A/N: Written for Saturday Night Writing Challenge on Forum. Please R&R, and enjoy!
1 out of 3
"Do I have to go with you while you troll for your latest conquest?"
"I've told you at least a dozen times, yes, please, as a favor to me, and this isn't about conquests; it's about a connection."
"Kinda like the "connection" you made with Tabitha last year, resulting in your second divorce."
"Yes, and thank you so much for the reminder; I'd almost forgotten."
James Wilson glanced in the mirror in his friend's bathroom and straightened his tie.
"It's a bar, Jimmy, not the freakin' Plaza."
"Doesn't mean I have to look like I got run over by a garbage truck," he glanced meaningfully at Gregory House, who was sprawled out on his bed, checking his clock every 10 seconds in order to keep track of how long it took Wilson to get ready.
"Of course, if you really don't want to go, you could always go through CV's."
This elicited a face from House, and the comment, "I can't believe she's making me hire a woman. How big a team do I have to have before she's satisfied? I should just take them all on. I bet that'd shut her up."
"She's just concerned about the image of having a chauvinist pig working for her, and she's attempting damage control by making you hire a woman, who, I might add, will have the potential of bringing a lot to your team."
"Well, she'll bring something anyway, and it's below the brain area…significantly below. Speaking of my team, why couldn't we go with them and watch the stupid ball drop live instead of being forced to watch it on a dusty TV screen? I'd love to see Chase get drunk. That has 'good times' written all over it."
"Because, and I can't believe you're making me say this again, I refuse to run into Samantha, no matter how remote the chance."
"She's your ex-wife, not an axe murderer."
"They're one and the same as far as I'm concerned."
"Are you finished yet?"
"Good enough, I suppose. Let's go."
"Finally! I thought I'd die from old age."
"Knowing you, you'd die from malnutrition first," Wilson said, alluding to all the junk food his friend appeared to live on.
Alison Cameron looked at her reflection in the three-way mirror in her bedroom, and carefully blotted her lip gloss. Her friend, Jennifer Davies, lay on her bed, yawning from boredom.
"Are you even close to being ready? It's just a bar, it's not like we're actually going to New York or anything."
"We should, though. I'd love to see the ball drop live. I'm sick of seeing it on TV."
Jenn sighed. "We've been through this. I cannot risk running into Paul. I won't."
"There'll be like thousands of people there," Alison argued. "What are the odds?"
"Anything is too high. Now, hurry up, before I die of old age."
Alison checked her outfit for the 20th time, and then went to her closet to change for the 10th.
"Ally," Jenn whined. "I promised myself I'd hook up tonight, and I can't do that if we never leave."
"Not looking like that you won't. You look like a garbage truck hit you, or maybe a wrecking ball."
"I look like I'm not trying to impress anyone. This isn't a fellowship interview. Speaking of which, how are those going?"
"Lousy. I got offered one with Amy Flint, but I don't know if I'll take it, I wanna see how this last one with Bruce Farley turns out."
"I don't see why you need one anyway."
"Ready yet? You look good, by the way. Maybe you'll find someone."
"Maybe, but I'm not looking."
"So you're just going as my wingman? Or girl. Whatever."
"Basically." Alison glanced again in the mirror, and was pulled to the door by Jenn before she could get too critical of her appearance.
They arrived at the bar nearest Alison's apartment and Jenn immediately began working her magic. Alison, meanwhile, stationed herself at the bar, and ordered herself a cocktail, ignoring all the men around her.
An hour later, Jenn came over and sat beside her.
"How's it going?" Alison asked.
"Everybody in here lies, I think. Every man I've talked to is a doctor…oh, one was a dentist. C'mon, there's no way!"
"At least one might be, statistically speaking. How about him?" She pointed to a well-groomed man sitting at a table in a corner with what looked to her like a hobo of some kind.
"Yea, he looks all right. Maybe a little old."
"If you want to meet a doctor, they're probably going to be a bit older. I thought you liked older men."
