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Chapter 1: Happy Ever After

The alarm clock buzzes loudly. "Urrg," Houa moans, as he tries to muster the will to get out of
the bed. After tossing and turning for a few minutes he finally gets up. Houa slowly and blindly makes
his way to the bathroom. He washes his face with warm water. He looks at his reflection. His hair is
messy, short, and black. He has a red streak along his right bang. His eyes are calm brown. He pours
water into a teapot and places it on the stove. He turns it on and walks to the laptop. He opens his email
and logs in. He looks through the new emails. The 3 emails tell him they he was not offered the job.
Houa sighs in disappointment. The teapot whistles. He turns off the stove and makes some tea. He takes
a sip. "Ahhhh." Houa sighs in relief. "It tastes like crap but I feel calm as hell." The phone rings.
"Hello." Houa answers.

"Is this Houa Xiong?" asks the caller.

"Yea."

"Hi Houa. My name is Heather. I'm from Alexander Hospital. I would like to offer you the MLT
position. Do you accept?"

"Yes," replies Houa, a little confused.

"Orientation will be on Friday at 9am to 5pm. It will be in room 102. You can ask the
receptionist for directions. I will send you an email with the required paperwork to bring."

"Yeah, that's fine."

"Thanks, hope to see you there."

"Thank you. Have a good one."

"Thank you. You too."

Houa hangs up the phone. He leans back on the chair and sighs. "I thought I did terrible in that
interview," he thought to himself.

There's a knock on the door. Houa walks over and opens it. Standing in the door was a beautiful
woman. She has bright green eyes and long curly brown hair that glistens in the light.

"You should really check the door before opening it. She smiles. I could be a killer."

"Then you'll be dead." Houa chuckles.

"Congratulations on your job offer!" She cheers.

"How'd you know?" Houa looks at her suspiciously.

"What can I say?" She shrugs as she walks in. "I have connections."
"YOU!" Houa over dramatically points at her.

"What?" She plays innocent.

"You can't smile your way out of this, Angelica," says Houa, still pointing his finger at her. "I
told you..." Angelica wraps her arms around Houa and kisses him. After a sort pause. she kisses him
again.

"What did you tell me?"

"That I love you."

"I know." She smiles. Angelica takes off her shoes and they walk to the couch. They sit down.
To celebrate, I brought over the new season of Doctor Who. She takes the DVD set out of her purse.

You're the best! Houa hugs her tightly.

If you don't let me go, I won't be able to put it on. She giggles.

Fine. In the name of The Doctor. Houa lets her go. He sits down as Angelica setup the DVD.
She selects play all on the menu and sits next to Houa. She rests her head on his shoulder. He puts his
arm around her and their hands interlock. The Doctor Who intro plays. Houa leans his head on
Angelica's. Thanks for your help, Little Miss. I really appreciate it.

Quite, you. Doctor Who.

Houa smiles. They binge watch the whole season 7 of Doctor Who. Houa stands up and
stretches. He looks out side. Hmm, it's late. You can stay the night if you want. Houa goes to grab
some extra blankets and pillows. He sets them up at the couch.

Really! Angelica exclaims.

What?

I got you a job and brought over the new season of Doctor Who, and you're making me sleep on
couch?

Ah, you got me a job. Yes. You would've still slept on the couch. But since you brought Doctor
Who, you get the bed. Houa winks at her.

Hmp. Angelica walks away in playful anger. She goes to the bathroom and takes a shower.
After 15 minutes, she opens the bathroom door. Steam rushes into the hallway like fog. Angelica steps
out. She's wearing a white T-shirt and a baby blue underwear. Her hair is tossed to one side. It is curly
and wet. Her skin glistens from the residual moisture.

She walks toward the living room. She sees Houa on the couch all snuggle up in a large blanket
like a little baby. She knees beside him and rests her head on his chest. The rhythm of his heart just
completes her world. She can listen to it forever.
After a few minutes of pretending to sleep, Houa opens his eyes and looks at her. Yes? He
asks drowsily.

Nothing. She smiles.

Every time a woman says it's nothing, its always something.

Nothing is nothing. Gosh.

You're right. Doctor Who is worth the bed and the couch. Houa throws one the pillows on the
floor and begins to roll over, but Angelica catches him.

