Hello! The fic you see before you is the product of many, many months of hard labor. It has gone through five versions, thousands of revisions, hours of proofreading. But, I'm pleased to announce that I'm finally pleased with my work.
But what about you? If you're taking the time to read it, I would be ever so grateful if you'd review and tell me what you think. Do you think there are things that should be changed?
Thank you so much. I'm sorry for the long, long author's note. Heh heh. I'm just excited. So now, I'm pleased to present for your enjoyment, Blue.
DISCLAIMER: Only in my dreams do I own the wonderful House, M.D. characters.
In James Wilson's dreams, the water was blue. All the water was blue, not just that from faucets and pools but also oceans, streams, lakes, and even toilets that he saw when he slept. It was always the same shade of blue, too: a piercing, icy one. Actually, a lot of the cars, walls, clothing, and other assorted objects were that color, too.
But he tried to convince himself that it didn't mean anything that almost everything in his dream world was the color of House's eyes. He'd wake up in the morning feeling ashamed of his dreams, and then walk into the garishly pink (at his wife's insistence, of course) bathroom to start his day. He'd never admit it to anyone, but he loved that bathroom. The pink tiles and floral curtains were the complete opposite of blue (and, more importantly, of House) so he could easily push his dreams to the back of his mind and get on with the day.
This routine had worked perfectly until that fateful Monday. He'd gotten in a fight with Julie (for the millionth time this month) over something stupid that he couldn't really remember. This had been the metaphorical straw that broke the camel's back. He'd already been sleeping on the sofa (for the second week in a row), so the next step, logically, was for him to move out of the house altogether, or so his wife insisted as she shoved some suitcases in his hand. This was a four-caser, which Wilson had experienced many times before and so knew that it generally meant the end of a relationship (or a marriage).
He'd booked a motel room (being too tired to bother with the tediousness of the hotel routine. But he promised himself he'd book one in the morning) and slept there for the night.
That night's dream was a particularly blue-filled one (House himself had been in it, but that didn't mean anything, Wilson asserted), so he leapt out of bed as soon as the alarm went off, eager for the pink flowers to set up barricades around the offending images.
But he was rudely awakened by a motel bathroom that was not pink, but white (and a very dirty white, too, so that it almost looked grey. Like House's hair…but the fact that the comparison he chose related to House didn't mean anything, either. Wilson was adamant about that.), and the grey/white tiles had a blue trim around them.
This fact, coupled with Julie kicking him out, led to an oncologist who walked into Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital on Tuesday looking extremely disheveled, sad, and disorganized. The hospital staff was, naturally, quite concerned. Dr. Wilson was always so neat and tidy, and he was certainly never late (unless he came in with Dr. House. But they weren't sure if that meant anything). What could be wrong?
The world's biggest brush-off, "I'm tired," passed Wilson's lips dozens of times before he'd even reached his office. He loved that excuse, he mused. It was never entirely a lie, especially in his profession.
However, Dr. Cuddy knew that, too, and wasn't willing to accept it from her Head of Oncology. "We're all tired, Wilson. What, specifically, happened to make you so distracted today?"
Wilson sighed. "I got in another fight with Julie." That was all he said, because he didn't feel the need to mention his dream of the night before, because it didn't mean anything.
His boss' face softened instantly. "Oh, James, I'm so sorry."
"So am I," he said, and smiled sadly.
"You know that if you'd ever want to talk, my doors are open."
"Thanks, Lisa," he said, unlocking his office door and stepping inside, effectively ending the conversation.
Cuddy stared in after him through the blinds he forgot to draw and watched as he got a cup of coffee and opened a patient's file. Her brow was furrowed as it always was when she was worried, and the furrows deepened when she saw him sigh involuntarily. At that she turned around and walked off down the hall.
Sometimes she thought House was psychic and could tell exactly where he was most needed, and, being House, of course he headed the opposite way. So, true to form, he wasn't in his office now that she really wanted him to be.