"I do. All right, I'll go give that guy a shot. He's cute anyway." Jenn got up and went to the corner table. She said something and the cute guy looked up. The homeless guy, or whatever he was, ignored her and cast his eyes about the bar. They fell on her.
She found herself looking back. His gaze was one that could command attention, and she concluded that he had the most gorgeous pair of eyes she'd ever seen. He looked away first, and then looked at his companion as something was said to him. He shrugged, and the cute guy got up and went to the dance floor with Jenn.
"Go Jenn!!" Alison called with a smile. Her friend turned and beamed at her. After the dance, she excused herself, and practically flew over to Alison.
"Well, of course he says he's a doctor, but I don't care if he's lying or not. He's smart, funny, and even better looking up close."
"What's his name?"
"I've heard of him actually. He is a doctor, an oncologist. He works at…I can't remember…oh, Princeton Plainsboro."
"So, he's an actual doctor?"
Jenn smiled, got up and went back to Dr. Wilson. Cameron turned back to her second cocktail, and then jumped as she heard a voice next to her.
"Ya know, if you wanna get drunk, you're gonna have to go through about 12 of those, unless you're a feather-weight."
She looked up and found herself face to face with the hobo guy who was with Dr.Wilson.
"I'm not trying to get drunk, thank you. I have an interview tomorrow."
"To do what?"
Cameron sighed. She didn't want to get into her life story with this guy, but at least she was talking to someone, instead of just sitting there nursing cocktails.
"If you must know, I'm interviewing for fellowships."
She half expected him to inquire about the word fellowship, but he didn't, only nodded.
"Who are you interviewing with?"
"Why does he care?" she thought.
"Dr. Bruce Farley," she answered, knowing the name would mean nothing to him.
"Don't take it. Farley's an idiot." He glanced up at the TV, where the ball was going to drop in about 15 minutes.
"He's supposed to be brilliant."
"How would you know?"
"Because I've met the man. Don't take it."
"All right…Who would you suggest?"
"No one. Fellowships are a waste of time. You want experience, dive right in."
Alison narrowed her eyes. "How do you know so much about it?"
"You're interviewing for fellowships, and you don't have any more intelligence than this? Amazing."
She put two and two together, ignoring the insult. "I take it you're a doctor, then?"
"Very good!" He applauded her, enunciating each syllable, and she resisted the urge to slap the smug grin from his face.
She held out her hand instead. "I'm Alison Cameron."
He didn't shake it, didn't do anything, just looked at her with that mesmerizing gaze.
"And you would be…?" she prompted.
"Gregory House," he said simply, then got up and walked back to the table he had recently vacated.
She watched him go, noticing for the first time the cane and the limp he had. She wrinkled her brow, wondering what could possibly have happened to him. He didn't seem like the sharing type though. She had heard of him, of course, but had never seen him. Meeting him only heightened her curiosity, and she almost followed him to his table, but thought better of it, not knowing for sure what she would say.
Jenn came back to the bar momentarily, Dr. Wilson behind her.
"My friend, Alison Cameron, Alison, this is James Wilson."
Alison held out her hand again, this time receiving a warm shake in return.
"I've heard of you Dr. Wilson," she said as they shook.
"Good things, I hope," he smiled warmly, and she could see why Jenn seemed so taken with him. She felt instantly at ease, like she'd known him her whole life. He and House were definitely polar opposites.
"Just like 'The Odd Couple'. I wonder if they live together…" she thought.
"Very good things," she replied. "I'm actually interviewing for fellowships, and your name has come up once or twice. Dr. Flint was wondering if you were hiring. She thought you could be another option for me."
"I'm not. I don't really hire fellows. But my friend is hiring another, if you're interested in diagnostics."
Alison brightened at the word. "I am!"
"He's interviewing tomorrow, hopefully. You should stop by. Do you know where Princeton Plainsboro is?"
