"House!" Wilson cried indignantly, "You could have blinded me"
"And I agree that if you were an optician, that would be rich in irony. But seeing as I can't throw a cancer plane at you, I'm having to sacrifice irony and go for plain old being annoying"
"A compromise I'm glad you're accepting so graciously," Wilson remarked dryly, his eyes following House as he finally came into the office.
"Grace is my middle name," House said brightly, helping himself to the chair
on the other side of the desk and throwing his feet up onto the paper
patchwork of the varnished top. Wilson stared disdainedly at the mud
clusters on the soles of the trainers his friend was sporting. He couldn't
help it; they were right in front of him. Smile stretched, he shoved House's
feet off the desk, and began rearranging the paperwork the shoes had
ruffled. He picked up the plane and crumpled it.
"So, you here for any actual reason, or did your wastepaper basket just get full"
"Your gal a golfer?" House suddenly fired at him. Wilson took a moment to digest the question, before beginning a cautious reply.
"Yeah, I think she might have pla"
"Fancy a foursome"
"What?...What?!" Wilson's eyes widened as he registered the question and turned over its ambiguities.
House rolled his eyes, and Wilson could tell that he was getting bored with his perceived stupidity.
"Look at the plane," he ordered, nodding at the crumpled ball between Wilson's hands.
Wilson obeyed, smoothing out the paper and running his eyes over it.
"This is a flyer for the Hospital Golf Tournament..." Wilson said, raising his face from the page to scrutinize his friend, "You hate golf"
"Sure," House agreed, "But you know what I love? Bets I can win"
"You...placed a bet that you could win at a sport at w"
"Not a sport," House interrupted disparagingly.
"At which you have no experience," Wilson finished.
"What can I say? I was bored. You were out. Mortensen in Pediatrics was implying that my angiogram was unclear, when he just needs new glasses. One thing led to another"
House was attempting a look of innocence which looked rather alarming, not to say completely unconvincing.
"How much?" Wilson asked with an air of weary resignation which seemed inappropriate to his age.
"Please say that's in yen," Wilson muttered, wincing.
"American dollars," House confirmed proudly, then looked a little sheepish. "I'm kind of relying on Stacy, actually. So, are you going"
Wilson's face broke into a heavily restrained smile. "I was already going"
"Taking your wife? I need a team of four"
"You hate my wife," Wilson said simply. A little note of sadness had crept into a voice which had not yet hardened to the effects of House's antipathy. House rolled his eyes again.
"Oh, please; I love your wife. Not as much as you do, of course, because that would not be cool"
He was cut off by Wilson breaking into a furiously repressed snort of laughter.
"Okay, okay. I'll talk to her, we'll be there. Happy"
"Good," House said, getting up and walking to the door. He was halfway into the hall before he turned back.
"Wilson?" he attracted the other's attention back up from his paperwork.
"Got a set of clubs I can borrow?"
Everyone wondered why a gruff doctor with a firm grip on forty had seized a fresh-faced oncologist and twisted him into something resembling a friend. 'Everyone' meant nurses, other doctors, occasional observant patients and Wilson himself. In a strange way, it was like being an apostle. People who were too scared to tackle House would come to him instead, and ask him furtively if he would take a message.
"Male, fifty-five. Irregular heart rate, muscle weakness," Wilson read from
a chart which another diagnostician had just pressed into his hands. Dr
Collier was outside House's office, peering through the glass at an angle
where he thought he was unseen. House didn't look up from the clunky
portable TV his eyes were looking at but not watching.
"No," Wilson said, looking again at the unfamiliar chart, "Heart rate has slowed, not increased"
House seemed not to have listened, but evidently had, as the commercials flicked on, and he swung himself around to face Wilson.
"Syphilis. Give him"
"No, first thing they tested for," he was cut off. They looked at each other for a moment, House frowning, Wilson smiling slightly at having made his friend stop and think.
"Goiter?" he asked after a moment. Wilson scanned the chart for several minutes, before shaking his head.
