Through the Windows of a Dark House
by Gena Fisher
Through the Windows of A Dark House
by gena fisher
The weatherman had predicted partly cloudy skies and a balmy 30 degrees. A battleship gray sky loomed menacingly overhead and the wind which sprung up missed being balmy by a dozen degrees. Dr. Gregory House looked upwards, mentally consigning all meteorological personnel to the third level of hell, right after public transport drivers. The bus's exhaust fumes caused him to choke on the curse he'd been prepared to hurl at the departing driver. Damn. He'd have to call someone now, depend on the kindness of strangers to get him by. "Paint my face and call me Blanche," he muttered to himself and pulled out his cell phone.
Wilson picked up on the second ring. "Sorry, Greg," he said, sounding genuinely regretful and rushed at the same time, "I've got a meeting with Dr. Tanner in ten minutes. I've already put him off once."
"Tanner is a windbag."
"He's also waiting. Call Cameron," Wilson suggested, "she lives out your way."
"Why what a wonderful idea," House sneered, "we can talk about our feelings, swap sob stories, and maybe get matching manicures."
"Goodbye, Greg," Wilson said, chuckling softly.
"You're not a very good friend," House charged and snapped the connection. Truth be told Wilson was a good friend, his best, but it never hurt to remind him that House could find another best friend if need be. "Gerbils make excellent friends," he said to the lady passing in front of him. She shot House a nervous glance then quickened her step. "Hamsters, too," he called but could tell she wasn't convinced. A large, slightly solid drop of precipitation chose that moment to land on his head. House reached up and wiped the sleet away with a snarl. "Desperation, thy name is Cameron."
She drove a Saturn, the three door kind and when she pulled up it was across the street from where he was waiting. She gave him a perky little wave. "How wonderful," House muttered to himself as he prepared to hobble across the street. A couple of horns blared and a Volkswagen overflowing with teenagers and bass beat shouted at him but most people just looked the other way. A dry cleaning bag, books, her purse, briefcase and what looked like three pairs of highheels littered the back seat. "Are you living in your car?"
"What? Oh, no," she said, "I need all that during the day." He could feel her eyes on him as he struggled with his bag and cane, the way she had to rein herself in from helping him. He hated that moment, when it could all go wrong, when people might reach out and save him before he crashed to the ground. She wanted to, especial when she saw that he had to sit down and then use his right hand to lift his damaged leg into the car but all she did was make a very soft sound and somehow that seemed worse.
"Won't your boss be angry if you're late?" He asked when she didn't immediately put the car into gear.
"Oh, yeah, he's very difficult to work for," Cameron conceded. They drove in silence, her wipers slapping against the windshield in counterpoint to the sleet. "How do you usually get to work?"
"Magic carpet," House replied. "Had to send it in for repairs. Moths, you know. I shouldn't breed them in my apartment but I like pulling off their wings." Her glance brushed over him as softly as a moth's wings might. "I'm thinking of getting a gerbil, though." After that she didn't ask anything else, just pulled up to the main entrance and waited as he endeavored to get to his feet. He could still feel her curious gaze on him as he went inside but he brushed it off along with the sleet. The hospital's familiar chaos made him smile, just a bit. He could feel the ever present pain inside him lessen and knew despite the weather, this would be a good day. No matter how much he complained there was no place else he'd rather be. Here, he could control things, his team didn't think of him as anything but Dr. House. After a while, they didn't even seem to notice his cane.
"You need a wheelchair, mister," a blond boy in his late teens asked. His baggy shirt with its PPTH logo identified him as one of the numerous volunteers at the hospital. Probably robbed a parking meter or pushed over vending machines to earn his stint at community service House decided.
"Why, are there races today?" The kid frowned, working out for himself that House wasn't one of the slightly bewildered and always frightened patients who flowed through the door every day. House waited a moment longer then, getting no answer, turned and limped off towards the elevators. His office beckoned. Unless Cameron had answered more of his mail he had no new cases and he could spend the entire day annoying Cuddy or confusing Wilson, both were admirable past times. He snapped on the television first thing upon entering his office then glanced into the one shared by his staff. Foreman usually arrived at an ungodly hour but today's inclement weather must have made him late. House saw no signs that Chase had made it in yet and it would be a few minutes before Cameron arrived from the parking garage. He considered a moment, would he have enough time?
