Title: Wounded Birds

Author: pgrabia

Disclaimer: : House M.D., its characters, locations and storyline are the property of David Shore, Bad Hat Harry Productions and the Fox Television Network. All Rights Reserved.

Characters/Pairing(s): House/Wilson Pre-slash

Genre: Angst, hurt/comfort.

Word Count: 2082

A/N & Warnings: Based on a prompt given to me by Christikat. Thanks for the idea! Spoilers for all of Season 6. Huge thanks to George Stark II for her Beta services—I really appreciate it! Also posted at the House_Wilson community at LJ.

Rating: pg-13 for adult subject matter and the mentioning of child abuse.

(~*~)

Dr. Gregory House, Head of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital was in love with his best friend of nearly twenty years, Dr. James Wilson. He was also in a serious relationship with his boss and Dean of Medicine at PPTH, Dr. Lisa Cuddy. That didn't stop him from yearning after the affections of said best friend on a daily basis; if there was any such thing as soul-mates, which House highly doubted, Wilson was his—and he was pretty certain that he was Wilson's. The problem was, Wilson was either unaware of it, or in denial of it. Either way, House had found himself alone and in need of a stop-gap for his heart after being rejected once again by the most important person in his life. Cuddy had shown up just in time to be that person, and while he loved her, to be certain, he wasn't in love with her—not like he was with Wilson. If Wilson ever came to his senses and realized that he wanted the diagnostician as much as the diagnostician wanted him, House would have no difficulty leaving his current lover for him.

The problem was, Wilson, Head of Oncology, didn't want him, or at least, didn't let on that he did. No, he had Samantha Carr, his ex-wife/current live-in girlfriend to entertain him and spend every free moment with him and that didn't look like it was going to change soon. Perhaps it never would; in the meantime House would stay with the company he had, even if it wasn't the company he really wanted. A bird in the hand was worth two in the bush and that entire sort of nonsense. He would wait to see if things between his friend and the harpy of a girlfriend he had lasted; he honestly doubted it would. Even if it did, House wasn't certain it would make any difference in the way the oncologist felt for him. There was something deep inside the younger man, a pathology of sorts, that fed an obsession Wilson had for appearances, for being 'normal' and 'socially acceptable'—which meant respectable, professional, boring and one hundred percent all-American red-blooded heterosexual.

A glimpse into the pathology Wilson suffered from, and its possible cause, offered itself to House approximately six months into his turbulent on-again, off-again affair with his employer. It came in the form of a puzzle, and of course House, who lived to solve puzzles, couldn't resist seeking and working out the solution. Wilson's behavior and demeanor began to show symptoms of crumbling and threatened to bring the younger man to his knees. The diagnostician's motivation wasn't only to solve a mystery, but also to keep his friend, his love, from falling completely apart.

Wilson was always very responsible about completing his allotted 'volunteer' hours at the free clinic in PPTH. It was really involuntary; Dr. Lisa Cuddy had made it clear to all of the doctors employed by the hospital that the clinic was her baby and working in the clinic was an unofficial requirement of employment. House hated working in the clinic because it was monotonous and dealing with people was not his forte; when people were also idiots like most clinic patients were, he had absolutely no patience or bedside manner. He was hopelessly behind in clinic hours to the point where he would probably have to work the clinic five years after his death to catch up—and sleeping with Cuddy hadn't earned him any special privileges as far as that was concerned, either. Wilson, however, needed to be needed, and cutting corners on his rightful obligation in the clinic would look badly for him. Therefore, he made certain to complete his share faithfully every week. It was during such a session of indentured servitude that Wilson's breakdown of sorts began.

A teenage boy arrived at the clinic one day after school with his best friend; both boys were high school sophomores, 16 years of age. The patient, Drew, and his friend, Justin, waited nervously in the waiting room until Wilson finished with a previous patient and then called for Drew.

"Do you want me to come in with you or do you want to do this alone?" Justin, a tall, lanky blond asked the shorter, stockier redhead. Drew looked terrified and actually grabbed onto Justin's forearm to prevent him from leaving him alone.

"You come," Drew told him. Both boys followed Wilson into Exam Room Two. The oncologist watched them curiously, noting how closely they walked and the fact that Drew was still clutching his friend's arm for dear life even after they were both in the exam room and Wilson had shut the door.

"Good afternoon, Drew," Wilson greeted pleasantly, gesturing for the patient to hop onto the exam bench while he took a seat on a stool on wheels and Justin remained standing within arm's reach of his friend. "I'm Dr. Wilson. And you are?" He asked the friend.

"T-this is Justin," Drew told him, fearfully stammering and looking at the doctor furtively. "He's m-my…my…."

"I'm his boyfriend, Doctor," Justin said fearlessly, meeting Wilson's gaze with defiant eyes just begging him to make some kind of crack. The oncologist had no intentions of doing so; it wasn't his place to stand in judgment of other people's sexual preferences, even if they were still in high school.

"Okay," Wilson acknowledged with a nod. "What brings you here today, Drew?"

