Disclaimer: House MD is property of David Shore and the like.
A tall, gangly woman sits in front of me. Her arms stick out awkwardly of a flowered dress. She says to me in a grating, high-pitched voice, "So yous guys at this big, fancy hospital are telling me that I only have three months to live. Is that what you're telling me?"
I sigh and give her a sympathetic gaze, empathy flowing out of me in waves that I know the patient appreciates. At this point in my life it is mostly an act, but death is death, and there's not much I can do about that but hold this woman's hand and tell her I'm sorry. That I'll do everything I can for her.
The thing is: dying people can still be annoying. Incredibly annoying.
Unhampered squeaks slip out of blood red, lipsticked lips and my ears scream in pain. The squeaks bounce off the walls and seem to fill up the room.
It's better than the overwhelming silence. It's better than sitting across from a dying patient who has lost their voice entirely from shock. Where only my light tones fill the room as I futilely attempt to make everything seem alright.
It is a form of lying that is an art. It demands finesse.
This particular patient is different though. About the silence, I mean.
She grabs my arm and shrieks in my face, eyes narrowed, "Why would you lie 'bout this, Dr. Wilson? I know that I can not be dying! You see this body? This body is healthy and capable and has attracted many a lovely boy. This body is not ready to die. So, Dr. Wilson, this is the deal - you find a different disease for me to have, alright? Preferably a nonfatal one."
I blink my eyes and grit my teeth against her long, sharp nails digging into my forearm. "I'm sorry, Mrs… (holy shit, how did I forget her name?) um, well, sorry. It just doesn't work that way. Now this is what I think we should do…"
Yadayadayada… chemo… blahblahblah… farely advanced… dippitydoodaday.
Death is a major part of my life, I think.
It has become boring.
My speech is robotic yet still warmly caring, and my faraway mind barely registers when a scruffy, insidious man enters my office without knocking. I shift my eyes towards him for only a second, not recognizing him until my patient (Mrs something or something… her first name started with a J, I think) has fully accepted the fact that her body has started revolting against her and that only destruction is in order. That our army of meds may not be able to take out the insurgents.
I put it in nicer, more medically relevant terms, of course.
House limps over to my side of the desk, leaning against the wall next to me. What's-her-name (damn, this is bothering me – I spend too much time around House and his 'philosophy' of dealing with patients) stares at him with wide eyes, sizing him up for some reason. She's probably feeling the need to protect herself from everything, to overcompensate for the helplessness the cancer has brought.
She –Julia Simmons – is becoming more real to me the more I stare into those wide, cerulean eyes. Filled with fear. So much fear.
I'm all for bonding with patients – as long as the bonding only skims the very surface of any real feeling I have. I don't like when I feel.
She purses her lips, the fear being shadowed by irritation. "And who is this? Dr. Wilson, why is this man in here? Is he another cancer doctor, because I don't like the looks of him, no I do not."
I hold up a hand (futile attempt at preventing the incessant chatter) and say calmly, "This is a colleague, Dr. House. He will not be working on your case, don't worry. He's only… observing."
She stands and puts her hands on her bony hips, "What exactly is he observing? 'Cause right now he only seems to be observing you."
My eyes grow wide and I can feel my face warm. Out of the side of my eye I can see House's smirk. I remind myself to never let him near one of my patients ever again.
The woman gives us this stare for a while longer, and I can see unnecessary anger in it. She goes through the stages quickly, I think. Denial came and went in only a few minutes. Anger, on the other hand, is obstinately sticking around.
She concedes. "Well, fine, then, Doctors. If we're done here then I have things to do. I am dying, you know. I don't want to waste the precious time I have left on you two."
Her dress swishes and flows against her skinny body. Standing tall in front of me with fiery eyes and wild hair, hands on her hips and back straight, she seems so powerful. She seems like she could beat cancer down with those two small fists, with pure effort.
She'll be fine, I think.
The door slams behind her as she leaves, and the office is conspicuously silent. House will probably break it soon enough.
He raises an eyebrow. "Well, she was fun. Which fatal illness does she have?"
I stare at the door a little longer, wondering if she was a dream. I don't know why I even feel a connection with this completely random patient. Sometimes it is the strangest people who end up making the biggest impressions.
