Lady Paperclip (paperclipbitch) wrote,
Lady Paperclip
paperclipbitch

Better late than never? Argh, disorganisation sucks.

Title: Crumb By Crumb
Fandom: House
Pairings: Wilson/Cameron, Wilson/Chase, Wilson/Cuddy, Wilson/Foreman, Wilson/House (with hints at Wilson/Stacy, Wilson/Grace, Wilson/wives and Wilson/OFC)
Written for: fallen_arazil, who wanted slut!Wilson who came off still as a slightly nice guy. [and I’m going to put this towards my fanfic100 set under the prompt 026. Teammates, because I can’t think of anything else for that prompt]
Rating: PG-15
Genre: Slash/het
Summary: Wilson is looking for something. He’s just not quite sure what it is.
Author’s Notes: Wilson was supposed to come off as a nice guy in this, but all the stuff I’ve been writing lately has featured largely unsympathetic characters, and this might have affected the writing style somewhat. I did try though. Also; you can tell in certain bits of this that I was writing an English essay at the same time. Sorry. X

Set somewhere around season two during the time Wilson was sleeping on House’s couch. Because Channel Five are still not showing series three.



Before I’ve many a time knocked at stranger’s doors- discretion hardly I’m known for, probably has nothing to do, nothing at all in the world to do with you; just your lower lip on the floor, but baby I gotta get through, crumb by crumb in this big black forest…
Rufus Wainwright

Sometime after Julie has announced her need for a divorce and James has quietly accepted this and then decided that actually, turnabout is not fair play, he finds himself agreeing to a coffee with a nurse from paediatrics simply because he’s tired of his other options (drink with House, and lose half the Americano, or drink alone). She’s reasonably pretty, dark hair curling around her shoulders, and she looks tired. Wilson has lost two kids today to leukaemia, and she has been caring for them during their last hours. Now the families are sobbing into each other’s shoulders, and Wilson watches them and tries to be sympathetic but is more distracted by the fact that he needs a coffee.

The nurse is called Sara, but although she sobs into her latté beatifically, but by the time she’s finished her drink, she’s calm again. Undamaged. Undaunted. Not nearly needy enough, House would say, but Wilson knows that he’s offered all the comfort that she could ever want from him.

Sara squeezes his hand as she gets up to leave, sensible black shoes walking away with final sounding clicks on the floor. Wilson wonders dryly if perhaps he’s the one beyond needy and desperate and into some different territory entirely, but his third fucking marriage has crashed and burnt so he can cut himself some slack. House is not the slack-cutting type, but they’ve sort of got accustomed to that. Wilson’s as much a masochist as he is a sadist, so it all balances out somewhere. Probably. Hopefully.

His mouth still tastes like coffee when Cameron kisses it. Bitter, sharp, caffeinated. Perhaps she’ll come away from him looking considerably more awake than she looked when she walked into exam room two. After all, she can hardly look more tired. Her face is drained of colour and her hair is pulled back hard, giving her face a pinched, exhausted edge. Labcoat hanging loosely off her shoulders, walking slowly like her shoes are hurting her. House has been pushing all day, because he doesn’t know what their patient has, and Foreman and Chase have already snapped, barricading themselves in the lab and running tests, shouting at House whenever he tries to come near them and be sarcastic. Cameron has not so much snapped as cracked into indelicate pieces. And her fingers are tangled in his hair like he’s everything.

Perhaps, Wilson could say “no”, but the problem is that he doesn’t actually want to. Six months ago, he wouldn’t have put the smart money on him getting Cameron into bed (or, you know, on the bed in exam room two) before House, but then six months ago he’d convinced himself that the marriage would last, Julie would still love him and he’d somehow love her, and Cameron was trailing around like a puppy, blue eyes beseeching in that way that only she has (and maybe wife number two, Rose. She had pleading blue eyes too, bubbling over with desperate tears, but he does his best not to think about her, not now). Things haven’t worked out that way, and now they’re both so damaged that perhaps this is the logical conclusion.

