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Limericks H/W 1/1

I guess since people are coming here, I should post something. Here's my "Wilson has cancer" story. He doesn't die.

Wilson’s waiting in House’s office when he gets in.

“What’s up? No little baldheaded people in need of comforting this morning?”

“House.” Wilson is serious. “I need your help.”

“What’s the case?” He puts out his hand for the folder Wilson isn’t holding.

“I need an ultrasound.”

House mugs. “Who’d you knock up?”

“I—there’s a lump.” Wilson feels cold.

“You’re the oncologist.” He still doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to.

“Louise found it,” Wilson says.

“Louise. Your flavor of the month. Where?” House turns on the coffee machine. “You want an ultrasound. Testicle.”

Wilson covers his face with his hand and mumbles, “Yes. Can we get the mockery out of the way quickly? Please?”

“Ultrasound first. I don’t want to waste a good mocking if there’s nothing wrong with you.” He turns off the coffee maker. “We’ll use the clinic.” He limps off in a hurry.

Wilson catches up. “It’s probably…it might be nothing.”

“Yeah, I know.” He shifts his cane to his left hand and grabs Wilson’s throat. “Your glands aren’t swollen.”

“I know.” Wilson bats his hand away.

“Did you do any bloodwork yet?”

“No. The ultrasound is the first step, and it’s pretty conclusive.”

“Yeah.” House hesitates. “Julie didn’t find it?”

“My wife hasn’t touched me in months. Can we schedule the mockery about that for after the ultrasound, too?”


In an exam room, House palpates the mass. “It’s not very big.”


“The mass, you moron.” He looks down. “Although--”

“Shut up.”

Wilson puts the conductor gel on his own scrotum, thank you very much, and House switches on the machine. “Nervous?”


Wilson watches his friend instead of the screen. House bites his lower lip and shakes his head. Wilson’s sure he’s seen that particular bad-news face on General Hospital, which is enough to make him hope House is fucking with him. If he doesn’t have cancer, House would think it was funny to make him worry.

“Look,” House growls at him.

He looks. “It’s a solid mass.” Which means its cancer. Which means he has a date with a scalpel coming up real soon.

“That’s what I thought, but you’re the expert,” House says lightly. “What are you going to tell Julie? About how you found it?”

“Uh…I’ll tell her I noticed it in the shower.”

House nods. “That’ll work. You know, I always wondered if anybody actually does those monthly self exams. But if you, oncologist and boy scout, don’t, nobody does.” He hands Wilson some paper towels. “Clean yourself up, put your pants on, and find yourself a surgeon.”

He does. “Mortality rate is only—I’m not going to die. Probably.”

“I know.”

“Then why aren’t you making fun of me?” House makes fun of everybody. Even people who really are dying.

“I thought I’d wait a day or two. Let the news sink in. Plus I need time to come up with some really good testicular cancer jokes.”

“That’s makes sense.” It’s complete horseshit, actually.

“Keep me posted,” House says.

“I will.”

They go their separate ways. Wilson picks Evelyn Posey to handle his case. (he’s a case now.) He considers starting a file and giving it to her without mentioning that he’s the patient—that is, after all, what House would do. But he doesn’t.

She examines him, and confirms the diagnosis. She doesn’t have to tell him that removal of the testicle is the only reasonable treatment option, but she does. She also tells him that many men find the prospect of losing a testicle very upsetting.

“Yeah, I know,” Wilson says, letting his irritation show. “Why don’t you go ahead and schedule the surgery.”

“Of course. We should do it--”

“As soon as possible. I know. Tomorrow, if you can get an OR. I have a lot to do today.” They really don’t have to do it that quickly, but he wants to get it over with. They can’t do the biopsy until it’s out, and he wants to know. “And I have to tell my wife. But tomorrow is good. If you can get an OR.” For him, she could get one in twenty minutes, but tomorrow is soon enough.

He spends the day doing ordinary things. Telling people they’re dying, injecting kids with poison, attending meetings, eating lunch. Several times he thinks, This will make me a better doctor. I’ll be able to tell them I know what this is like. He isn’t sure it’s worth it, and he feels shallow for thinking that. It’s only a testicle. The other one will still be there. He and Julie could even have kids, if they ever wanted to. The cancer probably hasn’t spread. It usually doesn’t. He probably isn’t going to die.

He leaves his office on time, for a change. Julie will know something is wrong the moment she sees his car pulling into the driveway before dark.

He stops by House’s place on the way out. The team is whiteboarding, but House stops mid-word to look a question at him.

“Surgery’s tomorrow,” he says. “Ten AM.”

“I’ll be there,” House says, even though he didn’t ask.

\ Cameron turns, looks puzzled. “The patient doesn’t need—“

“Different patient,” House snaps.

“If Julie comes along,” Wilson continues, “be—well, I won’t bother asking you to be nice, but--don’t make any jokes about how it must be a dream come true, or—I really don’t need you two screaming at each other outside the OR and distracting the surgeon.”