"Yes, but that's irrelevant. Can be explained by iodine deficiency. Patient doesn't eat salty foods and is allergic to shellfish"
"Let's pretend it's not"
"Goiter's ruled out. Patient also presents with"
"I thought you were in drama society at McGill. Just play along here," House ordered, shooting Dr Collier a withering glance through the glass, "let's say it's a symptom. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis"
"Not only is that incredibly rare in males, but"
"What'd his mother die of"
Wilson sounded both exasperated and apprehensive, as he glanced once more at the folder. "She was hit by a truck. No clues there, Sherlock. Unless there's an inherited allergy to being hit at 40 miles an hour"
"Not so fast, Watson," House snapped, getting to his feet and pacing towards him, "Who gets hit by a truck? They hardly move at the speed of light. However, if you're suffering from - say - physical and mental slowness, might be a little riskier"
Wilson's face slowly gained an expression approximating awe. House allowed himself a moment to bask in this admiration, however well hidden, then shouted in the direction of the hall corner where Dr Collier stood.
"Get him a TSH and antibody test! When you find out that I'm the king of the castle and you're a crap - and cowardly - diagnostician, you can start him on thyroxine." House jerked a thumb at Wilson, "And next time you have someone come do your bidding, make it someone prettier."
At lunch, a bleeping pager stopped him just before he had gotten his hand around the bag of potato chips on Wilson's shoddily defended cafeteria tray. He sighed heavily, leaned back into his seat, and pulled the device up to see it, while Wilson pulled his tray closer to him with a guarded expression. "What is it?" Wilson asked, his hand subtly pulling the bag of chips down onto his lap.
"Reilly wants me in OR one," House replied, "I'm assuming they managed to rush that kid into surgery. She wasn't due in 'til Tuesday"
"No, Reilly. Jeez, Wilson, a little ethnic sensitivity"
Wilson merely smiled, shrugged, and watched House get up and walk away briskly without another word. He dragged House's vacant chair around and put his feet up on it, the chips still sitting safely on his lap.
Dr Reilly nodded curtly as House approached him, in the hall outside the OR. He was wearing blue scrubs which were a little strained on his portly build. "Doctor House," he said politely, but quickly, "we've managed to get Luka in this afternoon. I'm trying to put together a team to remove the tumour immediately. I know that you're not a surgeon, but it should be a simple procedure"
House glanced in each direction down the hall with ingrained caution, then nodded silently, and headed to the locker room opposite them. He re-emerged in a few moments in scrubs, by which time three more doctors had been hastily assembled.
Simple procedure, the man says, House thought sardonically as he hunched, sweating, over the operating table. They had been working on Luka for three hours now, and the team were tired, anxious and impatient with each other. The young surgeon in charge had accidentally nicked a vessel whilst removing the tumour, causing blood to spurt out of the cut crazily. They had stopped the flow, only to uncover a further tumour, this one hidden by the other. House's forehead was lined in concentration, and he could feel the beads of perspiration coursing down his back. His hand gripped the scalpel so hard that he couldn't feel his fingers. The steel gleamed momentarily under the bright lights as he made a deft incision around the base of the growth. The surgeon breathed a sigh of relief as the kid's stats remained steady and the operation began winding down.
Stacy wasn't home. House wasn't overly surprised by this; it was only five-thirty, and she worked longer than him. And probably harder, he thought with a slight lick of discomfort. The apartment was bright and airy, summer sun barely even waning yet. Above the piano, the free calendar Stacy had got from work told him that it was the twenty-third of June.
She had made him a sandwich. He scooped the plate up from the sideboard and studied its occupant as he carried it through to the sitting room. Homemade Reuben...or not. All traces of wrapping and packaging removed, but he could tell it was shop bought. She must be really busy at the moment, he thought, to have attempted such a transparent deception. He placed the plate on top of the piano and hunched over the keys, running his hands up and down them a few times. Fingers stiff from an afternoon spent clutching a scalpel began to regain the ability to move, joints loosened and a tune began to iron itself out. He smiled slightly, picked up the plate and sat down on the sofa.
An hour later, Stacy called to say she was leaving the office and arrived ten minutes later, as House was coming out of the bathroom in a fresh shirt. "Hey," he said, towelling off his face and throwing the cloth haphazardly into the washbasket. He crossed over to the door and kissed her.
"Hey," she repeated as they broke apart, scrutinizing his face, "you okay? You look beat"
He shrugged his shoulders and asked how the Lieberman case was going, indicating that he didn't want to relive a tiring afternoon.
"It's straightening out all by itself," she said, heading into the kitchen and smiling at the freshly made coffee waiting there, "Basically, they're paying us four hundred dollars an hour to check no-one spills beverages on the files. Thanks for the coffee, by the way"
House said nothing in reply to this, but spreadeagled himself on the sofa and listened to her open the fridge and move things around. "
"Feel like a game of golf this weekend"
"Yeah, I hate golf, I know. It's a hospital thing. Lot of people going"
Stacy laughed, and came to join him on the sofa, holding half a Hershey bar in one hand and the coffee cup in the other.
