TWICE THE MAN
Summary: Wilson/House centric. Paranormal-ish. Episodic, sort of. Implied character death. Wilson suspects there is something very wrong with House.
Pairing: House/Wilson Bromance.
Rating: General. Some
Disclaimer: Gregory House is not mine, dammit!
Time goes, you say? No. Time stays, we go.
House swung his chair around one hundred, eight degrees and saw -
At that moment Wilson appeared in the entryway to Houses' office and swung the door open, displaying in his shifting feet all the uncertainty of whether or not he should come all the way in or leave half of himself lurking in the hallway.
"How'd you do that?" House asked.
"I pushed and the door opened. It was really quite startling."
"Wow. That could have been funny somehow."
Wilson finally decided, with uncertain tippy-toe steps, to bring his self into the room. He stood before Houses' cluttered desk and stared down at him.
House bristled at the silent scrutiny and checked out the top of his work space, wondering if a big black spider had crawled up and was busy spinning a nest in his pencil holder. "What are you looking at?"
His own desk struck such a contrary chord compared to Wilsons' own retentive, neat as the proverbial pin work-space, the two could hardly have been more different. Kind of like he and Wilson. "You're not here to clean, are you?" At Wilsons' puzzled look, "'Cause I've made my messy little bed and I like it this way."
Wilson ignored that and sat down, being careful not to rest an elbow on the clutter of pencils and papers. Doing nothing, in fact, to disturb Houses' untidy domain. "I've got a case for you." He said.
House turned back to killing enemy mutants and spoke without looking back at his best friend. "If it's someone riddled with tumors, the oncologist department is around the corner. I hear he's maladjusted and not a particularly good specialist, but those big brown eyes - watch out!"
Without missing a heart-beat. "Exactly. He was the top in his class in sexy brown eyes. This patient, though, does not have cancer and I need your help. As a favor? You know? Friends do occasionally do those things for each other. For instance, the sexy eyed doctor buys you lunch almost every day."
House turned reluctantly from his video game. "Fine, fine," He reached with an impatient hand, "give me the file."
Wilson spread his hands. "I don't actually have a file."
"Does this "patient" perhaps have the Clap?" House spun his chair back to the mutants frozen on the screen. One was goring another with a machete in a bright spray of blood. "Doxycycline twice a day for a week and your," House pointedly glanced at Wilsons' crotch area, "little "patient" will clear right up."
"It's not me, House. Can we just use the whiteboard please?"
"You must be running low on bald kids." House grabbed his cane. "And so you're going to make me walk."
Wilson rolled his eyes and followed House into the conference room. "Yes, I know it is twenty feet away. Sorry for the terrible inconvenience."
Hooking his cane over the top of it, House stood in front of his whiteboard, black marker in hand. "Symptoms?"
Wilson recited while House wrote: "Weakness in the left arm, tingling in the feet, dizziness and upset stomach."
House stared back at him. "That's it?"
Wilson looked sheepish. "So far."
"House, this is important. I'm doing this as a favor and it really has to remain between me and you - and him of course. This guy has always been perfectly healthy. The symptoms presented suddenly - he wants to know if there's any reason to worry. And before you suggest it, it's not the flu', diabetes, psychosomatic, lymphoma or any type of cancer."
House took him seriously for a moment. "Okay. Weakness in the left arm suggests heart. Tingling in the feet, dizziness and upset stomach confirm."
"It's not his heart."
"-Yes. Heart and lungs are healthy. Circulation's normal and no arterial plaque."
"Hmm. Then there's a neurological component."
"Symptomatic of what?"
House said with exaggerated irritation, "You want me to guess? If I knew what it was, I'd have written that down too."
Wilson crossed his arms, hugging his tightly wound presence. "Can you please surmise what it might be then?"
Wilson stared at House for a moment. Obviously the thought had not occurred to him. "You really think that's all it might be?"
"What's so surprising? If he's a high pressure exec', and I'm assuming he is, in the absence of any other symptoms, it's the most likely diagnosis."
Wilson nodded. "Okay. Well, that's good." He stood straighter. "Are you sure?"
Houses' forehead wrinkled, sniffing a mystery and hidden clues. "Who is having these symptoms? Do I know this mysterious stranger? Does she have lovely boobs?"
Wilson nodded. "No, he doesn't and I already said I can't say. He was upset so I'm doing him this favor. End of story. Are you fishing for a check?"
"About the symptoms?"
"He was upset about the symptoms or just upset?"
"Yes to both." Wilson turned to go with a satisfied sigh. "Thanks House. I appreciate it."