"Need a consult? Or do you just like barging in at the most inopportune times?"
It's funny – at some point in our friendship I actually meant things like that. I actually got annoyed at him when he barged in without knocking, etc. Now I just yell at him because…
Well, just because. For the fun of it. Because I know he needs someone to yell at him every once in awhile, because every once in awhile he actually listens. Usually not.
I find it strange that we are both side by side, him standing behind and to the right of me a little, while I'm still sitting in my desk chair, leaning back slightly. While we talk we face forward, gazing at the unoccupied chair in front of us. He says to the chair, "The latter. It's funny when your face gets that irritated look – it gets all scrunchy and red. Like a toddler who got his cookie taken away."
I glance at him. "Oh, yes, House – I'm the toddler. See how far that idea will get you, and you will find your cookies taken away."
He tilts his head. "Does that even make sense?"
I roll my eyes at him and grab a few random papers and a pen to make myself look busy. He snatches the pen out of my hand and grins, "See? That look you have on your face right now. It's hilarious. I should make a show all about the annoyed faces of Wilson. The ratings would be through the roof."
I imagine a show called House and then deduct that no one would ever believe it.
He moves from his leaned back position to a leaned over one. Over my shoulder to be exact. A bit too close for my taste, as his breath hits my ear and I can practically feel his stubble against my cheek. He glances over the papers on my desk. "So this is the urgent paperwork you're always complaining about? I wish I had so cushy a job."
He seems to be sucking up all the air in the room. He has that affect on people.
I find that when I turn to look at him our mouths are way too close, so I return my gaze to my busywork. A People magazine lies innocently on my desk, boldly claiming Christian Bale as the hottest man of the year and informing me on how to have the best sex of my life.
I try to remember why it's in here.
The pages crinkle as House grabs and carries it with him over to the couch. "I believe this is mine. How juvenile – stealing my things."
House is like a puzzle himself, ironically. Or an irritatingly complicated game. Like how once you reach level 10 you get hit by a laser blaster out of nowhere and find yourself back at level 1, shooting bunnies in a clover field. He looks so deceivingly relaxed right now, reclining on my couch, ankles crossed, flipping through the pages carelessly while his eyes scan at a rapid pace.
But I also see the veil over his eyes, how his limp is a bit more pronounced, how everything he says has a certain lilt to it – like he's trying too hard.
He knows I'm analyzing him, just like I know when he's analyzing me, and he flashes me a grin. "See something you like? Feel free to jump my bones - I remember how enthusiastic you were those other two nights."
His gaze is so… well, frightening, for one. Also, he seems to be undressing me with his eyes. This is a very strange look coming from one of my long time friends who has never expressed interest in me or even in my gender before the last couple weeks.
It has been years since House has caused me to blush, but recently I find my face constantly on fire. I sigh and rest my hands lightly on my desk, balancing my body perfectly. "Are… are you trying to mess with me. Is this fun for you? I mean… I know you get a sadistic satisfaction out of making people uncomfortable… but what is it about this particular issue that makes you hold on to it so damn tight you will probably cause me to have a mental breakdown!"
I gasp a little at the end of that, having forgotten to breathe for awhile.
He looks surprised. I get a sadistic satisfaction out of seeing him shocked.
God, that stupid grin comes back, though. I can never really get to him, can I? I can never win. Never get the upper hand.
He says, "And that response was only to a mild innuendo – think of what interesting outburst you would have if I pulled you down and kissed you right here in your conveniently concealed office?"
I remind myself to check with Chase and Cameron to see if House has been sexually assaulting them as well. Maybe Foreman too…
This is very strange behavior. Even for him.
"House, don't you have… hookers… or something… to relieve you of things. Why do you insist on stalking me?" I ask, exasperated.
He shrugs. "It's fun."
He has this strange look in his eyes though, revealing that there is more to his torment than he says. I give him a questioning look and wait patiently for him to say what he came here to say.
The thing is: patience is limited.
"I know how you get your kicks by staring me down with those eyes – but if you have something to say, say it, so I can actually get back to doing something productive." I admonish, desperate to end yet another one of our twisted staring contests.