As the minutes passed by she checked her watch more and more often and grew increasingly angry. When she finally caught sight of him exiting the elevator she hurried over to meet him. "Where have you been? You're an hour and a half late!"
He replied, "Major accident on the highway. I was saving this super model's life. She gave me her phone number."
"House, I'm not in the mood," Cuddy said, and then, seeing the look in House's eyes, continued hurriedly, "Now, what's wrong with Wilson?"
"What's today? Tuesday? That means nurse number two stood him up."
"House, I'm serious," she said, following House into his office.
"You think I'm not?" he said, and she honestly couldn't tell.
But what she said was, "I know you're not! You're never serious. But I am. I need you to find out what's going on with Wilson."
"Why do I have to do it?" House whined. "Isn't meddling your job?"
"Don't make me negotiate, House," Cuddy said, exasperated. "You shouldn't need to be bribed to check in on your best friend."
"And you shouldn't need to be showing off your girls in a top like that, but that obviously doesn't stop you. They look nice, by the way."
Cuddy signed resignedly, gaining confidence (despite her better judgment) from the comment. "Fine, fine. What if I give you an hour off of clinic duty?"
"Wow, an hour off of a year will benefit me so much," House said, taking a seat behind his desk.
"House! How about do it or I'll fire you?"
"Can't. I have tenure," he gloated, clearly enjoying himself.
"Okay… I'll give you extra clinic hours if you don't do it!"
"Right, because I don't have three cases at the moment, and I didn't take them at your insistence. You're all out of favors, unless of course we're talking about-"
"House!" snapped Cuddy. That was definitely anotherthought she didn't want him to finish. "It's amazing that you can waltz right in, anywhere you want, when nobody wants you around, but when you're needed somewhere suddenly you're all about privacy."
She changed tones, becoming much more serious. "House. Wilson came in today, half an hour late, seeming incredibly flustered and disheveled. Julie and he got into another fight. He needs you right now."
House sighed dramatically. "Fine, I'll do it. Sure beats talking to Whiny McBrat, Grumbly, and PowderPuff."
Cuddy resisted the urge to comment. She was used to his contempt for patients by now. "Thank you," she said as he got up and made his way to the door.
He paused in the doorway and couldn't leave without his brilliant parting remark being thoroughly appreciated: "By the way, I lied. Your girls…" House made a pained face. "It's not their best day."
Wilson was reading over a file when House entered. (Or at least that's what he appeared to be doing. He was actually trying very hard to chase his dreams out of his head, and, to that end, staring hopefully at the pink paper in the folder.) "Hey, Jimmy!" House called, inviting himself in.
Wilson groaned inwardly. House was definitely the last person he wanted to see right now. "What now, House?"
"What, you aren't glad to see me?" House pouted, which recalled Wilson's dream to the forefront of his mind.
"No, actually, I'm not," said Wilson truthfully. But the reason he gave was a lie: "I'm trying to do my job, something you clearly can't empathize with."
House leaned on his cane and stared curiously at the oncologist. After a pause, he said, "So. You got kicked out," It wasn't a question.
Wilson's posture sagged. "How did you know?"
"Well, it's only happened three times before… in the last year. Not to mention the year before that, when-"
"I get the point, thanks," said Wilson snappishly. "Why are you here, exactly?"
"Do I need a reason to visit my best friend?"
"You do, yes."
"Where did you stay last night?" the diagnostician asked, completely changing the subject.
"Motel," Wilson answered shortly.
House shook his head and smiled condescendingly, which Wilson couldn't help but think was cute (and had a sneaking suspicion that that probably meant something, but he shoved it aside). And that brought up his dream again, just when he'd temporarily pushed it away. "Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Will you never learn? You know motel rooms are cesspools. I bet you went and got yourself sick like the idiot you are."
House took a step forward and reached out his hand to place it on his friend's forehead. Startled by the contact, Wilson jerked back, sliding the chair a few inches. He quickly scooted it back in, however, to hide his lap (and he couldn't deny that a reaction like that had to mean something). "What are you doing?" he asked, praying House hadn't noticed.