It might be wrong but House had discovered within himself an unquenchable need to know what went on around him. He flattened a palm over his right thigh, remembering when he hadn't felt that need and how much it had cost him. Now he kept his eyes and ears open, gleaning all kinds of information from all sorts of places. Hospital personnel, so use to seeing him lounging around, tended to speak as if he were invisible while visitors assumed he was just another patient and talked freely. Little went on that he didn't know about and that extended to his staff. He looked at everything as if it was a piece of some puzzle, once he got a new nugget of information he could snap it into place and have a better view of the whole. A burning desire to keep one step ahead of everyone else had taken up residence inside him and he told himself it had nothing to do with the anger.
Still fairly numb from his morning Vicodin, House didn't bother to sit down at his desk, instead he limped into the other room on the pretense of coffee. Chase had left a file on one of the tables, House saw. A few notes on different patients, nothing interesting. Foreman was reviewing new neurology procedures, and what was Cameron in to? He flipped open the notebook she jotted things in and glanced at it and there among the tests, treatments, and prognosis - a yellowing scrap of newsprint bearing his own name stopped him.
"Snooping?" Wilson asked from the doorway.
"I thought you were meeting with Tanner," House accused, glaring at his friend before limping back into his own office.
Wilson's grinned at House's retreating back, "He never showed." He followed House into the office and took a seat, watching in silence as House pulled out the yellow pages, flipped towards the back and ran a finger down the entries. "Looking for a lawyer?"
Wilson considered the statement a moment before sighing and asking, "Why?"
"I'm buying a gerbil."
Dr. Allison Cameron punched the elevator call button, a bubble of dread in her stomach inflating so quickly that breathing became difficult. Had she left her notebook out? Sometimes she did, usually it was no big deal; a few notes, some random thoughts, details she wanted to go over later, but yesterday she'd run across something else. Down in the medical library, Cindi the librarian, had pointed out a folder filled with PPTH clippings. Unable to curb her curiosity, Cameron had skimmed through until she found one about Dr. Gregory House. She didn't even think about it, just slipped it from the plastic cover and into the pages of her notebook. He knew her secret; she was going to find out his.
She couldn't help herself, all her life she'd wanted nothing more than to make her life count. Her family and friends had never seemed to expect much of her. Being beautiful was supposed to somehow be enough, they told her over and over she would marry a handsome man and have beautiful children. Was that all she could do? At age fifteen she'd decided there had to be more, she had to be more. She'd known there was a higher purpose to living than just decorating it. That need had drawn her to Ben. He'd made his life count, those months together as she watched him struggle to hold onto his had solidified her need to make her life stand for something. His death had been the catalyst she'd needed to achieve that. Cameron had gone into medicine to heal the sick, to comfort those in pain, to know that, in touching others, she counted for something. And when she saw a brilliant doctor like Gregory House; disdainful and bitter, unfeeling and indifferent, she needed to know why. How had he twisted what surely must have been similar reasons for becoming a doctor into something so grotesque?
House's contempt for humanity drew her with magnetic force. She had spent months watching him interact with patients and staff. While his ego was a force to be reckoned with his razor sharp intelligence and unorthodox thinking couldn't be denied. But none of that made him a people person; cold, logical, bored and above it all, House didn't give a damn about anyone. He treated patients like puzzles to be solved, not human beings with feelings. He kept his distance, bashing at anyone who tried to crack his barriers, if not with his cane, then with his relentless arrogance. He might manufacture a convincing air of concern, but it was all an act. His concern went as far as solving the case, and not for the good of the patient but for his own need to do so. Whatever it took, he'd get the answers he needed. Even personal conversations with him were a form of diagnosis, he asked questions just to gauge reactions, and those reactions dictated other, specific, questions. She'd watched him do that several times and even used that very trick against him a few weeks earlier first with a Christmas gift and then a birthday present, just to see how he reacted. She wouldn't forget the look on his face then, a kind of sad bewilderment, which had almost made her sick. House, on the other hand did such things with a cold, clinical detachment, lacking in real feelings. She stepped inside the elevator car. Real feelings? The man had no real feelings for people. No, she reminded herself, that wasn't true. He treated Wilson differently. Wilson mattered to House.
