Author: Oldach's Dream
Summary: Pre-series, pre-infarction. House-Wilson friendship fic. House desperately needs new jeans, so Wilson drags him shopping. Humor and free chocolate abound.
A/N: I don't own JC Penny or their two-day Sweet-sale, but after all the time I've spent handing out their stupid candy bars in the last two days, I damn well earned the right to write a giggle-inducing House fic about it. Oh, and I stole title of this story from a bumper sticker.
Disclaimer: I'm just borrowing them. I promise to return both House and Wilson in the condition in which they were received. Mostly.
My Favorite Color Is Chocolate
"Hey look," House rounded his head and adapted a voice that vaguely resembled that of a ten-year-old, "Free chocolate."
"House," Wilson started speaking before he actually saw what his friend was looking so enthralled by. "I thought we had this conversation. Just because there's a stand in the middle of the mall that sells chocolate doesn't mean you can take a candy bar without paying for it."
"Hey, if they didn't want people to shoplift, they shouldn't of hired horny teenagers." With that incident painfully recalled, Wilson rushed ahead to catch up with his friend, hoping that whatever security guard they ran into this time would be as easy to bribe as the last one.
"House," Wilson whined in a way that made it so hard to tell he was whining at all, trekking a few feet behind the taller man. "C'mon. We came here for clothes."
"No," House looked back at him but kept eating up the length of the mall in long strides. "You came here for clothes. I came to hit on barely legal sex goddesses and annoy you."
"Well, you're succeeding quite nicely." He complimented. "Would you slow down?"
"Walk faster." Was the only response he got.
A few moments later, after taking his friend's advice, he did catch up to House. Who was now standing at the entrance of a department store, talking casually with a teenage girl who was clad in a bright red shirt and standing in front a large tub of... Something.
The older doctor was leaning against the table where the Easter-green tub was setting, seductively and smiling charmingly, Wilson saw the girl blush lightly and giggle before he managed to make it to his side.
"Hi, there." He greeted rudely, cutting off whatever it was his friend had been saying. "House-"
"Jimmy," He got cut off himself before he had a chance to say anything helpful. He turned back to the girl, "This is my brother, Jimmy. He's gay."
"Run along now," House made a shooing motion. "The salon's in the back of the store, I'm sure if you hurry, you can get some of that fruity smelling conditioner that gets all the guys at 'Phatasy' hot and bothered."
Instead of responding, he just turned to the girl himself, "Sorry about my friend," he spoke loudly when House tried to interrupt him again. "He's got a mental condition. Lowers him impulse control. We try to keep him doped up most of the time, but he's out on a day-pass today. His therapist thought he was making progress."
The teenager raised her eyebrows, making a face that said clearly she didn't believe a word either of them had said thus far, but she was extremely amused.
"Always projecting his problems," House bit back, patting him on the shoulder like you would a small child. "Now Jimmy, what have we talked about?"
Reaching into the tub that had, until then, been ignored, House pulled out two small bars wrapped in blue paper.
"Free chocolate." He repeated his earlier words, tossing one of the candy bars at Wilson, who caught it in one hand without thinking. House turned back to the teen, but was already walking away. "Have a great day."
"You too." She called after him, rounding her head to get a good look at his ass. Wilson shuddered.
"Thanks for the candy." He managed to get her attention away from his friend's retreating form.
"It's wrapped in a coupon," she said when she turned back to him. "Up to forty percent off regular priced items, ten percent off all clearance. Good for toady only." She sounded like she was repeating a mantra that she'd memorized and long ago grown bored with. "Have fun."
"Thanks." Wilson said with a slight nod before going off and trying to find his friend in the relatively large department store.
"Hi, there," he was greeted again just a few seconds later, this time by an older woman who was dressed, not in a red shirt, but in professional looking clothing - probably a manager. "Can I help you find something today?"
"Yeah," Wilson stopped, took another quick look around and still couldn't spot House. "Friend I came in with. Sarcastic jerk, yay tall-" he held up his hand indicating House's approximate height, "-probably trying to pilfer chocolate away from little kids?"
"Ah," the woman seemed a little taken aback by his words, but not much, working in customer service probably made you grow used to eccentric people. "Any idea what he was looking for?"
