AN: While going through some files on the hard drive, I came across a ton of old ficlets that I never completed. They've been dusted off and more or less made fit to read--although they are for the most part incomplete. Reviews are welcomed and cherished. ^^)
The Price of Fame
Blythe House was seated patiently in the waiting room, flipping idly through an old magazine. Beside her Greg was slouched comfortably, engrossed in an extremely large book with his feet propped up on the remaining magazines on the table. She bit her cheek to stifle the laughter that threatened when the woman across from them glared first at Greg's intrusive feet and then glanced at his cane; understanding dawning in her eyes. Her merriment vanished instantly; she met the woman's intense look with one of her own . For his part, Greg ignored everything and everyone as he flipped between pages and scribbled intently on the yellow notepad in his lap.
"What are you reading?" she asked genially. Greg started, and looked up at her. His glasses were sliding down his nose, and Blythe smiled as she pushed them back up.
"It's a nephrology book." He said, already returning to the book. He was taking notes, Blythe realized, and leaned forward to read what he'd written. '…inconclusive answers given the scope of the study…unknown etiology...possible that complications arose due to unknown renal function at time of presentation…'
"What are you reading it for?" she asked, and smiled slightly when Greg put his fingers between the pages and looked up at her in exasperation. She knew he'd never say he was irritated with her, but he couldn't help but show it. She'd often felt the same way when he'd been a little boy, and asked questions about everything.
"I'm editing it." He said succinctly.
"Why?" she smiled then, and Greg rolled his eyes.
"I'm a contributing editor. Makes me happy to point out mistakes. Makes them happy to have my name listed." He opened the book again, and resumed reading without saying anything further.
"Your opinion means that much to them?" Blythe asked. Greg nodded absently, already lost again in the text. Blythe sighed, and reached around Greg to the pile of magazines he'd left sitting on his backpack. He'd pulled everything out when he'd gotten the book out. They had to be marginally more interesting than old copies of Better Homes and Gardens. She sorted through them, ignoring People and US and journals in every language but English. She paused when she discovered a journal on experimental medicine; she flipped through the articles and tried in vain to read one, but every other word was about some obscure disease and it made little sense to her. The pictures weren't much to look at, either. Especially the parasites. Blythe reached for another journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, and paused at the cover. In the list of doctors who had contributed articles, Greg was third from the top. She snuck a glance at him, to find he was still engrossed in his textbook. When she opened the journal and turned expectantly to the page listed on the cover to find a boldtype underlined title 'Keratoderma Blennorrhagica' submitted by Gregory House, MD. Fingering the page tenderly, she felt a thrill of anticipation race down her spine as her eyes sought out the work itself and began reading expectantly:
'A 55-year-old bisexual man presented with a few weeks' history of lethargy followed by the onset of a widespread nonpruritic rash that covered much of his body, including the palms…'
Blythe skimmed the article, finding very little that she understood, but still left with the impression that Greg had solved a very difficult case. She eyed her son thoughtfully, wondering at his reticence. She didn't know much about medicine, on the whole, but she knew Greg was widely respected as a doctor. But he never talked about his career; aside from glib comments like the one he'd made earlier about editing the textbook. Blythe longed to ask about the article, but knew that Greg wouldn't want to talk about it. She sighed, and set the journal aside. One last magazine caught her eye, and Blythe pulled it out from the bottom of the stack. It was a TIME magazine, and there was a bright green post-it stuck to the front of it that begged Greg to at least look at it. It looked like James Wilson's left handed scrawl. Blythe smirked; Greg had undoubtedly buried the magazine as soon as he'd seen it. She lifted the slip of paper to find Greg's piercing blue eyes staring at her from the cover. She gave a startled gasp and pulled the post-it off to find it was Greg—and James. Ten doctors in all, in varying states of dress. Greg. Her Greg.
On the cover of TIME magazine.
