1 – Wile E. Coyote
I fidgeted in my seat as my plane slowed on the runway. The pilot said something over the speaker, but I wasn't listening. I was busy staring out the window, waiting to get out of this plane and breathe some air. You know: real, fresh, polluted city air…with something concrete under my converse. My attention was brought away from the window, though, as most of the passengers began to rise from their seats and take their bags from the overhead compartments.
I got up and stretched as the stiff in the tie that sat next to me took his computer and tiny briefcase and wandered off down the aisle. I took my laptop from behind my legs and brought my duffle bag from its place above my seat.
A few minutes and a mob of people later, I was watching the conveyor belt intently while I waited for my other suitcase.
'Making love with his ego, Ziggy sucked up into his mind—'
I fished my phone out of my pocket and flipped it open.
'Your plane land yet?' I heard my brother's voice ask.
'Yeah. Now where are you?' I asked, briefly looking away from the parade of luggage to look for my brother.
'I'm almost there. I just hope you don't get hit on by any psycho killers or something… whatever you do, don't let anyone buy you a Bay Breeze!' Johnny said, making me smile.
'You haven't done anything, but watch movies while I was gone, have you?' I asked, spotting my suitcase and watching it move a little bit closer.
'Well, yeah… and work. And buy a guitar,' Johnny replied as I grabbed my suitcase, sat it on the floor, and popped up the handle.
'You bought a guitar?' I asked into the phone with a grin.
'Yeah! I kind of rock…' he said, finally coming up next to me. His arms were wide in expectation of a hug. 'Francesca!'
I hugged my brother for a moment and we shared the usual I-missed-yous. Then I reached up, grabbed him by the hair and pulled his head back so I could look him in the eye.
'What did I tell you about calling me by that name?' I asked, raising my eyebrows.
'What? It's your name! It's on your birth certificate…' Johnny replied with an almost innocent smile.
'If you keep calling me it, I'll have it legally changed.'
'No you won't. Mom would kill you!' Johnny shot back with a look on his face that basically said I was full of crap. I let go of his head and took a step back, looking Johnny over in my best older-sister way.
'When was the last time you washed those clothes?' I asked, raising an eyebrow. He smiled before answering.
'You're supposed to wash them?'
I walked into Johnny's apartment and immediately dropped my bags on the floor by the door. I raised my eyebrows and looked around. The place was actually quite nicely furnished. And clean!
'You're sleeping on the couch, by the way,' Johnny joked as he disappeared into the kitchen.
I had come down to Princeton a couple times before, and now all my things were in storage locker number E375: my furniture, my clothes, my knick-knacks… yes, I have knick-knacks. Johnny had practically made me stay with him while I looked for a place of my own. I smiled at the role reversal here.
I threw myself onto the couch and rested my head on the armrest, closing my eyes. A few minutes later I heard Johnny's voice.
'Aw, widdle Fwankie has jet wag,' he said, making me open my eyes. He had a Coke and a bottle of water in his hand. I smirked sleepily and sat up, making room for him on the couch. As he sat down he gave me the water bottle.
'So, what's for dinner?' I asked, stretching my legs in front of me.
'I put a pizza in the oven,' Johnny replied, turning the TV on and settling into the couch cushions. I watched him for a minute and smiled.
'I'm impressed,' I told him fondly. Johnny looked at me for a second like I was crazy.
'Because I'm making a frozen pizza?' he asked, raising an eyebrow. I laughed for a second before replying.
'No, I mean…' I stopped, looking around, 'Well, look at this place! The furniture's actually... well, you know, intact. The place is clean, you're obviously paying your utility bill. I'm proud of you.'
'Yeah,' Johnny just smiled for a second and looked around at his apartment proudly, then he turned his attention back to me with an amused look on his face, 'I'm even thinking of getting a pet!'
'Well, don't push it,' I joked, putting my arm around his shoulders and ruffling his hair.
I opened my eyes slowly to see the TV still on and Johnny lying on the floor, wrapped up in a blanket from head to toe, and looking vaguely like a silkworm, or a cocoon, or something. I got up as quietly as I could, stepped over my sleeping brother as carefully as possible, and dragged my duffle bag into the bathroom. After one of the quickest showers of my life, I emerged from the steaming bathroom to see Johnny half awake and still sitting on the floor, leaning his back against the couch. He was squinting at the TV and holding a mug of something.
'G'morning,' I greeted with a cheery smile.
'Are you kidding?' was Johnny's reply, partnered with a sleepy look that said I was crazy.
'Do you have anything for breakfast? I'll cook,' I said, ignoring my brother's morning pessimism and heading into the kitchen.
'You in a hurry?' he asked groggily, not answering my question. Probably on purpose. I smiled and rolled my eyes.
