Hokay. So this is my first House fic. I have some more Rent fics I haven't posted yet that will be posted shortly, so I apologize to my RENTfic readers for the delay. They should be up tomorrow (hopefully). For now, House is my current biggest obsession, and this ficbunny was gnawing away at my stomach. It was inspired by a wonderful video on YouTube by MysticTwilight. You can find the link in my profile. Hope you enjoy!
Small Spoiler for Histories and All In.
Disclaimer: I don't own House, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. :Insert clever comment here:
ANOTHER Disclaimer: I am an English major. Any reference to medical stuff is the product of me looking up random crap online that I still didn't understand at all when I put it in the story. I apologize in advance. Also, this story is set Pre-House, circa 1994-95 in the first few sections of the first chapter (you'll see how years go by so quickly:tear:). House is un-crippled (word?), Cuddy has just been instated as Dean of Medicine, and I probably screwed-up the timeline a little. I know there are some sources that say House started working at PPTH after he got all fucked in the leg, but there are other places that say he worked there before, and I prefer the latter for this fic. I hope you can suspend disbelief if I did screw up, and that it won't throw you. I'm sorry again for any inconvenience in your ficcage enjoyment.
The first time James Wilson heard of Gregory House was a week after he'd started working in the oncology department of Princton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. House was something of a legend even though he'd only been working in diagnostics at PPTH for a few months. Apparently he had a tendency to transfer from hospital to hospital because no one could handle him for too long.
The worst James heard was that House was a drug addict, a sexual predator, someone who should be locked up in the psych ward, a man with no moral conscience whatsoever. The best James heard was that House was an asshole with a wit too quick for his own good. That by itself would have only been enough to make James keep an eye out for House and avoid him if necessary.
What caught James' attention, however, were the stories surrounding the man. He was constantly pulling last-minute miracles out of a hat, saving patients with seemingly insane diagnoses. House did things his way, took crazy risks constantly and to hell with the rule book. And while most of this seemed ethically dubious he actually pulled it off almost 100 percent of the time. In spite of everything (even House's own efforts) he was a good doctor.
If that weren't enough, outside of his brilliant diagnostic work, House terrorized most of the hospital staff and patients. He avoided clinic duty like the plague, and when he was in the clinic he belittled every person who was unlucky enough to be stuck in an exam room with him. More than half the people James knew who worked at the hospital, from nurses to department heads to board members, were actively nursing a grudge for the man, and the other half had just managed to escape House's notice so far. He reportedly had no friends and liked it that way. There was a rumor going around that he'd been living with some woman for two years, but it was widely debunked as just a rumor. People couldn't stand to work with House for more than an hour at a time; how in God's name could someone stand to live with him?
The moment James really knew he'd be in trouble if he ever crossed paths with House was when he caught himself thinking some of the stories about what House had done were funny. Okay. Not just funny. Fucking hilarious. He had to bite back a smile and a laugh every time he heard the latest gossip. Luckily, people misinterpreted his twisted face as disgust displayed at House's outrageous actions. Everyone else seemed to be disgusted by House, so why was James having problems with it?
It was just… House did and said everything that everyone wished they could do and say because he didn't give a damn what people thought. James envied that kind of freedom. What he wouldn't give to tell certain annoying patients where to shove it, to treat certain residents like the idiots they were, to never have to apologize for things he shouldn't have to apologize for.
So he let himself chuckle in private over the latest comment House had made about the new Dean of Medicine's low-cut blouses. How he'd had a subscription to Playboy delivered to Dr. Crawford's office with a sticky note that read, "This is where I find the meaning of life," when the surgeon had hinted for the hundredth time that House would lead a happier existence if he accepted Jesus as his savior. The way he'd tricked nurse Thompson into admitting she'd been stealing from nurse Dullinger's stash of imported coffee and then gotten her to share some with him.
It was a good thing James had never met House in person. He was already sure getting involved with the guy could only mean trouble. Even if it would be amusing as hell getting there.