She'd spent some of her time in oncology helping the boyish doctor Wilson and grown very fond of him. He had an innate kindness that glowed in his eyes and drew people to him. She'd heard rumors that he wasn't as faithful to his wife as he should be, but she'd seen it wasn't so much he wanted to cheat on his wife as his capacity for caring got him in trouble. He let things go too far and then hadn't a clue as to why they'd gone that way in the first place. Cameron wondered if maybe that was the case in his relationship with House. She'd been fascinated to learn that the acidic House and cherubic Wilson spent a great deal of time together. They were not only colleagues but also friends and watching them together had raised as many question as it answered.
Often she'd taken a table in the cafeteria where she could see without being seen. House, when he ate, had trouble carrying a loaded tray one handed and would bristle if any of the food services staff offered to help him. Wilson never offered to help, just did it and House didn't fight him. To her, watching from a distance, she could see House's trust in Wilson, something he didn't have in anyone else. The two men seemed very at ease with each other and she wasn't surprised when she exited the elevator, hurrying to the diagnostic medicine department, to see them both in House's office, though she wondered why the telephone book lay open between them. House glanced up and caught her eye. She couldn't help but dart a guilty look towards where she had left her notebook. It lay just as she had left it but she knew he had seen what she had. When she looked back at him, House smiled. It made her shiver.
The rest of the day passed in routine, hers as predictable as House's. She, Foreman, and Chase went about their work and left House to his own devices. Several times she heard his uneven steps and the thump of his cane as he ventured into the room for more coffee but whenever she looked at him he took no notice. The tick of sleet hitting the windows made her twitchy and she longed to sneak out the newspaper clipping but couldn't with House in the next room. He had the TV on; its faint sound an undercurrent they had all learned to ignore. Except for General Hospital he rarely watched it, often sitting with his back to it, but he left it on for hours at a time. That morning, however, House twice snapped it off and headed out into the halls of the hospital. Despite difficulty in getting around, she knew House couldn't sit still for long periods of time she just hadn't decided if his restlessness came from chronic pain or his compulsive need to know what was going on.
The closing credits for General Hospital scrolled across the screen as House shifted in his chair, easing his leg into a more comfortable position. That comfort lasted about five minutes. He could feel the pain growing, that dull ache inside him buried like an ember which movement could fan back to full, roaring life at any moment. He swung his chair around to face the window, watching the freezing rain which had begun to coat everything. A memory rose unbidden, a day a lot like this one. He'd always loved the winter, spent hours outside enjoying that bracing freshness. Mornings, god, mornings with the sun sparkling on the snow, making it look like a diamond carpet! He closed his eyes, feeling the bite on his cheeks, the crunch it made under his running feet.
"General Hospital is over; shouldn't you be in the clinic?"
"I should probably be in a mental hospital," House said and turned to greet his boss. "That's a very attractive outfit, Dr. Cuddy." He smiled when her eyes automatically dropped to her own cleavage, a flash of uncertainty flashing across her face. "I've always said if Paris Hilton inspires a look it's good enough for me."
"And I never tire of your living-under-a-bridge look, Dr. House." He levered himself to his feet, smirking at her. Dr. Lisa Cuddy, a worthy opponent for his sarcasm and a refreshing change from the former Dean of Medicine. Part of him knew if she hadn't taken over as administrator of PPTH he probably would have continued the downward path he'd been on but the other part of him wanted to push every button she had until she cried like a little girl. Cuddy's glance slipped from him to his team of doctors and back, and House saw it had turned evil in that instant. "This storm is turning into a bad one," she said, "I've sent most nonessential personnel home and only a few of the evening shift can make it in. That means," her smile widened, "I need you and your staff to stay."