Fine. If it always have to be something, then come to bed.

See? I knew it. Houa smirks triumphantly.

So you coming?

But I thought you wanted the bed?

We can share.

Whoa, Baby. That's moving too fast. I'm not ready for a relationship of that...magnitude. Houa
yawns.

We've been together for five years, Angelica says sternly.

According to Einstein's theory of Relativity, time is...

Relative to the individual. Blah blah blah. I know

But my body has already adapted to this environment. Houa whines.

Shut up and come to bed! Angelica shouts angrily.

Yes, Ma'am. Houa quickly gets off the couch. Angelica grabs his hand and they walk to the
bedroom. They slide into bed. Angelica turn to the side with her back facing Houa.

After a few minutes, she opens her eyes. Why arent you spooning me?

I want to be the small spoon this time, Houa says begrudgingly.

Fine. Angelica turns and wraps her body around his. You are so needy.

I need you. Houa yawns. Like a needle needs a vein. Like my uncle Joe, in Oklahoma, needs
the rain.

That's a song.

Correction. It's a great song. Houa yawns again. And don't try anything funny.
Or what?

I'll crawl my way back to the couch.

Hmp. Angelica scoffs. You won't make it far. Angelica pauses, trying to find the words.
Hey, Hun. Angelica snuggles Houa tighter. Houa groans tiredly. I want you to move in with me.

Now? Houa moans in sluggish anguish. You're doing this NOW?

Mhmm.

Whyyyy?

Because I know you'll be too tired to argue.

You're a cruel woman. Houa places his hand over hers.

I know. Angelica smiles. She rests her head on his back. She can hear his heart beat. It's like
a soft drum. She closes her eyes and embrace the warmth of his body.

* * *

2 years later, at the hospital, Houa is walking back to the lab after collecting blood culture bottles.
Houa enters the lab. A tall woman in a lab coat looks up from her microscope. She has curly blonde hair
and fair complexion. How'd it go? She asks.

Damn, Kimberly, Houa sighs. This is the eighth blood culture draw I did today. Houa puts
the two bottles in the large incubator with the rest of the other culture bottles.

Yeah, that MRSA is going around. Kimberly shakes her head. On a brighter topic, you
looking forward to seeing Angelica's parents?

How is that a brighter?

What's your problem with them?

They're too nice. Houa hangs up his lab coat. They make you feel welcomed and un-judged.

You are a strange little man. Kimberly shakes her head.

Walk my path then judge me, missy. Houa smirks. He notices a red speckle on his hand. Well,
better be safe. Houa thinks to himself. He walks into the bathroom and washes his hands with soap and
hot water. As he dries his hands, he notice that his hands have some cracks. He waves goodbye to
Kimberly and leaves the hospital. Houa walks to his car, wrapped in heavy winter clothing. The wind
howls as the snowflakes dance a violent ballet.

* * *

The sun is setting as Houa pulls into the driveway. Houa quickly gets out of the car and runs to
the door, taking wide steps trying not to sink in the snow. He rings the doorbell. A tall slender man opens
the door. His hair is brown, short, and clean cut. Hiding behind circular frame glasses, are dark hazel
eyes. The man smiles warmly. I'm glad that you made it safely, Houa, he says in a calm and soothing
voice.

Thanks, Mr. Ackermann. Houa smiles and enters the house. He looks around cautiously and
asks, Do you think Angelica notice? Mr. Ackermann just chuckles in response.

IS THAT HIM?! Angelica yells from the kitchen. Houa looks at Mr. Ackermann and fearfully
shacking his head. Houa hears angry footsteps approaching them from the kitchen. He hides behind Mr.
Ackermann.

Angelica walks up to them, wearing an apron with cartoon green elephant design and drying her
hand on a cloth. Her hair is tied in a ponytail. Unless my dad just turned into a centaur, who does the
second pair of legs belong to?

Hey, Angie? Houa nervously pokes his head out from behind Mr. Ackermann.

Your late. Angelica puts her hands on her hips.

Well, it was snowing heavily and people are bad drivers.

All I hear are excuses. Now step out from behind your human shield and take your punishment
like a man.

Your Fred Fredburger apron looks beautiful in the house light. Houa smiles hopefully.