'That's okay, I'll pick up a bagel on my way there,' I said, walking out of the kitchen and back into the bathroom, shutting the door behind me.
'Where are you going?' I heard from the other side of the door as I started to get dressed.
'I have a couple of interviews and then lunch,' I looked down at the two shirts in my hand, 'Blue or green?'
'Blue. Lunch? Who with?' Johnny asked curiously, and I heard a soft thump against the door. I slipped on the green blouse and started doing up the buttons.
'Just an old friend. Can't afford to sever any ties when you're looking for a job.'
I reached for the doorknob and opened the bathroom door, propelling myself out, just to be met with the mass of flailing limbs that was my brother. He had been leaning on the door that I had just pulled open. After a second, he caught his balance by grabbing both sides of the doorframe, looking vaguely like Wile E. Coyote hanging from two cliffs. I smiled at him for a second and then quickly ducked under his arm. I gave my brother a quick peck on the cheek before walking away.
'I've really missed you, Johnny,' I said with a smile and walked out the door. As I left, I vaguely heard him call after me.
'Aren't you going to help me?'
'Boston must have agreed with you, Frankie,' Wilson said as he handed his menu back to the waiter, 'You look great.'
I nodded softly and took a sip of my ice water. 'For the most part,' I began, mentally shuffling through a few memories of my time there, 'It was nice to be back home.'
Wilson smiled at me. I could tell that a lot had happened since I left. Big things. I could see it in his eyes, but I decided to keep that thought to myself, for the time being. For a second, sitting at the table with Wilson brought up a warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia. My mind wandered to Princeton Plainsboro's cafeteria and having lunch with Wilson and—
I quickly stuffed those thoughts back into the dark corner of the closet from whence they came.
'How are your parents? And Johnny?' Wilson asked, pulling me out of my little nostalgia trip, just as the waiter came by with some stuffed mushrooms.
'Parents are good. Johnny is… Johnny. Out of his mind and totally amazing,' I replied, with a smile. 'I'm staying with him until I find a place. He wouldn't take no for an answer.'
'Have you narrowed down the job search yet?' he asked nonchalantly. And suddenly there it was. The elephant in the room had just soaked us all in river water and stormed through the whole restaurant.
'Considerably,' I said, trying to evade the question as I served myself a mushroom. Wilson stared at me for a second before speaking.
'You know, he's clean now,' Wilson stated, throwing all caution to the wind. I looked at him like a deer in headlights. I had forgotten how surprisingly straight-forward Wilson could be. It took me a second, and a couple of well-timed blinks, before I could respond to that.
'Is he really?' I asked, trying to seem casual and taking a long gulp of my water. Wilson just nodded.
'I thought you'd like to know that before I gave you my offer,' he said, sitting back in his chair and watching me. 'Just so that you wouldn't turn me down for any wrong reasons. Although, feel free to accept for any wrong reason you want.'
He added a smile to his last sentence, and suddenly, I felt nostalgic for the days when Wilson was trying to get me to help him with House.
'What kind of offer?' I asked, slowly regaining my composure. His eyes lit up, glad at the opportunity to try to win me over.
'A job at Princeton Plainsboro. And before you say no, let me just say that it would feel like a personal favor to me if you were to say yes,' he said, looking like a kid with a new toy. I sighed patiently, but nodded.
'What kind of job?' I asked. He seemed thrilled to just be able to talk about it.
'I've been doing some research… stimulation on the nervous system and how it can affect my patients. Also, electrical stimulation enhancing the effects of their chemo treatments, and helping them with their pain. I mean, this is right up your alley! And really, if you saw the progress my patients have been making—'
I let him talk, but all the while in the back of my head, I knew I'd turn this position down. I mean, I had to. I couldn't work at Princeton Plainsboro again. What would have been the use of leaving in the first place? I had to go forward, not back.
Of course, going from working for House to working for Wilson wasn't exactly a huge leap in the wrong direction…
And speaking of House, how in the world could that rat be clean now? I leave, and he suddenly cleans up his act? Great timing. He couldn't do that while I was around?
'What do you think?' Wilson said, pulling my attention back to the conversation. I had lost complete track, my thoughts wandering off into all sorts of different places. I just took another sip of my water and thought for a moment. Shouldn't I just let him down easy?
'I'll think about it,' I heard myself say. Wait. That wasn't as forward as I meant to be about the situation…
A/N: Hello again, everyone! I really hope you guys like this story. It won't be as long as Healing Wounds was, but I couldn't keep Frankie and House in limbo anymore. It's worth noting that this fic is slightly AU, since events changed a bit after Frankie left. Anyway, please R&R, let me know what you think!