Disclaimer: I am not David Shore, therefore I do not own any of the characters from House MD. Do not sue me.
A/N: This is what happens when you combine hours of House episodes on DVD, lots of fanfiction and studying for you finals: you start seeing your sociology notes as story prompts.
Status: social position that an individual occupies involving certain rights, privileges and obligations.
"They're making me a department head."
House didn't look up from the toy he was playing with: a wooden paddle with a ball connected to it by a string. When he spoke he had to raise his voice over the constant thwack of the plastic meeting wood. "Well, congratulations. I imagine you'll get a better parking space now."
Wilson sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "House. I tell you that they are making me the Head of Oncology when Peterson retires and that is all you can say? I get a better parking space?"
"What do you want me to say?" His voice held that bitter disinterested tone he'd acquired since the infarction two and a half years ago, and he still hadn't looked away from the toy.
Thwack thwack thwack thwack.
"Oh, I don't know," he snapped, "maybe some advice. Or perhaps your opinion on whether or not I should take the job."
House's hand stilled and he finally turned to look at Wilson. "Well, of course you should take the job. Why the hell wouldn't you?" The lines in his forehead became more pronounced as he furrowed his brow in an incredulous expression.
Wilson sighed again and slumped deeper into the chair. "It's just… a lot of responsibility. Responsibility I'm not sure I can even handle right now, let alone want."
House snorted and went back to playing with the toy. "It's not that much responsibility. Trust me, I know: I am a department head."
Thwack thwack thwack…
"You're department handles one patient a week. At most. And you have only two, soon to be one, doctors on your staff."
"And some doctors they are, too." House sneered as he threw a glance to the door leading to the conference room, where his two fellows were currently sitting around doing nothing. Jeffers and Morrison were the two most recent in a long line of doctors who sought a fellowship with the famous Dr. House and found they were just not cut out to deal with him. Most were there only for a few months before they sought another fellowship somewhere else. Jeffers, Wilson knew, had been offered a job in West Virginia and practically leapt at the chance to get away from House. He was leaving within the week.
Thwack thwack thwack thwack.
"Anyway," House said, (Wilson threw the toy in his hands an irritated glance. The noise was really starting to get annoying.) "you should be able to handle being a department head. You are after all," and here his voice and expression took on an exaggerated sense of awe, "Dr. James Wilson, super hero oncologist, who breezed through medical school like it was a high school biology course, and still had time to break the hearts of hundreds of Mrs. Wilson wannabes."
Wilson rolled his eyes but couldn't help the grin that made its way onto his face. "You're confidence in me is heart warming."
House made a face. "Good. Now stop whining and take the damn job already. The only thing you'll have to worry about is all the women who will be dying for their turn as Mrs. Wilson once they hear you are even more eligible than before. Of course, they are going to have to fight their way through the crowd of the actually dying patients laying prostrate at your feet in gratitude." His look of disgust transformed to one of glee at the image.
"House," he said warningly, "that isn't funny." But he couldn't quite put enough severity in his tone. They sat in silence for a few minutes.
Thwack thwack thwack thwack.
Thwack thwack thwack…
Thwack thwack thwack thwack thwack.
"Where did you get that thing anyway?" Wilson finally asked, fed up with the constant sound.
"Children's ward. Saw some little kid playing with it outside the playroom."
Wilson gaped. "You mean to tell me you stole a toy from a sick child?"
"Of course I didn't steal it from him. That would be a horrible thing to do!" Wilson didn't buy that wounded look for second. "I traded him for it."
A feeling of dread was building in Wilson's stomach. "Traded it for what?"
The smile on House's face was all Wilson needed to know.
He groaned and stood up, snatching the paddle from House's hand and heading for the door.
"Hey!" House hollered after him. "That's mine! I traded for it fair and square!"
Wilson ignored him, closing the glass door firmly behind him as he practically ran for the elevators in an attempt to get to the children's ward in time to undo whatever potentially dangerous situation was created by House's sick and twisted sense of humor.
Ascribed status: from birth.
House entered Wilson's office just as he was packing up. He didn't say anything at first, just slammed the door shut because he knew it annoyed Wilson and then threw himself down on Wilson's couch, tapping his cane against his left leg as he watched Wilson pack his briefcase.