House just nods.

“I’m getting Posey to handle it. She knows to come to you if she needs a hand on the lab work.” She won’t need one, but Wilson wants to give House something to do other than worry. “We should have a pretty good idea what we’re dealing with by tomorrow afternoon.”

House nods again. “Good.”

The kids are looking back and forth at each other. “What’s wrong?” Chase asks.

This will be the first time he’s said the words to anyone who doesn’t already know. “Testicular cancer,” he says.

A beat later, House says, “Julie’s having him neutered.”

The guys wince, and, a moment later, Cameron does too.

“It’s one of the most treatable cancers,” Wilson says. “I’m not too worried. And it’s only the one testicle. I’ll be playing with the other puppies in no time.”

“All right,” House tells his team. “That’s enough gawking. Back to work…”

As it turns out, Julie has a full schedule and won’t be coming with him. “It’s a routine procedure, you said,” she reminds him. “You don’t need me there.”

“No, I’ll be fine.” He goes in to work at eight, and has time to tidy up a few more things before House comes to walk him to the OR.

“So are you going to keep it?” he inquires.
“Keep what?”

“The testicle.”

“What, in a jar on my desk?”

“A jar on Julie’s, maybe?”

“No, I’m not going to keep it. Unless you want it?”

House thinks. “No, I guess not.”

“Good. That would be weird, even for us.”

House shrugs. “I can’t believe Julie didn’t come,” he says as Wilson changes into a gown.

“She was busy.”

“Too busy to-” He stops. “If you die because she stopped having sex with you--” He makes a fist and lets it drop.

“Even if it is…advanced…it’s not her fault. I could have spotted it.”

“I don’t care.”

“Doctor House,” an OR nurse tells him, “unless you’re scrubbing in, you need to leave now.”

“Okay,” he says. Then, “I love you.”

Wilson wonders—as he’s sure House meant him to—just what he meant. The usual I’m-better-for-you-than-Julie? The mockery House promised him? Or is it…true?

When the anesthesiologist tells him to count backwards from ten, he says, “Ten. Nine. I love him too, I think,” and falls under.


Cameron is on their computer when House gets back to the office. “Good,” he says, “find a site with limericks. I need the one about Joey Small, who only had one ball.” She makes her “sexual harassment isn’t funny, unless I’m the one doing it” face. House adds, “I’m making a get-well card for Wilson.”

Now it’s the “you didn’t” face. “That’s going too far, even for you,” she says, and gets up from the machine.

“Fine, I’ll do my own googling. I know how.”

Chase recovers fastest. “I thought it was a lad from Whitehall.”

“Fine, you look for it.” He goes to get coffee, and Chase takes over at the computer.

Cameron follows him. “Doctor Wilson is your friend.”

“Well, duh. That’s why I’m making him a card, with my own two little hands. It’s more special that way.”

“I’m having trouble finding it,” Chase reports. “Under ‘Joey Small’ or ‘Whitehall’.”

“Keep looking,” House tells him.

“I can’t believe you’re helping him.” Cameron turns on Chase. “Wilson must be feeling very vulnerable right now, and--”

Foreman takes pity on her and ruins House’s fun. “Cameron, he’s a guy. He’d feel worse if House didn’t rip on him.”

“Thank you, Doctor Obvious,” House mutters.

“This one might work,” Chase says tentatively.

House goes to look over his shoulder, and declaims, “’There once was a young lad named Paul’—so far, so good. ‘The poor tad had only one ball. It made him walk with a gimp--” He stops abruptly and clears his throat. “You think that’s funny?” he says in an outraged voice.

Cameron looks at Chase like he just kicked her favorite puppy. Foreman obviously doesn’t fall for it, but this time he doesn’t ruin the joke. Chase cringes, just a little bit. “Um,” he says. “Maybe not. I wasn’t thinking….”

“Obviously not,” House snaps.

“I’m sorry,” Chase mutters, and reaches for the mouse. “I’ll just find--”

House isn’t sure how long it will take to find it again, so he cuts the bit short. “Don’t. It’s perfect. Print it out.”

Chase looks at him suspiciously for a moment, then says, a bit smugly, “You bastard.”


House tracks Wilson down in his room a little while later. He’s just coming around.

“Everything went fine,” a nurse says. House grabs the chart out of her hands to see for himself.

Wilson rubs his face and sleepily says, “Hey. Wasn’t sure if you’d be here, or in the lab.” The lab is where the action is—where the hospital’s second-best oncologist will be cutting up the tumor and putting it under a microscope to see how serious it is, and how likely to have spread. Here, all House can do is keep him company.

“Posey told me to stop hovering,” House admits, and sits on the edge of Wilson’s bed.

“I’m glad you’re here,” he says. He’s woozy enough to get away with it.

“How do you feel?”

