|Secrets and Truths
Author: NebulousMistress PM
A VERY alternate character interpretation. Can be read as an AU. Mirrors the events of 7x8 "Small Sacrifices," follows "Song and Dance". Mentions of canon pairings.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - G. House & D. Nolan - Words: 7,504 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Published: 12-13-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6554585
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
First, a caveat. This is still a very alternate character interpretation. It follows the events in "Song and Dance," you should read that first. It also closely follows the events in episode 7x8 "Small Sacrifices," you should watch that first. It is a personal challenge to follow canon as closely as possible, adding to it without attempting to remove from it in any way. As always, this can be read as an AU.
Gender is a complex thing. While current research is pointing to physical structures in the brain that dictate gender identity, gender as we know it is also more of a social construct than anyone would ever want to admit. Thus Dr. House has not been assigned a set gender pronoun throughout. Rather the pronoun and name used in any particular scene is a reflection of the individuals in that scene in addition to the gendered trappings (going 'stealth', for example), and the feel of the scene itself. Thus can the viewpoints of different characters towards Gillian House be inferred. And thus the reason why names and pronouns jump from one extreme to another. In some scenes House isn't assigned a gender pronoun at all. It leaves the interpretation of these scenes up to the reader and enables all parties involved to take from this what they will.
Dialogue and stage directions pulled out of the episode are compliments of hulu. This usage is assuredly not what they meant when they posted the episodes online.
This is a work of fanfiction. No money is being made from these pieces. Besides, it is highly unlikely that the owners of House MD would entertain an idea like this one. Though it would be awesome, it remains too controversial.
Dr. House barged into the office, a few minutes late. Dr. Nolan, therapist, sat at the desk, transcribing noted from a previous session. Dr. Nolan smiled welcomingly and set aside his work, gesturing for House to take the comfy chair.
"It's good to see you, Gillian," Nolan said in greeting. "I hope this past week has treated you well."
House felt a tiny thrill at the use of the preferred name. Soon the old Gregory House would be nothing more than a memory, maybe he'd be a mask worn in the presence of dear old Mom. Gillian House would take her place in society.
"And how's the Real Life Test going?" Nolan asked.
Maybe not so soon. House grumbled, gesturing to the outfit, a button-up blouse and calf-length skirt. "It's usually not," House pointed out. "I can get fired for crossdressing. The best I can manage is the corset underneath something gender-neutral. And don't give me any of your 'equal opportunity employment' crap, I checked. This state can still screw me over for gender identity. If I had a letter I could try and hide behind that."
"I already told you, I'm not drawing up a letter until you've gone through seven more weeks of therapy and passed the Real Life Test. I need to know you can live as a woman before signing off on hormonal treatment."
"We just spent a year going over how I can't even live as a man!" House took a breath, trying not to scream. It was very tempting to give in and scream. "Just, whatever." Hands shot up in avoidance, maybe surrender. "We've already talked about this; I'm just saying that if I get fired because I got caught and didn't have a letter, you get to explain it. Let's talk about something else."
"You're usually so resistant to change," Nolan observed. "But this can't happen fast enough for you. This is a big step, realizing that not all change is a bad thing. Speaking of change, you mentioned last week that you have a new fellow?"
"Martha M. Masters, med student and Cuddy's own little long-lost clone," House said grandly, allowing the change of subject. "Compulsive truth-teller, double PhD, and no social skills what-so-ever. Cuddy gave me no choice, of course. I had to fire the kid four or five times before giving in."
"Why? Why fire her so often?"
"Cuddy kept insisting I hire a woman in the most insulting ways possible. Admittedly some of those insults were pretty good, some were just…" House shuddered. "Dysphoria is not a pretty thing and her jokes were fairly… anatomical in nature."
"So you took it out on the new hire?"
"At first. Then it was just for fun. I think the kid stopped being insulted around the third time."
"And so you chose to keep her?"
"I was forced to but I made the terms my own. This kid doesn't believe in lying, to the point where she told a patient that we thought she had smallpox."
"Case involving a 200 year old shipwreck, scabs in a sealed jar, and the CDC getting pox-happy," House said dismissively. "It wasn't smallpox, it just looked like it. Also, webcam dominatrices make the best short-notice translators."
Nolan nodded, sifting through the House-ian commentary. "You'll compliment each other," he said. "She always tells the truth and you believe everybody lies. You might just turn each other into normal human beings."