"Other then free food?" She didn't seem entertained by that. Managers were never as fun as the kids that worked in these places. "You don't sell playboys here, do you?"
"No." She answered shortly, obviously growing sick of his wit. Wilson didn't get it, it always worked for House.
"Right," he sighed and absently ran a hand over his face. "Guy's jeans?"
She gave him clipped directions to the department he needed and quickly walked away.
Amazingly enough, Wilson found House after following the annoyed woman's directions. He saw the older doctor standing in front of a large wall of jeans.
James, who was married, and had grown up in a conventional household, was used to the mall and department stores and the overall function of these things. He didn't necessarily enjoy shopping, but he could manage.
Greg, on the other hand, wasn't familiar with it at all. He was currently dating a lawyer named Stacy whom Wilson himself happened to be good friends with; but their relationship was relatively new and budding, which was never conducive to going shopping together. And Greg's upbringing had been anything save conventional, James figured that traipsing around the country as a kid didn't bode well for regular shopping trips.
Making his way trough the abnormally thick throngs of people, he arrived at his friend's side.
"I don't get it," Greg mused at a level tone.
"What?" James asked, staring at the wall his friend seemed so enthralled with.
"What the difference?"
"Levi, Lee, Arizona, South Pole..." he read off the name brands within immediate view, "What's the difference?"
"I..." he thought back to shopping trips with his wife. "They're different name brands."
Knowing where this was going, the young Oncologist interrupted, "When's the last time you actually bought a pair of jeans?"
Greg's face scrunched up in concentrated thought, then smoothed out suddenly into a look of almost-sheepishness. "College."
"College?" James repeated, dumbfounded. "You haven't been shopping since college?"
"No, I haven't bought a pair of jeans since college." He repeated, being careful to make his point. "I haven't bought a shirt in five years or a jacket in two. But I did get that tux for the fundraiser thing you and Stacy dragged me to last month."
"Like you didn't wanna go to that." James took a moment to point out.
"I didn't," Greg insisted. "And I only did because Stacy promised that when it was over she'd get all-"
"Stop." James commanded, holding up a palm to quell the flow of words. "More than I want to know."
"Prude." Greg mocked, but it was so lighthearted, James didn't even bother commenting on it or retorting.
"So you haven't bought a pair of jeans in... Ten years?" He guessed a number, trying to figure the math in his head.
"Twelve." Greg corrected.
"Unbelievable." James muttered, shaking his head.
"Really?" Greg asked, honestly astounded. "You've known me, what? Five years now, and that's a shock?"
"Just pick out some jeans so we can go," he pointed to the wall, fed up with this continuing game of witty banter. "All these people are making me feel Closter phobic."
"Aw, Jimmy has a phobia. Who knew?" Greg teased.
"House," he said it warningly. "Just pick something already."
"Oh, fine," the older man moved forward, eyeing a section of the jean wall thoughtfully. He scanned the tags and pulled out one pair, then moved along and did the same thing a few feet away. Four times and five pairs of jeans later, his friend looked up, smiling triumphantly. "Done."
"Great." James nodded. "Do you need anything else?"
Greg rolled his eyes as the two men began walking the store, trying to find a checkout counter of some sort. "What? Are you my mother?"
"If I hadn't insisted on this, you'd still be wearing the blood-spattered ones." James exclaimed. "And people were starting to complain."
"That was only one pair." Greg made an annoyed face, "And it's not my fault that conniving bitch got blood all over them."
A woman who happened to be walking in front of them stopped in her tracks and turned around to stare at them at that comment. You could tell just by looking at her she was one of those mom's that drove their teenagers to do drugs and move out of state the second they turned eighteen.
She looked to be in her mid-thirties, wearing an oversized sweatshirt, sporting a too-short, choppy 'do that was obviously a failed attempt to mimic the latest styles, she had on a pair of jeans that looked suspiciously like the ones House was carrying in his arms. Her outraged facial expression goes without describing.
"Excuse me?" She looked disgustedly up at House.
The two men had stopped - mostly because they were trapped, a table and a shelf on either side of them - when she had. Wilson was nervous, and wanted to rush to apologize and explain, but, of course, House beat him to it.
"What?" He snipped. "Never heard of sadomasochism?"
