Much Ado About . . . Is This Love?
Becker was still so discombobulated about what had happened with Chris - not that anything had actually happened - that he needed to talk to somebody about it. He picked up the phone and dialled a familiar number.
"Hello?" a soft, feminine voice answered after a couple of rings.
"Aileen? Hey, it's Dad. I just called to say happy birthday. A little late, I know."
"Aw, thanks, Dad. It's goood to hear from you. What's wrong? You sound like you've got something else on your mind." The woman was almost too perceptive.
"Yeah . . . yeah . . . I do need to talk to you about something."
"Sure, Dad. What's going on?"
"Well . . . See, there's this woman going into the diner lately. Chris. She's unbelievably cheerful! And she hurt her knee playing racquetball with Bob and -"
"Wait, wait, wait," she interjected. "Bob was playing racquetball? Let me guess. In his street clothes? And he turned out to be pretty darned good at it, too?"
"Hmph. I was hoping you might have forgotten about Bob. But yeah, pleather jacket and all. So he takes her into my office today, just as I'm closing, and I take a look. I popped her knee back into the socket and she asked how I did that. I told her I just moved stuff around until she stopped screaming."
Aileen chuckled. "That's how I got here!"
He grinned at the silly memory. "Yeah, it is. That's when I noticed I still had my hand on her knee, and I was thinking of you and your mom. How is she, by the way? I haven't talked to her in a while."
"Oh, she's . . . Mama. She's deep into another book about one of her experiments." She let out a long breath. "So she hasn't had much time for anything else these last few weeks."
"So, how's Reg?"
"She's good. We, uh, she came over to my place a couple nights ago and we, uh . . ." Did he really want to tell his only child about this?
"Did you two finally get together?" she asked with a frustrated tone. She'd noticed some sparks between the two when she'd lived in the Bronx up until last year.
"Oh . . . she came by with some Chinese food and I kissed her."
Incredulous, she asked, "That's all?"
"That's the short version of events. She spent the night."
"Oh! Well, I - I'm happy for you, Dad. Have you screwed it up yet?" Why did everyone in her family, including herself, have to have such bad luck with love?
"No, no. But this thing with Chris . . ."
"Aaaahhhh," she sighed in understanding. "You're wondering about what to tell Reggie since it's still new."
"And I'm confused. It's not that I like Chris. It's just . . ."
"Maybe . . . you're feeling insecure and wondering if what you could have with Reggie is real? Just don't do to her what Gregory did to me." Becker could almost hear the glare she was giving her husband.
"Yeah, I guess I should just tell Chris I'm not going to treat her anymore. I don't - I don't want to invite trouble. But I don't need to tell Reg about all this, do I?"
"I don't see why. I mean, nothing actually happened, right? You treated Chris's knee, and you only felt, what, a little awkward and uncomfortable in the situation. It's not like you kissed her or anything!"
"That's true." Things always made more sense when he talked them out with someone who wasn't an idiot. Of course, it helped that Aileen was an expert on the human mind. But that husband of hers . . . Becker never could stand Gregory, ever since the day he'd started dating his daughter.
He'd been a fine student when Becker had been teaching at Johns Hopkins. And he was glad to introduce him to his daughter so she could help him develop a better bedside manner. But when she'd told her father that she had feelings for him? Becker had almost hit the ceiling in disbelief and anger.
And now they were married. At least they didn't actually live together.
Why couldn't life be simpler?
The following day, Becker decided to talk to Jake about what had happened. "You don't understand. I had my hand on Chris'sknee."
"Okay, maybe I'm missing something here. Why is that a problem?" Jake crossed his arms, hoping Becker would go into more detail.
"Because she's a woman. I'm not supposed to notice that. A patient is a patient. They're just . . . parts with insurance."
"There's your ad for the yellow pages," Jake quipped.
"I don't know why I'm so . . . about all this. It's not like I have feelings for her!"
"Yeah. And there's Reggie."
"Yeah, Reggie. You know, Aileen said it might be because I'm feeling insecure about starting something real with Reg?"
"Hm, that sounds like something she'd say."
"Yeah, yeah. So what do you think?"
"I'd have to agree with Aileen. Despite her taste in men, she's very insightful."
"Yeah. She is." He was so proud of his little girl and her accomplishments! "Well, I should head for the office. See you, Jake."
"See you, John. Or, not see you . . . Aw, hell, you know what I mean!"