“Tired,” he admits. “And I know in a few minutes somebody’s going to come in here and make me get up and walk around.”

“Sucks to be you,” House says sympathetically.

“Do people still say that?”

“Dunno.” He tugs at Wilson’s blanket. “Let’s see your incision.”

“You just wanna ogle me in my weakened state,” he protests, but lets him. Wilson cranes his neck, but he can’t see it. On the other hand, he doesn’t have to. It’ll be a small incision in the fold where his leg meets his body. House pokes it. “Looks fine. Shouldn’t leave much of a scar.”

“Yeah, I know. I won’t even notice.”

“I sure would. That reminds me--I made you a card.”

“With your paste and crayons?”

“Markers.” House pulls a wadded-up piece of paper out of his jacket pocket and meticulously smoothes out the wrinkles before handing it over to Wilson.

Wilson reads the front of the card, “There once was a young lad named Paul,” and groans. “I think it’s gonna hurt if I laugh.”

“Maybe you better read it later.”

Wilson reads on. “The poor tad had only one ball,” he continues. The stick figure underneath it is considerably anatomically exaggerated. “It made him walk with a gimp.” Two stick figures, one with a cane, to make sure he gets it. “When his dick was limp, with a hard-on he’d stumble and fall. Xx, your limping twerp.” He looks up at House. “I’m touched.”

“In the naughty place?” House suggests.

“Not for a couple of weeks.”

House turns on the TV and clicks through the channels. “Why do we have a plasma screen TV with cable and Tivo in nearly every lounge in this hospital, and a twenty-year-old Sony with two channels in here?”

“It should get PBS, too.”

“I’m surprised it gets color.” House finds PBS, and it’s showing Sesame Street. He leaves it on. “Are you Ernie, or Bert?”

“Ernie, I guess,” Wilson says. “If either of us collected paperclips, it would be you.”

They bicker about it for a while, until House concedes, “If either of us had a rubber duckie, it would be you.”

A nurse comes in. She checks his incision, and then it’s time to get up and walk. House moves to a chair in the corner, saying, “I’d let you lean on me, but we’d both fall over, and it would be a whole thing.”

He leans on the nurse instead. She clucks sympathetically and pats his arm. He’d rather have House. After ten minutes on his feet, he’s allowed to get back into bed.

House calls down to his office and tells whichever of his team answers to go down to the lab and help Posey, “Whether she wants any help or not.” Wilson can hear someone—probably Cameron—protesting as House hangs up.

Julie comes in a little while later. She’s carrying a potted plant and three balloons, all recognizably from the hospital gift shop. When House sees what she’s carrying, he laughs and says, “Julie, I have a whole new respect for you.”

She looks baffled, and Wilson is too, until he looks at the plant and realizes it’s an orchid. It does hurt to laugh, it turns out.

Julie looks back and forth between them. “What’s so funny?”

House starts to answer, shuts his mouth. Then he gets up and takes the plant from her, and puts it on the windowsill with his card. “I’ll give you kids some privacy,” he says, limping toward the door. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“That pretty much limits us to felonies, doesn’t it?” Wilson says.

“Activities illegal in most of the red states, anyway.” He leaves.

Julie sits down in the chair he vacated. She looks pale and drawn. Worried, he supposes. “Are you holding up all right?”

She nods, and says something about traffic.

“This is one of the most treatable cancers,” Wilson says. “Chances are the surgery took care of it completely. We’ll know for sure when Dr. Posey finishes the biopsy, but—“

“Stop,” Julie says. “I’m not one of your—patients.” She says it like it’s a dirty word. “You don’t have to comfort me.”

“Sorry,” Wilson says meekly.

Julie huffs and shakes her head. “I don’t know why I’m even here.”

“Because you’re my wife?”

“Yeah,” Julie says distantly. “Right.”

“What’s going on?” He must be missing something.

“I said maybe I wouldn’t come, and you didn’t even argue with me,” Julie says, as if that’s somehow an explanation.

“It’s a routine procedure,” Wilson says again.

“You have cancer, and you don’t even care if I’m with you or not.”

“I had House.”

“Exactly.” She opens and closes her purse. “You don’t need me. You never did.”

“Let’s not fight now,” he says. “God. House went away so I wouldn’t have to watch you two fight, and now here you are, fighting anyway.”

“I’m not fighting with House. Can you even tell the difference?”

“Between you and him? Of course I--”

“Between you and him.”

It’s such a strange question that Wilson blinks. “He’s the one with the cane. I’m the one with one testicle.”

“That’s just hilarious,” Julie says flatly. “I think you’re glad you’re sick. It gives you one more thing in common with him.”

“Oh, all right. You caught me. I was trying to give myself osteosarcoma so I’d have to amputate my leg, but I slipped and got my left nut instead.”

“I didn’t say you--”

And on, and on, and on, until Wilson closes his eyes and stops responding.