"I'm sorry, Dr. Cuddy," House said, sticking his forefinger into his ear and twisting it before slowly closing the gap between them. He noticed she managed to stay just out of reach of his cane. "I thought you said you wanted me and my team to," he raised both eyebrows, pinning her with an incredulous look, "spend the night here."
Cuddy's smile sweetened. "It's for your own good, Dr. House." She gazed pointedly as this cane. "Have you every seen that Disney movie, Bambi? I think of you and ice and have visions of that poor deer spinning wildly out of control, legs everywhichway." She turned on her heel and strolled quickly out of the room. House charged after her but by the time he reached the door she had disappeared from sight, a faint cackle of laughter the only sign she had ever been there.
"Yeah, well, you're too old for Disney movies!" he shouted into the nearly deserted hall. No one even bothered to give him a quizzical look and that depressed him more than the prospect of spending the night there. House thought longingly of his apartment as he made his way slowly to the clinic for his stint with the unwashed and delusional masses. It wasn't so much that it was a great apartment, or that his piano stood waiting for him, or even the fact that he had a plasma screen TV with surround sound. He loved going home simply because he didn't have to pretend there.
Less than half a dozen people were in the clinic waiting room when he got there. "House -," he began.
"I know," the nurse on duty at the desk said with a weary sigh and a glance at her watch, "1:37." She held up a file folder.
"So what's behind door number one? Some idiot break a wrist because he didn't realize that freezing water falling from the sky might be slick? No! Don't tell me," House said, waving her silent, "surprise me!" Feigning delight he snatched the file and headed for the first exam room.
"We're what! You are kidding, right?" Foreman asked. Cameron resisted the urge to snigger, Foreman had finally gotten a date with a pharmacist he'd been flirting with for months and now this. She caught Chase's eye and they grinned at each other.
Wilson shrugged apologetically but repeated, "Dr. Cuddy would like us to stay here tonight." He quieted House's team by gesturing towards the dark sky beyond the windows. They could see the flashing amber lights of a city road crew salting the ER driveway. Beyond that, the streets were deserted, police and the weathermen all in agreement that no one should be out on unless they had to be. "This is one of the worst ice storms we've had in years. Only a hand full of the second shift could make it in and it's really not safe to drive out there. Come on," he said, flashing them his patented winning smile, "think of it as a sleepover." A sleepover, with her colleagues Dr. Wilson and Dr. House. "This could be interesting," Cameron told herself, those tantalizing glimpses of the House-Wilson friendship had intrigued her what the devil made them friends in the first place? Was Wilson always so placid in the face of Houses' caustic nature? Maybe she'd get the chance to answer some of her questions tonight. They were all still sitting with Wilson in the DM office, watching the Weather Channel when House returned from his clinic duties. She glanced at Chase again.
Early on the two of them had devised a rough gauge of House's moods. They knew House took a Vicodin approximately every four hours; that seemed to be when the pain became too much for him. It took nearly a half hour to kick in but once it did he became marginally more pleasant, if you overlooked his sarcasm and brutal honesty. Over the next three and a half hours they would witness a slow decline in his tolerance and good mood until House was once again surly and combative. At that time he would swallow another painkiller and the cycle started over, lasting until he went home. Mornings were better than afternoon, in the afternoon House was tired, he leaned more heavily on his cane and his face would be pale and drawn under his stubble. Those were the times you left him alone, let him sit and stare out the window. Those were the times when he flinched at the sound of his own name and you could tell he needed to be home. Cameron had often wondered about what happened then, did House just keep popping painkillers twenty-four/seven? It was well past six and he looked as if he needed one now. She expected to see him pull out his ever present prescription bottle and dry swallow one of the little white pills.