"Now you sound like Cuddy."
"I'm sorry. Has Cuddy forgiven you yet?"
House snorted. "First she decided to punish me for the Halloween party by hiring this goody-two-shoes kid. Then she tried to manipulate me into valuing our dysfunctional excuse for a relationship, which I might add I never agreed to resume, over the life of my patient. Now she's all pissy because I made the obvious choice by lying to her, thereby saving my patient's life. I even had the kid on my side with that one; I'd known her for two days and the kid made me proud by telling Cuddy she was a coward. Flat-out. Right to her face. I think that's when I chose to keep the kid, the moment she stood there and called Cuddy a coward for hiding behind useless rules while watching a man die."
"And that's why you compliment each other," Nolan pointed out. "You can teach her how to finesse her observations into a conversation and she can teach you how to use your own bluntness to better effect."
"That's more like it," House agreed. "By the time I'm done with her she will not only know how to lie, she'll want to lie. And she'll do it well."
"And you'll be able to get your point across hopefully with fewer punches thrown."
"I don't throw punches," House said, indignant.
"No, you end up taking them."
House smirked. "That's true."
"Anything new coming up?"
"Chairman's getting married. Trophy wife. I have to attend the wedding." House slumped forward, expression twisting to extreme distaste. "In a tuxedo. Cuddy wants to drag me as her date so I can apologize for not putting 'us' ahead of my patient. I was going to try to get out of this 'us' by just not apologizing and letting it die but she's being tenacious."
"I'm sorry about the tuxedo but you know you have to let her down yourself. Despite her manipulations she deserves that. You deserve it too. You don't want this haunting you months down the road."
House sighed. "I know. I'll do it. It's just…"
"Haven't had sex with her since before the party. It's… I dunno… If she finally leaves I'm alone again. Wilson is with Sam. He suggested they think about having a kid for fuck's sake! I mean, I like Sam but she's… She's in the way."
"In the way?"
"It's like every time Wilson has some woman. He spends all his time with her until the relationship starts failing after about a year and then he starts coming back to me. But the fact remains for that year I'm basically alone. I gave him his space this time because, come on, I know the drill by now, but it's only been seven or so months, there's almost half a year left. And the support groups you suggested aren't worth shit, they're either filled with twenty-something kids and their emo whining about never being able to have children or they're dominated by middle-aged trannies who don't realize it's not the '70s anymore."
"Gender issues aren't my specialty," Nolan pointed out. "I'd rather you had a source of support that knew more than I do. I offered to refer you to another therapist but you elected not to see someone else. You can't rely on Wilson for the entirety of your support."
"I know…" House sank back into the chair, pouting. "I'll think of something."
The rest of the hour went by smoothly. House began coming up with a plan for dealing with the Cuddy Issue. If she couldn't be scared off by lies then maybe information would be a more useful tactic.
Greg House was thoroughly uncomfortable. He stood with his arms out like some sort of sacrifice while the old tailor fitted him for a tuxedo. Even though he wasn't wearing the corset a month's worth of tightlacing left its mark on his torso; the pants sat awkwardly below his thinned waist and the shirt billowed empty around his middle. He could feel the disapproval wafting from the tailor, tried to ignore it by discussing his current case. Ideas flew back and forth, all saying the same thing but not realizing it. A demonstration was in order.
"Let's put it to the vote. Vest or cummerbund?" House held the vest up higher, shook it for attention.
"Cummerbund," Masters suggested.
"You know me, I can't say no to any of you guys. You're all correct. He has MS. But not the friendly 'Mr. Rogers MS'. This is the weird-guy-in-the-panel-van kind." House wrapped the cummerbund around his waist and let the tailor fasten it.
"What did I just say?"
"He'll be dead in two to three days at the most!"
"That's unless we can get someone to nail themselves to a cross as soon as possible." House let the tailor ease the jacket onto his shoulders. "Or, stem cell treatment."
"That's an experimental treatment," Taub warned.
"It's had promising results with demyelinating diseases," Foreman observed. "It's our best shot."
"It would be if it wasn't embryonic stem cell treatment," Chase lamented. "Our patient's right with the Pope, he's not going to consent to that."
"I know that, you know that, he doesn't know that," House pointed out. "But now she knows that, he's gonna know that. Way to go. Confirm Marburg then see if he's a fair-weather flagellator."