There’s clinic duty that needs doing, a woman outside with yet another of those boring colds that Wilson spends thirty seconds diagnosing and thirty minutes trying to tell the patient that it really, no, really, he isn’t joking, really isn’t serious. Then there is Cameron, wordlessly biting her slightly swollen lower lip between her teeth, needing him right now more than anything else. Wilson fumbles with the door lock, hearing it click shut, and Cameron lets her hair tumble around her shoulders. Wilson briefly reflects that she should have kept it dark, that the highlights have ruined those waves, but he doesn’t say that, just kisses her again, holding her a little too close because he can feel her heart beating and remind himself that people are still alive and maybe love is even still possible.

Cameron pulls back, wet sobs shaking her entire frame. Wilson holds her to his chest, stroking her loose, impossibly soft hair while she cries hard enough for both of them. It’s been a long week in the oncology and diagnostics departments, but Wilson knows better than to think he has anyone to sob all over any more. Julie had no sympathy for him and he’d come home and weep into the shower when long weeks of nothing but rising mortality rates had taken their toll. Julie said all the words but didn’t mean them, but then she works in interior design and the most horrendous decisions they ever have to make are whether to paint the walls taupe or beige. Or maybe he’s being unkind. Perhaps too many years with too little empathy have just cracked him completely.

“It’s ok,” he whispers into that hair, which, underneath the clinical scent of the hospital that permeates everything, still faintly smells like fruity conditioner, while Cameron lets out her frustration and her misery and one too many comments about her ass. Perhaps she needs to toughen up or perhaps this is what she needs: the ultimate cliché, a shoulder to cry on. Come to think of it, everyone at this hospital needs a fucking shoulder to cry on. So Wilson holds her until her pager goes off and she scurries back to diagnostics, wiping her wet cheeks, trying to hide the evidence of her tears (although it’s going to be impossible; House sees all and knows all. Wilson gave up trying to figure out how years ago) and leaving him breathless and feeling worse than he did to begin with.

Normally, when Wilson finds himself at a loss of what to do, he heads up to House’s office and winds up playing noughts and crosses or snakes and ladders or battleships or some other kind of game while House mocks him for the fact his marriage has fallen apart and he’s eaten Wilson’s lunch into the bargain. If it weren’t for the fact that from time to time he catches glimpses that show him otherwise, Wilson would say that House’s personal motto is: kick a man when he’s down and you’ll wind up with more free stuff.

Right now, though, he can’t face that elevator ride up to the fourth floor to watch House yelling at his team, then stumping about in pain, spilling pills across the table, tearing himself to shreds for them all to see. He can’t handle the verbal abuse, has too much of a headache to take banter lightly, and besides, Cameron will be awkwardly avoiding his eyes and Wilson is not even slightly in the mood to put up with that. His vision is blurring and he slides slowly down the door to sit on the floor, pinching the bridge of his nose and listening to nothing but the sound of his breathing.

By four o’clock in the afternoon, House’s patient has taken a turn for the worse and is in a coma. Wilson wishes he could say that he was surprised, but he gathered that that was going to happen when Cameron started crying and House, rather than eating the container of Wilson’s salad that he stole this morning, threw it at Chase for giving a “particularly sucky answer”. Wilson supposes that the intensivist should be grateful for the fact that the dressing was contained separately, because there’s no way that House would give him time to wash vinaigrette out of his hair.

“With any luck,” House says, leaning against the whiteboard and checking his watch, “At the rate we’re going, we can make our patient completely braindead, sort out the paperwork and still get home in time for Desperate Housewives.”

Foreman rolls his eyes, Chase [for once] wisely keeps his mouth shut, and Cameron looks affronted, and once again searches through the well-thumbed files on the glass table. Wilson almost suggests paraneoplastic syndrome, just for the fucking hell of it, but even he can tell that it wouldn’t be the best of ideas right this second. So, instead, he sits quietly in one of the armchairs by the bookcase, and watches the devastated hopelessness in the pointless diagnoses thrown into the room. It doesn’t make him feel any better.