Julie hurries over to the door and slides it open. “Nurse! Nurse! My husband--”

“I’m tired,” he says. And he is. Tired of fighting, tired of lying, tired of always having to justify himself. But the nurses come in and start taking his vital signs, and Julie slips away in the confusion.

House comes back soon with the pathology report. His tumor is seminomal—a garden-variety testicular tumor. Provisionally stage one, although they won’t be absolutely sure until they repeat the bloodwork in two weeks. This is good news. He tells House so.

“Yep,” House says.

“What did Posey say about chemo?” he asks, flipping to the end of the report.

“Six week course,” House says. “Once a week.”

It’s what he’d recommend too. He sighs.

“You’re gonna look like ET,” House points out. Wilson has shaved his head before, to support young patients who were upset about losing their hair. House always says that he looks like ET. Wilson doesn’t see the resemblance.

“Speaking of phoning home, where’s Julie? Another unmissable Junior League meeting?”

“We argued. She left.”

House whistled. “Cold. Did she find out about Louise?”

“No. She’s just…I don’t know. Stress.”

“Yeah, this must be a difficult time for her,” House deadpans.

“Seriously, a cancer diagnosis affects the entire family.”

House flaps his hand at him. “I know, I know.”

After a while, Wilson admits, “I was sort of expecting her to come in here and kiss my forehead and hold my hand. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“Yeah, you selfish bastard.” But House drags his chair up to the bedside and takes his hand. Wilson knows better than to comment on it.

Other friends are in and out all day—doctors, staff, and even a few patients and their family members. Wilson gives the same cheery speech to each one—most treatable type of cancer, surgery probably got it all, short course of chemo just to be on the safe side. The windowsill gets crowded with cards, flowers, and stuffed animals. An orderly brings lunch, and House steals his Jello.

House is busy reenacting a passionate love scene from General Hospital with two teddy bears and a mouse when Cuddy comes in. “Hi, Wilson, how are you?”

He runs through the spiel.

“That’s great. Just…great. House, you told the clinic receptionist you had a family emergency.”

House looks blank. “Yeah? So?"

“So, since she’s new, she doesn’t know that you have no family. I, on the other hand, am not new.”

“Well, yeah, see,” House says, “I have this best friend, and it turns out he’s in the hospital. The big C, you know, and--”

“Oh, fine,” Cuddy says. “But you’re back at work tomorrow, or you’re out on your ass.”

House starts to protest, but Wilson says, “I’m going to be back at work tomorrow. You can stay here by yourself if you want, but you’ll be bored to tears in twenty minutes.”

Cuddy nods. “And if we get swamped today, I’m paging you.”

“Fair enough,” House says agreeably.

“And when you don’t answer your page, I’ll send two orderlies to drop a net on you and carry you down to the clinic.”

“Who’s Annette? And does she put out?”

Cuddy says, “Ha ha,” and leaves, saying, “Hope you feel better, Wilson,” over her shoulder.

“You blew off the clinic to be with me?” Wilson asks. He’s oddly touched.

“I blow off the clinic to clip my fingernails,” House points out.

True. “You said I was a family emergency.”

“I figure I have some coming to me. Since I have no family.”

“Yeah, well, you’ve got me.” Wilson feels sleepy. Probably from a serious Jello deficiency. He says something to that effect to House.

“Yeah, it’s the Jello. Go to sleep. I’ll be here.”

He sleeps.


The next day, as promised, Wilson is back at his desk. The incision site still feels a little sore when he walks or changes position, but he does most of his work sitting behind his desk these days, so it doesn’t matter much. Julie hadn’t come by when he checked out in the morning. He supposes there’s no reason why she should have—he wasn’t even leaving the building. And House had come by just in time to help him move his get-well cards and presents to his office, so that was all right too.

The haul increases steadily throughout the day, as everyone who comes to his office on business also brings something and inquires sincerely after his health. It grows to be a little wearing.

He is decidedly relieved when House hobbles in. He helps himself to a muffin from the basket the board had sent and puts his feet up. He takes a bite, makes a face, and asks, “What the hell is this?”

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to talk with your mouth full?” He waves at the basket. “There’s a…chart of some kind.”

House limps over to the basket and roots around in it until he finds the card. He makes a show of comparing the muffin in his hand to the pictures on the chart. “Cappuccino Spiced Almond,” he reads. “Who the hell makes a coffee-flavored muffin?”

“The chocolate ones are good.”

House places the cappuccino muffin on the bookshelf and takes one of the chocolate ones.

“Leg bothering you?” Wilson asks as House hobbles back to his chair. He’s limping worse than usual today.

“Can’t complain. How’s your scrotum?”

“Never better.”

“That reminds me, Cameron sent a floral tribute over here with me, but I lost it on the way.”

“What a shame. I’m almost running out.”

“Yeah.” House looks at the shelf where his cards and presents are displayed. “Looks like a prom queen died.”