"Checking for fever. You seem tired, and you're sweating. Classic signs of infection." A smirk changed the whole look of his face. "Although, that could also be explained if you were doing something naughty before I came in here." He glanced briefly in the direction of Wilson's lap.
Shit. He did notice. Shit. Shit. Fuck, thought Wilson, and his heart stopped. He didn't know what the appropriate answer would be, so he decided to 'not dignify it with a response' and simply angled his face down, pretending to go back to his paperwork. The action had the added bonus of hiding his blushing cheeks.
When he looked back up, House's eyes were sparkling with laughter, as close to the real thing as he got at work. The dancing shades of blue captivated him and he was once again back in the dream, causing the disturbance in his lap to rekindle.
"Oooooh, Jimmy's been a bad boy," House teased.
Wilson responded, "Shut up, House." But it didn't sound right; it was softer, more like a plea than he intended it to be.
House caught it, too, and fixed his friend with a stare so piercing Wilson thought he was reading his mind, seeing into his soul. Neither man said anything, and eventually House turned away.
"If Cuddy comes in here, tell her I told you to take some Theraflu or something," he said, and limped from the room.
Cuddy did come in, and Wilson obligingly told the Dean of Medicine that he was, indeed, coming down with something. She was, understandably, a bit annoyed at him.
"Wilson, you're a doctor. You should know the importance of admitting symptoms. I know you're facing a tough time right now, but that's no excuse for ignoring…" The rest of her speech had a similar message.
She finally left his office, giving him the advice to take it easy as much as possible. Wilson, of course, had no intention of taking it easy, not just because he wasn't actually sick, but more for the reason that as long as he was occupied he wouldn't have to dwell on everything that had occurred today, especially not his troubling realization. In fact, he ended up working a little harder than usual, because during average, mundane tasks he'd switch to auto-pilot and his mind would go back to thinking of the horrible confrontation with House he knew would happen all too soon. So, by the time lunch rolled around, he was even more out-of-it than he had been that morning. It definitely hadn't helped that his last patient had worn a blue shirt, he defended inwardly.
He wasn't exactly sure whether he wanted to see House at lunch or not. He was torn almost evenly between just getting the fiasco over with and putting it off in the hope that it would blow over. Cringing, Wilson thought that that probably wasn't the right phrase to use when he was in the frame of mind that he was. The mental image that popped up confirmed that it was definitely a phrase to avoid.
Wilson was saved from that, and from making a decision about lunch, by the sound of his pager going off when he was halfway down the hall. The words, Wilson to ER. STAT. scrolled across the tiny screen. Sighing in relief, he bee-lined it for the emergency department.
The STAT page had been concerning one of his lung cancer patients who had developed a pulmonary embolism as a result of his condition. The ER doctors wanted Wilson to consult for them, but to his extreme dismay his mind was so jumbled and jittery that he didn't think he would be very helpful. With great trepidation he declined, sighting his "cold" as the reason. The doctors, all of whom liked Wilson, hoped that he would get well soon.
He sat dejectedly in a chair in the waiting room, for once not minding the uncomfortable-ness of it because he could focus on that instead of his thoughts, his head in his hands. One of the prettier nurses must have felt sorry for him, because she sat down next to him, offering a cup of coffee. He took a sip to be polite, but he really didn't feel like eating (or talking, for that matter, as she was trying to strike up a conversation) so he told her rather snappishly, "Thank you."
Slightly taken aback, the woman said a curt "You're welcome," before hurrying off to do some thing or other (most likely sulk, he thought miserably.)
He nursed the coffee, which tasted terrible to him (even though the nurse made it exactly how he liked it) because he couldn't stop thinking about how he had messed up… again. He'd ruined another marriage, probably made dozens of mistakes in his patients' files, and now declined to consult for a surgery on one of his patients, declined to do his job. And, the biggest mistake of all, he'd allowed House to figure out what he'd been hiding from himself for so long: that he was in love with his best friend. He'd screwed up his friendship with House. He had no idea what would happen now, and he had even less of an idea as to how he would ever get back on his feet without House being there to pick up the pieces in his rather unorthodox manner.
