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[personal profile] namaste
Title: Blythe's Story, Chapter 32 of 32
Author: Namaste
Summary: "So that was Greg," Phil said. "Not exactly what I was expecting."
"He never was," Blythe said.

PG, about 1,100 words.
Author’s Note: What began as a look at House's early life, based on information from the episode "Birthmarks," now winds up back at "Birthmarks." Spoilers for that episode, obviously. My thanks to everyone who stuck with this through a little more than 32,000 words. To start at the beginning go here: Chapter One. Chapters are linked.



Blythe watched them walk out to the car together, Greg seeming to stay a half-step ahead of James despite the cane and a touch of added stiffness she guessed came from too many hours cramped into the front seat.

They hadn't stayed long, hadn't even stayed long enough for Blythe to introduce him to some of John's friends, or to say hello to Sarah. That was probably Greg's plan, and the best she should have hoped for. James had spent the few spare minutes they had apologizing again and again – to her, to the chaplain, to the funeral home director. He'd given the funeral home a blank check, told the director to let him know if there were any other damages to pay for.

Greg had just settled himself on a chair and watched James, a satisfied smile on his face.

"I didn't do anything," he'd told Blythe when she saw the window. "Honest."

John would have been mortified, but that didn't matter. Not anymore. Greg had walked out of the room looking better than he had when she'd seen him just moments earlier. He somehow even seemed younger. She could see the boy he had once been clearly for the first time in years. If the window and a few curious looks and whispers were the last pieces of collateral damage in his war with John, they were worth the price.

James had apologized again before they left. Greg had given her a hug, then paused a moment, looked down into her eyes.

"Don't worry," she'd told him, and tried to smile. "I'll be all right."

His eyes narrowed, his head turned slightly to the side. She recognized the look he had whenever he was working out some problem in his head. Finally he nodded. "You'll be fine," he said.

Now Blythe lingered at the door a moment longer, watched as Greg eased himself down into the car and said something to James just before the engine started and they pulled away. She watched the silver sedan ease slowly down the road, then turn left at the corner and pass out of sight.

"So that was Greg."

Blythe turned, and saw Phil standing just behind her, looking past her to the empty street. She nodded.

"Not exactly what I expected," he said.

"He never was," Blythe said.

The mourners were gathered in small groups – the retired offers telling stories on one side of the room, her sister and brother-in-law gathering cards from the flowers and plants scattered around the room, her nieces looking over the photo albums that Blythe brought from home showing the three of them in so many different places.

"Did they give you a date for the burial yet?" Phil's voice was soft. He'd somehow managed to lose the harsh cadences of Marine speech since he'd retired. John never had.

"Next week," she said, "but you don't have to come. I told them I didn't need a graveside service. This was enough."

John had been pleased when he'd been granted permission for burial at Arlington. There were so many men dying overseas these days that they were starting to ration spaces, carefully selecting each new occupant. He saw it as some kind of validation for his years of service, like a medal or service ribbon.

"Of course he's happy," Greg had said when she'd told him. "It's the ultimate officer's club."

Greg had always found some excuse not to come and visit: patients, conferences, meetings. There had been a couple of weeks during the spring when she suspected he'd been sick – his voice sounding weak when she got him on the phone – but he'd never told her anything about it, and she'd decided not to push too hard. She was already watching John lose his battle day after day. She didn't think she could have borne the grief if the last meeting between John and Greg had ended in another fight.

Instead, she'd call, telling Greg what was happening, and use those few moments on the phone with him to escape, and remind herself of what else her life had brought her.

He'd tell her about some patient, or make up some story that would make her smile. Once he'd put the phone down and let her listen while he played a Schubert piece that he knew she loved.

Some of the men were leaving now, and they stopped on the way out to shake Blythe's hand, tell her again that they were sorry for her loss, tell her that John had been a good man.

Phil lingered, waited as the nieces left, as the officers and their wives left. He'd come alone. The last she'd heard, his latest marriage was shaky, and he was finding retirement too quiet for his taste.