The fellows left while the tailor knelt down to check the final fitting on the legs. He shook his head disapprovingly. "You've ruined the line of the tuxedo," the tailor warned. "It's shameful for a man to alter his shape with corsetry."
"You and your 'shame' can bite me," House warned. "What I do with my body is my own business. You're lucky I'm not wearing the corset right now."
It took an extreme amount of willpower not to let his leg slip and kick the man in the jaw. "Whatever. Does it fit or not?"
"It fits well enough."
House grabbed the bowtie and stalked off, leaving the annoyed tailor on the floor. He made his way to the one place that would make him feel better.
Wilson's office was empty. Not locked this time, but empty. And there were all those files Sam had duped Wilson into reviewing. House settled down into Wilson's chair, put feet on the desk, and cracked open a file.
Odd. And yet there were others, a nice little pile with irregularities. Either there was a problem with transcription or an issue with Sam being a little heavy-handed with the radiation.
The door opened. "You look smashing, Ms. Moneypenny," House said in her best Sean Connery.
"Cummerbund?" Wilson asked in his best Goldfinger. "Very foolish, Mr. Bond." He dropped the voice. "The daughter's case checks out. Stereotactic biopsy confirmed stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme. Doesn't respond to chemo but they gave it to her anyway as a Hail Mary and just got lucky."
"So, either God intervened, which is a lazy explanation, or we just don't know why, which is no explanation."
"Sometimes there's no explanation. And I'm just fine with that."
"Which annoys me to no end," House prodded.
"I need that file, that chair, and that desk," Wilson said, trying to kick House off of his desk.
House grabbed her cane and got up. "Your woman is fudging the facts," she revealed. "Five of those cases the stated doses don't explain the radiation damage."
"Sensitivities vary," Wilson defended.
"Not that much." She stared him down until he dropped his eyes and nodded.
"Yeah," he admitted. "That's what I thought." He sat down, sighing. "I asked her, point blank, about this. She said the dosages were accurate and that she had done nothing wrong."
House weighed the facts. "'Cause morally she didn't. All five cases were terminal, she exceeded the dosing protocols to try to save their life. You'd have done the same. She's a sap and she's perfect for you."
House left. A distracted Wilson was not that fun to play with. She couldn't even get a rise out of him by calling him the Moneypenny to her Bond. And now he was going to propose to the harpy.
She didn't want to follow his advice. She didn't want to have to try and keep Cuddy for the emotional support, however meager. But if things ended up where they looked to, she might not have much of a choice.
The wedding was a success. The wedding was a disaster. Everything had gone right, wrong, and everything in-between. Chase ended up with more tail than he knew what to do with, Wilson's proposal fell flat as Sam accused him of not trusting her, Taub's marital troubles were back, and House toyed with Cuddy's sense of trust by dangling her own lies in front of her. But in the end, House caved like a bitch again.
She'd apologized to Cuddy.
But all wasn't lost, she thought. She pulled the corset tight around her waist, sucked in her stomach and exhaled in one long groan as the first hook latched itself. She gasped at the effort before moving to the next one. After the first few it got easier and she sighed as the rest were done up. She smoothed her hands down her sides, smiling wistfully at the curve the corset forced into her body. "Why couldn't I just always have this?" House asked rhetorically, words bouncing around the empty apartment.
All wasn't lost. She'd told Cuddy she wasn't going to lie any more. That itself was a lie, she would always lie to save her patients. But maybe there was one truth she could tell.
Cuddy was coming over tonight. Lisa probably expected make-up sex followed by sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night so Greg couldn't ask her to stay. Gillian laughed at the disappointment awaiting her.
Better to think of the look on Cuddy's face than the very real possibility that House might get fired for this. If it all went south she'd have to get word to HR quickly and hope they understood.
A frantic knocking sounded. House pulled on her shirt, doing the buttons quickly while limping to the door. It didn't sound like Cuddy…
Wilson staggered in. "Sam left me," he said, making a curved beeline to the couch. He dropped himself onto the leather and spread out.
"What a moron," House muttered.
"Little too soon, I'm still in love with her."
"I meant you."
"You have drink? Or drinks?"
House took a deep breath. She didn't want to kick Wilson out at a time like this but… "Cuddy's coming over."
Wilson sat still a moment before turning to look at her, confused. "Does she know you're here?" he asked.
"I apologized to her."
Wilson stood up, looking both confused and oddly impressed. "Good for you."
"Not really. I lied."
Wilson headed for the door, weaving the walk of the dazed.