"It was hardly a mystery. But your mystery friend is a mystery. I thought I was your only friend?"
"No. You're my only friend who is a complete conundrum. You're not my only friend."
"I'm the only one who counts."
Wilson did not dispute it.
"You're not going to tell me, are you?" House narrowed his eyes. "You smell like a lie and that means I'll have to find out what you're lying about. You can't stop the tide under a full moon or me when you're being frustratingly and, by the way, unconvincingly inscrutable."
Wilson sighed on his way out. "I know. I love you too House."
House called after his friend. "By the way, no more sneaking around. It's creepy."
Wilson turned back, shrugging one shoulder and ignoring the mild insult. "It may not have been a mystery to you but it was to me, so thanks. And that last thing you just said, whatever it meant - sure. Whatever you say."
House popped his head in Wilsons' office the following Monday. "I have a problem."
Wilson abandoned the magazine article he was reading. "Oh? What kind of problem?" He waved House to his visitors' chair. "And where were you all weekend?"
House sat and bit his lip. "Did you get your last pay check? And I was delving."
"Yes. Why? Didn't you get yours? And delving into what?"
"Of course. Deposited it already. Delving into your latest mystery."
"You got your pay? So why-?"
"-I just wanted to make sure you had money for lunch."
"You could have asked. And what mystery? - why my Dry-Cleaner keeps bleaching out my shorts until they disintegrate?"
"You could have lied. No. And they do that because it's cheaper for them if they don't have to separate the whites into a bleach and non-bleach wash."
"I don't lie to you, House, I just don't always tell you everything. Unlike some people I know who not only lie to me but never listen to a word I say. I'm changing Dry-Cleaners."
House tapped his cane on the carpet. "I listen to everything you tell me, Wilson, and I answer too. I just rarely do everything you tell me. Or care."
Wilson slipped on his doctors' jacket. "Or ever, actually. And so you keep saying but I don't believe you."
"You've become so cynical since you figured out you still love me." House stood. "If I wasn't such an uncaring jerk, I'd be worried. So - lunch?"
At the door, House turned back, making Wilson nearly run into him. "By the way, how's your friend?"
Wilsons' eyes shifted around a little. "Friend?" Wilson glared at House to leave no doubt to whom he next referred. "Annoying as hell but that's part of his charm."
House narrowed his eyes. "Don't try to be clever, Wilson, you'll hurt yourself."
Wilson chuckled and followed House out into the hall. He hadn't forgotten the death of Houses' father only a few months before and Houses' concussion and cracked skull only weeks before that. House and he had not talked about either, or about Amber, since that time, but he was glad Houses' health appeared to have returned to something in the ball park of okay. Still, "Are you all right? You've been acting a little oddly."
But House was already several steps ahead of him down the hall and on his way to the elevator. When foods' sweet siren called, House answered with his whole stomach.
House answered his apartment door by yelling, recognizing the knock. "Use your key."
"Can't. Don't have it with me." Wilson said from his door-step.
"Well, why not?" House shouted back, pushing himself to his feet from his comfortable slump on the couch. He unlatched the dead-bolt and let Wilson pass into the room. He was still in his work clothes. "Don't you ever relax?"
Wilson walked into the room but declined Houses' offer to sit with a head shake. "Long day and some of us actually make a distinction between work and leisure."
"Which is why everyone but me is so uptight." House waved a hand to a chair. "Take a load off."
Wilson didn't sit. "Can't stay."
House eased his weight back into the soft couch cushions. "Something up?" He picked up the television remote and promptly dropped it.
"You were going to watch television while we talk?"
House rolled his eyes and left the remote where it lay. "This is going to be one of those talks? Can we save it for a less annoying day? I've got some time in Twenty-Seventeen I'm not going to be using plus I'm pretty sure I haven't almost killed a patient lately or stolen your credit card again, so there's nothing to talk about."
"Again? You've stolen it before?"
House pursed his lips for a second, then shook his head. "No. I was just testing your reflexes. What's up?"
Wilson rubbed hands over a tired looking face. His eyes were bloodshot and darted this way and that. "He's got a new symptom."
"Your mystery friend? I'm not convinced he's actually real, you know? I'm pretty sure you're just trying to screw with me."
Wilson shook his head. "That's preposterous." When House just stared back, "Okay, maybe not so preposterous. But you've screwed with me plenty of times so by all counts I ought to be screwing with you, only I'm not."
House cracked a beer. "Fine. I won't factor in your reputation for now. What's the new symptom?"
"He's dropping things."
