This is another one of my "what if" stories. In this piece I will tackle the topic, "what if House wasn't faking brain cancer? " Obviously I'm gonna do everything differently than they did on the show. Alternate Universe, warning spoilers for Half Wit, House/Wilson slash, some sex, and occasional references to House's traumatic childhood. I'd recommend you read "The Story of a Scar" even though this isn't a sequel. Also please excuse my basic lack of knowledge about cancer, and don't write reviews telling me that I'm an idiot because I got something wrong. Frankly I don't really care if it's accurate because the show isn't always accurate, and has been known to get a thing or two wrong on occasion, but if you think it's small enough to be able to fix without having to change the whole story then please tell me.
Note: unfinished quotes are not typos, but rather sentences which either the character cannot finish, or was interrupted. Hence them ending with… or—.
"When your body is
coming apart at the seams
And the whole things feeling low you're convincing yourself
That there's nobody there, I know
I know now you feel
Like somebody has taken the wheels off your car
When you had somewhere to go well its annoying
Not going to get very far I know
But somebody cares," Paul McCartney.
When House stumbled into the clinic—two hours late—and dragged me into an exam room after shouting, "Wilson, I need you," I knew it was not going to be good. What I didn't anticipate, what I couldn't have anticipated, however, was just how not good things actually were.
"Don't you think we should lock the door?" I tried to joke, but he didn't even crack a smile. "Alright, house, now that you've significantly scared the crap out of me, can you please tell me what is happening so I don't freak out anymore than I already am?"
"I need you to do an MRI on patient," was the only explanation he gave, refusing to say anything else. I was almost afraid to ask which patient, but I did. "It's me. I need you to do an MRI of my brain."
"I'm sure Cuddy's gonna be perfectly okay with me scanning random parts of random patients bodies based on their request for me to perform needless test, so shy don't you tell me what you're trying to do so I can skip the part where I scream and get right to the—okay you do know how it makes me feel when you look at me like that, don't you? House?" He was still sitting on the exam table, looking down at his feet. "What's wrong?" I asked, reaching for and stroking his palm. When he finally answered, House actually looked terrified, something that scared me half to death.
"I've been getting these headaches, but the word headache doesn't really describe what it feels like. I get this throbbing ache, like an atom bomb just went off inside my skull, and sometimes the pain is so bad I can't see and I've been having—I've been dropping things, falling down, having trouble writing."
"I'm guessing that you think—you think you have a, brain…you think you have cancer in your brain and you didn't tell me? How long have these symptoms been bothering you?" I felt as if someone had picked me up and punted me across the room. I wasn't completely sure where I was, what was happening, or how I got to be in that state. I was scared, confused, angry, worried, hurt, and upset all at the same time.
"The headaches started about two months ago, but I didn't think they were a big deal at first. I'm only talking to you because I nearly drove my bike into a tree this morning. The other stuff—maybe a week two weeks."
"You're a doctor, one of the best doctors on the planet. How do you not recognize the symptoms of a serious disease! You could have died! You could still die!" I started to stammer. "If it's too…if you—why the hell didn't you say anything sooner? What if you dicked around for two months and now it's too late for me to actually help you?"
"What if it's not? Is there any way you would be able to treat me, and not let anybody else know?" His voice went up slightly in timber slightly, and I got the distinct feeling he was begging. "Please?"
"Is this why we're having this conversation? You're not going to let me treat you unless I promise to keep this a secret?"
"It's not chlamydia, I can't just find somebody else or order pills for a fake patient—not that I've ever tried—you're an oncologist, and, if people knew you were taking care of me, they'd also know why. I trust you, sometimes, but I don't want anyone to know what's wrong."
"I'll see if I can keep this under wraps until we know more, but eventually Cuddy will need to know, and if I'm going to treat you, I'll also probably want to take some time off, because I don't think I'd be able to deal with much else if I was doing this, and I want to be able to give you my full attention."