"Lot of people going? Surely you should be running to the nuclear shelter, not the sign-up list"
"Is that my Hershey bar?" House said by way of answer. Stacy rolled her eyes and moved to break it in half. House shook his head.
"Have it. I told Wilson I'd be there"
Her eyes narrowed quickly. "Oh no, no. If you want me to go, that means it's a wives and girlfriends thing, which means Wilson's wife will be there"
"So? You like her"
"Oh, you wish," she scoffed, "It just looks that way because you hate her. The day will involve hours of making polite conversation while you and Wilson gallivant around the course like elementary school kids on a field trip"
"But..." House drew out slowly, "you'll come? After all, this'll make us quits - you did steal my Hershey bar"
"I offered it to you!" she protested indignantly.
"And had I accepted that offer, I would have had no grounds for this shameless emotional blackmail. Come on - a few short hours with Wilson and Wife, and that's it"
"Fine. But we are way more than quits."
Stacy was driving. House's car was in for repair, and she had a weird thing about anyone else driving hers. He looked out the passenger window as they turned into the golf course and groaned. To avoid clots of people on the course there was no set start time, but he could see a knot of ridiculously-dressed hospital staff congregating by the gates, in obscenely bright flat caps and plus-fours. When they parked up and got out of the car, House was mortified to spot Wilson and come to the terrifying realisation that he too had succumbed. Over a crisp white shirt, Wilson sported a brown and beige diamond-pattern tank top. "Oh dear God," Stacy muttered, but House was already striding towards Wilson and Wife.
"Wilson!" he barked, causing his friend to turn with a start. The Wife frowned immediately.
"Have you any idea," House continued, "how many lunch breaks I've spent telling people that you're not gay? And then - boom! - my hours of work ruined with one sweater-vest"
Wilson shifted awkwardly, between embarrassment and amusement, and adjusted some of the clubs sticking out of his bag just to be doing something.
"Hello, Greg," the Wife inclined her head stiffly, "Stacy," she added with a fraction more warmth. Wilson glanced down at his choice of knitwear, then shook his head sharply back to reality and said, "The clubs are in the trunk. I wasn't sure whether to bring them. I didn't think even a bet would get you down here"
He stopped abruptly as House widened his eyes and jerked a hand across his neck frantically.
"Bet?" Stacy frowned as she looked from one to the other; all full of lawyerly suspicion, House thought.
"Yeah," Wilson covered swiftly, "House bet me ten dollars that you would beat us"
Stacy half-smiled, as if this didn't quite make sense but she would accept a simple explanation. "Well that was a pretty stupid thing to do, considering that Wilson's the only one out of the two of you who knows which end you hit the ball with"
House smiled wryly and rolled his eyes in relief at Wilson, who snickered, and led the way to his car, which was parked a little away from the gates.
As the two men leaned over the open trunk and got a grip on the golfbag, their partners making awkward conversation somewhere behind them, Wilson muttered, "You didn't tell her? You're risking five hundred dollars on how she plays and you didn't think to mention it to her"
"Ah, she doesn't need to know," House said. Wilson let the golfbag fall back into the trunk and placed his empty hands on his hips with a doubtful expression. "Okay, okay," House corrected, "I didn't want her to know. You know how girls get if you involve them in men's business - too much for their inferior sized brains. And I know that because I am a doctor"
Wilson shook his head in disbelief, and got a grip on the golfbag again. Together, they lifted it out and set it down on the concrete. House swung it up over his shoulder, looking at it critically.
"Aren't these things supposed to have wheels"
"You think you're getting the good set?"
Two hours later. The sun was strong in a cloudless sky. They were on the eleventh hole, with Stacy managing to keep herself and House a few strokes ahead of Wilson and Wife. The two women were on the green now, finishing up, while House and Wilson waited to one side. Wilson frowned disapprovingly as House repeatedly thumped the end of his club into the soft ground. Stacy looked so beautiful, he thought, watching as she neatly knocked the ball into the hole with a satisfying clunk.
"You guys make a good team," Wilson observed.
"Gee, you're right," House snapped, with mock-enthusiasm, "we should totally solve crimes!" His voice reverted to normal to add, "Is the sun going to your head today, or does that sweater-vest just make you vulnerable to an attack of the stupids"
"Oh, why must I choose?" Wilson asked tonelessly, dripping with sarcasm. Stacy came over, politely repressing a look of triumph.