By six o’clock in the evening, Wilson has received a call from Julie’s divorce lawyer and House has figured out that the patient has been having an affair with her daughter’s karate instructor (it had to happen some time) and has therefore caught some kind of nasty tropical disease. Wilson wonders whether it’s unkind to hope that Julie catches some kind of disfiguring illness for having an affair, and avoids House because he’s not sure that he’s thick-skinned enough to deal with him right now. Stupid, really, but Wilson is more vulnerable than he’d ever admit, and, depressingly, House knows that.

“Are you all right?” Chase tosses off the comment like he doesn’t really care about the answer, and Wilson knows that Chase probably doesn’t, because Chase cares about very little. It’s not a good trait in a doctor but at least he doesn’t spend as many sleepless nights as Wilson does.

“No,” Wilson says softly, and it comes out on a bitter laugh. He wants to swallow the word the moment he says it, because even though right now he wants someone to sit him down and tell him that everything will be all right, he does not want that person to be Chase. He remembers only too well how Chase dealt with Cameron’s HIV crisis. And then he hates himself for thinking that actually, that might be just what he needs.

“Is it House?” Chase asks without looking at him, crossing over to make himself a coffee.

You know, Chase, not everything is about House, Wilson thinks, but he knows that House would kill him if any of his fellows ever found this out, so instead he says: “Ever had one of those days where it’s just everything?”

He watches three different responses die on Chase’s lips but decides not to flatter himself by pretending to know what any of them are. Instead, there is a pause and Chase says:

“I’ve got a couch if you need one.”

Wilson is about to tell him not to be stupid, and then he thinks about House making him do the washing up, having to try and find a comfortable spot on the slippery leather couch, and being generally glared at for ‘blow-drying his hair loudly’ and other deadly sins. Chase gives him a little smile that tells Wilson that he’s more perceptive than Wilson ever gave him credit for- not that that’s difficult; sometimes Wilson finds himself wondering whether Chase ever sees what’s going on right in front of his face.

“I’ve just got to finish administering the meds to Lucy,” Chase says, “And then we can get out of here.”

Wilson is barely thinking this is a bad idea, because really, it’s no worse than some of the other ideas he’s made in the past couple of years, and instead finds himself, less than an hour later, on Chase’s couch with a bottle of beer. He’s had worse evenings. He’s had better. He calls House to tell him that he won’t be home tonight and House laughs in a way that tells Wilson that he knows everything. For a terrifying moment, Wilson wonders if House actually put Chase up to this, but then forces himself to remember that House is not quite a pimp, at least not yet, and Chase would hardly willingly sell himself (except for those three months or so with Vogler- ah. Maybe he would then).

“Why are you doing this?” Wilson asks. He doesn’t feel better as such, but he does feel different, which, if that’s all he can get, is better than nothing.

“I have no idea,” Chase tells him, shrugging, head leaning back into the cushions, sipping his own beer. “Does it matter?”

“It should do,” Wilson sighs, leaving the but it doesn’t purely to speculation. He hardly knows Chase and there’s something suspiciously one-night-stand about this whole set-up, except that a one night stand with Chase will result in blushes and dropped coffee mugs in the diagnostics department for the next… forever. Not to mention the fact that House will know and state the fact that he knows in a particularly frustrating fashion.

Three beers later, with his lips pressed to Chase’s, Wilson tries to tell himself this again. Begins to list a whole column of cons about this situation, even as Chase runs his tongue over Wilson’s back teeth and crawls onto his lap. This is, depressingly, more prolonged contact than he’s had in months, and Wilson tangles his fingers in that mane of blonde partially because there’s something about Chase’s hair that just invites you to do that, and partially because House will undoubtedly find out about this and then ask questions, and he’ll need to be able to provide complex details on just how soft Chase’s hair actually is.

Wilson winds up sleeping in Chase’s bed, which has sheets with an obnoxiously high thread count in a shade of beige that once again reminds Wilson of his second wife (and he wishes that people would stop reminding him of Rose today. It is not helping). He wakes up earlier than Chase in the morning, makes himself a coffee, takes a shower, and leaves Chase alone to wake up, just in case the other man hasn’t got the idea that this is never, never going to happen again.