"Just took your advice. Too bad you didn't."
The door opened. Wilson still gaped before seeming to hit a realization. He flashed a hint of a smile. "Good for you," he said, meaning it this time.
House stared unseeing at him as he left. She wasn't so sure anymore. She debated chickening out, undoing the corset, hiding all the clothes, running after Wilson…
There was a knock on the door.
House took a deep breath to calm herself. It was too late to back out now. She opened the door.
Cuddy stood in the doorway with a smirk and a bottle of wine. She grabbed House by the neck and pulled him down for a kiss. He responded out of habit, willing her to feel the knot of nervousness in his belly and let him go.
She let go, pulled back with that smirk of triumph. "I brought a little something to celebrate," she said, holding up the bottle.
House accepted the offered bottle, fighting to not give in to old habits. He took it to the kitchen to open it and fetch wineglasses. Once there he wrapped his hands around his waist and took a deep breath, felt his torso constricted, hugged by the warm satin that made her feel more like herself. She sighed.
"Need any help?" Cuddy called from the living room.
"I got it," House replied. She pulled herself together, assured of her course. She pulled down a second wine bottle, sure at least one of them would need it that night. Corkscrew, stemware, pour, and House left the kitchen with two full glasses of wine and new resolve. She handed a glass to Cuddy.
House sat down and held out her glass. "To being honest," she offered as a toast.
"Oh, Greg," Cuddy said, flattered. Glasses clinked and wine was sipped.
"I need to take that leap of faith," House continued. "I need to know that trust can exist. That I can trust you."
"Of course you can trust me," Cuddy crooned.
House took a long swig of wine, letting smooth dark red trickle down her throat. She needed the courage. "There's something I need to tell you," she began. "Something I've barely told anyone else. Something I couldn't admit to myself for most of my life."
"You're not gay, are you," Cuddy asked, her quiet voice barely hiding the tense demand.
"I'm not gay. I'm transgendered."
Cuddy's eyes narrowed. "No you're not."
House picked himself off the couch, limped off to stare in the distance. His hands wrapped around his waist, slipped under his shirt. Fingertips ghosted up and down steel boning and smooth satin. It wasn't helping.
"If you're expecting this to be funny, I'm not laughing," Cuddy warned.
"Nor am I," House murmured.
"And you just expect me to believe you? After all you've lied to me?"
"You're the one trying to get me to trust," he snapped, pivoting to face her. "You're the one insisting I trust you, that I be honest with you! Well this is honesty, Lisa!"
"I didn't mean this, I mean real things! You don't really think you're a woman."
"Somehow I think I'm a little more qualified to know what I'm thinking than you are."
Cuddy gaped, grasping at straws. "You've never shown any sign!"
"Yes, because decades of suicide attempts, drug addiction, and being an antisocial miserable bitch mean nothing," House snarled. "And don't you dare blame the infarction, that just gave me an excuse and you know it!"
The color drained from Cuddy's face as facts started making sense. "I…"
House pulled her hands out from around her waist, not caring that it caused her shirt to ride up enough for Cuddy to see her corset.
"I left Lucas for you!" Cuddy shouted.
"Oh no, you didn't, you left him before you came to me and when you did I warned you, I warned you, that I would hurt you and you didn't care!"
"Because I love you!"
"Stacy loved me too," House said. She'd never told this to Cuddy but now seemed like a good time. "Stacy loved me enough to leave Mark for me. I begged her to stay with him because he loved her and I'd just hurt her again. I flat-out refused to take her back because it wouldn't work out between us, not anymore. And if I had a choice that night when you found me I'd have done the same with you."
Cuddy reacted as though she'd been slapped.
"It didn't matter how much I wanted you," House continued. "You had Lucas. He loved you, he loved Rachel, he was so good with both of you. If I hadn't been sitting there, broken, having to decide between you and the pills, I'd have told you to go back to him. Hell, I'd have begged you to go back to him, just like I begged Stacy."
Cuddy slumped on the couch. She weakly picked up her wineglass and drained its contents.
House limped back to the kitchen, returned with both bottles of wine and the corkscrew. She put it all down on the coffee table and picked up her own glass to drain it.
"How long?" Cuddy asked, gazing into the red stain in her empty glass.
"How long have you known?"
"I didn't know when we started dating," House assured.
"But there've been signs, haven't there."
"Ever since getting kicked out of Johns Hopkins I've been a crossdresser," she admitted. "All I knew is it made me feel better. I never knew why."
