Summary: In the beginning, there was House. And this was good. But House was lonely, and so the Universe conspired to give House a companion.
Spoilers: Uh, only for 5.4 'Birthmarks', though this is set pre-series, so it may contain vague spoilers/allusions to things done or mentioned in the series. But specifically, it's based on Wilson's tale of how he and House met.
A/N: I just loved the idea of House & Wilson meeting, and what might have transpired. I don't know if it will live up to anyone's expectations; I'm not a House M.D. writer, so obviously this isn't canon, but... I took what clues they'd given me and ran with them. More notes at the bottom (if you care).
Unbeta'ed, though read over by someone allergic to grammatical and spelling mistakes. She gave me a few small pointers, laughed out loud once, and at the end pronounced, "Yay!" Let me know what you think.
It was a boring convention.
Sure, it was being held in New Orleans, but since it was nowhere near Mardis Gras, the location lost a lot of its appeal, at least to House. Of course, some of that might also be due to the fact that Cuddy had asked him not to get into too much trouble.
Now, normally that would be just the sort of request that he would see as a challenge, but several factors had swayed him toward temporary compliance. First of all, it hadn't been an order, but a request, which had been asked in a tone of voice that, on anyone other than Cuddy, would have been called 'begging.' She was frazzled as it was, which was due to reason number two – the new hospital administrator. New face meant new rules, which meant everyone was dotting their 'i's, crossing their 't's, and keeping their heads low so as to stay off the radar.
And while House normally wouldn't care, he'd only been head of Differential Diagnostics at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital for six months, and it was the third hospital he'd worked at in the last two years. More to the point, it was the only hospital in the tri-state area still willing to employ him, and that was thanks to Cuddy. The new administrator could still overrule her, or Cuddy could decide that his hijinks weren't worth it and fire him herself.
The truth was, he liked PPTH. He was the head of his own division, he got to pick and choose interesting cases, for the most part, and they provided puzzles for his ever-working brain to solve. He did have to work in the clinic, which was boring, but even then he got surprised by the number of people who came in with odd problems.
So, here he was in the hotel's bar, nursing a beer in a corner and trying to look antisocial; a look, he'd been told, he portrayed naturally. The last thing he wanted was someone wanting to discuss one of the day's lectures, trying to grasp the finer points and failing miserably. Or worse, trying to chat about their everyday lives, in which House had absolutely no interest.
He was using his antisocial drinking time to people-watch. They were all fairly boring, unwinding or flirting while they were free of their spouses. One guy, who seemed to be at least two sheets to the wind, plopped coins into the jukebox, punched in some numbers, and – yep, started playing Billy Joel's "Leave a Tender Moment Alone." For the third time.
House's attention was drawn to the bar as a young, well-groomed guy sighed irately, then stood up and headed over to Billy's number one fan. This wasn't the first time the guy had gone over to Billy's fan, but he was obviously upset that he had to go over again.
He'd seen the young guy earlier a few times between lectures, wandering around the convention hall. Always clutching a manila envelope. Every time House saw him, the envelope still hadn't been opened. Now, as he went over to Billy's Fan, he still had that envelope in his hand. House squinted, and was fairly sure it was still unopened.
House rose an eyebrow, intrigued. What could be in that envelope, that would make this guy unwilling to put it down, yet also unwilling to open it?
Well, if he wasn't allowed to get in trouble (and he would be talking to Cuddy about that when he got back to Princeton), he could at least assuage his curiosity. He glanced quickly at the bar – it was fairly empty, only a few older doctors working on ulcers at either end – and the young guy's shot glass in the middle. House grabbed his beer and checked to see where Young Guy was –– still speaking with a strained face to Billy's Fan, who looked like he couldn't care less what Young Guy was saying –– before sliding out of his seat and walking briskly over to the bar. He took a barstool two down to the right from Young Guy's and hoped he was too preoccupied with other things to notice his new drinking neighbor. House glanced over his shoulder just in time to see Young Guy turn back toward the bar, shaking his head slightly to himself.