Flattery won't save your butt this time. Angelica cracks her knuckles.

Dinner's Ready! a female voice yells from the kitchen. Relief sweeps across Houa's face.

Coming Mrs. Ackermann! Houa gleefully skips towards the kitchen as Angelica glares at him.
A vast array of food rests on the kitchen table that there was barely any space between the individual
plates.

Hello, dear. I'm glad you made it safely Mrs. Ackermann smiles. She is slim and slightly
shorter then her husband. Her eyes is a clear blue and her long curly blonde hair reaches the bottom of
her neck. She dries her hands on her apron before hangning it up. Take a seat over there. She points to
a pair of chairs on the opposite side of the table. We wouldn't want Angi to get too jealous now. She
winks.

Thanks, Mrs. Ackermann. Houa chuckles and takes his seat. Shortly thereafter, Mr.
Ackermann and Angelica walk into the kitchen.

Honey, don't try to steal your daughter's boyfriend. She has enough competition as it is. Mr.
Ackermann jokes. He kisses his wife on the cheek before taking his seat. Angelica sits next to Houa, her
apron still on and hands in her lap.
As her mother. It is my duty to teach my daughter valuable life lessons. She looks at Angelica.
Protect your man. Angelica gives her a sarcastic look. Mr. Ackermann and Houa chuckle softly.
Angelica looks at Houa. He cautiously meets her gaze, it was angry yet flirtatious.

You know what I will do if you leave me, Angelica says calmly. Houa's eyes widens and gulps.
He looks back to plate.

Let us say Grace, say Mr. Ackermann. Mr. Ackermann, Mrs. Ackermann, and Angelica close
their and pray. Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest, and let Thy gifts to us be blessed. Amen, they said in
unison while Houa quietly twiddles his thumbs. With the prayer over, they start to eat. The food was too
delicious not to try some from every plate. Their mouths were too full to make any conversation.

After everyone has eaten their fill, Houa looks around the dinner table, amased. There are still so
much food left.

So, Houa. When are you and my Angie gonna get married? asks Mr. Ackermann.

Daddy! Angelica protests. Her cheeks turn rose red.

Um, I'm not sure. Houa stammers.

We are not getting any younger, Houa. Mrs. Ackermann leans forward. We'll like to have
some grandkids running around before we go. She smiles.

Mommy! Angelica protests again, but to no avail.

Oh, don't be so shy, Angie. Mrs. Ackermann chuckles. So, why not, Houa?

Well, I-I don't ask because... Houa feels his face heating up. I like what we have now, and...
she might say no.

Angelica quickly gets up from her seat. She put on her coat, scarf, and boots and exits the
backdoor. Houa looks at Mrs. Ackermann in confusion. What did I do wrong?

You should go to her, Hon. Mrs. Ackermann says to Houa. We'll clean up here. She gets up
and starts putting the dishes in the sink.

I don't understand. Houa replies in utter confusion.

It's ok, Son. Mr. Ackermann walks over and places his hand on Houa's shoulder. We've
coexisted with them for over two thousand years and we still don't understand them.

Houa gets up and puts on his coat. He steps out into the the back yard. The snow falls gently
upon his face. He looks around the white landscape. He sees Angelica sitting on the swing, rocking
slowly. Houa walks over to her. The snow crunches under every step.

Hey. Houa smiles. Angelica looks up at him. Her eyes are watery and her cheeks are still red.
Houa kneels so they're at eye level. He places his hand on her cheek. It's burning hot. What's wrong?
BAKA! Angelica slaps Houa. The strike stings his frosted cheeks. She looks away. Houa tilts
his head, trying to peek past her hair. She finally turns to look at him. Her eyes are red from the tears.
yog vim li cas yog koj li ntawd ntshai?

Houa gives a heavy sigh. His heart races and his hands trembles lightly. He lowers his head,
avoiding her gaze. You might say no.

Angelica gently wrap her hand around his. She kisses his forehead. She rests her forehead on
his. Houa reaches into the coat pocket. He holds out a golden ring with inscriptions on it. Angelica
gasps.

Angelica, will you...take my hand...and make me the happiest man in the world? Houa
stammers.

Is that The One Ring? Angelica asks excitedly.