Reggie walked out of the kitchen just as she was saying goodbye to someone on the phone. After she hung up, she turned to Jake. "Hey, Jake. You need some more coffee?"
"Sure. Maybe some toast and jam, too."
"Okay." The smile on her face was plain for him to hear.
"Well, you're in a good mood!"
"Yeah, I am. I just talked to Aileen and told her what happened with Becker. He'd already told her last night. She said it was the nicest thing he's given her for her birthday in a while! You know? To hear that he has something good in his life?"
"Wow. That is amazing," Jake responded sincerely. "But I thought she didn't like any of his girlfriends in the past?"
"No, she didn't like his wives because of how they treated him. But what girl wants to see her father treated the way those two treated Becker?"
Jake inclined his head in silent agreement.
"You know what you need?" Linda asked Margaret, who was still terribly hung over from their night out together.
"Don't say a little hair of the dog that bit me," she retorted.
"Well, I don't know what kind of weird voodoo you're into, but I was just going to suggest a bloody Mary."
Margaret glared at her, but before she could come up with a clever response, Becker walked in. He was so caught up in his own thoughts, though, that he didn't even realise that Linda was the one answering his questions instead of Margaret, who was in far too much pain to be of any help to anyone.
"Margaret, did the lab call back with Mrs. Cramer's test results?"
"I typed them up and put them on your desk," Linda informed him as she glanced at the calendar.
"And . . . you submit the HMO forms from last week?"
"I filled them out this morning."
"What about the X-ray machine?" Becker was going through the messages on the counter.
"I called the repair company and they'll be here within the hour." Linda glanced sideways at Margaret to make sure she was all right, aside from the hangover.
"Good job, Margaret," he told a dazed nurse. She felt like death warmed over, but Becker continued as though things were normal. "You know, Linda, don't - don't just stand there. At least look like you're doing something!"
Oh, if only he knew who was handling all the work this morning, both women mused. Neither of them said a word, but both knew they would be having a talk about this later.
Chris surprised Becker in his office. "Hi," she greeted cheerily.
"What are you doing here?" he mumbled.
"Well, I was in the neighbourhood, so I thought I'd stop by and Linda said to come on back."
"Oh, Linda, totally useless."
He sat and regarded her. "So how's your knee?"
"My knee's fine. But now I'm having some neck pain. I don't know if I hurt it when I fell or when Bob tried to give me CPR."
"Why would Bob give you CPR?"
"Oh, I think he just wanted to. Here," she continued, adjusting the collar of her blouse. "Let me show where it hurts."
"Actually, I have a better idea," he interrupted her and turned to reach for his prescription pad.
"That a prescription for painkillers?"
"No, it's the name of an orthopaedist. And here's the name of a good physical therapist. And here's a referral for a new . . . GP," he informed her softly.
"Why would I need a new doctor? I have you," she remarked rather fondly.
"I don't want to treat you anymore."
"Why not?" she asked, her voice rising in pitch.
"It's your insurance," he improvised. "I can't accept it."
"I'll pay cash," she insisted.
"I'm very busy. We're booked solid."
"I can come after work," she offered with a slightly suggestive smile.
"I'm too tired after work," he said, exasperation filling his tone. Why couldn't this woman get it through her head that he didn't want to treat her anymore? Did he have to get mean? Or meaner?
Chris giggled, completely oblivious to Becker's expression. "Did something happen since the last time I was here?"
"Look," he rose and turned to stare her down. He hoped he looked intimidating. "You had an emergency yesterday. I took care of that. But I don't want any new patients. Let's leave it at that. All right? So take your knee and your neck and get out of here."
Chris sighed and rose. "Fine. You know, people say you're surly and obnoxious, but they're wrong. You're just an ass," she remarked before turning to walk out the door.
"Now, wait a minute, here," Becker called out. "You're calling me an ass? I tell you I'm too busy, I offer you a doctor who has as sunny a disposition as you, but you want me to keep my office opened for you. How exactly does that make me an ass? What is it? Is it because I don't want to start keeping my office opened late every night? Because that's what would happen! I stay late for you, pretty soon, everybody'd start saying, 'Well, you stay late for Chris, why not me?' Or are you so special that the whole world revolves around you?"
Chris scrunched her face up like she was about to scream, but nothing came out. "Oh, my gosh," her eyes widened as the truth hit her like a brick and she clamped a hand over her mouth, then lowered it so she could speak. "I did act like what I just accused you of, didn't I? You know, my ex-husband told me I should stop expecting others to be so accommodating, but I thought he was just being mean. You know? Like you? But . . . Maybe I do want everyone to be as nice as me."