The funeral home staff began quietly picking up the folding chairs, moving them into other rooms, where they were needed for other services. Phil finally picked up his coat, held it in his hands as he walked over to Blythe.

"I should get going," he said. "Are you going to be all right?"

Blythe remembered the certainty in Greg's eyes, the way he'd looked deep into her and seen something there. She felt herself draw strength from the memory. "I'll be fine."

Phil took two steps toward the door, then stopped, stood there for a moment, and turned back. He leaned down toward Blythe.

"This probably isn't the time or the place, but I don't know when we'll see each other again," he started, then took a breath. He looked around. No one else there. "I've always wondered," he whispered. "Greg, was he --" he looked around again, leaned down further. "Was he mine?"

It was the question she'd always expected, and the one no one ever asked. It was the one she used to fear. The one that used to keep her up at night. She could tell Phil now, clear her conscience. Sweep clean the one lie that had defined her life. She glanced over, saw John lying still in the open casket, saw the spot where Greg had been, where he'd finally accepted what John had meant in his life. She thought of John holding Greg when he was a baby, of John teaching him to swim, and how to ride a bike. She thought of picnics and fights and football games, and the day that Greg graduated from medical school -- and how John had cried when he thought no one was watching.

The truth was, one night meant nothing. There was nothing to lie about.

"John was Greg's father. He always was," she said, "and he always will be."

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-02 11:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pwcorgigirl.livejournal.com
That last conversation left a huge lump in my throat. I love how she lets go of the "one lie that had defined her life," Greg playing the Schubert and Wilson leaving the funeral home director a blank check. This has been such a lovely series.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks. I figured that since House came to some sort of grace involving John, I wanted Blythe to have that as well -- the idea that the one night wouldn't define her life.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chippers87.livejournal.com
He'd tell her about some patient, or make up some story that would make her smile. Once he'd put the phone down and let her listen while he played a Schubert piece that he knew she loved.

This was my favorite part. I love that deep down, beneath all that gruffness, House really is something of a momma's boy (in the best way possible). That, more than anything else, humanizes him.

"John was Greg's father. He always was," she said, "and he always will be."

Perfect. :)

I'm going to miss this story!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 01:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks. I always knew what the last line (and last scene) was going to be, it was just a matter of taking the paths that led to it. As to Schubert ... I've always felt that House will show that tender part of himself on rare occasions, and those moments he could give Blythe something -- especially because she'd know what those little moments meant.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 12:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] photoash.livejournal.com
That's a really lovely ending to a touching story :) I really enjoyed this way more than I thought I would!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks. While I always knew the ending for this fic, it was fun to see where it led.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spicyride.livejournal.com
That was the most awesome perfect ending!!!
I almost held my breath after Phil asked the question.
I have to agree with Chippers on my favorite part.

So beautiful and I will miss it; but at the same time it feels so complete.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks. Since this fic started with Blythe thinking she would have told the truth, if anyone had asked, I wanted to end it with someone finally asking -- and her conception of what was "true" having altered because of her experiences.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] niicelaady.livejournal.com
This was just perfect ... and the ending is so beautiful it hurts. Thank you for a bittersweet but lovely journey. {{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thank you. I think "bittersweet" may be the best way to describe this fic.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 03:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hughville.livejournal.com
This was perfect.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks very much.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 05:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] verbal-kint10.livejournal.com
Maybe I'm heartless, because I know there are many brilliant writers in this fandom, but this is the first time a fic has made me cry. It was absolutely perfect, every word. One of the most genuinely touching things I've ever read.

Thank you; I mean it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
You're welcome. I've run across a few fics that make me cry, but this one made me all verklempt a few times when I was writing it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 06:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angelcat2865.livejournal.com
Beautiful! all the way through.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks. I'm glad you liked it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 08:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] feanix.livejournal.com
He's a real mummy's boy. It's lovely to see that even though he's House to the world, he'll always be Greg to his mum.