“I’m disappointed that you’re not wearing one of Chase’s shirts,” House tells him. “I’m certain that acid green would really set off your eyes.”

“I was going to,” Wilson sighs, “But then I couldn’t decide between deep pink and striped or yellow with some form of hideous paisley pattern.”

All that Chase has to say on the matter is a casually muttered “No wonder you’ve been divorced three times” somewhere around lunch, while Cameron avoids Wilson’s gaze (it was only a fucking kiss and some well-timed sobbing, for God’s sake, what is she, fifteen?) and Wilson remembers that of course, yes, Chase really doesn’t give a damn about anything.

“Feel better?” House asks early on in the evening. Wilson shrugs in a non-committal fashion and thinks no. He sleeps on the lumpy and uncomfortable couch that evening, and tries not to think about complaining.

Lunch with Cuddy the next day turns into a distracted sort of fumbling in her office before Wilson has time to notice the transition. It’s been months since they last did this, the one last thing that House must never, under any circumstances, know about. Lisa is beautiful with laughter, dark hair tumbling around her shoulders, breasts warm and soft in his hands as Wilson takes his time kissing the lipstick off her mouth and smearing it down her neck with his own lips. Lisa is one of the last shreds of sanity left to him, and they have what could almost be construed as an affair from time to time perhaps because they can and perhaps because they need it.

Sleeping with your boss. It’s a cliché, but then Wilson is terribly good at clichés. Hell, tomorrow morning, he may even get some roses anonymously delivered to her office. Just to watch her blush, because she knows they’re from him.

Lisa is the only person he’s known in the last couple of years that he seriously thought could be wife number four. He’ll never, never tell her, and it’s more than his life’s worth to let House guess. So he loses himself in her, her thighs squeezing his head so hard his ears ring, and when he finally has to get his clothes back on, for a whole five minutes the world is almost in one piece again. Or maybe it’s because his relationship with Cuddy is the only thing that House doesn’t know about, the final line he can’t cross, and it’s almost nice for Wilson to have a piece of his private life relatively private again.

However, he has absolutely no excuse when it comes to Foreman.

He has another argument with House in the afternoon, over the way the diagnostician has been treating his clinic patients (“Just because your leg hurts doesn’t mean that you get to be so- so flippant over telling a patient that they’ve only got a few months to live! Why the hell didn’t you call me?” “Well, Jimmy, the way that you’re carrying on at the moment, I wasn’t entirely sure that you’d be able to keep your hands off her.”), which leaves both of them fuming. Wilson spends about three-quarters of his time angry with House as it is; it’s an emotion he’s used to and can deal with, and so spends the next couple of hours having meetings with his patients and supervising the treatment of leukaemia in a nine-year-old girl. House must spend most of his time angry with Wilson too (their relationship is hardly healthy or healing in any way, shape or form and maybe that ought to matter but it doesn’t, not really, not when you get right down to it), but he lets it matter too much. That’s the thing about House. He may pretend that he represses all his emotions into neat [Stacy-sized] boxes, but if he’s feeling something, he makes sure that everyone else goes through it right alongside him. Wilson knows the true feeling of repression, and it’s unspeakably uncomfortable.

It becomes clear that House has been tormenting his team as a direct result of this when Wilson finds Foreman in his office again. The last time Foreman came into his office unbidden, it was to beg him to tell him how to usurp House and keep his place as head of the diagnostics department (to which Wilson replied that he’d need a sword and a toga, and then proceeded to be even more unhelpful). Since there have been no court cases recently and House is still quite happily king of all that he surveys, Wilson allows himself to hope that this conversation will be considerably less awkward.

A moment later, and he is punished for his own optimism.

“Can you just apologise to House?” Foreman asks, sounding a cross between frustrated and exhausted. No, Wilson thinks childishly, just about managing to avoid pouting.

“Why?” he asks.

“Because he’s making our lives hell,” Foreman replies simply, shrugging those broad shoulders.

So what else is new? Wilson thinks from inside the safety of his own head. However, it doesn’t work like that because he is The Nice One, so instead he says: “Would it actually make a difference?”