The first time Gregory House heard of James Wilson was a week after Wilson had published his ground-breaking paper on the shocking prevalence of doctors misdiagnosing cancer. Greg was intrigued because unlike most papers on the topic, Wilson's didn't deal with doctors not diagnosing the cancer in time, but mistaking a completely different underlying condition for cancer. It focused on a patient suffering from Erdheim-Chester disease who had been incorrectly diagnosed with leukemia by three different doctors over a period of two years.
That, in and of itself, would have only thrown Greg for a few seconds. From his experience most doctors, oncologists especially, only worked within their specialization and didn't really give a damn about any medical knowledge that wouldn't directly apply to their work. So an oncologist writing about something that wasn't cancer, even if it had been misdiagnosed as such, was worth an eyebrow raise and a few moments contemplation, but not much more.
But it really got interesting when he found out that though there had been no allusions to it at all in the paper, Wilson had been the one to diagnose Erdheim-Chester disease after only three days of having the patient under his care. Humility was something that Gregory House did not understand on any level. He had never thought of it as something to be admired, and the fact remained that doctors, all doctors, were not humble individuals. Their job was to save lives. That was enough to give anyone a God-complex. What was it about this Wilson that made him different? He was an anomaly, and Greg loved figuring out anomalies.
So he started keeping an ear open for information about Wilson. And like a really good diagnostics case, the more he learned the more complicated it got and the less he knew for sure. Wilson had finished his pre-med degree in two years, at the age of 28 he was the youngest oncologist on staff by ten years, and four months after publishing his paper he was promoted to Assistant Department Head of Oncology. All of this pointed to Wilson being a workaholic with a higher than average IQ (Greg refused to give anyone but himself the title of 'genius' lightly). Most likely he was one of those bookish types with a marked lack of social skills and possibly some sort of subtle disfigurement. Probably had a mommy and/or daddy who had pushed him past his limit as a kid. When Greg heard he was Jewish too, he betted on mommy.
Then Greg started listening to subtler channels of information, the whispers in the hallways and conversations of nurses in the cafeteria, and his hypothesis was blown right out of the water. Apparently not only was Wilson a brilliant doctor, he was genuinely liked by everyone who knew him. Greg overheard a couple of the nurses calling him charming, good-looking, charismatic. One of the more ridiculous rumors alleged that a family had thanked him when he'd told them their son had died.
Apparently he had eyes that would put a basset hound to shame, a smile that made women melt into their shoes and oh, the hair. Greg had to stop himself from outwardly gagging and giving away the fact that he was eavesdropping. Wilson had just gotten divorced from his first wife because he'd had (reportedly) at least three affairs during the course of their two-year-long marriage, and now no one was sure which of four different women was the one he was officially seeing.
Reading between the lines Greg saw that no one really knew anything about Wilson. Sure, they had the stats on his extensive love-life, his obvious prowess in the medical field, the shallow observations on how he talked, what he looked like. But the most personal piece of information anyone had on the guy was that he was Jewish, which wasn't that personal because even with Wilson that fact seemed to be somewhat of a running joke. He was a guy who seemed outwardly to care about people, went out of his way to help, did everything he could to save a patient like he took it personally, but he never let anyone get that close to him. All he had were colleagues and acquaintances but no real friends.
He was a contradiction in terms. Greg was fascinated. He started looking out for a moment to begin gleaning first-hand observations. This Wilson guy had to eat lunch sometime.
The first time Gregory House talked to James Wilson was two weeks later. He was avoiding clinic duty, per usual, and was taking his second lunch break of the day. As he paid for his second meal (which was obscenely over-priced and he made sure to complain about it loudly) he felt the cliché chill on the back of his neck that told him he was being watched. He turned just in time to see a man in a pristine lab-coat dart his eyes back to his food. The man stabbed at his salad nervously.