Yes, it is. Houa says sarcastically. I simply walked into Mordor and retrieved it from the pits
of Mount Doom.

Are you serious? Angelica asks quietly.

No of course not! That place doesn't exist! Houa rolls his eyes.

I mean... She blushes shyly. Are you serious about marrying me?

Yeah. Houa smiles. But...we don't have to if you don't..

Shut up. She hugs him. Yes! I'll marry you. They kiss and held each other tight.

Houa takes the ring and slides it onto Angelicas right ring finger.

Thats the wrong finger, Dum Dum. Angelica giggles.

What?! Are you sure? asks Houa, still trying recover from this sudden revelation.

Yeah, Dummy. She smiles. The marriage ring finger is on the left hand.

Houa just smiles and shrugs, unable to come up with any witty responses. Houa slides the ring
onto the correct finger and smiles at her.

Angelica smiles the most angelic smile. She sighs gleefully and wraps her arms around him.
You truly know nothing.

Angelica's parents watch them through the kitchen window and smiles. Mr. Ackermann reaches
into his pocket and pulls out his smart phone. He takes a picture of Angelica and Houa. This is going to
be the wedding invitation.

What if they don't like it? asks Mrs. Ackermann.


Then we'll use it to blackmail them. A wide grin spread across their face. They laugh
maniacally.

* * *

The following weeks, Kimberly notices a strangely cheerful demeanor in Houa. He smiles for
prolong periods of time. He often skips mid-strides. The tone in his voice is cheerier. She finally asks
Houa.

Where is the real Houa and what did you do with him? Kimberly asks.

What? Houa chuckles. What makes you say that?

You're too happy.

No, I'm always like this.

Aaah, no. Houa is emotionless and quiet. He barely laughs and it hurts him to smile.

So you like that version better? Houa raises an eyebrow.

Ah.... Kimberly pauses. Hmmm. She thinks.

That's what I thought. Houa laughs.

Kimberly walks to the nurse's station and sees Angelica entering data into the computer.

Heeey, Angelica. Kimberly leans on the counter. What have you been doing to Houa?

IS HE OK!? Angelica nearly jump from her seat.

Sssshhhhh. Kimberly shushes her.

Ooops. Angelica covers her mouth. But is he OK?

Yeah, he's fine but he's not himself.

What's wrong?

He's...too...happy.

Really? Angelica looks surprise.

You must been giving him quite the rides, huh? Kimberly smirks.

Kimmy! Angelica giggles and covers her mouth. Her cheeks blush a bright red.

Kimberly notices a gold ring on Angelica's finger. What's that? She points to it.

Oh. Angelica looks at the ring. Houa and I are getting married.

And you guys didn't tell anyone?!


Quiet down. Houa didn't want people to know. Angelica shushes her.

Oh, that's so like him. Kimberly crosses her arms.

* * *

The warmth of the sun rise peeks through the bedroom curtains. Angelica moans as she shields
her eyes from the light. She sits up from the bed and rubs her eyes. She toss her messy hair to one side.
Angelica tuns to look at Houa. He's curled up, still asleep. She smiles and leans to his ear. Wake up,
Darth, she whispers. She kiss his cheek. The heat of Houa's skin burns her lips. Surprised, she quickly
place her hand on his forward. The heat pulses through her hand. You're burning up. She helps him sit
up. Angelica quickly gets off the bed. I'm taking you to the ER.

I'll be OK. Houa trembles uncontrollably. He weakly wraps the blanket around him. Angelica
quickly puts on a t-shirt and jeans. Stop being a baby. We're going. Angelica says sternly.

I'm fine. I just need a few minutes.

Whatever. Try to stop me. Angelica puts a shirt on him. Houa is shaking so bad he couldn't
even resist her efforts. She takes one of his sweat pants and puts it on him, one leg at a time. Angelica
puts one of his arms over her shoulders and helped him stand up. She carefully helps him down the stairs.

Angelica drove them to the ER. She helps Houa sit down while she registers him in. A nurse
came in and helps Houa into a wheel chair. She takes him to a bed and in the ER and helps him in. The
nurse sticks a needle in his arm. She connects a syringe and collects some blood. She connects the IV
port to the needle and starts the IV infusion. The nurse covers Houa in some heating blankets. Angelica
holds his hand while they wait.