None of this was unusual for House so Wilson just ignored him and continued sorting through files.
"Leaving early to prepare for Yom Kippur?" House asked suddenly.
Wilson looked up in surprise. "Yes. How did you know?"
"It's not often you leave work so early in the afternoon, and you didn't eat lunch so I assume you are going to eat later, say, perhaps a huge meal in preparation for an entire day of fasting. And," House pointed his cane at him, "I have it on good authority that you went to the synagogue nine days ago and since you only go twice a year I figured that day had to be Rosh Hashanah."
Wilson gave a fake grimace and snapped his finger. "Darn. And here I was trying to hide my observation of the High Holy Days." He shook his fist at the ceiling. "Foiled again!"
House smirked and started twirling this cane. "What I don't get is why you observe them at all. You aren't what I would call devout: you celebrate Christmas instead of Chanukah, you haven't gone home to your parents during Passover in three years, and you usually spend the Sabbath sprawled on my couch stuffing your face with either pizza or Chinese food." His blue eyes peered intently at Wilson over the spinning cane. "So why bother with these?"
Wilson sighed and sat down. "Because…I just do. Because these are more important. Because I was born Jewish and was raised to. Because I've always done so and its part of who I am." He gave a dismissive wave. "Take your pick."
House didn't say anything for a moment. He just lay there, right leg stretched carefully out on the cushions, hand absently mindedly twirling his cane, blue eyes focused on the ceiling. Wilson was about to ask what House was thinking of, but then House spoke.
"So, on Yom Kippur you are supposed to refrain from having sex, right? What does your wife think about that?" He shifted his gaze from the ceiling to Wilson, blue eyes smirking. "Or more importantly, what does the woman you are cheating on your wife with think about that?"
Wilson closed his eyes and shook his head. "House, you must have been born an ass."
House grinned at him. "Yup, and that means its not my fault. Genetics and all that."
Achieved status: from ability or choice.
It had been a bad night.
Wilson had driven House home after physical therapy, helping him maneuver through the apartment and change into a fresh pair of sweatpants and T-shirt despite the continuous flow of cuss words and insults and even a few swipes with a crutch aimed at him. As soon as he was done House had collapsed on the bed, swallowing a handful of pills before immediately succumbing to a restless sleep.
Wilson, as he worriedly looked over his friend, pulled out his cell phone to call Bonnie and tell her that he was staying at House's that night, as he had almost every night for the past few months. He only wished that House had another bed. The couch really wasn't comfortable.
He was woken up by a muffled scream coming from the bedroom.
He ran into the bedroom to see House curled up on the bed, both hands wrapped around his thigh, face screwed into an expression of agony. The covers had been thrown off the bed and his shirt was soaked with sweat, muffled groans and whimpers were escaping from his mouth, broken only by sudden, gasping breaths.
"House?" Wilson whispered.
He didn't respond, just grasped his leg tighter and gave a low, shuddering moan. Wilson carefully climbed onto the bed so he could get behind House without disturbing his leg. He leaned in and placed on hand on his sweat drenched back, rubbing back and forth in a attempt to sooth his friend. "Can I do anything to help?"
House grit his teeth and shook his head, letting loose another moan as his leg spasmed again. Wilson didn't say anything else, just held onto House as the pain wreaked havoc on his body. Suddenly House pitched forward, gripping the sides of the bed with his hands as his stomach emptied itself onto the floor. This happened sometimes, when the pain got so bad that even Hous'es stomach revolted. Wilson held House's shaking shoulders as he gasped for breath.
"Do you want me to get you some water?" He murmured.
House shook his head again. "Pills," he gasped, his voice hoarse and ragged.
Wilson hesitated. "House, you've already had too many. Anymore and--"
"Get me my goddamned pills."
Wilson sighed and reached for the pills on the bedside table, unscrewing the cap and handing the bottle to House. He looked away as House poured some into his hand. He didn't want to see how many he was taking.
House handed the bottle back to Wilson and he put the cap back on, placing the bottle back on the table without a word.
After a while the pain had died down enough for House to speak. "Why?" he growled, blue eyes sharp and angry as he looked at Wilson over his shoulder. "Why the hell do you stay?" He looked away and glared at the wall. "Even Stacy couldn't take this. What makes you think you can?"