Greg bit back a maniacal grin. He'd thought some of it had been exaggeration, but those puppy-dog eyes and perfectly coifed hair could only mean one thing. He'd just gotten sized up by James Wilson. He'd been looking for an opening to mess with the guy, and now seemed as good a time as any. Better, in fact. His day had been sort of dragging, and any distraction was welcome.
He walked over to Wilson's table and dropped his tray with a loud clatter, sprawling in the chair opposite him without any invitation. A quick glance to his now-dining-partner's ID-tag confirmed his identity. Wilson looked at him quizzically when he simply stared for a moment, not even bothering to introduce himself.
"So," Greg began, "what's it feel like to be the resident oncologist boy wonder?"
Greg was surprised when Wilson wasn't thrown off by the abrupt question, but simply shrugged and raised his eyes to look at him.
"I don't know," he said slowly with a boyish smile. "What's it feel like to be the resident walking malpractice suit?"
Greg had to stop his eyebrows from shooting to his hairline. This kid knew who he was and was still baiting him? Either he was just plain stupid, or this could turn out to be more interesting than he'd previously hoped.
"A lot more fun, I imagine," Greg said. "More booze, more drugs, more hookers… all the stuff you watch on TV after you've spent a boring dinner with the in-laws. Plus the new Dean with the perky boobs is hot as hell when she's pissed off."
"Ex-in-laws now," Wilson corrected, "and aren't we getting a little ahead of ourselves? We haven't even been properly introduced."
"Well, I know who you are, and you obviously know who I am," House stated with a 'Well, duh!' look.
"Hmm, you do seem like the type who does away with all the social niceties. Besides, everyone knows who you are."
"It's hard being the coolest guy on campus," Greg said with an exaggerated sigh.
"Really? I thought it had something to do with you being a bastard to anything that moves."
"Aw, damn. And here I thought everyone was enamored with my chiseled features and tight ass." Wilson snorted.
"Forgive me for overlooking your better qualities."
"Don't apologize. It's your loss for overlooking them," Greg said with a lascivious grin. " And now that you've already observed what an utterly unrepentant son of a bitch I am, I can get straight to the point."
"There's an actual point to all this? I hoped that we were just having a nice conversation," Wilson deadpanned.
"You'll find that everything I do has a reason, Doctor Wilson."
"My grandmother used to say that about God. Are you omnipresent too? What other god-like abilities do you have?"
"Technically, since God doesn't exist he'd have me-like abilities," Greg observed.
"And they said you were arrogant."
"Don't pay attention to what they said. Their logic is faulty, anyway. Let's get back to the point, which is in the form of a question in this case. How did the golden boy of oncology know what to look for to diagnose Erdheim-Chester disease? Never mind that your type shouldn't even know what it is."
"Is this one of those riddles you found in the Sunday comics?" Wilson asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Read it in a magazine, actually. Right next to the article on five new ways to please your man in bed. You got an answer?"
"I had a hunch," Wilson said with a shrug.
"Only I'm allowed to get hunches. Wrong answer."
"Despite what you may believe it's possible that there are doctors out there besides you who know what the hell they're doing."
"Wrong answer again. The fact that you didn't write in your paper that you were the one to diagnose it suggests one of two things. Either you actually didn't diagnose it and are trying to take credit for it on the gossip circuit without risking pissing off the guy who did diagnose it by putting it in print, which is more likely, or you did diagnose it and you're just a really humble guy, which is not only boring, but less believable than that story I read about Big Foot marrying Liza Minelli."
"She said he had great hands. That'd be reason enough to marry someone for me."
"I think that's been proven in the past, and you're avoiding the question," Greg said. Wilson sighed.
"He had bilateral exophthalmos and the biopsy showed no malignant cells. A bone scan showed thickening in his thigh and upper arm. It didn't fit leukemia, but it fit ECD."
"That simple, huh?" Greg was still unconvinced.