Cuddy poured them both a new glass of wine.
"Thank you," House said.
"So what are you going to do about this?"
"I can't be the man you want. I can't be the man Dad wanted me to be. I've tried. I tried so long to be the man everyone wanted me to be. Now it's my turn. I'm going to try to be the woman I want to be."
"You're going to…" Cuddy took a gulp of wine before she could bring herself to say it. "You're going to transition?"
"As soon as possible," House admitted. She sipped her glass.
"You're not… You're getting surgery, aren't you?"
House couldn't look Cuddy in the eye. She concentrated on the wine.
"Oh my god," Cuddy groaned. She drained her glass again and poured more.
"It's not that bad," House offered. Not giving an answer wasn't a lie, right?
Cuddy gave her an incredulous look. House took up the full bottle and corkscrew, opening it as a peace offering. "You named your penis," Cuddy accused, taking the offered bottle. She took a pull directly from the bottle.
"That's what you do when you're uncomfortable with it," House pointed out, sticking to using a glass. "You name your junk and join the military to prove you're just as man as the rest of 'em. I had enough of the military growing up but junk-naming, well, that never goes out of style."
"Does Wilson know?"
House nodded. "I told him."
"So you could tell him but not me?" Cuddy demanded.
The wine glass got very interesting. "All Wilson ever wanted of me was for me to be me. And be happy. If this is how I go about it then he's fine with it. But you wanted me to be your man. I… I didn't want to let you down but I couldn't keep up this charade. I didn't know what to do. I'm sorry."
"How do I not hate you for this?"
House sighed. "I don't know," she admitted. "I'm sorry."
"Stop saying that! You never say you're sorry!"
"But I am."
"But you've never been sorry for anything! This isn't you, unless…" Cuddy's tone turned accusing. "I never knew the real you, did I?"
"I never knew the real me," House whispered. "No one knew the real me. Not even me."
Cuddy's accusations fell flat and she slumped back down. A long pull from the wine bottle and she glared at House, at the scruffy thinning hair, the deep brow, the hollow cheeks, the bird-like chest and shoulders, the long legs. "You don't have the face for it," she announced.
"But I've got a great ass."
Cuddy smacked House on the shoulder and giggled. The giggle turned sour and Cuddy tried to hide the tears. House draped an arm over Cuddy's shoulders and got shoved away. She tried again, this time finding herself with an armful of crying Lisa and hands clutching at her to keep her near. They held each other on the couch as Cuddy cried.
House rocked her back and forth while Cuddy sobbed. She rubbed a hand up and down Cuddy's back in an attempt at comfort but got bored quickly and found her fingers playing with the bra-clasp through Cuddy's blouse. She tweaked it, pulling it open. Breasts popped free under clothing and House got a nice view down Cuddy's neckline.
The crying slowed and stopped before Cuddy realized her bra was undone. She gave House her best 'unimpressed' look, annoyed at the stupid grin on House's face. "You really haven't changed, have you?" she demanded.
House shook her head.
"Get your own!" Cuddy pulled away from House before realizing what she'd said and burst out laughing.
"I plan to," House purred in her stage-voice.
Cuddy threw her hands up with an exclamation of "Ugh!" and poured a glass of wine. "So what do I call you?" she asked.
"Not that, your first name."
"Gillian," House said, a little nervous.
Cuddy sipped her glass before setting it down. She was already pretty buzzed. "I should go," she admitted.
"Aren't you drunk?"
"Almost. But I need to think about this. All of this. I dunno… I need time."
"I understand," House admitted. The evening had already gone better than expected with the not being fired thing.
"I'm hoping when this is all over we can still be friends," Cuddy offered.
"I'd like that." House stood up. "If you're sure you want to go I should call you a cab."
"Stop being so considerate," Cuddy scolded. She got up then immediately fell back onto the couch. "Or I can stay here."
"If you want," House said, amused.
"Well if you're going to stay here, I'm going to go about my night," House warned, fishing the remote out of the couch cushions. She turned on that day's TiVo-ed Prescription Passion.
Cuddy looked around for a moment, taking in the Jack Tanner books on the shelves, the soap opera on the television, the teen romance novels… All the comments House would make about her clothing and figure, how they seemed almost jealous… House's inability to form any sort of meaningful relationships, her habit of trying painfully hard to flaunt her masculinity even though no one cared or wanted to know… She stared at House in confusion and incredulity. "How did no one figure it out?" she demanded.