“Well, I do have a smile that lights up a dance floor.” He’s still going to have to send Cameron a thank-you note. “What was it?”

“What was what?”


House scrunches up his face in thought. “Not roses,” he finally says.

That’s helpful. “Dear Doctor Cameron. The bouquet of things that definitely weren’t roses cheered me immeasurably in my hour of need….”

“You don’t have to send her a note.” House sits back in his chair. “Hey, if Julie leaves you, she can be the next Mrs. Wilson. She really digs guys with cancer.”

The thought makes him sad, somehow. “I thought terminal cancer was her type.”

“Right. You dodged a bullet there.” House finds that he can reach some of the stuffed animals without getting up. He starts arranging them into sexual positions.

“Julie hasn’t called,” Wilson says.

“Uh-huh. What do you think, the pig with the mouse, or is the hippo more her type?”
“The pig is a female?”

“Yes. You know what, I think she’s a lesbian.” He hooks a cow with the handle of his cane and arranges it in a passionate embrace with the pig. “Now the mouse and the hippo have to be gay together too.”

“There’s all those bears left,” Wilson points out. “Aren’t some of them girls?”

“Bears only do it with other bears,” House says, as if this were obvious. “Except for that one with the scarf. He has the hots for the cactus, but he knows the other bears will shun him if he expresses his forbidden passion.” He scans the shelf. “And the pink breast cancer bear is the only lesbian bear, so she might have to have a three-way with the cow and the pig, but she’ll hate herself afterwards.” He looks at the pink bear. “I hope that was a re-gift.”

“It was from a kid.”

“Still.” He finishes playing with the animals and says, “She was gearing up to leave you before the cancer.”

“I suppose you admire her for not letting it stop her.”

“In a way,” House admits. “In another, bigger way, I want to beat her to death with my cane.”

“Stick with the admiring. You wouldn’t last long in prison.”

“Yeah, I’m too pretty.”


Things are much the same over the next few days. The flow of flowers and cards tapers off, but Wilson expects a resurgence when he starts chemo. House rearranges the stuffed animals into new pairings every time he visits, with a complicated story behind each break-up. To Wilson’s amusement, the bear/non-bear divide remains unbreached, although there is no other perversion the toys do not indulge in. Most episodes of what Wilson privately calls Animal Hospital end with scarf-bear having meaningless sexual encounters and staring longingly at his beloved cactus.

He goes home every night, and he and Julie sleep next to each other without touching. She has stopped picking fights with him, so that’s something.

He arranges to have chemo on Fridays, so he can work four days a week and recover over the weekend. Chemo patients often go home the same day, if there’s someone at home to take care of them, but Wilson plans to stay in the hospital overnight. Julie has a lot of commitments—Junior League, her book club, various charity boards. It wouldn’t be fair to ask her to stay home bringing him ginger ale and holding his head while he throws up.

The night before his treatment, Julie offers him sex, wordlessly sliding her hand under the covers and into his pyjamas.

All signs suggest that the equipment is still in working order. Julie climbs on top of him and rides him mechanically, not bothering with the usual moans of feigned pleasure. Wilson closes his eyes so he doesn’t have to watch her moving over him. After a while he peeks at her face. She looks bored and annoyed—nothing unusual. Better speed things up, though. He starts to fantasize, first about the early days of their relationship, when they were still passionate about each other, then about his previous wives. It seems less of a betrayal, somehow—after all, they were there first.

He wonders what Julie thinks about when they do this.

When none of his wives get the job done, he thinks about other women—nurses, patients, actresses, models. Porn stars. None of it’s working, and now his incision site is starting to feel sore.

No help for it, then. There’s one thing that always works.

He imagines House, backing him up against the wall of his office. Kissing him chastely, but with restrained passion. A hardness that isn’t House’s cane pressing against his leg.

He comes explosively. Julie gives him a look that says, Took you long enough, and dismounts. Without a word, she pulls her nightgown down and pads off to take a shower.

Wilson rubs his face and sighs. How sick is it he wonders, to fantasize about your best friend while having sex with your wife? It feels like a betrayal. Objectifying House like that.

And he’s not even gay. He has nothing against the gays. He knows several. Donates money to AIDS and gay causes--they have a lot of problems, even in the post-Will and Grace era. But he isn’t one. He loves women. Has sex with them. All the time. He’s never even looked at another man that way. Except House. And it’s nothing he’ll act on. He’s not even sure he would want to. His fantasies about House are always very innocent. Even his mind shies away from the idea of actual sex with him. Or even kissing with tongues. He’s not sure which he’s more afraid of—the physical act of sex with a man, or what it would mean. They’re both pretty terrifying.

Julie comes back, so he pretends he’s asleep. Soon enough, he is.


His appointment isn’t until eleven, so he has time to check on a few patients and review some charts beforehand. House shows up just in time to go with him.

“Don’t have you have some sick people to cure?” Wilson asks as they head down to the cancer ward, even though he’s glad to see him.