"I… had also done some reading on some of your old cases," Wilson admitted. Now Greg's eyebrows did shoot up. "Call them inspiration. You had a similar case a few years ago. It led me in the right direction."
"So the reason you didn't credit yourself for the diagnosis was because you felt like you were just being a copy-cat?" Greg asked.
"You are so full of shit," Greg said. Wilson let out a surprised bark of laughter.
By the end of lunch, Greg was no closer to understanding Wilson than he had been before. Surprisingly, now he had even more unanswered questions about him. Over the next few weeks of observation he ate lunch with Wilson almost daily, caught dinner with him on weekends and a couple movie and Chinese nights at his apartment. From this Greg discovered two important facts:
One, that he still had no idea why Wilson had been reading up on him in the first place. And two, that the rest of the staff members at the hospital were labeling them as 'friends'. Huh. Greg diagnosed rare diseases everyday (okay, every week…or two) and he still found that pretty Goddamn bizarre.
The first time James Wilson thought of Gregory House as his best friend he was getting ready for marriage number two. He and Jennifer were planning everything (well, for the most part, she was planning and he was agreeing) when the subject of matron of honor and best man came up. He was surprised when the person who immediately came to his mind was a scruffy bastard of a diagnostician.
House and James had had an odd relationship from the start. Half the time he still wasn't sure whether House genuinely enjoyed his company or just put up with him for lack of anything better to do. House was abusive, immature, rude and an altogether pain in the ass, but for some inexplicable reason James was drawn to him almost against his will. He dealt with more shit from House than from people he hated.
But House did have the uncanny ability to make James laugh. And it seemed that a lot of the time James had the same power over House. He'd even seen a table of nurses go white with shock when they'd heard House, of all people, laughing loud enough to interrupt half the conversations going on in the cafeteria. On good days the insults and snarking almost seemed to take on an affectionate hue. James was startled to realize that he even felt a measure of affection for House in return.
It seemed that James had started to really open up to someone. His ex-wife had always accused him of being a closed book, and if he was honest, he did have problems trusting people. It was easy to charm them, trick them into thinking they knew him when they didn't really know anything at all. James was good at the smoke and mirrors, never letting anyone see past the reflection he wanted them to see.
But House was different. He saw right through all of the walls James had erected over the years. House probably knew more about James than people who'd known him since college, and they'd only been friends for a year. Hell, House probably knew more intimate details about him than a good portion of the people he'd slept with. For some reason, instead of scaring the shit out of him like it should have, James just felt like that was… well, right.
It was also surprising to see that House didn't seem to be blocking him out, either. He was already making more concessions for James than he did for anyone else at the hospital. He had let James into his life just as much as James had let House into his. He was still a bastard, still abrasive, but it showed in the small things that James was just a little bit higher up on the scale than the rest of the idiots House was forced to interact with.
For one thing, James was the only person working at the hospital who House had introduced to Stacy, the woman House had been living with for almost three years. James had taken an instant liking to her. Like House, she didn't put up with James' charismatic bull shit. She wasn't as observant as House, but she had a tireless amount of guile that made up for it, tricking James into saying things he didn't want to say or making admissions he didn't want to make. The only person who was better at it than she was was her boyfriend.
They'd hit it off shortly after they met when Stacy had joked that half the reason she'd moved in with House was because it was easier for him to have a lawyer in the same apartment since he needed one so often. The sex was just a regrettable side effect. House had scowled, and both of them had shared a laugh at his expense. And while House was the common ground they could relate to each other on, James genuinely liked Stacy for herself. She was intelligent, interesting and fun to talk to. She also seemed to be the only other person who appreciated House the way James did.
Stacy had even been one of the first people James invited to the wedding. House had been, too. Even though he'd predictably spent the conversation with a superior smirk on his face, making snappy comments and refusing outright to wear a suit. Which brought him back to the question at hand.
After thinking it over for a while, he decided he'd ask his younger brother to be his best man. House would either ridicule him or freak out if he asked, neither of which James wanted, even if the look on his friend's face might be worth it.
