Revealing Achilles OR How the Fellows Saw House's Scar for the First Time
As House runs his trembling hands over his face his elbows slip from the desk, jarring the edge of the bone. Its been a long, exhausting week - and he has a feeling he isnt about to be released from its jaws just yet. Their patient is not only very sick, but very vocal. And very very stupid.
Dammit bursts from his lips, and he startles himself as he slams his fists against the cool glass of his desk. He instantly regrets it as his tired muscles - the remainder of his thigh- contract sharply, making him choke back a hiss of pain. Of course Cuddy would have to take the side of the patient. Just one more thing to make this case even more perfect. For such an accomplished woman she could be surprisingly dense sometimes; failing to see how intervening when the patient complained about painful diagnostic tests would be even more harmful to him in the future. How on earth he was supposed to diagnose some fat middle-aged jerk with an attitude problem without using any tests deemed uncomfortable or embarrassing? Maybe he could get Cameron to slip him something, get some voodoo-babbler to declare him insane. So he could do his fucking JOB.
What Wilson! Cant you read?
Raising his eyes from their sunken position House grumbles yes, its this thing you do with letters. Theyre not just for cup sizes you know
Exactly as House predicts, Wilson pulls at the back of his neck, steeling himself to ask, very slowly and carefully what exactly was I supposed to read?
What sign, House?
the big, giant, fuck off Im thinking sign on my door?
Right. Of course. So silly of me. And exactly when he predicts, again, Wilson places his hand on his hips, fixing House with a stare hes seen too many times before. Oh God. House. Youre not doing anyone any good sitting here, yelling irrelevant orders. Go home, take a shower, go to bed. Have you ever really figured something out by pulling I dont know how many all-nighters?
House finally raises his eyes to look at his friend and bites Go away Wilson. Now. Im not your replacement son for the family you will never have. Even as he says it he recognizes and regrets his low blow. Not that he will ever admit it. Wilson looks at him expectantly for a second, still hoping for an apology, even after all these years. When it is clear none will be forthcoming (again) he turns around, but not before mastering his classic pitying-reproachful combo.
House groans, sinking his head even lower onto his desk. Maybe he could use some sleep. Or a shower. A hot shower does sound nice. However, even this doesnt balance the thought of riding his bike through the blustery, slick March streets on an already protesting leg.
Without moving from his position, House opens the large bottom drawer of his desk, a hand blindly searching through years worth of accumulated detritus. Right at the bottom he scores - an old t-shirt and a pair of soft pants. After resting his head for a second more - although realistically he knows he could never sleep, not with a mystery on the go - he positions his three legs, and heaves himself up, hissing. Finally (a few vicodin later) he straightens, and, putting on his patented scowl, makes the walk to the doctors locker room. Once inside, first checking carefully for any of his colleagues, he leans against the outside wall. Cursing Wilson. Cursing his weakness. He hasnt been in here since his little LSD trip last year. Which naturally brings him back to Stacy. Which brings him back to the clusterfuck that is his life.
Gathering the energy to move forward, House struggles out of his rumpled clothing, throwing it all haphazardly on a wooden bench. Au natural except for his cane - something that even now makes him simultaneously amused and disgusted - and a towel stolen from some morons locker, he makes his way over to the shower room, praying that he wont have a shower buddy. Hes not sure what he would do if there was someone there - walk out? Is he really that pathetic? Thankfully, hes spared the decision - the room at 3 am is unsurprisingly empty.
Remembering to avoid the first frigid spray, he twists the nozzle of the shower closest to the entrance - today hes not too sure how far he can limp sans cane. The hot water is somehow refreshing and he manages, for once, to lose himself in time and space.
He must have been there for quite some time- his skin has pruned and both legs are beginning to tremble- when he hears murmuring voices coming towards the showers. He freezes, panicking, before he comes to himself with a shake of his head. Why should he be afraid of some pansy male nurses? He still cant stop himself from looking down at his grotesque thigh and shriveled leg even as he thinks this. Pathetic.
He finally gets down to the business of half-heartedly soaping his hair and body, ears still pricked towards the sound of his new companions. Hes almost finished when the voices round the corner, and he finds himself almost face to face with his fellows. Chase and Foreman. Together. Naked as the days they were born.
Even while hes mentally storing this horrific image for future ribbing (Chase and Foreman- shower buddies), he finds himself shrinking and turning away. He can only watch, as anxious to avoid the awkward eye contact, Chase looks away, at anything else. It is inevitable of course that his eyes- and Foremans- fixate on his mangled thigh. As if it wasnt bad enough that theyre already all naked.
House has the privilege (privilege?) of seeing the myriad of emotions that flicker across both mens faces. Disgust- curiosity - pity - shame. And he hates them all. Fears them all. Praying that his leg will hold, House makes to exit the room, shampoo still in his hair. Recognizing this, knowing him for who he is, Chase and Foreman still have the presence of mind to move out of his way. As he moves, his leg cramps (dammit!), and he just barely catches his half stumble. Gritting his teeth, he manages to make the two more steps to his cane.
Laboriously making his way back to the bench, drying his now sticky hair, House can hear the silence - the unanimous embarrassment- in the locker room. He can never take that moment back. In the grand scheme of things, it really isnt that traumatic, but to him it feels as though he is both drowning and burning in shame. Dressing as quickly as he can, which, as he bitterly notes, really isnt all that quickly, he leaves the locker rooms. He barely changes to his facade to traverse the corridors, but no one is around. Not that it matters anymore.
Back in his office, he is sure his fuck off sign will be well heeded by his fellows. Maybe he should fire them. By text. And not come back until theyre gone. Theyve seen his greatest shame and weakness, seen him stumble in the nude. Not something he can take back. Hes uncomfortable enough with Wilson and Cuddy having seen him - maybe thats why he feels the need to be so rude to his best friend- but his fellows? How is he supposed to work with them like that? Be their boss? He sinks back onto his desk, willing the world away.
In the locker rooms, Chase and Foreman are studiously avoiding looking at each other, showering in disinterested fashions. It is Chase who finally breaks the silence.
Whatd they do? Hire a butcher?
Jesus is Foremans only response before the silence resumes.
I suppose weve been a bit... critical
Leaving the shower, the fellows arent too sure how their next meeting with their boss will go - it sure wont be pretty. Theyll never forget that moment - how he looked, how he felt - and probably will remember it every time they see House for several months. But at least they have a newfound patience - and respect- for Gregory House.
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Legal Disclaimer: The authors published here make no claims on the ownership of Dr. Gregory House and the other fictional residents of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Like the television show House (and quite possibly Dr. Wilson's pocket protector), they are the property of NBC/Universal, David Shore and undoubtedly other individuals of whom I am only peripherally aware. The fan fiction authors published here receive no monetary benefit from their work and intend no copyright infringement nor slight to the actual owners. We love the characters and we love the show, otherwise we wouldn't be here.