"This has to be the lamest conversation I've ever had," House informed me as we walked down to the imaging department. "Thank God you're about to put me into a gigantic magnetic machine, and I won't be able to talk about this anymore." He lay down on the table, and then just as I was about to start things, he reached for my hand, and squeezed it. "I trust you, but I am, I'm scared." I touched his face as softly as I could, and kissed him before going into the other room.
"Just try and relax," I told him, but House wasn't saying much back. He lay there, staring straight up into the top of the tube. "House, I love you," I said over the speaker.
"Yeah," he muttered to himself, "but it's not gonna make me any better is it?" I've seen enough MRIs to be able to figure out what I'm seeing without the printout, not that I'd be skipping that step. Looking at the computer screen already knew what was going on. House pressed the "panic button" that turned the microphone back on and said, "How big is it?"
"Don't scare me like that! You know that thing sets off a loud alarm on my side, don't you? I thought you were about to have a heart attack or something! It looks like three millimeters, and based on the shape, I know what the biopsy's going to say. Hopefully we caught it early enough. I promise I'll take good care of you."
"Not letting you stick a gigantic needle into my brain, and I'm definitely not letting you remove a section of that brain."
"Sorry, but you don't get a choice about that one, Greg. I have to find out what stage this thing is at. I can't treat you unless I know exactly what's going on here. I know it sucks, but—please?"
"Jimmy," he sighed, sucking in his breath. When I let him out of the machine, House wrapped his arms around my shoulders and let out a very soft, very quick sob. It was over so fast I almost believed it was a hallucination. Everyone reacts the same way to hearing the news that they have cancer, even doctors, even doctors like him, but it still shocked me. I found him a room, checked him in and sat in the hospital bed, holding him, stroking his hair softly, and kissing his face. "You think maybe I could do the biopsy myself?"
"Well actually I was thinking I'd do it since you probably can't remove pieces of your own brain without causing considerable damage."
"Hmm, well that might not be a good thing. So, I guess I'd be slightly better of if you did it, but I still don't like the idea."
"I do these all the time. Besides, how mad would Cuddy be if I accidentally gave you a lobotomy?" Time went by but he didn't laugh, or talk. "Look, even if it is cancer, you finally get to nail Cameron, and yeah Cuddy's probably not gonna sleep with you, but I bet you could get a blow job out of it, and I'm going to be giving my complete and undivided attention to your sorry ass."
"You'd better cure me or I'll sue your ass! Then we'll see whose ass is more sorry."
"I can sedate you for the biopsy, but I don't think surgery's going to be an option when it comes to treatment. Even if it wasn't you, it's just not a good area for that sort of thing, which means that…" I sighed, not sure if I could put it into words. I was about to put my best friend through Hell. You coward, my brain taunted me. You'll make him do it, but you won't say the word, will you?
"Chemotherapy," he finished my sentence, looking helpless and lost, almost child-like. "Just get this damn thing over with, okay?" As well as I thought I understood House, I should have known better than to act like everything was normal in this situation. Cancer makes everybody freak out and as much as he pretends not to be, even House is human. I had forgotten this, and I was—basically—berating a patient. He was scared senseless and I wasn't even trying to make him feel better.
"I'm gonna take good care of you, promise. Everything is gonna be all right. And if you need anything, I'll get it. Okay?" As I spoke he started edging close to my body until I said the magic words, and then he collapsed into my arms, exhaustedly. "I'm sorry. I should have known better than to hurt you like that. You're okay, I've got you. We're just gonna sit here for a while, and then I'll get a little something to help you calm down for the biopsy, and once we figure things out better we can decide what to do next." He only let me hold him for about half an hour or so before he sat up, wiping his face as if nothing had happened.
"Before you do this thing, I'm either gonna need," and then he stopped, squeezing his eyes shut, clenching his teeth and grabbing his temples with his hands, and he started to scream.