Unable to breathe, Blythe's eyes flicked to the headline; Cradle to Grave: Top physicians share their choice in doctors specializing in everything in from conception to nephrology. She eagerly dove into the article, finding it on page six. Each doctor was listed separately; it began with a doctor specializing in conception and moved alphabetically forward. She forced herself past the page where Greg was and on into the article in search of oncology. James was easily the youngest doctor in the group; in his late thirties. He was praised for his compassionate approach to medicine, and for the higher than average rate of remission in his patients. Blythe was amused to learn that James was one of the youngest department heads in the Oncology field. He looked professional, as always, in his neatly pressed suit and tie.
Taking a deep breath, she felt anticipation jolt through her once more as she paged back to the article about Greg. He wasn't in his usual jeans and t-shirt; instead wearing a smartly pressed suit jacket and a shirt that brought out the beautiful blue of his eyes, even if it was untucked. His dress pants were even free of wrinkles, though she smiled to see he still wore his Nikes. Undoubtedly, the work of one James Wilson. Greg hadn't touched an iron in years; and he'd even stopped bringing his suits to the drycleaner after his leg had been hurt. He looked very handsome, she decided. She snuck a look at Greg as he sat beside her in his graphic t-shirt and his baggy jeans, his hair wild and face stubbled. He didn't acknowledge her scrutiny, and Blythe returned to the article after a moment.
'…Dr. Gregory House is head of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine at the Princeton-Plainsborough Teaching Hospital in Princeton, New Jersey. Specializing in Infectious Disease and Nephrology, Dr House is world renowned for his ability to diagnose rare and elusive conditions in patients given almost no hope for survival…' the article went on detailing a few highlighted cases before moving into Greg's personal life; '…disappeared unexpectedly from the medical community nearly six years ago after suffering an infarction in his leg. Despite drastic measures undertaken to preserve his fragile health, Dr House remains in chronic, debilitating pain that limits his mobility. Due to his physical limitations, Dr House has not re-established an active practice; instead taking patients upon referral at his discretion.'
Blythe felt Greg's eyes on her, and she lifted her gaze to meet his. He'd set the book aside, and was studying her thoughtfully.
"Why didn't you tell me about this?" she asked quietly. He shrugged.
"Didn't think it was worth mentioning." He said simply.
Blythe stared at him, incredulous. "You didn't think it was worth mentioning that my son was on the cover of TIME magazine?" she asked loudly. Greg winced, looking decidedly embarrassed. He rolled his eyes to the ceiling. The woman across the table surrepitously picked out TIME and eyed Greg quietly; her pinched, sour expression had warmed into something mellower. The change didn't escape his notice, and he turned a withering look on his mother.
"It's not a big deal." He said quietly, as he began shoving his books back into his bag. Blythe shook her head, but Greg met her gaze steadily. "It's not. It's nothing new." He amended at her look of desperation. "They just made it available to the public. They just made sure a lot of idiots will want to see the 'world famous diagnostician'." His pager beeped, and he sighed, loudly, before pulling it out and holding it up. He hit a button, and then returned it to the holder clipped to his belt.
"Who is it?"
"My team." He said shortly. "They've admitted a patient."
"Do you need to go?" Blythe asked quietly, and Greg shook his head.
"No. They can handle it. This won't--" He'd no sooner said it, when his phone rang. He groaned then, and dug his phone out.
"House." He growled. Blythe watched Greg sink back in his chair and rub his eyes tiredly. "I'm not going to be back until mid afternoon at the earliest. No, she hasn't even had her appointment yet." Greg paused, and Blythe handed him the TIME magazine, which he stuffed back into his backpack. "The only reason I'm here is because her GP is a moron, and—" he shook his head.
"Mrs. House?" a voice called, and Blythe touched Greg's arm in case he hadn't heard the nurse. "We're ready for you." She got to her feet, and took Greg's backpack for him as he rose to his feet with his cane in one hand and his phone in the other. He didn't appear to notice that she'd taken it; or, more likely, he'd chosen to ignore it. She smiled as she sidled past him, and followed the nurse quickly with Greg trailing in her wake.