James' face paled visibly, while this woman's just lit up like a bright red Christmas tree.
"That's the most lewd, disgusting thing I've ever heard!" She all but screeched, and again, James opened his mouth to get an explanation out, but Greg...
"Really?" He snarked. "Then you've gotta be pretty sheltered. Let's change that. Okay, so these three fisherman were on leave-"
"House." James stepped on his best friend's foot, hard, taking advantage of the erupted cry of pain to try to smooth things over. "I'm sorry about my friend," he said to the still-scowling woman. "He's...ah- he's got Turret's."
The woman continued to glare at House, but glanced in Wilson's direction after a few moments, she looked doubtful, but not out-right disbelieving. Something told James that the teenager at the front entrance would have been better at detecting his lie.
"No medication?" She finally asked, looking at House with guarded eyes and an almost sympathetic expression. Greg - for his part - kept quiet.
James rushed on, hoping to get the altercation over and done with before his friend's uncharacteristic silence broke or the pain in his foot ebbed.
"We're in-between right now." He bullshitted off the top of his head. "You know how doctor's can be. Just shove anything at you to get you out the door. They probably turn right back around after you leave and switch on General Hospital."
The passive-aggressive insult made Greg snort, which shifted the Soccer mom's attention right back to him. The other doctor turned the snort into a throat clearing and forced his face into a frown. "I'm sorry about that, you anal bitch. I swear, half the time, I don't even know what I'm saying. I just hear these things on Jerry Springer, and I can't help it."
"Yes, well..." she coughed lightly and nodded, then quickly made her way around the two tall men, speed-walking into another department.
"That was fun." Greg smiled brightly at James' scowl. "We should come to the mall more often."
"She's probably gonna report us to security." He couldn't help but point out as they continued their way through the department, Greg stopping abruptly to look a pile of T-shirts.
"And say what?" He mocked without taking his eyes away from the stacks of folded fabric. "The two big scary men told me to go fuck myself?"
"We never said that." James pointed out, glad for that small grace of God.
"No?" Greg seemed surprised, "Wow, I must've just been thinking it really loud, then." Before the younger man could respond, he held up a shirt. "Whaddya think?"
The T-shirt was navy blue, and declared in white, block lettering; I'm up. I'm dressed. What more do you want from me?
"Oh, great." James sighed. "That'll fill your patients with all sorts of confidence in your doctoring abilities."
"All the more reason to never meet them." Greg smiled evilly and tossed the shirt on the stack of jeans he was still carting around.
"So, when you decided to become a doctor, you were thinking, what?" James knew his friend's personality well by now, but still never tired of teasing him. "Let's pick the most people based profession there is and defy all the odds?"
"Something like that, yeah." Greg agreed as they continued their trek through the long and winding corridors of the store that seemed to never end and go in continuous circles. "It was a toss up between doctor and radio DJ. I picked the one that came with a free stethoscope. If I knew I'd have to buy new pants every time a patient started spewing blood..."
"Yeah, you shoulda gone with DJ," James nodded. "No one cares what they wear." And for some reason, it wasn't actually that hard to picture Greg House as a radio personality. Something about his sharp tongue, varying tastes in music and the fact that being on the radio automatically meant that everyone had to listen to you but you had to talk to on one painted a very sharply defined picture of his friend speaking into one of those mic's, making some lewd commentary over the dying chords of a Rolling Stone's song.
"Sweat pants." Greg's abrupt words dragged him away from that image and focused him back on the overpopulated store. Why they had decided to do this on a Saturday was beyond him.
"Yes, DJ's can wear sweat pants to work." James responded immediately. "No, you can't."
"To run in, you doofus."
"Did you really just call me a doofus?" James couldn't help but wonder out loud, laughing lightly. "I haven't been called a doofus since I was seven."
"Would you have preferred, overly sentimental crybaby?" Greg bit, humor well-hidden but obvious to his old friend.
"So, sweatpants?" He rounded the conversation back before they got off on another tangent.
"Yeah," he sighed. "All mine are old and ratty."
"Everything you own is old and ratty," he pointed out, and cut off what he knew was going to be Greg's immediate response, "Except the tux."