He shook his head. He'd never get anywhere thinking like that, that was at least one thing he was sure of. He chugged the rest of his coffee and headed off to the Clinic, the one place House avoided like the plague if he could help it. That made it the perfect place to get his thoughts in order.
After about an hour he was starting to cheer up, having just treated two adorable twin toddlers. He was finishing his notes on their charts when suddenly Cuddy entered, eyeing him in disbelief. "Wilson, what are you doing here? You know it's not good to be exposing patients to-" she paused mid-lecture and stared shrewdly at him. Crossing her arms, she demanded "House lied, didn't he? You're not actually sick."
Wilson, embarrassed at being caught in his lie and reluctant to talk about it, simply shook his head.
"So that means you lied, too," Cuddy continued. This time, Wilson nodded. His boss sighed. "Look, James, I don't know what's wrong, but I get the distinct impression that whatever it is, House has made it worse. As per usual, I might add."
Wilson felt compelled to speak up on behalf of his friend. "He doesn't always make things worse… just most of the time." He finished lamely, failing to come up with an example to the contrary.
"Granted," said Cuddy dismissively. "But, this time whatever he's done is affecting your work. You have a lot on your plate right now. Maybe you'd want to consider taking a few days off," she said gently. "It would help you come to terms with Julie leaving, you know, clear your head. And God knows we could all use a break from House."
The brown-haired doctor knew that the last thing he needed was time off, time where he didn't have work-related tasks occupying his thoughts and the truth of his feelings for his best friend raced endlessly through his head. He'd probably spiral down into depression again, or go insane. But he didn't want to say all this to Cuddy (at least not yet). He wished he could think of a convincing argument against his leaving, but nothing came to mind. So he just said, "No, it's fine. I'm fine; really, it's just a bad day is all."
"I'm not convinced," said Cuddy simply. After taking a moment to formulate her plan of attack, she began again. "Dr. Wilson, I appreciate that you don't want to face Julie right now. But we can't have that affecting your work. And I know that it will take time to get over that, but at least let me help you in the way I can. I'll get House in here to-"
"No." said Wilson sharply. He knew Cuddy was instantly suspicious so he hurriedly elaborated, "I mean, he has three cases to work on, doesn't he? It's a big workload and he's bound to be more cranky than usual."
"You and I both know that's not the reason. Whatever's happened between you will undoubtedly make my life more difficult if House doesn't have you to annoy. So I'm going to call him down here now and you two are going to work it out."
"No," he said again. This time he added imploringly, "Please, Lisa?"
"'Please, Lisa?' Now, Jimmy, we aren't asking for sexual favors, are we? That would be rude." House had just limped, uninvited, into Exam Room 3. "You didn't let your best friend in on the deal."
"House, have you ever heard of knocking?" Cuddy stepped in between the two men.
"Have you ever heard of skirts that come past your thighs?"
"We are not getting into a discussion about my wardrobe, House, especially because it really isn't your business what I wear."
"You make it my business when you flash your womanly characteristics in my face. Not that I mind," he smirked.
"No one else has a problem with what I wear, House-"
"I just said I didn't mind. I actually rather like it."
"That was completely inappropriate, House!" she said, although, oddly, looked rather pleased. "You're on thin ice as it is; don't add sexual harassment to your extensive list of complaints."
"Oh, please. You'd never follow through with a threat like that; cause then you'll have to fire me, and- Wilson, where are you going?"
Wilson had gradually eased toward the door and was attempting to slip out of it unnoticed. "I have patients, House. So do you, as a matter of fact. Why aren't you treating them?"
"I was bored."
"House, I'm going to give you two choices," Cuddy said. "Either you can go back upstairs and do your job, or you can stay here until you've worked everything out with Wilson."