The boys exchanged looks, communicating silently. Drew looked like he was ready to bolt from the room but Justin grabbed his hand and then nodded encouragingly. The patient sighed and withdrew his hand from his friend's, and slowly lifted up his Henley top up and over his head, thus removing it. Wilson inhaled sharply at first, but quickly caught himself and forced a dispassionate demeanor. The boy's entire torso from his clavicle down to the waistline of his jeans was covered in bruises of varying shapes, sizes, colors and ages. Some were a faded brown or green but most of them were dark blue and a purplish-black. Some were fist-sized, others were clearly the imprints left behind by a pair of boots. Wilson stood up and circled around the bench, looking at Drew's back. Sure enough, it, too, was covered in contusions. There were obvious defensive injuries on his arms and hands earned when the teen had tried to ward off the blows flying his way. Strangely his face was devoid of any visible injury. Around his wrists were thin abrasions that ringed them. They looked very much like rope burns to the doctor.

Sighing, Wilson went over to the sink and washed his hands, then pulled on a pair of gloves and grabbed a stethoscope which he hung over his neck. He returned to the exam bench and instructed Drew to lie down on his back. With obvious pain the teen did so with a little help from his boyfriend.

"How did you get these injuries, Drew?" Wilson asked him as he began to gingerly palpate the young man's abdomen and watched for any reactions. "Or a better question would be, who gave you these injuries?"

"Does it matter?" Justin demanded sharply, a suspicious frown on his face.

"Yeah, it kind of does," the oncologist told him calmly. "This kind of assault on a person is very serious and has legal implications; also, Drew is a minor, which means I have no other choice but to call the police about this. His parents need to be notified as well."

"I told you we shouldn't have come," Drew spat at his boyfriend in fear. "Ahhrg!" he vocalized when Wilson pressed the upper left quadrant of his abdomen with moderate force. The sound plus the way the teen paled several shades and his face screwed up indicated quite a bit of pain there.

Frowning slightly Wilson pressed around the overly firm area that had caused the reaction. He measured off an area of pain based on Drew's yelps and moans. He didn't like it—the rigidity in the upper left and associated pain could be an indication of internal injuries—perhaps a splenic rupture.

"We had to come," Justin told him softly, looking down at Drew fondly. He then looked up beseechingly at Wilson. "Please, you can't call his parents! They—they don't know that Drew is dating me. If they find out that he's gay he'll end up a lot worse than this."

Wilson felt a tingle run down from the nape of his neck to his tailbone. A sense of uneasiness came over him and he forced himself to ignore it the best that he could.

"They already know," Drew announced reluctantly, much to Justin's surprise. "My dad beat the shit out of me when I told him."

"You told him?" Justin exclaimed, freaking out now. He began to move from foot to foot now in a strange anxiety jig, carding his fingers restlessly through his thick mane of hair. "Why in fuck's sake did you do that?"

"Elizabeth sent an e-mail to Jody and she told Mom and Dad, fucking little bitch," Drew answered breathily. "Dad confronted me when I got home from the library last night."

"Wait a minute," Wilson said, interjecting. "I've tuned in while the show was already in progress—who're Elizabeth and Jody?"

"Elizabeth is the girl I was dating before I met Justin," Drew explained weakly. "Her parents and my parents are friends and they thought it would be cute if we dated. I didn't even like her, obviously. When I broke up with her I didn't tell her it was because I was dating Justin. She found that out after she caught us kissing once and has been holding it over our heads ever since. I guess I did something to piss her off enough to finally squeal, so she told my sister, Jody, who told my parents. After that Dad took me out to the garage and beat the shit out of me. He tied my hands behind my back so I couldn't fight back. I meant to tell you, Justin, but I knew you'd be pissed. I've royally fucked up."

Wilson listened to his story and shook his head slowly in dismay, lost in his own thoughts. Here was this young man, being blackmailed and abused for being brave enough to be true to who he was, to take a stand. In return he got beaten unmercifully by the one man he's supposed to be able to trust to love and support him throughout his life. That's the way it was for being different, for not fitting in with the 'norm'. Sometimes one's own parents could be the enemy. Of course, it could be argued that Drew's father was only trying to illustrate to the boy the hardships he'd face for the rest of his life for choosing to live an alternative lifestyle. Wilson remembered his own father trying to drill through his head time and time again that sometimes love had to be tough, there were times when it had to hurt for his own good….

It wasn't until Justin put his hand on Wilson's shoulder and began shaking him that the doctor was jolted out of his thoughts and back to reality. He hadn't even heard the boy yelling at him or his patient's coughing up blood all over himself and the exam bench and floor. As soon as the oncologist was aware of what was going on outside of his own head he jumped to action, rolling Drew onto his side to prevent him from aspirating on the blood he was coughing up and out of his nose and mouth. He then ran out of the room and yelled to the reception desk to call the E.R. and have them send up a team and a stretcher, stat. He returned to the exam room, his mind sifting through the possibilities—broken ribs may have ruptured the lungs, edema from the blunt force trauma may be causing the expulsion of blood. The sooner he was rushed to the E.R. and treated accordingly the better.

Unfortunately it was out of the oncologist's hands now. This life-threatening turn of events meant that Drew's parents had to be notified without question; that, however, did not stop Wilson from calling the police and Child Protective Services as well. He hoped the authorities arrived before the parents did.

(TBC)