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Stacy sat next to the hospital bed and held Greg's hand as he slowly emerged from the coma. Wake up, Greg, she thought. Please.

She needed him to wake up.

She dreaded the moment when he did.

She’d betrayed him; that's how he would see it. She thought he might forgive her – eventually – but she knew with a bone-deep certainty he would never trust her again. Ever. Greg's trust was precious and hard-won, and he did not give second chances. She'd held that inestimable gift in her hands and she'd thrown it away, and she didn't regret it. When he woke up, Greg would yell and complain and cut her to ribbons with the sharp, bitter edge of his tongue. But for now she clung to his hand and watched his face and listened to the beeping of the heart monitors, and was comforted. Alive, they whispered to her with each mechanical note – and in the end, that was all that mattered, that steady pulse, that song, that hallelujah: alive alive alive.

His eyes opened. "Greg," she whispered, knowing it was stupid but unable not to ask. "Are you okay?"

"I almost died from pain," he said. "I'm just peachy." And he grinned at her.

She felt her eyes fill with tears as she smiled back, but she did not let them fall. He was so glad to be alive, so simply and uncomplicatedly happy. Her betrayal had surely been redeemed by the grace of that smile.

And then his face changed.

He pushed the sheet aside and groped at his leg, examining the damage – getting all the information he could, Stacy thought, before coming to a diagnosis. She braced herself for his anger. He was bound to be angry. But he had trouble acting in his own best interests sometimes, and she would bear the brunt of that anger gladly. Anger was good. Anger was life. The dead were always at peace.

As long as he was alive, he had hope. That was the gift her betrayal had bought him. Hope that he would heal, hope that the pain would subside, hope that he would walk again unaided. Hope that he would forgive her.

Hope that he would be happy again someday.

His fingers stopped their search and he closed his eyes. For a moment, the room was still, the calm before the storm. The only sound was their breathing and the steady beeping of the monitors.

When Greg opened his eyes again, all the happiness and love that had been shining there just a few seconds earlier was gone, vanished as if it had never been. Instead, there was something else, something she had never seen in his face before. Something like...

Oh. Oh. Stacy flinched.

"What the hell happened to my leg?" Greg yelled, and, yes, there was the anger she’d been expecting. "You butchered it!"

For a moment, she wished...but no. No. That way lay madness. She had done the right thing. He was alive, therefore she had done the right thing.

And if, for one instant, he had looked...confused.... Greg House, a man whose intelligence drove him to understand everything, did not understand this. But that didn't change anything.

She had done the right thing.

Hadn't she?


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