"If you keep screaming that loudly someone's gonna hear it, come in here and see you, and then the next thing you know everyone in the hospital knows what's going on here. I'll only be gone a second and I'll come back with enough meds to get you through the night, okay?" Luckily no one seemed to notice me as I went about getting the things I'd need to do the biopsy, or even when I checked out pain meds for him. Once I got the pain meds in he was much more pleasant, but he still whined as I moved him from the regular room to a procedure room, and it wasn't until I was actually getting started that he wanted to talk to me.
"Wait," he moaned, reaching for my hand, grabbing it before I could put him. "What about my hair? You don't—I know how stupid it sounds, but I've never had much say in what happens to my body, which doubly sucks because it's my body. Never mind. Forget I said anything.
"I think I can manage to protect your hair for now. Later we might have to, you might have to shave your head later, if it starts falling out in odd clumps but you can decide what you wanna do it about it then."
House managed to squeak out a very quiet, "thank you," before he closed his eyes and succumbed to sleep. I wanted to keep promising him that everything was going to be all right, but frankly, I didn't believe it myself. After I finished the biopsy, and sent the sample to the lab, I went to see Cuddy, despite my promise.
"Look," I explained, when she gave me that doe in the headlights expression. "House is sort of freaking right now. He needs the rest of us to act like everything is normal. And you're gonna have to find somebody to take over for me. I can't be there for him the way he needs me and still take care of the rest of my patients."
"I won't be able to do anything today; it's already 5:00, but I can start looking for someone to "sub" for a while. How the hell am I supposed to act like everything is normal if I know that he's about to go through."
"He is not going to die. Everybody goes through this when they first find out. He's in denial, I'm in denial, and until we can get him past this, I'm not going to do anything to make him any more scared, or put him through any more pain than absolutely necessary."
"So what, you want me to go up there and start screaming at him because he ditched clinic duty today? I can't even begin to figure out how to talk to him. Tell me what I should do."
"Great, now you're freaking out too. I am very good at what I do, you wouldn't have hired me if I wasn't, and cancer is, well terrifying, painful, and he's going to get really sick, and when he does we're all going to have to try and support him. I can show you—well I have to ask him first, but assuming he says I can—the MRI. At least it's small, and I think we caught it early. Everything is going to be alright."
"Does anybody actually believe that?" she asked, touching my arm softly. "How are you feeling? You might be willing to take care of House, but who's supposed to take care of you?" she said when we got up to his room.
"If I wasn't so out of it I'd be so pissed right now," House informed me as we stopped inside. "Had to gossip didn't you?" Then to Cuddy he said, "So, you gonna make out with me or what? 'Cuz I shouldn't be waiting my energy making small talk unless it's gonna turn into something fun."
"Be nice to Wilson, or I'll fire you," Cuddy said, but then walked over, touched his face softly, turned around and walked back towards the door with tears in her eyes. "You…get better," she said hurriedly, and raced down the hall.
"You said she was gonna sleep with me." He paused for a moment, and then made an odd face, almost sincere. "Look, I know I'm usually not always that nice to you, and I just want to thank you for putting up with me, being nice, and taking care of me, and stuff."
"You'd do the same if I was sick, right?" He nodded. "You're welcome, of course. I love you, and I'll do anything for you. I think we should deal with this one day at a time, starting with tonight. When we get the biopsy result in the morning, we can come up with a plan then.
Neither of us got much sleep that night, me because I was worried, and him because he was scared out of his mind and in more pain than he was used to. He cried a second time, burring his face in the front of my shirt, making a few soft sounds like a puppy dog, big, wet tears gathering in the corners of his eyes. At one point between the crying and the meds, he passed out and had some sort of a nightmare. He woke us both up when he screamed.
"I'm sorry," he shouted, pulling away from me. His eyes glanced all around the room, and he started to calm down. "I thought he was gonna…I thought he was here—to hurt me." Having been told that when the word he was used like that Greg was referring to his abuse father, who—I had only learned about a year before—had molested, beaten, and berated the little boy Greg. The adult part was barely willing to help him deal with this, but it took time, and once in a while the man had what can only be described as flashbacks. For all intensive purposes, during these flashbacks, he was five, or six-years-old, maybe a little more, and he acted like it.