"Shh," House shushed. "Dr. Sterling's been in this coma for six months while the actor did some movie. He's waking up."
Cuddy got up and stormed off to the bedroom.
House whooped in triumph as the television informed her she'd just won the bet. Dr. Sterling woke up with amnesia.
Gillian House sat in the comfy chair across from Dr. Nolan, calm and triumphant.
"So how has this week gone?" Nolan asked. "I take it things have gone well."
House smiled a slow self-important smile. "I left Cuddy," House announced. "And I used her own morals to do so."
"That's wonderful! How did you do it?"
"I apologized to her," House purred. "I told her all about how I need to learn to trust and that I was sorry and invited her over. When she came to my apartment I played her by telling her how I needed to trust her and all that nonsense you keep saying I should do and told her I'm trans."
"Wow," Nolan said. "That's… impressive."
"Then we got into the expected shouting and she blamed me for her leaving Lucas when it was her decision. I told her about Stacy and how I'd begged her to stay with her husband and told Lisa I would have done the same for her. I don't even think she hates me. She stayed the night."
"Even after all that she stayed the night?"
"Well, there was booze involved and she stole my bed and left me on the couch, the bitch, but I figure if she's willing to stay in the same building as me she probably doesn't hate me all that much. Maybe."
"Probably not," Nolan agreed. "When was this?"
"A few days ago," House said with a shrug. "I've stayed out of her way as much as possible. Told the team she and I broke up and sent Taub to fetch me a case. He's so much better at not attracting trouble than Chase or Foreman and the kid wouldn't know a good fun case if it bit her."
"Is Cuddy handling it alright?"
"She did call Wilson in the day before yesterday," House said. "I was able to wheedle the information out of him."
"How did it go?" Nolan asked.
House made ready to launch into a tale. "Well…"
It was early when Cuddy paged him in, early on a day when Wilson had no patients scheduled for the morning and had dearly hoped for a chance to sleep in and wallow in post-breakup self pity. Instead he found himself facing down Cuddy, a Cuddy who was visibly fighting to keep her practiced neutral façade. Curious, Wilson couldn't think of anything House would have done to cause this, not since apologizing, unless…
Oh wow, House must have told her. He waited for her to say something first.
"You know about House," Cuddy said, calm and level.
"I know a lot of things about House," Wilson said, treading carefully.
"You know this particular thing about House," Cuddy said, façade straining.
Wilson was having fun with this. It was like poking a sleeping dragon. "That depends on which particular thing you mean," he said.
"You're going to make me say it, aren't you?" Cuddy accused, façade starting to crack.
Wilson stood in Cuddy's office, looking expectant.
Wilson took pity on Cuddy. "House isn't any different because of it," he said. "A bit more self-aware, maybe. It's no one's fault and there was nothing you could have done that would have made any difference."
"How can you be so calm about this?" Cuddy demanded. "He's your best friend! And he's not even a he! He's has been hiding this from us the whole time!"
"Isn't feminism all about breaking down gender barriers?" Wilson asked. "I know a lot of feminists don't consider transwomen to be women but if you take out all the rhetoric, isn't removing the gender gap the ultimate goal? If House is a woman trapped in a man's body then how can you, a self-described progressive woman, really stand there and tell her she can't do anything about it?"
Cuddy stood up, mouth open and hands raised to make a point. It all fell flat and she sat back down, an annoyed look on her face. "You're right," she admitted. "You're right. I can't rationally get in the way of this. But, dammit, he was mine!"
"As you so eloquently pointed out, he's not even a he," Wilson said. "She's a woman. She always has been. A woman with a dick."
"A really scruffy woman."
"Stacy did that," Wilson pointed out, finally getting comfortable enough to sit down. "Stacy made House cut the hair to stop the crossdressing. You remember House when she first came to Princeton: clean-shaven, shoulder length hair, shaved arms and legs. You never figured out 'long distance running' was a cover?"
Cuddy dropped her head in her hands. "Oh god, I never figured it out," she groaned. She paused before her head snapped up and she glared at him. "You've always known, haven't you?" she accused.
"That House was a woman?" Wilson asked, confused. "No. That she didn't exactly keep to the straight and narrow? Of course. I knew she liked dressing up but I never knew she was trans." Or didn't want to admit it, he added to himself.
"So what do I do?" Cuddy asked.