He didn't. Cameron blinked in surprise when House merely mocked Foreman's outrage at having to sleep dorm style and annoyed her by asking what she slept in. It seemed like token rudeness to her, lacking House's usual scathing with and disdain and Cameron knew right then - something was wrong. She watched House as they all made their way to the room Cuddy had assigned them. He moved slowly, using his cane to hold himself up even when he wasn't walking. She noticed Dr. Wilson had a way of staying close to him, always on his left side, but close enough that their arms brushed as they walked. Just like when he carried the cafeteria tray, he didn't make a big production out of it, just did what he could quietly and with the confidence of long acquaintance. She wondered what House thought of that, or if he even noticed. Right now he seemed lost in his own world, tired to the point of exhaustion. She remembered her first thought upon meeting the esteemed Dr. Gregory House - My god, how long has it been since this man has slept? In the months since, she'd grown accustomed to her boss's haggard appearance but a lot of people, staff as well as patients, commented on his slightly disheveled state, the beard stubble and the bags beneath his eyes.
When they reached the fifth floor Wilson motioned Chase to open a door on the left, it led to one of the older lounges, one they no longer used except in emergencies. Six beds, three on either side, had been lined up along the walls and beside the furthest sat a recliner. House made for the chair and lowered himself gingerly. Wilson inclined his head towards the three beds on the far side of the room, indicating she, Chase and Foreman should take those. He sat down on the bed facing House and Cameron could hear his low concerned tones from where she still stood. Ashamed of her own curiosity, she turned her attention to the room. It wasn't too bad, really, the decor a bit out-dated, but warm and clean. She saw that it had been some kind of staff room, a couple of small tables and another chair peeked out from under a sheet in the corner. A tiny TV sat on the sink counter beside a microwave perpetually blinking 12:00 and a doorway led into another, smaller, room. It was going to be a long night but, casting a glance back at the two older doctors, it was going to be interesting indeed.
After checking out the room, Foreman and Chase immediately went back to whatever they had been doing but Cameron lingered, determined to observe House and Wilson.
"I've still got two patients to check on," Wilson was saying. "Why don't you stretch out for a while and I'll bring something up from the cafeteria when I come back."
House gave him a withering glare, "You really expect me to sleep here?"
"No," Wilson said so quietly she almost missed it, "I don't." He rose and left without looking back.
"People who are pretending they aren't listening to other people's conversations should really try pretending they are doing something other than listening," House suggested from the recliner. Cameron felt her face grow warm but turned and stared at him. House gifted her with his best smirk. "So, read any good books lately? Or pilfered any library material, I should say?"
"I didn't read it."
"Ah, boring, was it?" Something flickered in his eyes, relief or disappointment? "Yes, it is. Starts off slowly and ends badly."
"With the Hero having feet of clay?" She asked and marveled at her own daring. Six months ago she wouldn't have had it in her to even allude that vaguely to his injury.
"Touch," he said and made a dramatic grab for his heart. When she didn't respond he sighed and picked up his cane, handling it with a kind of reverence. "I've got nothing for you, Cameron. No answers, no insights, nothing at all. To quote the famous mariner Popeye - I yam what I yam." House heaved himself to his feet, using his cane and the chair arm. "And I yam tired." He propped his cane against the chair, slung his jacket across the arm and stripped off his dress shirt. He was wearing a black Iron Butterfly t-shirt. She wondered if he'd gotten it at a concert and decided he looked the type. She watched him lie down on the hospital bed, a slow and awkward process and got the feeling that he'd lied. He was telling her something right then, something important only she hadn't deciphered it - yet. "Toss me that pillow on your way out," he said. Cameron handed him a pillow, watched him tuck it under his right knee and close his eyes. She turned the lights down on her way out.
House kept his eyes closed long after the sound of her footsteps had died away. He didn't want to open them again and have to face her. Instead he reached out, smiling a little to himself when his fingers closed over the head of his cane. It slid along his palm, caressing the calluses it had left there, and he pulled it up across his stomach. It felt cool, sleek. He traced the brass band around the top with the pad of his index finger, remembering the first time he'd held it. "Crutches would be better, Greg," Wilson had told him that day. "A cane is only going to make your back ache, throw your shoulders out of alignment." He hadn't cared, crutches were a sign of failure, a little more pain wasn't going to scare him. He'd faced the mother of all agony and come out reasonably intact, maybe not wholly unscathed but he was still there, even crippled he could make them look like the idiots they were. So he had purchased the cane and tried to get on with his life.