"You had a nightmare, I can't imagine how scary it must have been, considering what that rat bastard did to you, but I'm here now, and I'll keep the monsters away," I promised, stroking his back.
"Can you make me better? I don't mean, you know," he sighed, pulling back, not wanting to finish the sentence. "Can you make my—can you fix this? Make it go away?" I was too scared to lie to him, so I leaned my face over his and kissed right on his forehead.
"I will do everything I can for you, to try and save your life, make you better, and if we ever get to the point where I—where—if you ever. If it turns out that there's nothing I can do…I promise to let you go, if things ever get to that point." I couldn't' believe how much I was stammering, again, but I had just promised my best friend I would help him end his life. How was I supposed to react?
"All righty then, hook me up and pump that crap you call medicine into me. Besides, I'm not ready to die. Still too many "things" I wanna do that I haven't, and a few "things" I wouldn't mind doing again." He laughed, lifting the edge of his hospital gown up a little, showing off his long, slender leg. "Come on, you're the one always telling me to get some." I almost told him I wouldn't sleep with a patient, but technically that wasn't true, even if I never had sex with the woman. Plus I also understood that once he got started on the chemo, he wasn't going to feel strong, awake or anything good for a long time. Within a couple of days, he wasn't going to have sex with anybody, not me, not Cuddy, Cameron, Chase, even if I could get Stacy to come back and fall in love with him again, it just wasn't going to happen.
"I don't wanna hurt your or uh—you're sure this is what you wanna, oh-okay, that was Mmmm," my lips were suddenly engulfed by House's mouth as he kissed me over and over, pushing me down into the mattress, kissing every inch of my body, touching me, holding me, grinding his hard cock into my pelvis. Then he was inside of me, and I was hard too, and then I was cumming and he was cumming and then the two of us were lying in bed, my arms wrapped around his body protectively. House pressed his fuzzy face into my chest and his breath got hot and heavy against my nipples.
"Thanks," he said, and kissed me again. "I'm not actually feeling any better, but I do feel better, if that makes any sense."
"Of course it does. While you were sleeping, I called and canceled all my appointments for today, so I can be with you when we start your meds, and I was thinking," once again House finished my sentence for me.
"You wanna put in a central line? Don't look so shocked, big boy; I went to medical school too, you know. How come you wanna spend the whole day with me? Think I'm gonna have a bad reaction or something?"
"Well the good news is, I can get you started today, because I don't have to clear it with your health care provider, but the bad news is, you're gonna start to get sick right away, and because you are a doctor, you know what to expect." Then there was a knock on the door and when I got it, Cuddy was standing there again, holding his file.
"Well, what's the news?" House asked, staring down the front of her blouse, then smiling as huge as possible. "Other than the fact that you need to replace the top three or four buttons on that shirt, or do them up." He snickered.
"Stage 2b," she said, quietly, and then handed me the folder. I wanted to scream at her, again, especially because any idiot could see her with House's file and figure out what was happening. "I was wondering if maybe I could help you out somehow."
"Yeah, go away!" he moaned, clutching his head. "Look, you wanna help, keep my team as far away from here as possible, and try to see to it that nobody comes down with the Plague for a while."
"I think Greg meant to say, 'thanks for bringing this straight to us and making sure no one else got their hands on it, but we have everything we need right now,'" I told her, managing to keep myself from sounding rude. One of us needed to be nice to her, and as usual, it fell to me.
"What are you going to give him?" Cuddy asked.
"You can't tell her! I'm invoking my patient-doctor privilege thingy," he insisted, curling up close to me, almost pretending to be scared. "Why don't you go back to searching for a sperm donor? If you need a sample I'm ready to go whenever you ask, but what I don't need is your pity."
"Shut up or I'll announce certain private details of your," she paused, clearing her throat, or rather, pretending to clear her throat, "medical history, over the loud speaker for everyone to hear."