"Neurological component, like I said. Genetic. Huntingtons, CP, MD, MS - there are a dozen more."
Wilson paced with carefully treading feet.
"I sense an imminent confession." House remarked.
"He doesn't know he's sick."
House stared at his friend. "Is this your brother maybe? This isn't your dad, is it?"
Wilson rubbed his face. Now he appeared glued to the hardwood as motionless as a wood carving. His jaw moved. "I can't say."
"You've observed these symptoms but he hasn't? So he didn't ask you to come to me?"
"No. And he has noticed that he's having problems but he's dismissing them as normal signs of aging, fatigue, stress, but I know it isn't any of those."
House drained his beer and sat forward. "If you want me to diagnose your friend, get him to come in."
"He won't. Even if I told him my suspicions, he wouldn't believe me at this point."
"Then what do you expect me to do?"
Wilson paced a little. "What if,...what if I brought you some samples? Blood, nerve tissue, brain-"
"Brain?" House was almost amused. "You're somehow going to get a sample of his brain without him noticing?"
"DNA then. Just leave it up to me. If I get the samples, will you test them? No one will happier than me if they prove negative on all counts."
House knew intimately his friends infinite range of emotions and the meaning behind the tiny nuances of his facial expressions and those expressions were not telling the whole story. "But you do think something's wrong."
Wilson nodded once. "Yes."
House sat back, lifting his tired leg onto the coffee table. "Okay."
"Okay? Really? You'll help me?"
"If I said okay, I mean okay."
"And you're not going to follow me around? Dig in my garbage? Hide a camera above my toilet or perhaps install listening devices under my mattress?"
House shook his head. "Nope."
"-Unless I find out you've been lying to me, then all of the above and much, much worse."
When he wanted to, Wilson had a charming smile. "Fair enough."
"You're using your patented smile." House observed. "Now that is suspicious but it still isn't going to get you in my pants."
"Darn." Wilson declined a beer and went home.
By the time House arrived at work one morning two days later, Wilson had already obtained the samples and left them on his desk. House read the labels: "W. Phrend." House muttered to the man not present. "Like no one's going to see through that, you idiot."
Wilson entered just as House was settling himself down with his first cup of coffee. Wilson walked to his desk and dropped a file. "Case for you. She doesn't have cancer and Chase has no idea what's wrong either."
House nodded and swept the file into the garbage can. "I got the samples."
Wilson said, "What samples are those?"
House winked. "Oh - right. Mums the word. I already have a case, idiot."
"Sorry." Wilson retrieved the file form the garbage can, tucking a few stray papers back into their manila home. "Weren't we supposed to have breakfast together this morning? We always do on Wednesday."
House sipped his coffee and leaned back in a quiet shell of contentment. "Until this case, yes."
Wilson turned. "Okay. Lunch then?"
House nodded, "Lunch."
Doctor Kutner entered Houses' office with his own coffee cup. "Going to the cafeteria. Want anything?"
"Already had it until Wilson interrupted. And I'll have it again after you leave - some peace and quiet."
Kutner, already used to his odd employers' abrupt and often rude demeanor, let the connecting door between office and conference room shut. House had been busy talking to someone only moments before.
"Kutner." House called after him.
He poked his head in the door again. "Yeah?"
"I didn't say I didn't want breakfast." House swung his leg to the floor and grabbed his cane, limping after Kutner to the elevator. Kutner had not actually wanted House eating with him but it was too late now to un-offer his offer.
Kutner watched House happily stick an over-easy egg on toast into his mouth. He chewed contentedly.
"I've got a case. When you're done here, get the other minions and run the labs."
"Who is he?"
"Who said it was a he?"
"Then who is she?"
"Who said it was a she?"
Kutner sighed, letting his characteristically cryptic boss tell him in his own way.
After finishing his toast, House finally did. "It's a he and his name is, we gotta keep this secret so let's say we call him Elvis Presley."
"Right." Kutner said. "No charts, no records. Is Elvis applying to NASA?"
"So we're going to be running tests on a patient not assigned to us? One you don't want Cuddy to find out about?" Kutner ventured. With the big, bad wolfs' stomach full, now was as good a time as any to broach an unspoken and usually House-forbidden subject.
"He's assigned to me." House swallowed. "Therefore to you. Therefore to Cuddy."
"So you're going to eventually let her know but only by osmosis?"
"See? You're not a stupid as everyone insists you are."
Kutner knew Cuddy would have something to say about it like: why didn't they have guts enough to tell her House was off on one of his only-loosely-work-related mystery benders and wasting time and resources once again. "She won't like it."