House turned back and signalled the bartender for another beer. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Young Guy sat down with a weary sigh. His shoulders were hunched, like a turtle pulling its head into its shell, to protect itself from the world. To hide itself. He placed The Envelope on the bartop by his elbow, the way he moved making it look like it weighed ten pounds. When the bartender gave House his new beer, Young Guy nodded for another as well.
The room was starting to fill up some more now, people getting ready to party, knocking back a few drinks before going out on the town. House glanced around, wishing briefly he were doing the same thing. But, he still had a mystery to solve.
One man –– Jacobs, a cardiologist from Mercy General, and quite the party animal, as well as a renowned philanderer –– sat down on Young Guy's left, making him shift The Envelope to his right. Young Guy was glancing around the room over his left shoulder, so House felt safe craning his neck slightly to see what was printed on The Envelope.
James E. Wilson. The address was for Trenton, House was surprised to see. He looked at the name again and had to hold back a snicker. He didn't know which would be worse: if this guy were Jewish, or if he weren't.
He looked to the return address in the left corner, hoping for some clue why James E. Wilson refused to open it. Diamond Fairbairn, Attorneys at Law. Well, hell. House recognized the name – some of the nurses at Princeton General had been gossipping (like that was anything new), about a doctor's scandalous affair with a CNA half his age, and how his wife had found out when the idiot girl got pregnant and told her. The wife had hired a high-end divorce firm – Diamond Fairbairn.
So, young Jimmy was getting a divorce. No wonder he didn't want to open The Envelope. House sighed. So, now he knew, the guy's behavior was no longer a mystery – and he had nothing to do again.
He glanced in the mirror lining the back of the bar, and saw Billy's Fan sidling up to the jukebox, bouncing some coins in his hand. House rolled his eyes; he liked the song as well as the next guy (as long as the next guy wasn't young Jimmy, who understandably didn't wanna listen to that type of song at the moment), but five times in a row was a little excessive, even for House. It was either the guy and his girlfriend's 'official' song, or it was his anniversary and this was his wedding song, or something sappy like that.
Sure enough, in went the coins, punch in the numbers –– hello again, Billy. He watched in the mirror as Jimmy hunched lower for a second, his face clouding over and his ears turning red, his left hand flexing around his beer bottle before he sat straight up and turned toward the jukebox, where Billy's Fan was still standing. Then Jimmy yelled, "Would you stop playing that song!" The last word was punctuated by Jimmy picking up his beer bottle and throwing it – right into the ten foot long bar mirror.
There was a second of stunned silence – Jimmy looked more shocked than anyone at the outburst of violence – before a couple of guys a few seats to House's right whooped with glee and threw shotglasses at the mirror. To its credit, even though it was irreparably shattered, the glass didn't fall out of its setting.
House turned around on his stool and surveyed the room – several patrons were passingly drunk, and several more were severely drunk, and any excuse for violence got them going. Punches were soon being thrown, people were yelling – one woman picked up a chair and started threatening a guy with it, daring him to hit on her again.
By the time the cops showed up, ten minutes later, House had retreated to one of the chairs in the lobby, still nursing his beer. He watched as several patrons were led out, including young James E. Wilson. His ears were red again, but from embarrassment or shame this time, instead of anger.
"There's been a mistake," House heard him saying. "I'll pay for the mirror, but I never assaulted anyone!" He stressed 'assaulted' so much that his voice broke on the word. How old was this guy, anyway? He looked like Doogie Howser's slightly older brother, which begged two questions: How old had he been when he'd gotten married, and how long had he been married?
There were flashing squad car lights outside, but House noticed more lights now, cars pulling up to the front of the hotel. Curious, he stood up and made his way to a window. A news van had pulled up, and as he watched, a cameraman climbed out and started unloading equipment while a news anchor positioned himself strategically to get both the hotel exterior and a squad car in the camera shot.
House grinned. There was no way Cuddy would believe this wasn't his doing. He was gonna go call her right now.