The first time Gregory House realized he cared about James Wilson was after a particularly hellish week for both of them. It was the first time in over a year that Greg had lost a patient, and it pissed him off to no end. At least this time he'd figured out what the fuck was wrong with the guy even if it had been too late to do anything about it by then. Last time he hadn't even gotten an autopsy out of the deal.
The look on his face was enough to keep people at least five feet away from him on all sides as he stormed down the hallways. On a good day people avoided him, on a bad day people were scared shitless by him. And everything about Greg screamed bad day. As in, Absolutely-Do-Not-Fucking-Mess-With-Me-Or-You-Will-Be-Defenestrated. He stomped more than was strictly necessary as he headed back from the ICU where Mr. What's-his-name had just flat-lined.
The glass shook in a way that didn't seem entirely safe as he burst into his office. It was fucking stupid of them to give him a glass office anyway. He suddenly felt the urge to crack every wall of the Goddamn fish tank posing as a room. Instead, he opened the back door to the balcony, gulping in the chilly air in an attempt to calm down. He sagged onto the brick railing, the cold stone biting into his forearms through his jacket.
This failed case was bringing back memories of the one over a year ago that House Did Not Think About. Or tried not to. But the dead guy's face kept swimming out of his mind to be replaced by Esther's wrinkled visage. Along with that came all that anger, disappointment, confusion and resentment he kept locked up. He brooded better than anyone, but that didn't mean he liked to. Okay. So what if he did, just a little? This still sucked.
He glanced over towards Wilson's office. It had been a surprise when Dr. Doyle, the oncology department head, had resigned a few months ago, but they'd immediately instated Wilson in his place. Greg didn't like to admit (even to himself) that he'd felt a sense of smug satisfaction and anticipation when he realized that Wilson would be moving into Doyle's old office, right next door to him. It certainly made playing hooky a lot more interesting since it was easier to drag Wilson along with him when all he had to do was hop over a low wall.
There was faint illumination coming from Wilson's desk lamp. Wilson never left lights on when he left the room. Which meant that he was still at work. On closer inspection he could make out Wilson's figure slumped at his desk. What the fuck was he still doing here this late? He had Jennifer to go home to. They'd only been married for a year, and even Wilson, all around playboy-slut that he was, couldn't be sick of her already.
But this could be a good thing. If Wilson was still here either something had gone wrong with one of his patients, he'd fallen asleep at his desk because he'd been over-working himself, or he didn't want to go home for reasons as-of-yet unknown. Other people's misery always helped to distract Greg from his own, and in most cases it was pretty damn amusing. Especially when he could poke fun at them while they emoted. The night was looking up.
With a skip-hop, he jumped the wall, walked over to the door and opened it as quietly as he could. He slipped in quickly, not wanting the cold air to alert Wilson to his presence prematurely. He stalked forward to get a better look at his… whatever the fuck Wilson was to him.
Wilson was slumped in his chair, elbows on his desk, head in his hands. Every line of his body spoke of dejection. On closer inspection, Greg saw the pain etched in between the shadows cast over his face. He felt something resembling a chill leak into his gut. What the hell?
The only person he hated to see upset was Stacy. No one else was worth the time or effort it took, let alone the fact that sympathy was pointless anyway. But all the symptoms were the same. Greg's heart rate was elevated, stomach churning, and he had the sudden desire to kick the shit out of whoever had put his normally optimistic… friend?… into this depressed state. He stomped down on the feeling.
Greg didn't like not being able to predict his own reaction to something. He hated losing control, and he especially hated losing control in regards to his emotions. So he dealt with it the way he always had; denial, cold cynicism and biting sarcasm.
"You want me to get you a hankie?" he asked into the silence. Wilson jumped.
"Jesus. How long have you been standing there?"
"Long enough to witness your pathetic attempt at playing Pagliacci. What's with the prima donna act?"
