,” Lucas said slowly, his brows contracting in a frown, “exactly.”

House pushed his hat back and looked incredulously at the other man.

“Cuddy hired you to kill me? “

“Now, that’s crazy talk. For one thing, I don't do wet work, for another, I have a message for you from She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. “

“I’m really bad at obedience,” House said, “except in the bedroom, a fact Cuddy is very aware of.”

“Lisa isn’t She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed,” Lucas told House seriously. “Lisa is She-Who-Must-Be-Made-Love-To-As-Often-As-Possible.”

"She took you back?"

"Since she dumped me for a psychopathic drug addict… no offense," he smiled beatifically at House's glare. "I would be the one taking her back." He sighed. "Unfortunately she's decided to explore other options."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

"By other options you mean...?"

"She's sleeping with Wilson."

House aspirated on his beer.

Lucas waited for the sputtering to subside before he continued. “The way I understand it, Wilson let Cuddy stay with him after her house collapsed---“

“The house didn't collapse,” House wheezed in protest when he’d gotten his breath back. “I just… parked my car in her dining room.”

“Ok,” Lucas said easily, but his eyes flashed, “you parked your car in Lisa’s dining room.While you were doing that you accidentally hit the load bearing wall between the dining room and the hall.” Lucas opened a fresh beer. “About ten minutes after you limped away the whole thing collapsed like it was made of wet Paper Mache.”

House was silent and his eyes focused on the waves as in his imagination a pretty Spanish style house fell apart. He tossed his half-finished sandwich toward the shoreline, feeling suddenly sick.

“Fortunately everyone was standing on the lawn talking at that point, although Julia got clocked by some debris and ended up in the hospital. Wilson, despite a hairline fracture in his arm, was nice enough to invite Cuddy and Rachel to stay with him, so they didn’t have to make the pilgrimage to and from Arlene’s.”

House watched the gulls tear his lunch apart; he’d managed not to think about what he’d done, and how he’d gone about doing it, too much since he’d arrived on the island. It was crazy and it was an over-reaction but he hadn’t regretted it, until now.  

“So, one night, after Rachel was in bed there was a session of talking and drinking. Lisa started crying, Wilson started being comforting and the next thing you know they’re humping like rabbits on the living room floor.” Lucas shook his head, “Gotta hand it to Wilson he moves fast when the opportunity presents itself.”

House, watched the waves for a moment. The gulls had already finished their treat and taken off in search of other prey, but he wasn’t seeing them. He was seeing Cuddy weeping and Wilson being… Wilson and….

“How the hell do you know what happened?” he asked abruptly.

“Do you remember when I was putting possums in your place and making the fire sprinklers go off?”

“Yeah.”

“I wired the apartment for video at the same time.” House glared at him. “I thought it might come in handy.”

“And they say I’m Cuddy’s psychotic ex-boyfriend.”

“Actually you’re Cuddy’s fugitive ex-boyfriend. This brings me back to my message.”

“The one that’s not from Cuddy?”

“No, it’s from Arlene.” Lucas sat up in his lounge chair and swiveled to face House. “I heard you got a chance to meet Arlene, before Lisa dumped you?”

“I saved her life.” House took another long pull on his beer.

“I heard that, but I didn’t believe it.” Lucas shook his head in wonder. “She’s not real grateful, all things considered.” He took a deep breath. “Her message is, don’t come back. Stay away from Lisa, and Julia and Rachel and anyone else in her family. Or she’ll make sure you regret it, forever.”

Regret. Forever.

House grabbed another beer and Lucas dropped the subject. They shared silence until the kid showed up again at sunset, this time with friends and lugged the lounge chairs back down the beach. House and Lucas followed slowly behind them.

“What,” House finally asked, “is going on in Princeton?”

“You’re fired, but you probably knew that. You’re also wanted by the PPD for reckless endangerment, driving under the influence and a whole bunch of complicated stuff that cropped up when the cops figured out what you were doing with Wilson’s prescription pad. He was suspended for a month but Lisa managed to save his job.”

House sighed, one more thing he owed Wilson. One more thing he owed Cuddy. They’d owned him for years. Even a thousand miles and several criminal charges away, he still owed them and he would never be free.

“House, you want my advice?” Lucas asked as they came to the door of the run down shanty House rented.

“No.”

“Nobody is going to come after you here, too expensive and too much trouble to kidnap you and drag your sorry ass back for trial. Stay here, peddle ecstasy and pretend that everyone you loved died when you drove that car into Lisa’s house.”

“You really think that they can leave it like this? That they won’t come here looking to forgive me or absolve me or try to save me?” House shook his head. “Not Wilson. Not Cuddy.”

“I’ll bet you a bottle of scotch that all other things being equal in one year you’ll be here and they’ll still be there.” Lucas stuck out his hand, House didn’t shake it. “Bye House.” Lucas dropped his hand and turned whistling to walk back toward the warm lights of the resort.

Very softly House said, “No bet.”

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

One year later

Dr. Lisa Cuddy, in the sixth month of her pregnancy, married Dr. James Wilson.

It was a joyous occasion, with Dr Cuddy glowing like a candle waddling down the aisle to join her fiancé who looked happier than anyone could remember seeing him.

There was a lot of music and dancing but, out of respect for the bride’s delicate condition, the toasts were pledged with apple juice.

Coming home that night they found a bottle of Cristal sitting outside the door of their loft, a note in a familiar hand tied to the neck of the bottle.

All it said was “Regrets.”


 
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