“Cameron’s on the verge of crying,” Foreman offers. Wilson doesn’t care. Aren’t they all?

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Wilson says, even though he isn’t, not really. “But I still don’t see how my apologising to House will make Cameron feel better.”

“Fine then.” Foreman gives him a little smile that is suddenly uncomfortably reminiscent of the ones House gives when he knows that he’s about to win an argument. “Apologise, because where else are you going to sleep tonight?”

He has Wilson there, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to wave his white flag and admit defeat. If Wilson has learned nothing else from House, it’s to always have another option up his sleeve. Preferably two, if there’s room.

You have a couch, right?” he says.

Foreman’s eyes widen in something that might be horror.

“Oh no,” he says, “No. I know what happened with you and Chase.”

Wilson gives him a butter-wouldn’t-melt sort of smile that positively screams the message: but Dr Foreman, Chase seduced me! I had nothing to do with it! Foreman gives him a mostly disbelieving look because, unlike most of the hospital staff, he is actually sensible enough to see through most of Wilson’s masks and cover-ups, but still, he’s still just about gullible enough to sigh and write down his address, with a long-suffering expression.

“Wilson,” House says, barely half an hour later (Wilson does not bother to enquire how he has found out; House knows everything, and wouldn’t be House if he didn’t know the details of every conversation ever), “If I could cook, I would make you a cake with SLUT written in big red letters on the top.”

“You’re too late,” Wilson says lightly, “Julie gave me one as a ‘Happy Divorce’ present. I couldn’t really enjoy it though, she’d put far too much cyanide in the frosting.”

That gets a laugh from House, and Wilson knows now that everything is forgiven, even though he technically is not the one that has to be forgiven. He is not the one in the wrong. However, years of experience have taught him that House is forever in the right when they look back over the argument, no matter what happened.

“Have fun with Foreman,” is all House says, with too much of a laugh in his tone. He’s either genuinely amused, or trying to hide something (Wilson decides not to work out which).

So Wilson does. It’s entirely too easy, really, because he’s perfectly aware that Foreman is open to anything and it’s been a long month or two for both of them (fuck that, it’s been a long fellowship for Foreman, and a long friendship- encompassing at least the last ten years- for Wilson). They don’t even have to get drunk before Wilson has his hands fisted in Foreman’s shirt and Foreman’s lips are pressed to his.

And it’s different, which makes a change. Chase was too like Cameron, and Cameron was too like Cuddy, Cuddy is a little too much like most of his wives, and he’s lost count of quite how many nurses he’s sat around and had coffee with, to the point where they’ve all blended into some kind of homogenous stereotype (unfair, maybe, but true); but Foreman is new territory entirely. For one thing, Wilson can tell that he hasn’t entirely bought into the nice-doctor-Wilson thing that he has going, and tomorrow there will be shouting and regrets and blame. For another, he’s not entirely certain of Foreman’s motivation- just why is he pushing his boss’ best friend (who he’s only ever really acted towards with indifference- at least until this point) against the beige paint of his bedroom walls (always fucking beige, Wilson has to reflect miserably), strong fingers tangling in his hair?

Perhaps he could ask, perhaps House will figure it out tomorrow, perhaps it doesn’t matter as much as it could do- perhaps Wilson is just losing his touch. He used to know intimately just whose penance he was and what had broken to mean that he was suddenly the most attractive option, but this simply confuses him, and it doesn’t fix anything in his head.

“Do you even want to do this?” Foreman asks at some point when their legs are tangled together to a degree that makes Wilson wonder if they’ll ever, ever get separated again.

“Of course,” Wilson replies, in the overused tone that he’s inflicted on so many wives and lovers about a week before they break up for good. Foreman still looks suspicious, so Wilson tries to just lose himself in feeling, rather than in the logistics.

Next morning, he still has a migraine, and Foreman gives him an I-told-you-this-wasn’t-what-you-actually-wanted sort of look as he hands him a mug of coffee.