"Deep down, I must be a masochist." He joked.
House didn't smile.
"You need to leave," he barked, shaking off Wilson's hands, which hadn't stopped rubbing his shoulders. "Just leave me alone. I don't want you here."
Wilson tried to hide his hurt at the comment as he sat up and frowned at House. "I'm not going to let you kill yourself, so forget about it."
House glared at him again. "Why? You should let me. I'm doing nothing but ruining your life. You don't go into work, you don't see any friends, your marriage is falling apart because you spend all of you time here--"
"Bonnie understands." It wasn't true. They had gotten into more than one fight over the amount of time he spent with House. They would have gotten into a fight this night over the phone, if it hadn't reached the point where she just didn't care. But Wilson wouldn't let House know that.
House snorted derisively but didn't say anything else. After a while the Vicodin dulled most of the pain and House was able to fall back asleep. Wilson got out of the bed, covered House with the blanket again and went to the kitchen to get the carpet cleaner so he could rid the room of the smell of vomit.
He didn't want to be here. He didn't want to see his friend go through pain like this, watch it twist him into something angry and bitter, didn't want to be his sole caretaker and protector. But he chose to, so Wilson was going to see it through. And somehow, he would make sure House pulled through this.
Nobody else was going to.
Presentation of Self: efforts, both conscious and unconscious, to create specific impressions on others.
House called it his "transformation."
After being locked away with House in one of their offices--
blinds pulled shut to block out sunlight and curious eyes, mouth hot on his, the scrape of stubble against his jaw, hot puffs of breath mingling between them
--or an exam room--
sound of breathy moans mingling with the crinkling of the paper on the exam table as he leans back, fingers tangled in graying hair as a wet mouth follows the path of smooth fingers downward
--a storage closet--
a muffled groan when a hand cups him through his jeans, teeth biting at his neck, bruising, tearing, marking, hands grasping at slim hips to pull them closer, flush up against him as he rocks back and forth, head flung back and banging against the shelves, office supplies falling and scattering at his feet
--or even a bathroom stall--
the sound of a zipper and a low, guttural gasp in his ear as he slips his hand inside and circles it around him, hand pumping in a continuous rhythm, breath catching as the action is reciprocated, hand reaching back for balance and a startled gasp as the sound of the toilet flushing jerks them apart, wry smiles and low chuckles echo and bounce on the tiles
--Wilson would put himself back together again, straightening his clothes, running a hand through his hair or rewetting it and combing it back to its usual neat style. By the time Wilson is fixing his tie House says that he has made the transformation from "Jimmy," best friend of one Greg House to "Dr. Wilson," Boy Wonder Oncologist.
House, of course, barely does anything: cleans up, washes his hands. His hair is in its normal form of disarray, t-shirt and jacket wrinkly as usual. He doesn't have to worry about appearances, doesn't care.
Wilson almost envied him that.
Role: behavior expected of someone who holds a particular status.
He pushed her chair in for her and she smiled, teeth white against the soft rose color of her lipstick. Manicured nails toyed daintily with the straw of her drink as her eyes flicked up to meet his.
"So, you are doctor. What kind of doctor are you?"
He always hated that question. His specialty wasn't exactly fit for light, first date conversation, but he smiled bravely anyway and answered. "I'm the head of the Oncology department at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital."
Her eyes grew wide and her lip turned into a slight frown. "Oh, oncology. That must be hard for you."
Wilson nodded. "It can be, at times. But at other times it can be…inspiring." He smiled at her confused look. "Inspiring to see these people not only deal with their illness, but live more because of it. Some people change their whole life around, do things they wouldn't have done otherwise, say things to people they never would have said, spend less time focusing on work and money, and more time with friends and family. And the kids," he added wistfully, "they are amazing. They never lose hope, it always makes you happy and sad at the same time when you are around them, and makes you want to be a better person."
Her smile was back. "Wow. I never thought of it that way. Your patients must be very lucky to have you."
Wilson smiled a little guiltily, mind going to what House would say about that comment, and took a sip of his drink.
"So," he said in an attempt to change the subject, "what is it that you do, Julie?"
The Thomas Theorem: situations that are defined as real become real in their consequences.