"Do what she asked me to do," Wilson suggested, getting up to leave. "She's still House. Don't treat her any differently. Be there when she needs it and try not to shout it through the corridors." He left her to her thoughts.
"…And that's how Wilson described it," House finished.
"And Cuddy hasn't sought you out at any point since you told her?" Nolan asked.
"I've been hiding out in my patient's room," House admitted. "Yeah, yeah, I'm a wuss, I'm avoiding conflict, I'm in denial, whatever. She said she needed time so I'm giving it to her whether she likes it or not."
"Admirable of you, Gillian," Nolan said.
"You're standing up for yourself by allowing Cuddy her space and refusing to give in to her demands. You're not letting yourself, as you describe it, 'cave like a bitch'."
House smiled a self-satisfied, almost shy smile.
"But there's more, isn't there?" Nolan asked, suspicious. "You haven't been like this since you were on the higher dose antidepressants."
"I've been prescribed finasteride," House admitted. There was no reason to lie, not after being found out so quickly. "It's a mild antiandrogen used to treat hair loss. Figure I've already lost enough hair, no reason to let the rest of it fall out while I'm waiting on a letter."
Nolan continued to look unimpressed, even disappointed.
"Should I check with you if I need an antibiotic for an infection?" House asked, good mood fading to distrust. "Or do you want to call the clinic in Trenton where I got the prescription? They said they'd be perfectly willing to start me on hormones right there, that the only thing I legally need a letter for is surgery. Judge me all you want but they offered to get me a therapist who'd be more willing to accept the fact that I have a job where I interact with people and therefore can't cave like a bitch to your outdated whims regarding the Real Life Test."
"This is what you've been trying to get me to do, assert my needs," House continued. "Rather than bowing to a stronger personality just because they think they know what I need more than I do. You just didn't think I'd do it to you. I'm not trying to go over your head or undermine your authority, you said so yourself, you'd rather I had a source of support more knowledgeable than you are. I'm just trying to get what I need in order to feel human. And for once it's on-label."
Nolan sighed. "You're right," he admitted. "Thank you for not trying to hide this from me."
"But you think there's something else," House accused. "There's nothing else. I'll do a full blood panel if you want proof. If I am that different it's because I'm finally doing something other than sitting here on my ass trying to convince you that I need to do something."
Nolan took a deep breath. "I don't need a blood panel, Gillian," he said once he'd calmed. "The fact that you're offering says enough. And the fact that you didn't try to go through your standard enablers says more. Give me the number of this clinic, I'll speak with the attending later."
House scribbled down a name and a phone number.
"If the finasteride alone is able to affect your mood like this then I have to commend you for showing such self control. Instead of attempting to self-medicate you tried to stick it out with me. Thank you."
"But I don't get a letter," House predicted.
"I can suggest a compromise," Nolan offered. "But you have to tell your team."
"Oh come on! That's not fair! What I get for this had better be good."
"I think you'll like it."
The fax machine in the diagnostics office whirred to life. House checked the number, recognized it as Dr. Nolan's. A familiar number with a known purpose.
"Make sure that gets to HR," House said before taking leave of the team via the balcony door. A quick hop and House was safe in Wilson's office.
Foreman got up from the conference table. He picked up his journals and moved everything over to House's desk where he spread himself out and put his feet on the desk. "Not doing it," he announced.
"That's not your desk," Masters accused.
"Don't care, House isn't here."
"Foreman steals House's desk every morning," Chase said dismissively. He was busy with the most time-consuming section of the newspaper. "Seven letter word for an unsophisticated person."
"'Hoosier'," Taub suggested. "One of us should get that."
"If it's for HR then it must be important," Masters said.
"Might be interesting," Chase pointed out. He and Taub exchanged a look. Taub sighed and got up.
"I'll get that if you don't want to," Masters offered.
"But then we won't know what it is," Foreman said, failing at pretending to be uninterested.
"But that's private!" Masters protested.
Taub picked up the papers and tossed her the cover letter.
"See?" Masters said, pointing. "It's from a psychologist, it must be important! Don't read it."
Taub's eyebrows shot to his hairline and his jaw dropped as he read the letter. He knew exactly what this letter meant; he'd seen letters like this before from his practice as a plastic surgeon.
"House knows us," Chase said, trying to calm the whining. "If he wants us to take whatever that is to HR then he wants us to look at it."