Alison thought a moment. "I know exactly where it is. I have an interview with Dr. Farley, but I bet I could swing by afterward. It never hurts to have more than a few options. Who's the department head?"
"Dr. Greg House. He came with me actually. He's over there." He jerked a thumb to the corner table, where the man Alison had mistaken for a vagrant still sat.
Her face fell considerably, and Wilson picked up on it.
"I take it you've met him."
"Yea, if you wanna call it that."
"He's a jerk, yes, but he's also good at what he does. Don't let him deter you from interviewing. You'll learn a lot if you get hired, I guarantee it."
Alison nodded. "I'll definitely think about it."
Their conversation was cut short by the host on TV announcing the dropping of the ball. Wilson went over to the table and grabbed his friend, dragging him over to the front of the room. The countdown began.
At midnight, a cheer went up in the bar, and Jenn leaned over and kissed Dr. Wilson. Alison watched them happily, then stole a glance at House. He was watching the screen.
Feeling bold as a result from the cocktails, she went up to him and kissed him, without warning, quickly and softly on the lips. She was surprised when she felt him kissing back a second later, and she responded by partially opening her mouth, something she hadn't intended to do, but didn't let it get any further than that.
"Happy New Year," she said, pulling away.
He looked at her, the same look he'd been giving her throughout the evening. He then mumbled something she couldn't understand, then went outside to wait for Wilson.
After Jenn said her good-byes, she came back to Alison with a piece of paper, which had James' cell number written on it.
She giggled. "He is just the sweetest guy. I know I said I was gonna hook up for the night, but this is even better. How'd it go with Dr. Jerkwad?"
"What do ya mean, 'how'd it go'? I wasn't out to make anything happen. He's interesting, to say the least."
"You kissed him."
"So, what? I thought you were supposed to do that at New Year's."
Jenn changed the subject, rather than pursuing it. "Are you gonna interview with him?"
"I think so, yes."
"You're crazy. He's probably hell to work for."
"Yea, but I want to know more about him. There's just something…I can't explain it."
"He's not a puzzle. He's just a jackass. But, on the other hand, James seems to think something of him."
"Exactly. So, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, just because I interview doesn't mean I'll get an offer."
"Wow, Jenn is great! I can't believe it," Wilson gushed as he joined House outside the bar, and they headed for Wilson's car, then got inside.
"Yea, good for you, but I couldn't help but notice she's not here, which means you're not getting any tonight."
"Doesn't matter. I made a connection. That was the goal. What did you think of Alison?"
"The girl who was with Jenn…the one you talked to, the one who kissed you at midnight."
"Oh, her. She was hot."
Wilson wrinkled his brow. "That's it?"
"You're right. How insensitive of me. She was very hot." He leaned back in the seat and was silent until Wilson pulled up in front of his building.
"I'll see you tomorrow. And you are interviewing, right?"
"If you say so." He got out of the car and disappeared inside. Wilson headed for home.
The next day Alison woke up, and got ready for her interview. She checked herself over in the mirror, making certain she looked professional and not too eager. She had to focus. The problem was she couldn't get Dr. House out of her mind. She shoved the image of him staring at her from across the room to the back of her head, grabbed her purse, and headed out the door to meet with Dr. Farley.
Wilson went straight to House's office when he was finished with his own paperwork. He didn't trust him to get through interviews by himself, or to even start them, for that matter. Dr. Lisa Cuddy didn't trust him either, and when Wilson arrived at House's office, he found the Dean of Medicine already there, lecturing to a bored looking House.
"Just hire one woman, that's all I'm asking. I don't care who, just as long as she's capable." She turned around and acknowledged Wilson's presence.
"Thank god. I assume you're here to supervise, James?"
"I figured I should."
"Thank you. I want someone hired by the end of the day." She turned on her heel and left.
"Ok, Jimmy, here are my requirements. I want at least a C cup, and 5'6 or taller. Oh, and I'd prefer long hair, but if she matches the other two, then short hair's ok. The rest is up to you." And with that, he leaned back, put his feet up on his desk, and covered his face with the CV from the top of the short stack that sat on his desk.