Wilson decides to start handing out his cellphone number to estate agents, so that there’s no possibility of House intercepting the call again all in the name of ‘helping’. He’s beginning to realise that sleeping on House’s couch is not doing either of them any good. Trapped in a small apartment with a crazy drug addict with the bluest eyes in the known universe is probably killing him. No. Definitely killing him. No wonder he can’t think straight and is making the worst decisions he’s made in at least four years. For the sake of his sanity, for the sake of his friendship with House, and for the sake of the rest of the staff of Princeton/Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, Wilson knows that he’s got to get out of there.

So he’s standing on his balcony keying in the number of an estate agent when he hears House tapping up behind him.

“What, are you going to call up Stacy? See if she’s in the mood to make the beast with two backs?”

Wilson watches his shadow stretch across the ground, far too close to House’s for comfort.

“This has never bothered you before,” he points out slowly. House laughs slightly, but the sound is bitter.

“What is it that you’re looking for, Wilson?” he asks, sounding genuinely curious.

“I’m not entirely sure,” Wilson admits uncomfortably.

“Well, I suggest you figure it out,” House says. “Before we have to start hiring you hookers, or at least easier nursing staff.”

Wilson glares at him, faintly hurt at the implications.

“Come on, Jimmy, you’re collecting the hospital staff like baseball cards.” House points out. “I’ll swap you Cameron for Debbie from accounting.”

Wilson has never slept with Debbie. Which is ironic, really, considering all the remarks House makes at her expense; Wilson almost wants to send her a cheque to compensate for all the times that House has taken her name in vain.

“If this really is bothering you-” he begins. House smiles at him in a fashion that makes him want to take a step back and hide behind something.

“You’ll what?” House demands. “Stop it all? Tell me that you love me, and only me, and we’ll work through it all somehow?”

Wilson actually takes that involuntary step back, breath rushing out of him because House has finally scored a direct hit.

“You have no right-” he begins, low and angry.

“Why not?” House smirks. “You’re treating me like one of your wives, after all.” The smirk broadens. “They don’t get fucked either.”

“So that’s what you want, is it?” Wilson snarls. “You want me to-”

“Well, I deserve it more than Chase does, you have to admit,” House murmurs. There’s a brief pause. “No, Wilson, even you have to know that that would be a sensationally bad idea, even by your rather low standards.”

That doesn’t mean that you don’t want it, Wilson thinks, but he doesn’t have the balls to say it aloud. He does know that House is the final boundary that he can’t cross. Well, he could, but he knows how it would end.

“Fine,” he says softly, and walks away.

That evening, he wonders if he can face going back to House’s claustrophobic apartment, but he has no choice in the matter. Whatever happens, he’s trapped with House until one or both of them dies, and even then it’s only theoretical that the bond between them would be broken. So he walks out towards the hospital parking lot, mentally resigning himself to another evening of barely-concealed rebukes and washing up, when he notices the figure standing outside reception. He gets a little closer, and sees that it’s Grace, one of his patients. She doesn’t have a whole lot of time left, but he’s not sure if she’ll ever really come to terms with it.

“Are you ok?” he asks her. She turns, surprised.

“Oh, Dr Wilson. I didn’t see you there.” She gives him a tentative smile.

“Call me James,” he says. “Are you sure you’re all right?”

Grace laughs a little tiredly. This close, he can see how exhausted she is.

“My ride hasn’t shown,” she tells him, in a tone that implies this happens often enough for her to be used to it. “It’s nothing.”

The voice in the back of Wilson’s head that sounds like House tells him that this is also a very, very bad idea, and he shouldn’t go through with it. He knows how it will end. It’s an inevitable aspect of being James Wilson. But then again, he’s gone years without listening to that voice, so he’s not going to start now. His migraine starts to ease a little.

“Come on,” he says with a smile, “I’ll drive you home.”

Tags: challenge: fanfic100, character: allison cameron, character: eric foreman, character: greg house, character: james wilson, character: lisa cuddy, character: robert chase, pairing: house/wilson, pairing: james wilson/allison cameron, pairing: james wilson/eric foreman, pairing: james wilson/lisa cuddy, pairing: robert chase/james wilson, pairing: wilson/grace, pairing: wilson/wives, tv show: house md, type: het, type: slash
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