"What she doesn't know won't hurt me and I'm your boss, not her."
Kutner knew it was useless to argue. After working almost a year for the man he knew that once House made up his mind on something, he almost never deviated.
When House answered Cuddys' call to come to her office, Kutner was already there. The fellowship looked sheepish but House couldn't damn him for having balls enough to defy him. "Sorry." Kutner muttered to him. "She can fire me faster than you can."
House scowled. "Wanna' bet?"
Cuddy snapped at Kutner, "Don't apologize to him." To House she said "Stop the tests on Elvis immediately."
"Don't be cru-u-el. I'll let him go back into hiding just as soon as I've diagnosed him. The tabloids will love me."
Cuddy didn't laugh. "Stop the tests or have your Lab, CT and MRI privileges revoked."
Wilson walked in like a savior on a steed and House threw an arm his way, addressing Cuddy. "Now you'll get it from Elvis' secret lovers' mouth." House nodded to Wilson. "Tell her."
Wilson paused in his footsteps, looking from House to Cuddy and back to House. "I really must stop walking into rooms containing you. Tell her what?"
House grimaced. "Oh, give it up already. She knows about the mystery patient, she's got her fist around my balls and they're about to pop. Tell her, Wilson."
Wilson could have won the Oscar for his performance of genuine confusion. House almost believed it. "I have no idea who or what you're talking about."
Cuddy evidently did believe him, because she dismissed him with a curt gesture then turned to House. "Trying to pass the buck onto Wilson is weak, even for you."
House tapped his cane on the floor. "He's just a 'fraidy cat."
Cuddy brooked no more argument, her tone absolute. "After the insanity you pulled last year, the Board was one vote shy of sending you for compulsory psychological evaluations. Guess whose vote that was? Stop the tests or I'll stop you myself with a one way ticket to the sixth floor."
Without another word, House spun on his heel and left her office. He caught up to Wilson who had not gone far from the clinic. "Hey." House stopped Wilson with a grab to his sleeve, ignoring the pale faced, rash covered patient Wilson was speaking to.
"What the hell?" House said, his voice steadily rising. "I put my ass out there for you and all you do is cop to ignorance?"
Wilson glanced around nervously at the people nearby who could hear every word House was making no attempt to keep quiet. "House," He stared at his friend with a mix of fear and habitual exasperation, "I'm doing my clinic hours." He leaned in and lowered his voice almost to a whisper. "And I don't know what you're talking about."
House relented. "Yeah, yeah, cloak and dagger, I get it. Just how sick is this friend of yours?"
Wilson shook his head. "We'll talk later about this, okay?"
House nodded, a bit angry and a bit frustrated with the secrecy Wilson kept insisting on. "Fine. But you owe me big time."
"Sure, House. Whatever."
Behind Houses' back, Kutner returned to Cuddys' office, wanting to broach another, even more sensitive subject.
"What else do you want?" She demanded, her patience allotment for the day already mostly used up.
Kutner swallowed. But this was important. This was also a little scary. "I think there's something wrong with House."
Cuddy dismissed that with a snort. "There's always something wrong with him - stand in line."
"No. This something is out-of-the-ordinary. I think he's losing his mind."
Just then Taub entered the room. "House just ordered up another battery of tests for his nameless, faceless patient X." In his hands Cuddy recognized, along with a lab print-out, was her memo that she had sent to Houses' fellowships and then to House. "Either he doesn't remember your instructions not to order more tests for patient No Name or he does remember but doesn't care."
Cuddy bit her lip. House had done lots of crazy things over the years and on her House Crazy Graph ignoring her directives was way down the page. There was one way she might be able to rein House in but still give herself opportunity to discover that, at least in this case, House was not crazy. She turned to Kutner. "I want you to find out who this mystery patient is, only don't let House know you're checking up on him."
Kutner appeared uncomfortable with the assignment.
"Think you can do that?" She asked.
"Uh, I'll try I guess."
"Try hard." Cuddy said then turned to Taub. "You help him." And back to Kutner, "You brought this to my attention, now you're going to help me work it. If House is going mad," Cuddy swallowed, hoping they didn't notice she was sweating, "I need to know as soon as possible." To better somehow save his sorry ass.
The two doctors left to see to her underhanded mission and Cuddy gave herself permission to breath again and release the tension she had been holding on to ever since the moment Kutner had entered her office.
Might House actually be nuts?
Cuddy spoke to herself and to her employee-friend not present. "House . . ." Knowing that talking to herself could be misconstrued as being not entirely sane, she finished silently, What in Gods' name is wrong with you now?
Part II ASAP