Wilson turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open. It jerked to a stop after just a few inches. Surprised, he looked up and was shocked to see the presence of a shiny, gold chain, stopping the door from opening anymore.
Oh, he wasn't surprised at the presence of the chain: many times had Wilson tried to convince House that using the chain was a good idea, that it was a safety precaution and House could use a little more safety precautions in his life. And time and time again House had replied that if he used the chain then he'd actually have to get up to answer the door when Wilson came over, even though he had a key. And so the little chain was never used.
"House! House, let me in!" He called through the crack.
He glanced back at the street. He knew House was home, he'd seen the car.
"House?" He called again. Maybe he was asleep?
He was about to close the door when he heard the distinct sound of a piano. It was just a few notes repeated over and over again to create a tune that was soft and sad and sweet, but Wilson didn't recognize it.
"House! Come on, open the door!" He banged on the door. "House!"
The piano continued.
Wilson sighed and leaned against the door frame. "House, the wedding is in three months, and I would really like it if you would be my best man." Still no answer, just the same four notes, over and over. "I know you've already done this twice and you hate wearing a tux, but there's no one…no one else I would rather stand up with me." Nothing. Wilson sighed again. "Please, House."
The notes stopped and Wilson held his breath, waiting for the familiar thump of the cane that meant House was walking toward the door. Finally, he heard the thump, but it was fading away, as if House was walking deeper into the apartment and further away from the door, from Wilson.
Wilson let loose his breath and slowly closed the door. Leaning his forehead against the wood he tried to deal with the fact that this time, he'd been the one to screw up.
Role Strain: tension among roles connected to a single status.
"You're his friend! You should do something!" Cuddy was leaning across her desk, palms flat on the surface, elbows locked.
"What do you want me to do? I've tried talking to him several times and thats never worked." Wilson dragged a hand through his hair as he paced back and forth. "He's adamant that its not a problem, he won't even listen to me about it."
"Then do something other than talk to him, do something without him knowing, I don't care, but he has got to get control of himself."
Wilson stopped pacing and sighed, hand reaching up to rub his neck. "I don't want to manipulate him anymore, Cuddy. We've tried that several times and it never worked: he admits he's addicted, but it's not a problem. What more can I do?"
"I don't know, Wilson. But you need to figure it out." Her eyes were sad as she gazed at him, but her expression was hard, unmoving.
He sighed again. "Fine. I'll think of something."
Automatic Behavior: acting in accordance with previous behaviors.
He hadn't even realized what he was saying until it was too late, until the words were already spoken and hanging over the dinner table. He immediately apologized, but Julie's eyes remained hurt, and beneath that, angry.
It was just a small comment, sarcastic and more than a little mean, but quite tame compared to what passed between him and House everyday. But Julie wasn't House, and he wasn't Jimmy, or even Wilson here. Here he was James, gentle and loving husband.
And here James didn't make mean and sarcastic comments and got away with it.
Status set: all the statuses held a given time.
"I'm tired. I'm tired of being Mr. Perfect Doctor at work and Mr. Perfect Husband at home. I'm tired of being House's partner in crime while at the same time trying to keep a moral high ground and still be the master manipulator that Cuddy tries to make me be. Julie wants me to be home more often than I can be, chat with her mindless friends about inconsequential things when I have patients and paper work to deal with and House… well I don't know what House wants from me. One minute he lets me in a little, and the next he pushes me away, replacing friendship with alcohol and vicodin. And all the while I have to remain steadfast and cheerful as I explain to more and more patients that they're dying. I don't know if I can hold this up much more."
The psychiatrist nodded as he spoke and every now and then made a few notes on the pad of paper in her lap. It wasn't the first time he'd sought counseling, but it never got easier, talking to a complete stranger about personal things. The only way he managed to do it with any kind of honesty was the constant reminder that if he didn't talk, he wouldn't get the help he wanted, needed. And that reminded him too much of House.
The psychiatrist leaned forward in her chair, pen tapping lightly on her hand, eyes peering seriously at his. "James, have you thought about yourself? What is it that you want to be?"
Wilson was quiet for a while.
"I don't know."
Role Conflict: conflict among roles corresponding to two or more statuses.
Julies eyes were flat and hard, her mouth was a thin pink line and her fists were clenched tightly together.