My eyes travel to my desk and his towards the ceiling. His voice is contemplative, light. He wants to avoid a conversation and get things out in the open all at once.
He wants to investigate me and how I feel without losing the upper hand, without being vulnerable.
But, why oh why, am I the one who has to be vulnerable? I want to be in control for once. The only times I ever seem to have control over our relationship is when I'm sneaking around behind his back, deceiving him in one way or another. And yes, somehow this seems to happen fairly often.
He gets control by being up front, by being confident and aggressive. He digs into people's psyches with no mercy, constantly hitting at the one thing that he knows you will react to.
It takes all my cunning to get something on him. For him he only has to say a few words and suddenly he is in control of all the world, of all of you and all of your emotions.
It is a constant power struggle between us – another thing to add to the list of twisted things in our friendship.
But, this is why this thing going on between House and me has become an anomaly. He would never open himself up to be rejected like this. It is rare enough for him to open up at all, show any weakness, and it's insane to believe he'd let himself be vulnerable to such a magnitude as this.
And now he sits on my couch and stares at my ceiling, not saying a word. Silence is more telling then all the words he could come up with. It's probably easier to get a read on him when he doesn't say anything at all. When we actually converse we tend to go round in circles, speaking in metaphor and undertones, never meaning what we say. It takes a lot of practice to be able to really keep up in a conversation with House.
But, well, I'm aching for normality. For the headache-inducing conversations.
He is being obstinate in playing his own games.
I shuffle a few papers around, trying to look unaffected. I shoot him a quick glance. "If you don't say something then I am going to start torturing you with the thing I know you hate the most: small talk."
He doesn't react, still staring at the somehow-fascinating ceiling.
I shrug my shoulders and give him a look that reminds him he asked for it. "Oh, Greggers, isn't it a wonderful day outside? Just look at those clouds! Brilliant! Speaking of which, isn't it funny how stocks seem to fluctuate with the temperature?"
I pause and, as I knew, he finally looked at me. "Who the hell says that the stock market fluctuates with the temperature?"
I raise my eyebrows, trying not to grin now that I have his attention. "People, House. People."
I can see him studying my face and I almost wish those eyes would go back to intensely glaring at the ceiling. But now that I have his attention I should probably say something profound and important and all that stuff.
"Are you in love with me?" I ask, my gaze not leaving his.
Ok, shit. I wasn't expecting that to come out of my mouth.
He pauses, almost completely masking his shock at the question. His blue eyes never leave mine as he says simply, "No."
God has a very strange sense of humor, I know, and somehow chooses this moment for a bird to fly into the window.
Yes, a bird flies into the window.
This of course causes me to jump out of my seat, spilling the coffee that everyone always seems to have near them whenever they suddenly jump out of their seats. I watch dejectedly as hot liquid gets absorbed into the thick, expensive material of my two week-old pants fresh from the dry cleaners. I cringe at the feeling of wet cloth.
"Well, that seems like an overreaction." House says, not moving a muscle through the whole conversation, the kamikaze bird, and the coffee's attack on my outfit.
I futilely try to brush off the soaked-in stain. I eye House. "You don't happen to have a spare pair of pants do you?"
"No such luck, but I will be escorting you back to your hotel to find a new pair of pants, and so meanwhile I can mock you relentlessly for asking me that question." He responds matter of factly.
Of course he will. Because, in his mind, emotions are bad and any sort of emoting of emotions, is, of course, very bad. And what tops his list of Things That Are Bad is asking a weak, sappy question like 'Are you in love with me?,' especially to House, by House, about House, or near House.
Knowing all this, you would think that I would have refrained in asking the question in the first place. But, of course not. My damn brain and mouth are still feuding. I predict many more foot-in-mouth experiences.
I should run far, far away from House then.
But, of course I don't. Of course, I walk right next to him, our feet falling in-sync, all the way to my car. And I drive with him back to my hotel room in silence, despite his promise to make me miserable. And I let him follow me up to my hotel room, even though I remember quite well what had happened there not too long ago at all.
A/N: Hm, more unfinished then a cliffhanger but this chapter has been stalking me for awhile and I had to placate it by updating. There is more to come… at somepoint. I am still annoyingly bad at updating, it seems. Will try to be better, though. Please review!