"You okay?" Foreman asked, dropping his pretense. Taub hadn't moved, hadn't taken his eyes off the letter.
Taub blinked and made another face, one of exaggerated thought. He finally nodded. "You both owe me $200," he announced.
"For what?" Masters demanded.
"Not you, the other two," Taub clarified, growing triumphant. "I told you the crossdressing meant something."
"No…" Chase said, getting up.
"Wait, crossdressing?" Masters asked. "Does House crossdress?"
Taub showed Foreman the letter. "Read it and pay up," he crowed.
Foreman's eyebrows also shot up. He sat back in House's chair, slightly shocked. "You sure he's not screwing with us?" he asked.
"Header, therapist's license number, diagnosis, treatment plan, signed," Taub said, pointing to each feature of the letter. "This is admissible in court. The psych could get his license revoked for faking this. Damn, I knew the crossdressing meant something!"
"Let me see!" Chase demanded. He came up behind Foreman and snatched the letter up. A quick read-through and his own eyebrows shot up. "Wow. Just… wow." He handed Foreman the letter, pulled out his wallet, and pulled money for his lost bet.
"Come on, what is it!" Masters demanded.
Foreman huffed. He put the letter down and went for his own wallet. "Fine, but if he's screwing with us I will get this back from you."
Taub collected his winnings and handed Masters the letter. "Read for yourself," he offered.
Masters took the letter and read it. Header from Mayfield Hospital, therapist's license number, professional opinion, yada yada… "House is transgendered?"
"Shout louder, I don't think they heard you at the nurse's station," Chase said.
"And you were betting on it?" Masters demanded. "Won't he be angry if he finds out?"
"No, he'll demand a cut," Chase said.
"Shouldn't we be calling House a 'she'?" Taub wondered.
"Doesn't matter," Foreman said.
"Usually it does," Taub said.
"Usually, but this is House we're talking about here," Foreman pointed out.
"And you're saying House doesn't care?" Masters demanded.
"Not usually," Foreman said.
"And this might be why," Taub countered.
"Fine," Foreman conceded. "Say you're right. Now what?"
"Why should it matter?" Chase asked. "House is House, whether he's in a dress or has tits or is screwing Wilson or whatever."
"Wait, House and Wilson are…" Masters trailed off as her mind supplied images. She blushed.
"It's a rumor," Chase said.
"The pool's ongoing," Taub offered. "$50 buy-in."
"Why would I want to bet on my boss?" Masters asked.
"Because it's funny," said a voice from the doorway. House stood there, Wilson right behind. "That still needs to go to HR."
"Are you really having sex with Wilson?" Masters asked, point blank.
"Now that would be telling," House said, gesturing for Foreman to get out of the desk chair. House sat in the vacated seat and lorded over the office. Wilson went for the coffee.
"So what should we call you?" Chase asked.
"'House' is good with me," House said.
"No, I mean what pronoun?"
"Either one works for now. Eventually once I start really doing something about this I'll expect you to fall in but until then you can call me whatever."
"Okay, 'whatever'," Masters said, failing at being funny. She tried to cover this up with a nervous giggle and giving House a hug. House sat there, unsure and somewhat uncomfortable. Masters pulled back. "Women usually hug, House," she said.
"Women don't usually wear ties and sweater vests," House countered, pointing out Masters' own outfit. "And Cuddy aside, doctors don't usually wear tiny pleated skirts. You're late for class."
Masters looked at the clock, made an 'eep' sound, and ran off for the lecture hall. Meanwhile, Foreman looked uncomfortable while Chase and Taub looked like they were trying not to laugh.
"Aww, somebody thinks you're her big sister," Wilson cooed mockingly.
Head hit desk and House tried to hide behind splayed hands. Grumbling sounds could be heard from behind those hands.
Chase made a noise and grinned maniacally. Taub hid his own snickering behind the letter.
House pointed to Chase, "You, clinic," to Taub, "You, find me a case," and to Foreman, "You, take that to HR. And if any of you try to treat me any differently from normal I will crush you!" Fellows scattered with varying amounts of dignity.
"Are you going to warn Masters?" Wilson asked. He offered a cup of coffee, fixed just the way House liked it.
"Nah, I'll just crush the kid when she steps out of line," House said, taking the offered mug.
"I hope you know what you're doing."
House hoped so too. She didn't have the option of screwing this up.
I'm not sure whether I should continue this or not. Or if it needs to be continued. I'll leave it up to those forces beyond my control.