"Nice work," House muttered, slipping a hand around her waist, "I think we're almost quits"
"Unbelievable," she said softly, "you'd be hitting double figures on every hole without me"
"God, how I wish I knew what that meant so I could be offended. Come on, let's go; Team Wilson look restless."
"Wilson, is that Lisa Cuddy?" House demanded as they walked side by side along a fairway, leaving their womenfolk somewhat behind (Stacy's face in the conversation's pauses indicated that it wasn't her choice). Wilson visored his eyes with a hand and squinted at the group ahead.
"Think so. You hear what they're saying at the hosp...what am I saying? Of course you didn't. That would require listening to another person without the incentive of scanty clothing or food"
"If you'd ever been to Vegas, you'd know it can be both"
"They say," Wilson continued, ignoring House, "that she'll make Dean when Dixon retires next year"
"What?" House exclaimed, although Wilson couldn't believe that he hadn't heard already, "She's...she's a child, for God's sake! She's got to be the same age as you, and you've only just graduated from short pants"
"That's Mortensen the current Mrs Mortensen, right?" Wilson indicated the couple with Cuddy.
"I'm going to take a detour," House said evenly, "and you are going to find out how they're doing. And who's with Cuddy."
Stacy wondered why the hell Greg was leading them through the rough, winding across a patch of dark woods and coming out two holes away. Mrs Wilson was starting to twitch in annoyance, her pointed shoes getting caught in the untended ruts in the scrubland. Wilson was coming down the fairway, and House watched him approach.
"Greg!" Stacy hissed, laying a hand on his shoulder, "She's getting snippy. She got mud on her shoes. What was the point in that"
"What is it with you lawyers? There always has to be a reason to everything," House dismissed her, "Sometimes, it's just plain fun to"
"Oh, stop. I almost believed you. It was the joie de vivre that ruined it"
"Definitely," she said, weighing up the club in her hand and exchanging it for a heavier one. House sighed at his friend's slowness and jogged gently towards the tarrying Wilson, chastising:
"You shouldn't make me run in this heat"
Wilson, he observed, didn't seem particularly moved by his plight. He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at Cuddy and her team. "Mortensen is forty-seven.
"Reeses Pieces away from a heart attack"
"His score is...I'll put in simple terms. You're winning. Don't get overexcited, and don't do anything Stacy can do better"
The two men began walking back down the fairway. "Oh, and it was her cousin," Wilson added.
Stacy pondered Greg's behaviour. On the last three holes, his elation at their victory had been highly evident. Why he cared she had no idea. There was definitely something going on, something between the boys. The way they kept exchanging expressive glances and eyebrow raises and making privately significant comments, both irritated and amused her. After a week spent working long hours in a stuffy, over-lit office, this excursion was proving welcome relief. Wilson's wife, however, was not great company. She was pleasant enough, if a little highly strung, but not what you would call 'fun' by any stretch of the word. Stacy watched from the edge of the green as the woman lined up her shot. The ball rolled into the hole, making it the Wilson's first victory for five holes. Wilson's face cheered and he let out a hiss of triumph Suddenly, Greg's arms were around her and his voice was a low mutter in her ear. "Their resistance is futile. You see that look on Wilson's face? Pathetic. He'll have to spend the next ten years telling her what a great putt that was"
"Oh, leave him alone. Give him some hope before we crush them," Stacy chuckled darkly. As they started out towards the other couple, House glanced down at his unlaced sneaker.
"Go on, I'll catch up," he muttered, going down on one knee. Stacy walked briskly to the Wilsons, and the three started away at a leisurely pace, glancing back for House (with the exception of Mrs Wilson, who looked as if she wouldn't care if he was smothered in a sand bunker).
House started to stand, but a tearing pain suddenly seemed to twist in his thigh, numbing his leg. He let out a terse yelp as his ankle pivoted and he fell back down on his knees. Almost as soon as the stab of agony began, it was over, leaving only a dull pounding. Stacy and Wilson span around in alarm at the sound of his bitter cry.
"Greg? You okay?" Stacy called, taking rapid steps back towards him, with Wilson following.
The pain had faded to a soft ache. House gingerly got to his feet and took an experimental step. The sensation welled through his thigh a little, then died down. "Yeah," he waved away their concern and strode towards then, biting his lip to keep the pain in check, "I'm fine."
Whatever, he thought. He would walk it off.
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Seriously, hope you likey and thanks for any comments.