House had made a few other calls that night, as well. So, at ten the next morning, he showed up at the 26th precinct. Ten minutes later, he was taken to a holding cell, where James E. Wilson sat on a cot, head in his hands. His hair was limp and showed tracks where he'd dragged his hands through it; his tie was hanging at half-mast, the top two buttons of his shirt were undone, and his sleeves had been rolled up to his elbows.
The policeman who had escorted House began unlocking the cell door. "Mr. Wilson."
Wilson looked up, his face a mixture of surprise and confusion. He spotted House, and his eyes flicked back and forth between him and the cop a couple times. He stood up uncertainly, wiping his hands down the front of his wrinkled trousers.
"You're free to go," the cop said brusquely, holding the cage door open. Wilson still looked confused, but only hesitated a short moment before moving toward the door. His gaze moved back to House, who had been watching him the entire time.
House tilted his chin toward Wilson and said, "Don't worry. I took care of everything."
Wilson only looked marginally reassured, but walked with House to the front desk, where he picked up his personal belongings. It wasn't until they were on the steps of the police station that Wilson stopped and turned to House, his hands moving to rest on his hips. He stared at House, still looking confused, but also determined. "Who are you?"
House gave him a curt smile and said, "Greg House. You can call me 'The guy who posted my bail before I became someone's girlfriend.'"
Wilson pressed his lips together, clearly nonplussed, letting his hands fall to his sides. Finally he responded, "I think I'll stick with House – easier to remember." He paused a moment, squinting at House thoughtfully. "House… Didn't you write a paper on the discovery of a new strain of virus—"
House hid a grimace and nodded. "The hantavirus, yeah. It wasn't actually a new strain, just one that had never been diagnosed by doctors before." No one was supposed to remember the authors of those types of articles, just the cool medical discoveries.
In an attempt to divert Wilson's attention, he dug a business card out of his pocket and handed it to the other man. Wilson took it with a confused expression. House nodded toward it and explained, "That's the attorney I found for you. He got you released on bail, set up a hearing date, all that. I'm told he's really good."
Wilson nodded absently and glanced down at the card. "I'll give him a call. Thanks."
House shrugged. "Just don't go starting any more bar fights."
Wilson tilted his head and made an exasperated face. "I didn't start a bar fight—" The look House gave him made him stop, then he shrugged. "So long as no one plays sappy love songs ad nauseum, I think I'll be able to restrain myself," he said drily.
House couldn't help smiling. "I'm more a blues man, myself. Come on." He slung a friendly arm over Wilson's shoulders. "You're a free man! Let's buy you a drink."
There was a moment of companionable silence between them as they began walking, until Wilson asked, "Someplace without a jukebox?"
House laughed. And after a few seconds, Wilson joined in.
1 House's 'article' Wilson remembers about a new strain of the hantavirus was shamelessly ripped from the Forensic Files episode 'With Every Breath', based on an epidemic in the early 90's in New Mexico.
I was asked about the timeline, so here's my take: in 1.1 'Pilot', House says he has tenure. Tenure is usually granted after 7 years, so House has been at PPTH for 7 years. Unfortunately, several episodes later (probably in 'Detox', but I'm not sure) Cuddy mentions that House is taking so-and-so more Vicodin than when she hired him. So either their tenure is less than 7 years, or it's a continuity error they either didn't catch themselves, or didn't think anyone else would catch.
Here are my notes from 'Birthmarks':
*Wilson has a warrant for his arrest in Louisiana.
*"You told me you'd taken care of this."
*Vandalism, destruction of property, assault.
*Med convention in New Orleans, fresh out of med school.
*At hotel bar trying to unwind, guy kept playing Billy Joel's Leave a Tender Moment Alone on jukebox.
*asked guy to stop a couple times. House:"You yelled politely." Wilson: "-but courtesy made no impression on this ass, so I threw a bottle into the mirror, which successfully conveyed my message." House: "And smashed a 10' antique mirror, and set an example to the 2 other patrons who threw shot glasses."
*Wilson paid for the mirror.
*House bailed him out of jail, got him a lawyer.
*Diamond Fairbairn - Wilson wouldn't let go of the package, but he wouldn't open it. House only reveals this observation during the episode.