"Let's see, Wilson or annoying sick people. Tough choice," House said sarcastically as he settled into a chair.
Wilson shot Cuddy a scorching glare, and at least she had the decency to look a little sorry. "This is for your own good, James."
"Easy for you to say," he muttered under his breath as Cuddy left the room, closing the door behind her.
For a few moments neither man spoke. House appeared to be looking almost appraisingly at Wilson. He finally announced, "You've been avoiding me."
"Or maybe you've been avoiding me," Wilson countered.
"Yes, that's why I came all the way down here to the despised Clinic to talk to you!" House was in full sarcasm mode now.
"No, you didn't come down here to talk to me! You came down here to put together imaginary pieces to an imaginary puzzle, and try to tell me how your twisted logic has come to some impossible conclusion." Wilson was getting defensive despite himself, and fought to keep his voice from rising.
"My conclusions are never impossible! Some are improbable, yes, but they're never impossible."
"Never say never," Wilson snapped. "And anyway House, you- well, I- that's not the point!"
"That's exactly the point! My conclusions are never impossible, which means that there's a chance I'm right. And that means that the puzzle isn't imaginary, and the puzzle pieces aren't imaginary!" House's voice was rising.
"It's irrelevant whether or not the puzzle is real, because you can sculpt the pieces in any way you want, making any picture you want, and believe that it's correct!" Wilson let his voice rise a bit, too.
House thumped his cane on the ground rather harder than was necessary. "Wilson, will you grow up? Stop trying to talk your way around the issue, and quit running away from your problems!!"
"Oh, forgive me, I forgot!" Wilson said, voice dripping with sarcasm. "Only you're allowed to do that! Tell me, how is what you do day in and day out any different than this? Why is it okay for you to avoid, deflect, ignore every problem thrown in your path, but not for me to do it?!"
"Because I'm miserable, and I always will be!! You, you have a chance at happiness if you just try!!"
"You don't know that! How could you know that?!"
"Yes, I do know!! You've always been able to find happiness in anything! You can find reasons for dying ten-year-old bald girls to be happy! Surely you can find things in your own life to make you happy! You, with all your caring, a wonderful, altruistic moron like you, your looks, your charm, you'll never have any problem finding happiness!!"
Somehow in the course of the argument House had gotten out of the chair and both men now stood in the middle of the room, glaring at each other, only a few inches apart. Wilson didn't know how it happened (but it probably had something to do one of the shades of blue flashing in House's eyes), but the next thing he knew he had crossed the final distance and wrapped his arms around House's waist, kissing him earnestly.
A few seconds later House responded just as passionately. After many long, happy minutes, they broke apart. Wilson's cheeks were flushed, both from embarrassment and passion, so he turned away and pretended to be interested in the digestive system poster on the wall.
House simply stood there, staring at his friend. When it finally worked and the aforementioned friend turned around, it was to see the blue eyes that haunted his dreams staring back into his, completely unguarded. House had taken down all the barriers, leaving his eyes a shifting, swirling sea of blue that Wilson thought he could dive into and swim in for hours on end.
Instead he contented himself with staring into their depths, mesmerized as always by their beauty. Both doctors stepped forward at the same time and closed the gap again. Wilson leaned forward and kissed House a second time, this one a soft kiss in which he attempted to convey all the love he held for his friend who was soon to be more than a friend.
He smiled contentedly and grabbed House's hand. "You have no idea how much I wanted to do that," he said softly.
"Yes, actually, I do," House whispered back. "About as much as I've wanted to."
James Wilson slept very animatedly, his physical body reacting to stimuli from his dream world. But that was okay; when he got fretful, he'd just relax into the arms of Gregory House, whose blue eyes still filled his dreams. And he'd wake up feeling supremely content, because he knew that this meant everything.
Eh? Eh? What do you think?
I personally love the ending; I think it's the best part. (Not to brag or anything, lol.)