"You mean to tell me, James, that instead of coming to the dinner I planned with our friends, you spent the night eating leftover Chinese and watching recorded episodes of soap operas with Greg House?"
Wilson shrugged sheepishly. "Uh… yeah."
Julie's eyes narrowed.
The screaming went on for a while, but Wilson was used to it. Actually, he preferred it. Preferred it to the cold silence that usually filled the house, the notes and short, abrupt phone messages that took place of actual conversation, the practiced and perfected soft looks and little touches when in public that took the place of actual intimacy. He almost liked seeing her like this: passionate, alive and still caring, still fighting.
But when the screaming was over that night she did something she'd never done before. She walked up real close and said in a low voice, "You have to choose, James Wilson. You can either be my husband, or you can be his friend. You can't be both."
He hadn't said anything, and after a minute she walked away and never brought up the subject again.
He didn't need her to. Just like he didn't need the divorce papers, or the phone calls to the lawyers and or even Julie's affair to understand the message she sent to him. He understood it when she stopped screaming, stopped fighting.
He'd made his choice.
Ethnomethodology: a method of study that highlights awareness of many unnoticed patterns of everyday life.
Wilson never realized how much he depended on House's little distractions to keep him sane, never realized how much he actually liked being dragged by House to the clinic for a bull shit consult, or how much he looked forward to the times when House would come barging into his office to complain, or muse aloud, or repeat a bit of gossip he'd just heard at the nurse's station.
How much he loved it when House made fun of his ties.
Or his shoes.
Or his even hair.
How though before the infarction Wilson always liked to take the stairs to make sure he stayed fit, he didn't resent taking the elevator now. In fact, he didn't even think to do otherwise.
And though he would often roll his eyes and complain, he didn't mind it when House delved into this personal life. It gave him a kind of pleasure in fact, to know that his life was interesting enough to a man who could solve medical mysteries most doctors wouldn't even want to look at, let alone solve in the amount of time House did.
He didn't even mind paying for Houses lunch.
Well, not all the time.
Every now and then, House would get caught up in some new mystery, or have an exceptionally difficult case, or develop some type of emotional funk that would 'cause him to lock himself away from other people for days.
During those times, when those little distractions and bits of conversation were missing, and when all day was nothing but patient files and clinic hours and chemo treatments and department responsibilities and pale faces with scared expressions and dark rimmed eyes and weepy parents with no relief, Wilson would seek House out.
It was a bit of a shock, to realize that House didn't just need him.
He needed House.
Master Status: primary identifying characteristic of an individual. Whether ascribed or achieved, it overshadows all other social positions of the status set.
Wilson was surprised when the knock on his door was followed by Thirteen opening the door and walking in without waiting for an answer. She immediately started pacing back and forth in front of his desk.
Normally, Thirteen (what was her real name, anyway? Wilson couldn't remember if he'd ever been told) was unshakable, cold. Nothing House did or said phased her and unlike the others, never had she come crying to him.
House must have really pissed her off.
He sighed and put his paper work down. "What did he do?"
She spun on her heel to glare at him. "He drugged me!"
He pinched the bridge of his nose and reminded himself to remain calm. "With what?"
She started pacing again: three steps one direction, heel spin, three steps in the opposite direction. "Caffeine," she spat out on her third time back and forth.
Wilson blinked. "Well…" he started. "It could have been worse."
She stopped to glare at him again. "How, exactly could it have been worse?"
"Oh, trust me," he chuckled, "it could have definitely been worse."
He saw the realization slowly form in her eyes and knew it would be coming soon. The Question.
"Why do you put up with it? All the shit he puts you through, the insults, the pranks, the money he borrows, the lack of respect he gives you. Why? I heard that he even got you fired once, and that because of him all your accounts were frozen, your car towed." She placed her hands on the desk and leaned forward. "Why do you deal with it?"
Wilson leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. It was always the same question asked: by Cameron, Chase, Foreman, patients, Cuddy, his ex-wives, even Vogler asked it when he delivered the news that he had been voted off the board, Tritter asked when he had dared stand up for House, drug addicted though he was. He always answered, and the answer was always the same, though it left those who asked unsatisfied and doubtful.
"He's my friend."
It was the only answer he had to give.