Thank you for taking the time to write this and to share it with us. It really filled a place in the fandom, I think.

Keep writing :)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
You're welcome. And I do think there's a part of him that belongs exclusively to Blythe.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 10:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anniehow.livejournal.com
What a perfect ending to such a lovely series!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thank you. It was fun working my way to that ending.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 12:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jonne17.livejournal.com
Lovely, I feel this was one of the best chapters to a great, great story. You gave me much to think about, laugh and cry about.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks. I wanted Blythe to have her say about her life, and this was it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 12:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] de1iriumgirly.livejournal.com
My goodness what wa wonderful ending to a wonderful story!

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thank you. It's been a very interesting story to tackle, one piece at a time.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 01:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
What a monumental achievement you have here, closed with the perfect ending. It is wonderfully satisfying that as we know from canon, House came to the same conclusion as Blythe here: John was his father no matter what. Thank you for giving so much to us all with this great story.
--blacktop

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
You're welcome. I liked the idea that Blythe and Greg ended up in the same place emotionally after everything they'd all been through.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 02:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lucyvanflick.livejournal.com
I've followed this story for so long. I liked the mood that you set- not angsty, not all sunshine and daisies, but quiet and introspective. In my book, you've succeeded in getting me into Blythe's mind and life.

I am sorry to see this end but I hope you'll write again soon.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks very much. I do tend toward the quieter moments in fics. I think they say more than outright angst.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 05:41 pm (UTC)
ext_25649: House sucking a lollipop while staring at Wilson (Default)
From: [identity profile] daisylily.livejournal.com
That's absolutely perfect.

I love this story so much, and it's been wonderful reading it over (looks at chapter 1) five months - eek, I had no idea it was that long! Anyway, it's been a great read, and I've saved it to read again.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
I had no idea how long this was going to be when I started it, though I knew there was a lot of ground to cover. It ended up being my longest in terms of number of chapters, but not the longest in word count.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hibernia1.livejournal.com
Oh, this ending, it's perfect. Absolutely perfect. I love the way Blythe draws strength from Greg's knowing she'll be fine, and I love the details (with Greg playing the piano fer her, and with John crying when Greg graduated), and that final conversation was intensely moving. Excellent series, thanks so much for sharing.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-03 07:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks. I knew from the start I'd end up back at the funeral where the whole germ of this fic began, and I'm glad people enjoyed taking the ride.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-04 12:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 3kelvin.livejournal.com
So good to see the weight lifted off of Blythe's shoulders and see her come to terms with her family's past.

Perfect ending for a wonderful set of stories. Thank you! :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-04 12:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks. I do think that while she'll miss John, the fact that the war is over and she's no longer split in two will help her heal.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-04 07:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shutterbug-12.livejournal.com
Seeing this entire story unfold has been a pleasure. The depth you've given this entire story, how rich a backstory you've created here, is wonderful. It's compelling how much strength she always drew from House and still does, feeds off of House's little strengths, and even suffered when he did. It's a great mother-child connection that came through in a really nice and understated way throughout this whole story.

Once he'd put the phone down and let her listen while he played a Schubert piece that he knew she loved. That was incredibly sweet, such a gorgeous moment. And I love how, even though they both know (or will know) the absolute truth in a biological sense, both Blythe and House arrive at the same conclusion that John was House's father.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-04 12:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thank you. I think Blythe had always thought of John as Greg's father, but held onto that guilt for so long that it was a relief just to finally let it go. After all, if it hadn't been for that mistake, John would never have had a son, and she wouldn't have had Greg to raise (and draw strength from herself). She really would have been alone.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-13 02:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chilibreath.livejournal.com
"John was Greg's father. He always was," she said, "and he always will be."

Awesome. Simply Awesome.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-04-14 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namasteyoga.livejournal.com
Thanks. It was a long way around to get Blythe to the same conclusion as House in "Birthmarks," but it was a fun ride.