Fandom: House MD
Challenge/Prompt: fanfic100, 025. Strangers
Summary: Five ways James Wilson and Robert Chase never met.
Author’s Notes: Kept me distracted from an English essay, although this was something that I’d been trying to sort out for a while. I think, however, sooner or later I’d better to back to titles that are a) less stupid or at least b) less obscure (and they shouldn’t have “I” in them any more). Also; I momentarily succumbed to the fanon cliché of priest!Chase. Sue me :D
James is not entirely sure how he came to be married to Julie. He doesn’t remember meeting her and has only the faintest idea that he actually proposed. Still, it is a little late to be worrying about that now, with another ring around his finger and Julie giggling beside him in the whitest of dresses. James isn’t sure he’s ever seen his new wife giggle before and it’s a bit unsettling; but then there is something very disturbing about weddings (so he isn’t entirely sure quite why he keeps having them. Still, third time lucky and all that).
There are altogether too many members of their families hanging around, making small talk and eating altogether too many canapés and wearing altogether too much formalwear. James doesn’t recognise any of them- he hopes that it’s because they’re all from Julie’s side, but suspects he’s just completely crap at recognising people he’s related to. He can’t really bring himself to mind- he knows what his mother, father and brother look like, and that’s all that really matters.
House, wearing Levi’s and a t-shirt with a faintly obscene image on it, is seated with his feet on a table, drinking red wine from the bottle and ignoring his surroundings. He’s sulking because James wouldn’t let him be best man (learned his lesson at Wedding Number Two). Julie is conveniently pretending that she can’t see House, and James suspects that sooner or later she’ll be begging him to get different friends, just like Laura did, just like Rose did. James, two hours married, his new wife clinging excitedly to his hand, can tell, already, that it isn’t going to work out. It’s going to crash and burn for a third time and maybe he’ll learn his lesson but maybe he won’t.
Attempting to tear his mind away from figuring out which wedding presents he wants to keep during the divorce proceedings (the toaster will be pretty useful but he’d better let Julie keep the chinaware), James looks around the room of virtual strangers. His eyes land on a blonde guy chewing on his thumbnail while talking to a dark-haired woman in a sea green dress.
“Who’s that?” he asks. He’s not very interested, but anything to distract himself from the fact this marriage is over before it even starts (and hopefully Julie won’t say “oh, isn’t that your cousin’s husband or something?”, because that will just further highlight how generally rubbish he is, and, well. How is he supposed to know?)
“I don’t know,” Julie replies. “I think he’s the ‘plus one’ of my cousin.”
James feels faintly relieved and also notes that the guy has unnaturally shiny blonde hair. It’s more than a little distracting.
“My cousin’s a bit strange,” Julie is telling him, “She’s a banker and everything, but there’s something not quite right…”
James tears his eyes away from the angle of light shining off That Hair and smiles at his wife.
“Come on,” he says, attempting to make the best of a doomed, fucked-up and faintly worrying situation, “Let’s dance.”
Mrs Andrews is hours away from death now, and Wilson could go home but he stays instead. Someone ought to stay for her, mourn for her, and he tells himself firmly that he isn’t starting to sound like Cameron. So he’s still sitting there with a paper cup of instant coffee when the woman’s priest comes in, to deliver last rites or whatever it is that priest-type people do. Wilson, being Jewish, hasn’t been near a church for years, but when the young priest comes out of the room, looking grave and sad, he can’t help wondering if perhaps there was a rejuvenation that he missed.
The priest is… pretty. There’s no other word for it. He’s got longish blonde hair and blue eyes and a truly lovely face. Wilson is instantly driven to distraction (hell, if he’d known they made them this pretty, he might have converted). The guy is practically a pin-up, indecently gorgeous. Wilson wonders vaguely whether the congregation all lust after him- if, when it comes around to confessions, they all have to whisper instead of joining in with the Lord’s Prayer, I was imagining what you look like underneath that cassock. And Wilson immediately decides that he’s only thinking like that because he’s tired.
“Will it be much longer?” The irritatingly pretty priest asks, offering Wilson a small smile.
“Probably not,” Wilson replies, putting down his coffee and standing up to shake the man’s hand. “James Wilson.”
“Robert Chase,” the other man replies. He’s got a firm handshake, and God. Fuck. Whatever. Wilson has a crush on a priest. That’s going to send him straight to hell; he can tell.
“So…” he says vaguely, and it’s three a.m so nothing makes much sense, “Do you, uh, like being a priest?”
He is fully aware that it sounds like he’s trying to pick up Chase; and hell, maybe he is. Hang on- do priests take vows of chastity? He honestly can’t remember. Chase gives him an uncomfortable but bemused smile, but blushes very aesthetically.
“Oddly enough, doctor Wilson,” he begins, “I don’t come to hospitals to pick up guys.”
Yadda yadda yadda. Wilson shrugs.
“It’s got to be more fun than handing out the last rites all the time,” he suggests. Chase’s smile is more genuine this time.
“I have to go,” he tells him firmly. But there’s a hint of something. Almost.
“Of course,” Wilson says, stepping back, reaching to pick up his coffee again and knowing he’ll have to go grab a few hours’ sleep on the couch in his office soon.
“See you next time someone’s dying,” Chase says quietly in a tone that sounds almost disturbing coming from a member of the clergy, and then he’s walking away.
Julie isn’t speaking to him right now and Wilson can’t blame her exactly, but either way he’s not going home tonight. Not to that kind of silence. No.