As soon as the words left his mouth, Wilson glared at him. The normally gentle visage was twisted in anger. Well, anger was better than sadness. Hopefully this would snap him out of his funk.
"You know, some of us aren't able to dismiss the loss of people as so irrelevant that it isn't even worth taking the effort to stop being a bastard for two seconds," Wilson bit out.
Greg knew for a fact that none of Wilson's patients had died recently (and no, it wasn't like he kept obsessive tabs on the guy. He was just interested). If he'd been called in because a patient was dying tonight he'd be out there trying his damnedest to do something about it. If they'd just died Greg still would've heard about it unless it had happened only minutes earlier. Wilson had obviously been sitting at his desk for a while now. Something about the way he used the phrase, 'loss of people', the way his eyes were practically flashing red; this wasn't just another patient lost, or even the build up over time of several patients being lost. This was something personal.
"You wound me," Greg said, clutching a hand dramatically over his heart. "Marital bliss not going the way you expected again? Some nurse caught your eye? Or is Jenny just not putting out anymore?"
No flinch. Wilson's eyes didn't dart away. If anything, the anger in his eyes just got a little more indignant. Huh. Not marriage problems then.
"Drop it," Wilson growled.
"It's not patient related. Too close to home for that. Your Uncle Frank didn't send you a Hanukah card? Mommy or daddy lowered your curfew?"
There was the reaction. Not a big one so not any of the people he'd mentioned. But closer. Family-related.
"Drop it," Wilson repeated, his voice sounding even more dangerous than it had before.
"Why? This is interesting. Besides, you look like you're feeling the need to confide in someone. Admittedly, you'd probably prefer a busty blonde who likes sympathy sex, but I'm all that you've got right now."
Wilson's eyes dropped to his lap, the fight going out of him a little. He let out a weary sigh.
"I'm not willing to spill my guts on the table just to satisfy your curiosity. Besides, I really don't want to talk about it." His tone was final.
There were times when Wilson could be just as stubborn as Greg. It always surprised him, but when those times came along there was nothing to do about it but bide his time and wait for another opening later. Greg was confident he knew Wilson well enough to be able to drag it out of him eventually.
"Fine," he muttered after a moment. He walked over to the closet, grabbed Wilson's coat and threw it at his face. "Come on."
"Sending me home with a note from the teacher?" Wilson asked weakly. Greg felt another damnable twinge at the sound of apathetic defeat in his voice.
"No," he said as he walked out the door into the hallway, Wilson shrugging on his coat and following. "My patient just bit it," he added, seemingly out of the blue.
"Oh," Wilson was shocked. Greg had been too. He never lost a patient. "I'm… uh, I'm sorry." House knew he meant for more than the loss of Mr. So-and-so.
And just like that, there he was again. Good old Jimmy the concerned care-taker of all pathetic beings everywhere. More worried about a son-of-a-bitch jaded doctor who never took anything seriously than he was worried about his own (probably sizable) problems. Greg bit back a smile.
"Don't worry about it." They both knew he would anyway. "Let's go get drunk."
"Sounds like a plan," Wilson said, flashing him a weak grin.
As the night wore on and the drinks flowed freely Greg admitted a few things to himself. One, that he really didn't like seeing Wilson that depressed when there was nothing he could do about it besides get him smashed. Two, that maybe it was okay to care about him. And three, that Wilson was his friend, probably (definitely) his best.
Greg tried over the next few weeks… months… to get Wilson to admit what the problem had been that night. It was the one and only time he never succeeded at getting what he wanted. Wilson continued to stay as closed-lipped about it as he had been the first night. Greg eventually dropped it on the grounds that the topic was getting old and boring anyway.
He didn't find out until nine years later, when a Jane Doe by the name of Victoria was admitted to Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital.
YAAAAY! That's it for the first part. Lemme know what you think, kayz? I'm a feedback-whore. :-D