"Ah, get on with my life," House whispered to himself. That part of it hadn't exactly gone as planned. After six months in a hospital bed and another four in therapy, his life had packed up its bags, taken the cat and gone home to mother. People held doors for him now, they offered him seats on the bus. Adults whispered when he limped by, mothers shushed their little children when they asked what was wrong with him then pulled them away without meeting his eyes. He hated that with a passion which threaten to burn his soul to cinders but as much as being thought less of because of a physical defect, House hated seeing doubt in the eyes of his patients when he limped into the office, leaning on his cane. They took it literally - Physician heal thyself. Could he heal them if he was damaged? Let's try the nice doctor down the road. So he had his cane, and he still had his leg and sometimes that was enough. "Just not tonight," he said and dug in his pocket for his pills, feeling sorry for himself.
Cameron slipped off her heels the moment she stepped off the elevator. She'd heard the nurses making comments many times before but never gave them the satisfaction of knowing eight hours was her limit. Moving silently, she stepped to the doorway of the lounge and peered in. House looked as if he hadn't moved since she left; he way lying on his back with the pillow she had given him under his knee. In the dim light his skin looked ashen and his body had a tenseness she could feel from there. She glanced at her watch.
"It's 11PM." House's voice startled her.
"I thought you were sleeping," she said.
"I don't sleep," House told her, "If you listen to rumors I'd need a box filled with my native soil."
"That's just Dr. Cuddy's opinion," Cameron said, "not everyone's." He actually made a noise that might have been a laugh but it was followed immediately by a grunt of pain. He'd pushed himself up and swung his legs off the side of the bed. His cane appeared in his right hand as if by magic and a moment later he was sitting in the chair. Cameron moved further into the room, fascinated as always by him.
"Where are Chase and Foreman?"
"Pediatrics. They're having a Lord of the Rings film festival on the plasma screen down there."
"We should be safe up here," House said, "last time I looked Mount Doom was located somewhere around Cuddy's office." He tilted his head, his intense blue eyes suddenly fixed on her. "People lie, Cameron," he said, repeating his favorite bit of wisdom. "The only way to find out what you want to know is to observe. Remember that."
"What's she supposed to remember?" Wilson asked. He came in carrying a large sack which he tossed onto the table in front of House. "Food services made some sandwiches and," he held up a Thermos, "I've got coffee." He grinned at House. "Could a gerbil do all that?"
"Only one who had spent many years in higher education," House conceded. Wilson shot him a pained look as he dragged over two chairs while Cameron divvied up the food. Cameron found it difficult to follow their conversation as House and Wilson talked. They seemed to speak in a kind of teasing bicker that bordered, occasionally, on insult but which made them both laugh at odd times. House would sometimes ask her a question or Wilson might toss a clarifying remark her way, but on the whole they focused on each other. She'd never seen House so personable, there was something about him that made her pause. It wasn't until they'd finished and House had announced his intentions of going back to his office to watch MASH reruns on the local channel that she realized what it had been that had caught her attention. In those minutes with Wilson he'd looked - happy. There were still lines of pain etched in his face and she'd seen him wince several times when he moved but there had been a sparkle in his eyes that made him look healthier and happier than she'd ever seen him.
"You will come back here and get some rest," Wilson said, making it a statement and not really a question. House closed his eyes, dropping his chin to his chest as if he couldn't believe Wilson had said such a thing. He finally flapped a hand in Wilson's direction before heading off down the corridor. She and Dr. Wilson stepped out into the hall, both listening to House make his way to the elevator.
"Do you think he will?" Cameron asked, unable to stop herself.
Wilson didn't answer. He stared at her for a long moment then asked, "What do you want from him?" For the first time since meeting him, Cameron saw the steel in his soul. She'd known it was there, anyone who worked in oncology had to be strong, but Wilson hid that strength in compassion. Now, he unleashed it, his dark eyes hard as stone.
"I just-" she faltered, then lifted her chin and said, "I just want to know why. I want him to see it doesn't have to be like this."