“Nope. Strangest thing, nobody’s sick today.”

“People just stopped getting sick. Huh.”

“It’s a mystery,” House agrees. “I have the team working on it.”

Wilson is handed a gown and shown to a patient room. “Well, if they figure it out, send it down here. We’ve got plenty of sick people.” He works loose the knot on his tie.

“That you do,” House agrees, peering out into the hallway. “How’s your latest bloodwork?”


“Great.” But House doesn’t take his word for it. He grabs Wilson’s chart and reads it. “Garden club today?”



“No, she’s—actually, she didn’t say where she was going.” Neither of them had even suggested that she might come along.

“Women,” House says. “Can’t live with ‘em—how does that thing end?”

He finishes taking off his clothes and putting on the gown. “There. All patient-ed up.”

“Yeah, maybe I should go,” House says.


“Joke. You know, I don’t hang with patients?”

“Oh, right. So you’re staying?”

House rolls his eyes. “Yeah, I’m staying.”

He gets into bed. Dr. Posey comes in and starts his IV. She tells him things he already knows, about side effects and the need to stay hydrated.

“Yeah, I know,” he says. “I’ll be fine.”

Posey leaves, and it’s just him and House. “Brought you another present,” House says, taking something out of his pocket and tossing it to him.

He catches it one-handed. It’s something like a superball, only bigger and slightly ovoid. “I give up. What is it?”

“It’s a Neuticle,” House says cheerfully. “They’re for dogs. Or, more accurately, for their excessively macho owners. After you take Rover for his little snip-snip, you pop two of these babies in, and nobody but the lady dogs ever knows the difference.”

“Should have given me this before.”

“They’re not FDA approved for use in humans yet.”

“And you’re such a stickler for FDA regulations.”

He shrugs. “It’s quite a racket, though. Getting loving pet owners to pay for the privilege of having their beloved pets be in a massive longitudinal study? Genius. Should have done it with silicone breast implants.”

“Because you see so many dogs walking around with double-D breasts.”

“They could have used tiny ones.”

“That is such a disturbing image.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right. A Great Dane walking around with his balls hanging out is so much more visually appealing.” House clicks on the TV.

Wilson looks around for a place to put the fake dog testicle. Finally, he sticks it in the nightstand drawer.

It’s not long after that he starts feeling sick to his stomach. Some of his patients say that this is the worst part—the nausea that leaves you retching helplessly, without even a semblance of dignity.

He hasn’t been looking forward to it.

When he gropes for the emesis basin that was so helpfully left on his nightstand, he expects House to take it as his cue to leave. He almost hopes that he will.

Instead, House turns up the volume on the TV and, when Wilson’s heaving subsides, says, “You OK, Jimmy?”

“Yeah. Great,” he gasps.

“You want anything? Some water?”

His mouth tastes awful, but he knows that if he drinks anything, he’ll just start throwing up again. “No.”


Wait. He does. He wants Julie. Or Kathy, or Louise, or his mother, or his sister. He wants a woman with soft hands and a gentle voice to come stroke his forehead and tell him everything’s going to be all right. “Yeah,” he says. “Yeah. Can you…call Julie and ask her to come sit with me?”

House is looking at him, with a strange expression on his face. “Yeah,” he says, getting up. “Yeah, sure.”

The plastic chair he was sitting on falls over, somehow, when he gets up, and he rushes out without setting it upright.


Of course Wilson wants his wife. House knows he’s no good with sick people. It shouldn’t bother him.

Only problem is, if he calls Julie, he’ll say what he thinks—that she should have been here to begin with—and they’ll argue, and maybe she’ll be mad enough at him that she won’t come.

So he hurries to his office and interrupts Cameron in the middle of opening his mail. “Leave that. Call Julie Wilson and get her to come.”

She looks up at him, startled. “Why? Did something happen?” The others look at him too. They like Wilson. Everybody likes Wilson.

“No. He’s fine. He just wants her to sit with him.”

“Thought you were doing that,” Chase observes.

“Shut up,” he snarls.

“Ooo-kay,” Chase says, bowing his head over his crossword puzzle.

Cameron picks up the phone and calls. “Mrs. Wilson? This is Doctor Cameron. From the hospital?” Pause, listening. “No, he’s…everything’s normal. But he asked to see you?” Listening again. “Chemotherapy can be very upsetting. Well, yes, but maybe he changed his mind.” Listening, for a long time. “Uh-huh. Yes, but--” She grabs a pad of paper and a pen, writes, gestures to him.

House steps over to see what she wrote: SHE ISN’T COMING.

House lunges for the phone. Cameron steps back, fending him off with one hand. “Mrs. Wilson, are you sure? I mean, he’s asking for you. He’s sick, and he’s asking for you.” Cameron looks quizzically at the phone for a second, then hangs up. “She isn’t coming.”