"Okay, but I use the sweat pants more than I use work clothes." He explained.
"You spend more time jogging than you spend doing your job?" He asked incredulously, but dropped that voice and tilted his head after a moment of contemplation. "Yeah, that sounds about right."
"And what, that's a bad thing?" Greg pulled his 'I'm so innocent' act and James couldn't help but grin. "See, Jimmy, I knew you loved my infectious personality."
"Excuse me," James called out suddenly to someone walking by wearing a name-tag on a red lanyard, it was the first employee he'd seen since the disgruntled manager, and he wasn't about to let him get away. He spoke when the young man turned to face him, Greg halting at his side as well. "Where's your sportswear section?"
"Upstairs." He answered shortly. "Take the escalator up and turn right then go straight. Can't miss it."
"Thanks." James said to his retreating back, then turned again to face Greg, smiling triumphantly. "You're welcome."
"Good job, Jimmy." Greg nodded his approval, before pausing and shifting the pile of clothes he was obviously growing annoyed with. "Just one question."
"What?" James asked innocently.
"Where's the escalator?"
Twenty minutes later had them standing in line at a register. Greg's small pile of jeans and a t-shirt had morphed into a pile of jeans, several t-shirts, socks, varying kinds and shades of sweatpants, a hoodie or two and a bran spankin' new pair of Nike's.
Even James had relented and grabbed a couple pairs of running pants for himself, knowing that the new influx of clothes - and mostly the shoes - would spur his friend to bugging him into some physical exertion -that would inevitably come to play on mornings before the sun deemed itself awake enough to rise - and he'd need them then anyway.
An annoyed growl escaped Greg's throat after they'd been standing in line for what felt like hours, but was really only about ten minutes. Greg didn't do boredom too well.
"I need a smoke." He mumbled.
James shook his head. "You're the biggest anomaly I know." He told the older man for not the first time. "Usually people who run twenty miles a week don't smoke. Usually doctors don't smoke. Usually someone whose best friend in an Oncologist, doesn't smoke. You do, are and have all of that, yet..."
"Oh, Jimmy," Greg sighed. "Since when do I do anything usually?"
"I can take you guys over here." A female voice discontinued their conversation, as a young, blonde cashier gestured for them to make their way to the other side of the customer service quad. "Is this together or separate?" She inquired professionally once they made it over there and placed their items down.
"Together." James answered before Greg could say otherwise, and rolled his eyes at his friend's dubious expression. "It's three pairs of sweatpants. You owe me anyway."
"I do not," He argued as the young girl took her time scanning all their purchases.
"I've bought lunch every day this week." He reminded. "And I put gas in your car last weekend."
"'Cause you borrowed it." Greg pointed out.
"To get to the golf course to meet you, Stacy and Cuddy. Where I let you borrow my Driver." He took them back to their friendly game.
"Because you lost mine last time I let you borrow my clubs." Greg retorted, and while this circle probably could have gone on forever, citing barely recalled nitpicks from all their years of friendship, it ended abruptly when the cashier announced their total.
"Whoa." Greg commented lightly, then turned to James. "See what happens when you drag me to the mall, Jimmy?"
As he was taking his wallet out his back pocket, Melissa - or so said her nametag- asked casually, "And do you have a coupon?"
"No," Greg said at once, hating all the questions and never-ending commentaries that went into buying out of a department store.
"Wait," James remembered what the teen at the front entrance had said. He pulled a candy bar out of his pocket and opened it as Greg watched, MasterCard hanging limply from one hand.
"Thirty-five percent off," he smirked and handed over the paper.
"That was a coupon?" Greg raised his eyebrows as Melissa took his card and scanned it, reciting the newly lowered price. "Cool."
He proceeded to steal James' chocolate bar as their items were being bagged, but ended up sharing a few of the dozen or so he grabbed on the way out of the store. The fading echo of the teenage girl's laughter following them as they dashed away from JC Penny.
"That was fun," James commented later in the food court, munching on a cinnamon pretzel, half joking, half poking fun at his friend.
"Oh, yeah," Greg agreed picking at his own food, his words were overloaded with sarcasm, but his expressive blue eyes were sparkling with that rare lightness James loved so much to see. "Patients should spew bloody vomit all over my clothes more often."