* * *

After what felt like hours, but actually only 30 minutes, the doctor walks in. Hello, I'm Dr.
House. He introduces himself. Ms., what are your relations? he asks.

I'm his wife. Angelica quickly answers.

Ok, Mrs. Xiong. The doctor looks at the charts on his clipboard. The blood count came back.
His white cells are extremely high, specifically the Neutrophils. So, what tells us is that-

It's a bacterial infection. Angelica interrupts.

Correct. We are running additional tests to identify the exact type. Until then, we are going to
treat him with every type of antibiotic

Thank you, doctor.

You welcome, ma'am.


A nurse came in and inject multiple vials of antibiotics into Houa's saline line. Angelica sits next
to Houa and holds his hand. Houa breaths heavily and sweats. At night, a nurse brought in some blankets
and pillows for Angelica.

Angelica wakes up to loud sounds of beeping, fast footsteps, and talking. When her eyes finally
focus, she sees a nurse performing CPR on Houa. The doctor injects some medicine into Houa's IV line.
A few minutes later, Houa finally stabilize. The doctor asks the nurse to go bring an EKG machine. A
few minutes later, the nurse pushes in a machine on a cart. He connects the wires to Houa's chest and
turns on the machine. The pen on the machine moves back and forth in response to Houa's heartbeat.
After a few minutes, the machine shuts off. The doctor rips off the line graph and looks at it.

Hmmm. The doctor rubs his chin. His heart rate is irregular. He turns to the nurse. Call X-
ray. Have them come and take an x-ray of his chest. I'll notify the Cardiologist so he can read it when he
comes in. The doctor relays the information to Angelica. I'm trying to find out if his heart problem was
caused by the infection or existed before it. Angelica goes back to sleep.

* * *

The next morning, Angelica wakes up and watches over Houa. There's a knock on the door.

Mrs. Xiong? Angelica turns around and sees a middle age woman in a white lab coat.

Yes? Angelica replies.

Hello, Mrs. Xiong. I am Dr. Cuddy. Dr. Cuddy smiles. The cardiologist's report and the Lab
results came in, Angelica's chest feels light as she prepares for the news. Your husband has MRSA.
Angelica's heart skips a beat. It is resistant to most antibiotics we have, so we will treat him with
Vancomycin, Zyvox, and Rifadin. This combination treatment is often effective against MRSA strains.

Mhmm. Angelica nods.

But. The doctor pauses. Your husband's heart is failing. Angelica's swells up and her heart
races as the doctor continues to talk. He has a hereditary condition called bi-cuspid valves. A normal
heart valve has three flaps. His valves only have two. Every time the heart pumps blood, some seep
back. This causes the heart to work harder than usual to provide enough oxygen. Normally, this wouldn't
cause any problem but...

The MRSA. A sharp pain stabs her heart as she realizes the damage.

Correct. The doctor continues. Fighting the infection has caused a lot of damage to his heart
and severely weaken his body.

Can you guys do a heart transplant?

The list is long and the board will not authorized a transplant to an individual recovering from a
recent infection, especially MRSA.

What about a pig heart or a mechanical one?


Those are possible options, but his body is too weak at the moment. He will not survive the
surgery.

But if he gets stronger than he will be able to get the surgery?

Once he recovers more, we can re-asses his suitability for surgery.

Thank you, doctor.

Thanks, Mrs. Xiong. The doctor exists the room.

Angelica turns back to Houa and holds his hand. You heard that, Houa. She smiles tearfully.
Just hang on a little longer and you can get a robotic upgrade, just like Adam Jenson. Houa's eyes turn
to her and he smiles weakly. A drowsiness overcomes him, and Houa closes his eyes.

* * *

Houa wakes up late in the night. His chest feels heavy. His heart rate begins to drop. His breath
slows down. The heart monitor sounds off a loud alarm. Angelica holds his hand.

You and me... Tears gushing from her eyes. Houa musters his remaining strength to hold on to
her hand. He can feel his strength fading. His grip loosens. He refocuses his energy to keep his eyelids
open but only delay the inevitable. The darkness creeps in on his vision. Angelica places his hand on her
cheek. She smiles at him. Tears still visible in her eyes. The darkness consumes him. I don't want to go.