“Fucking cunt!” House feels only slightly better after he sweeps everything off of the desk with his cane. “Did she say why?”

Cameron looks discomfited. “Not really.”

He falls back into his chair. “Fucking bitch,” he moans, running a hand through his hair. “All right, go tell him.”

“Me? Why?”

“I’m not going to do it,” House says.

“Neither am I!” Cameron raises her chin. “It’s not part of my job. No.”

He looks at her. “Would you really want me telling you that your wife doesn’t want to see you in your time of need?”

“He’s got you there,” Chase points out.

“Go.” House shoos her toward the door. “Go forth and be nice.” Once he’s gone, he gets up and hobbles toward the door. “Chase, clean that up.” He points his cane at the mess surrounding his desk.


Wilson is curled up on his side, feeling miserable, when the door to his room opens. “Julie?” he says feebly.

“No, it’s Cameron.”

He raises his head slightly to look at her. “Oh. Hi.”

“Hi.” She clears her throat. “Um, I called Julie.”

“Thanks.” He feels like he’s about to throw up again, but then he doesn’t. While he’s hunched expectantly over the basin, Cameron steps forward, then stops. “So?” he says, once his stomach settles.

“She’s…she’s not coming.”

“Oh.” Well, it was a stupid idea. He lays back down, still clutching the basin. “She hates me. Where’d House go?”

“I…..’m not sure. Do you want me to take that?” She reaches for the basin.

“Yeah, thanks.”

Cameron leaves, and then comes back. To the surprise of no one, she sits beside him and takes his hand and says sweet things to him. He might be a philanderer, but he’s also a human being in pain, and chicks like Cameron dig that.

It’s nice for a while, and when it starts to get boring, he thinks about what House would say if he was here. She’s telling a story about a kitten she had when she was a girl, and he isn’t sure what the point of it is, but he’s pretty sure it would be funny if House was here.

“Where’d you say House went?” he asks when the kitten story is over.

“I’m not sure exactly. I’m sure he’ll be back.”

“Yeah. So…” He has to get her talking again. “So, did you always want to be a doctor?” DHA, it’s not just for panty-peeling.

She launches into the standard sick-relative story, and that’s a conversation Wilson can hold up his end of in his sleep. After a bout of retching, he lays down on his other side, so he can watch the hallway for House.

Cameron is narrating her difficulties in pre-med when House finally hoves into view. Cameron doesn’t see him right away; he pauses in the doorway to give Wilson a look that asks if he wants him to go.

Wilson shakes his head slightly, and House stumps in. “Cameron, are you keeping Wilson awake?”

Cameron looks stricken. “You should have said--”

“I’m fine,” he assures her. “But maybe I should take a nap. You know.”

“Sure.” She smiles uncertainly and leaves.

House takes the chair she’s left, and puts his legs up on the bed. “So does being abandoned by your cruel wife make up for not being terminal?”

“Hm? Oh, I think she was just being nice. I hope she doesn’t start sexually harassing me now.” The thought worries him a little.

“That was my secret plan. Get her off my back by getting her on yours.”

“Thanks for sending her by,” Wilson says seriously. “Just what I needed.”

House widens his eyes. “What? Wilson, you didn’t!”

Wilson lets him think about it for a minute, then says, “We just talked, you perv.”

“Glad I could help,” House says sourly.

“Where were you?” Wilson changes the subject.

“Cafeteria. Brought you something.”

Wilson groans—he doesn’t want to think about a Reuben right now, much less look at one. But House unloads a can of Ensure from one jacket pocket, and a Jello snack from the other. “Gee, thanks,” Wilson says.

“I got you the blue Jello, because there isn’t enough blue food in the world.”

“There’s about to be plenty of blue vomit,” Wilson says, peeling the top off of the Jello.

“Thought the nausea was supposed to abate after a few hours.”

“Yeah, apparently I’ve been lying to patients about that for years.”

But he does feel a little better, and he’s eaten a few bites when an orderly comes in with his lunch tray—also Ensure and Jello.

“How are you feeling, Doctor Wilson?” the young woman asks.

“Not too bad. How are the kids?”

“Quentin got in another fight at school. Was somebody already here with your lunch?”

“Just House,” he answers, gesturing at his friend.

“Ooh, cafeteria Jello. Fancy. Do you still want this?”

“I’ll take it, if he doesn’t,” House says.

“You can leave it,” Wilson says. “We’ll fight over it.”

“Okay. Hope you feel better.” She pushes her cart on to the next room.

“You ask the dietary orderly about her kids?” House asks.

“They all have kids. It’s like asking an old person about their operation.” Most of the orderlies and technicians are working-class women with kids—the benefits are good, and most jobs only take two years of college.

“Uh-uh. One of the PT techs is a lesbian. No kids.”


House shrugs.

“If she has pets, she thinks I’m being cute.”

“Good system. So you’re not really a nice guy, you just take advantage of the stereotypes?”