Wilson looked away, but before he did she could see grief in his face and he suddenly seemed much older than he had only a moment earlier. "What were you like after your husband died?" Cameron drew in a sharp breath and the sound made Wilson meet her gaze. "You didn't think he would tell me?" He shrugged and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He didn't say anything else for a moment and she watched him struggle to put it into words for her. "When you lose something you love," he said with a shake of his head, "be it a person or a way of life, there's a hole inside you." She knew that hole, she'd spent too many long nights peering over the edge into the darkness below not to know its size and shape, the depth it could reach before you tore yourself away from it. "Some people can fill it back in, they throw themselves into a career," his eyes held hers for a moment, "or a hobby, or even a dream. But some people can't. Those people can't see anything but that hole. They aren't strong enough, or they never had anything but what they lost and pretty soon they start slipping into the dark."
"He has his career," Cameron pointed out, "what about the lives he's saved. Doesn't that count for something?"
"You don't get it," Wilson said and his voice rang, not with anger, but with disappointment. "Greg didn't just lose some mobility; he lost faith in all of us. He'd spent his whole professional career thinking we were all like him, curious, relentless, fascinated by it all. Well, not every doctor is curious, or relentless or fascinated. Some doctors just prescribe painkillers and hope for the best." He leaned back against the wall, eyes closed as he went on. "When it looked like he was going to lose his leg they all told him he was lucky to still be alive, as if he should be grateful their mistake had only cost him that much."
"Being alive is something to be grateful for," Cameron said.
"But living without the ability to enjoy it might not be," he said quietly. "If he could go even one day without pain I'd sell my soul to the devil." Cameron felt her heart clench at his tone, Wilson's words were so very soft, as if he had forgotten she was there. When he finally opened his eyes and looked at her he sounded as weary as he looked, "You have to understand him Cameron. The attitude, the arrogance, it's like a magician using sleight of hand. He does something annoying and you see a jerk not someone crippled; he makes you angry and you can't pity him." Wilson gave her a small, sad smile, "You called him a misanthrope? Yeah, he told me that too. He doesn't hate the world, not really, but he resents the hell out of it for what he lost. He didn't deserve this, Cameron, and it could have been prevented so easily." They both fell silent, each thinking about the man sitting in his office watching the 4077 while the night turned into morning. "Sometimes I think the only thing keeping him going is revenge. Every time he solves a case it's like flipping off the doctors who couldn't solve his." Wilson pushed himself off the wall, and stared at his feet. She got the distinct impression he was embarrassed by their talk. "I better go. Left alone he'll think of something completely inappropriate to do to Dr. Cuddy."
She watched him walk away. He hadn't said that much but he'd told her a lot. Cameron smiled, glad, not for the first time, that Gregory House still had someone he trusted, someone who cared about him like James Wilson did. House had told her people lie and the only way to get the truth was to observe. She fished in her lab coat for her notebook and flipped it open. Carefully folding the news clipping in half she made a mental note to slip it back into the PPTH file tomorrow when she went to the library.
Hawkeye and BJ had just retired to the Swamp when Wilson pushed open the door to House's office. "She's not going to quit until she knows everything about you," Wilson explained.
"Good, then I picked the right one. Curiosity, my boy, is the key." House stopped, frowned and added, "and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope."
Wilson laughed. "What if she finds out you weren't always a bastard?"
"I'll have you know my mother named some poor sap on my birth certificate," House told him. "She says I have his smile."
"Never used it, did he? Seriously, Greg, how long can you be angry at the world?"
House's smile vanished. His blue eyes lost focus as if he were seeing something that had happened a long time ago. His fingers played over the smooth stick in his hand. "I'll let you know," he said in a flat voice.
Wilson studied his friend. He remembered how it was before, he could see glimpses of the old Greg House sometimes when they were together. If that's what it took, for as long as it took, he'd be there. He had a feeling Allison Cameron might stick in there too. He picked up the lacrosse ball on House's desk, turning it over in his hand. House's eyes cleared, focusing on the movement. " I'll drive you home tomorrow, if the roads are passable," he said, and added, "That's an offer you'd never get from a gerbil."
House laughed and caught the ball.
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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 Fox Television, 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.