"As nice as I," he corrected. "Here," he handed her the referrals he had jotted down for her. "That GP I recommended, he's about as cheery as you are. He'll like you. And," he sighed before continuing. "I'm sorry I had to be mean to you. You just wouldn't take no for an answer, and I hate when people do that."
"No, no, I understand! I was the obnoxious one. You know, this time. I'll just, uh, be going then. Good night, John."
"Yeah, good night, Chris." Finally, some peace. At least, until the next patient.
Becker was relaxing in his armchair with a book before dinner when a knock at the door startled him. He looked through the peephole and saw a mess of curly blonde hair. He opened the door and let her in, hoping she wouldn't get the wrong idea.
"All right, I've been thinking about it, and I know why you won't see me as a patient," she declared as she swept past him into the living room.
"I gave you, like, thirty reasons why," he reminded her.
"But you didn't give me the real reason." She paused for effect. "It's because you like me."
Becker gawked at her incredulously. What the hell kind of mental gymnastics did she perform to come to that conclusion? "What? What the hell kind of mental gymnastics convinced you of that?"
"You know what? I think I like you, too. I have no idea why, based on the rude way you treat me. I don't know, maybe that's just your way of showing affection. We'll have to work on that." She moved to lean on his desk. "So why don't we just cut to the chase, go out, and see what happens?"
"Who are you?" Becker advanced on her.
"What do you mean?" She smiled up at him.
"I mean . . . What planet do you come from? Where is it that people act like you? I mean, you're always so damn . . . happy," he accused. "Yeah, you make me sick."
"Yeah. Me, too," Reggie remarked as she emerged from the bathroom wrapped in a short terrycloth robe and a towel around her hair. She'd listened in on the entire exchange and waited for an opportune moment to reveal herself.
"Oh," Chris looked crestfallen. "Oh!" She put two and two together. "I didn't realise - If I'd . . . If I had known . . ." Flustered, she made her way to the door. "I - buh," she babbled before exiting. Alone in the hallway, she lamented to herself, "I am so lame!"
"What was that all about, Becker?" Reggie managed to ask without laughing.
"Oh, I don't want to take on any new patients, but she wouldn't accept it, so I had to get mean with her."
"You mean you weren't already? Mean to her, I mean."
"Oh, I was my usual charming self. You know she wanted to come in after hours for me to treat her?"
"I can see why. The nerve!" Reggie could understand why she'd want to see Becker when he wouldn't be busy with other patients. "Well, I guess we won't be able to hide our . . . relationship for much longer."
"Yeah, listen, about that. Before we go out to dinner, I think we should talk about this." Her stomach sank. Was it possible this was just a fling for him? "I don't want this to be just a fling. But I value your friendship . . ." This was harder than he'd expected. He hadn't had to tell someone how much she meant to him since Sarah, and that had been because he wanted to be on at least civil terms with the mother of his child. "I don't want to screw this up, so let's take things slowly." "Oh, thank God!" Reggie was relieved. "You know my luck with men and I thought . . . Well, I'd hate to rush things, especially considering your track record with women." "So we're in agreement. We'll, uh, tread lightly. Do you, do you want to see other men?" "Do you want to see other women?" she countered. "Oh, you mean, because of all the offers I get on a daily basis?" he joked. They shared a chuckle. "Yeah, I guess we could . . . be monogamous without rushing into anything." "Come here, you." He enveloped her in his arms. "This is nice, isn't it?" He enjoyed the smell of her shampoo. Wait. When had she brought her shampoo over?
A/N: Okay, that's all I have for this story!
As I admitted before, I never cared much for Chris. If I bashed her in this story, I do apologise, but it just came out that way. Can you imagine how the show might've gone had this happened instead of the way things went at the start of the fifth season?
I, of course, own nothing, not the series, not the characters, except for Aileen and this particular narrative. But it's only a fanfiction story, so I make absolutely no money from this. I just preferred the idea of Becker with Reggie instead of Chris!
Thanks for reading and reviewing!
You'll see more of Aileen in other Becker-fics I'm planning on putting up. I've had those plot bunnies hopping around in my head for years. She's also in my House-fics; hey, who would be a better match for Gregory House than John Becker's daughter, right? And I'm sure you can imagine how well House and Becker get along! (But I'm working on turning Gregory and Aileen's story into something I can publish, so, hopefully, that long story will be available for purchase sometime soon.)