"Oh no, you don't," Wilson uncovered his face and laid the CV in front of him. "You're going to be involved and you're not going to base this on height, hair, and bra size. Now, I'm going to get the first person." He left and came back with the first of the 12 perspective fellows.
Perspective fellow 13, meanwhile, was currently trying to get through her interview with Dr. Farley. The man was…well, boring. He spoke in a monotone that would have put Ben Stein to shame. Alison did her best to answer his questions without yawning. When he announced the end of the interview, she jumped up a little too quickly and stuck her hand out for him to shake. He shook it weakly, and showed her out the door. Alison couldn't get out of there faster.
She thought about calling Dr. Flint right then and there and accepting her offer, but then she remembered the piercing gaze she'd shoved to the back of her mind that morning. Mind made up, she checked to make sure she had an extra copy of her credentials, and then headed to Princeton Plainsboro for a last interview.
Wilson massaged his aching temples as he watched the last candidate leave in a huff.
"Do you have to offend everyone who comes in contact with you?"
"I sure do. If they can't handle me, how can they handle working for me?"
"You might have a point, but you're also out of applicants. You have to choose one and then I suppose it'll be up to me to beg them to accept." He had to admit, he was a little disappointed that Alison hadn't shown up.
"What about…" he leafed through the CVs and pulled one out at random, "Cleo Tibble? That's a funny name. I could get used to saying that. Tibble, make some coffee, Tibble, do my clinic hours, Tibble, wax my cane…the list goes on."
"Yea, you made fun of it. I don't think I'll be able to convince her. She was pretty mad."
House pulled out another one, and read the name. Wilson shook his head and gave a reason for the woman in question to not accept the job offer. This was repeated until the pile had been used up.
"I'm guessing I'll have to talk to Dr. Cuddy about this, see what she wants to do." Wilson got up and left the office. Cuddy wasn't in her office and her assistant told him she was in the lobby with some perspective donors. Wilson took the elevator down to the ground floor, and stepped out, only to see a lost Alison Cameron wandering around the lobby.
He waved to her. "Alison!" She noticed the familiar face and smiled, waving back.
He jogged over to her. "You decided to give it a shot?"
"Yep, not sure where I'm supposed to go though."
"Come with me. We've been through 12 applicants already. You're the last."
"None of them worked?"
"He offended them all. It's par for the course, actually."
This didn't surprise her at all, and she prepared herself to get the same treatment. At least she had an advantage; she'd been warned.
"Could you do me a favor, and tell Jenn I will call her tonight?"
Cameron smiled and nodded. "Of course I will."
Wilson opened the office door for her and she went in, dropping her CV in front of House and sitting in the chair opposite him. His eyes opened in recognition and then took on the look of the previous night. She shifted uncomfortably, feeling exposed by that look, vulnerable.
Wilson took note that he wasn't saying anything, so he began the round of questioning. She did very well, her eyes never leaving House's. Wilson was quite impressed by her answers, and when he was finished, he glanced at House to see if he had anything to add.
He ran his tongue over his lips, as though remembering last night.
She did so, and he scrutinized her, looking her over from head to toe. She squirmed slightly under his intense gaze, getting the feeling he was somehow seeing through her. Then he turned to Wilson.
"She only meets 1 out of 3 of my requirements," he stated.
Wilson's shoulders slumped and he gave his friend a frustrated look.
House sighed, then motioned Alison back into the chair. She sat and met his eyes again. She was nervous about doing that too much, but she couldn't get enough. He narrowed his eyes at her, thinking, then tossed the other CVs in the trash can.
"You're hired. Show up tomorrow, 8 sharp." She smiled, but decided against initiating a handshake. She got up to leave, sharing a high five with Wilson as she headed for the door. She stopped when she heard him calling her.
She turned around.
"Don't be late."