So he finds himself in a bar getting increasingly drunk for lack of anything else to do, cellphone off, tie in his pocket, head smushed into his hand. Fuck, but he’s tired. Fuck, but he’s a lot of things. This is a bad idea. He has to work tomorrow and wandering into work hungover is a dreadful idea. Wilson has three appointments in the morning and none of them are going to be pleasant to get through and even though that thought ought to sober him up and persuade him to stop ordering shots and just go home to his silently angry wife, it just has him reaching for the glass.
House should be here but he never gets as drunk as Wilson does and somehow manages to recall everything that happens with unsettling clarity, all the better to blackmail you with my dear and so on. Sometimes it occurs to Wilson that he needs better friends, but it’s not an impulse he’ll ever act on. He knows that he’s unlikeable enough when he wants to be.
The guy three stools down from him at the bar looks as shitty as Wilson feels and as it gets later and later, it’s almost inevitable that they’d wind up actually drinking together. He’s Australian, and probably not bad looking, although James can’t actually see from this angle, what with his eyes blurring and the lighting not being nearly as good as it could be.
He promised himself that he wouldn’t cheat on Julie, not this time, this time his marriage would be sacred, but he sort of threw that out the window a year and a half ago so when he’s drunk enough for nothing to make sense in his head, it’s perfectly logical for him to be holding the guy against the wall in the disabled bathroom stall, hands fumbling in an inept fashion over disturbingly smooth skin, kissing him as well as he can manage with no motor functions to speak of.
They wind up panting and sticky and still drunk and James considers inviting himself back to the man’s apartment or at least finding somewhere to sleep so he won’t stumble back to Julie smelling like sweat and sex and alcohol, but instead he gives him a vague smile and pats that impossibly soft blonde hair and leaves without asking the man’s name, to call House and beg him for help.
(Which, after House has finished laughing himself sick, he does.)
Some days, when it’s pouring down with depressing amounts of rain and House is acting like an ass, Wilson wonders why he goes on living. Morbid, maybe, but then he is an oncologist, spending 80% of his time using words like ‘metastasised’ and ‘I’m sorry’. It can get wearing.
“This is my son,” Rowan Chase says quietly. Wilson doesn’t think he’d have guessed it from looking; the son doesn’t look a whole lot like the father. “Robert.”
They shake hands; Robert is shaking almost imperceptibly. Wilson gives his hand an extra squeeze before letting go. It’s often harder on the families than it is on the patients. He looks too young to have lost a mother and be losing a father but Wilson has learnt that there’s only so much pity he can do before it destroys him. It’s quiet for a moment; just the sound of rain against the windowpanes.
It’s too late for Rowan; he’s only got a few months left and Wilson wonders why he’d come all the way to America, dragging his son with him, to be told something he already knows, but then hope is never easy to lose- it always has to be taken. Rowan takes it with grace. Robert’s fingers clench on his knees and Wilson notes that the nails are chewed down so far there’s blood. He doesn’t speak much, but the accent is pure Australian, not twisted with Czech until it gets the most peculiar sound like Rowan’s. It’s clear from the body language that they’re not close but a few months can give time for a whole lot of repair.
A short while later, and everything clicks. Wilson bites his mouth together, recalling House sitting with a printout of possible candidates for his latest diagnostics fellow. Despite being renowned for being a complete and utter asshole, House still gets more applicants than he knows what to do with, and from time to time Wilson is forced to sit down and help him sort through them, in the hope of finding one with a backbone strong enough to last for at least three months. And there was a Robert Chase on that list. House had chewed the end of his pen for a while over that one (or would have done, were he in the habit of pen-chewing instead of pill-popping; but that’s a whole other story), trying to work out if the fact the kid had to have a whole heap of daddy issues would be worth the inevitable stick up his ass.
If House could see this pretty blonde waif sitting in the chair looking like he’s going to crack into a million pieces if someone so much as blinks at him, Wilson realises that he would have hired him on the spot. So much fun to break or some other shit that goes on in House’s world that Wilson doesn’t have a hope of understanding.
Robert squeezes his hand as he walks out, whispers ‘thank you’ in a helplessly shattered little voice, and Wilson resists the urge to hug him because although, being in this line of work, he’s as free with his hugs as he can be, he knows Robert wouldn’t appreciate it.
“I’m sorry,” he says quietly, watching Rowan walk down the corridor without waiting for his son.
“You’re not,” Robert replies, “But I like that you want to be.”
James watches him down the hall and doesn’t step back into his office and close the door for a good five minutes.
“God, I’m sorry,” the blonde man in the hideous shirt says, “I wasn’t looking where I was going.”
James looks at the black coffee splattered over the sleeve of his labcoat and thinks, well, worse things have happened.
“It’s ok,” he replies. “Are you lost?”
“I’m not lost,” the man tells him, “I’m just… disorientated.”
He fumbles in his pocket and pulls out an ID card that identifies him as one Dr Robert Chase. The photograph attached bleaches him out and really doesn’t do justice to That Hair, but it is at least genuine.
“Dr James Wilson,” he introduces himself. “You must be knew, I don’t remember seeing you around.”
“First day,” Chase tells him. “Think I might still be jetlagged.”
“Where do you need to get back to?” he asks.
“The ER,” Chase explains. “Lower levels, I know, shouldn’t be possible to get lost, but…”
“Tell you what,” Wilson offers, “I’ll walk you down.”
Chase gives him a sunny smile that probably has his female patients weak at the knees in seconds (and although Wilson has never done weak at the knees, he can’t help noticing that it is a very nice smile), and as they walk to the elevator Wilson decides he’ll have to find lots of excuses to hang around the ER.