"Like I'm scared. You'd never have the guts to do it, not to mention the law suits you'd be opening yourself up for. Then, again putting you and the word opening in the same sentence is repetitive, and unnecessary."
"Well I could always tell them things that aren't privileged, details that anybody could learn, easily," she snapped back after about two or three minutes went by. Not exactly a quick come back, but funny none the less. However, when he smiled I knew House had a great response.
"What you're going to—excuse the expression—leak, the size of certain parts of my anatomy? Even if you lie and say it's tiny, you still have to explain when and how you saw this body party, and then everyone in the hospital will know we slept together, or that at the very least I've seen you naked."
"Okay, I'm leaving, but you are going to be on double clinic duty when you come back to work. You, not Cameron, not Chase, not Foreman, or some robot that looks and acts just like you, but the real, flesh and blood Dr. House, wiping running noses, and well you've been to the clinic," she let her voice trail off.
"Okay, I'm gonna jump in here. House stop acting like a five-year-old, and thank you for the file, Lisa, but I think I should probably start treating my patient because the sooner I get him better, the sooner he can come back to work. I am also sorry if anything my patient said might have offended you. Try to remember, he's really sick and a little out of it." House didn't actually say anything when she left, but he did smile upon realizing that he had—sort of—won the fight. He kept mostly to himself during breakfast, and while I sat, looking through his file, and he watched General Hospital.
"Need a hand?" he asked, turning the volume down on the TV set. "I know, I'm not supposed to see my own file, ohh scary, I might see that it says huge ass next to my name. Hmm, I thought Cuddy was gonna show up when I said, 'huge ass' since that's like her bat-signal."
"You can see it when I finished," I tried to say with a straight face, but ended up smiling and let out a small chuckle. "But, you do know that snipping with Cuddy is going to make it really difficult for her to feel sorry for you, which will decrease your chance of getting any."
"This is all part of my cunning plan. I act like I always do, and then I "accidentally" let her see me crying after a few days, but pretend that I wasn't, and then finally –well I can't really tell you, otherwise, it won't be a surprise. What are you looking at me like that for? This was your idea—" he paused, quickly realizing something. "That odd expression on your face has nothing to do with me trying to have sex with Cuddy, does it? Look, I'm fine; I don't need you to worry about me."
"I know, and believe me my life would be a heck of a lot easier if I didn't, but it's not something I can turn on and off." I sighed, waiting for a witty retort, but he didn't say a word. "I'm about ready to get your meds started, but first I think you should—" He interrupted me again.
"Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah boring doctor stuff, blah, blah, I solemnly swear not to sue. I'll sign the consent forms, but I don't need you to tell me the risks or side effects of chemotherapy. It's poison, I'm gonna feel like crap, throwing up, hair loss, crippling nausea, fatigue, etc, but then I'll get better. I'll be fine, and…" Greg looked away, as if slightly ashamed. "You're gonna stay with me, right?"
"I'll stay with you forever, if you'll let me," I promised, reaching for the phone, and then called in the orders for his medications. While I was on the phone, I saw House wipe his face like he might have been crying, but by the time I was finished, he was more interested in his TV program than anything I had to say. So I sat on the edge of the mattress, my arm around his shoulder, my face look strong and brave for him.
He didn't act any different than he would have on any other day, at least he didn't act differently until the meds came and I was connecting them to his IV. Then he made the same soft sound from before, sighed, grabbed my arm, and said, "How long before I start puking my guts out?"
"It's different with every patient. Some people don't feel bothered enough to take anything, and others don't stop vomiting, and wouldn't even if they—an hour or so. I wrote up an order for Zofran."
"I just, I wanted to—that is, I was thinking…I should maybe tell you, I uh, well I'm trying, what I'm trying to say is—thanks. I'm lucky to have you Jimmy," House told me, practically stuttering, and looking right into my eyes.
"I love you too," I told him, trying to smile, and holding him close, praying that he would get through this, get better, and maybe if I could fix this, I could fix everything, make him completely healthy, and okay.