“Yep.” Actually, he did remember Caitlyn’s kids—son Quentin, keeps getting in fights, she’s afraid he’ll join a gang, daughter LeJeanne, has a learning disability and still can’t read in 3rd grade.

“If you decide to take Cameron out, she likes monster trucks.”

Wilson’s used to rapid changes of subject. “I’m not taking her out. She’s in no position to blackmail me into a date.”

“Thought she might not have to.”

“No way.”

“Because she’s a doctor too? You like being the one with all the power in the relationship?”

“No. She’s just not my type.”

“Bullshit. She’s exactly your type—hot and needy.”

“Yeah, well. Maybe I need a new type. Hot and needy hasn’t been working out too well for me.” There’s something strange about discussing his sex life at a time like this. “Anyway, I’m sure she doesn’t go out with married men.”

“Yeah, but you aren’t going to be married for much longer.”

Wilson knew that his marriage was on its last legs, but hearing it said out loud surprises him.

“Sorry,” House says awkwardly.

“It’s okay. I knew.”



Wilson goes home on Sunday. Julie is out, and he moves his things into the guest bedroom. After a moment’s thought, he leaves a note saying he doesn’t want to wake her if he gets sick in the night. She doesn’t comment on it.

Work is…work. He’s getting more requests for consults than ever—being the cancer doctor with cancer gives him a whole new cachet.

Thursday night he stays late at work, and borrows a set of hair clippers from pre-op. Standing over a trash can in the men’s room, he shaves his head.

He realizes when he’s finished that he should have gone hat-shopping beforehand. The only had he has in his office is a baseball cap that a twelve-year-old girl left him in her will. It’s purple and has Bugs Bunny on it. He puts it on anyway.

He wonders if Julie will notice any difference the next time she sees him. It’s that moment that he realizes he isn’t going home that night.

Tumbling on the heels of that thought is the realization that he has no home anymore. There’s no one waiting up for him at the house that he still—for the moment—owns. No place he can go and fall into his wife’s arms while he cries and confesses that he’s afraid.

He’s not so much afraid of the cancer (although he is, a little bit), but that he knows he’ll die alone, whether it’s next week or in fifty years. Unless he’s lucky enough to die in the early stages of a new relationship, when they’re still in the part where they can’t keep their hands off of each other. All three of his wives, and all of the girlfriends he never got around to marrying, wound up hating him. All he wants is someone to love him, but he can’t manage that. He swears he never starts looking for a new love until the old one has died. Some of his wives don’t believe him, but he knows its true.

He must be some kind of poison, that he takes love and gradually, imperceptibly, turns it into hate. He ought to stop getting married, stop inflicting himself on innocent women. But he knows he won’t. It’s a poison he needs, somehow. Somehow he always fools himself into believing that the next time will be different.

God, he’s getting maudlin. He ought to jolly himself out of it—think of something funny, like House’s absurd soap opera with the stuffed animals—or, failing that, do some work. He’s tried to tidy things up in advance before his chemo session leaves him out of commission for two days, but there’s always something more to do.

Instead, he wallows. Sitting down on the floor, he looks up at his medical degrees, his awards, the gifts from co-workers and grateful patients, and thinks about how little it all matters when your wife hates you, and you have cancer (treatable) and you’re bald and crying alone in your office.

He could call House, he knows. House would come and get him. Take him home and feed him and play music for him. But House wouldn’t—couldn’t—hold him and tell him that everything would be all right, that someone would love him someday, because House knows better, and doesn’t lie about the important things. He could call Louise (though she’s been avoiding him since the diagnosis) or any of a half a dozen other women, but he doesn’t want that either. Any woman he called would take it as tantamount to an invitation to be the next Mrs. Wilson, and the very idea of starting another doomed relationship makes him want to jump out the window.

His phone rings. Part of him hopes it is Julie, and part of him fears it is, and anyway it’s all the way across the room, so he doesn’t answer it. Eventually, it stops, although it bleats for his attention several more times as the evening wears on. Must be Julie, he thinks muzzilly.

After a while, he decides he has to cheer up, if only so he can get some sleep. He looks at his stuffed animals, still posed in their endless plush orgy. He’d gotten more animals after his first treatment, and their arrival brought great changes—the lesbian cow and pig have broken up, and taken up with a horse and a lobster, respectively, and all four live in what House describes as a lesbian commune given to frequent loud arguments that end in orgies. The mouse is cheating on the frog with an owl, and their adopted baby penguin has turned to drugs to cope. Scarf-bear is sitting all alone, looking desperately across the room at the cactus.

Wilson is not feeling the least bit cheered, and it’s because he realizes for the first time what a depressing story it really is. Without House doing their voices and rearranging them in ever-lewder positions, it’s clear that none of the animals are really happy. He wonders if that says more about soap operas or about House—that the man can’t even imagine anything but meaningless sex, bitter recriminations, and loneliness.

Well, fuck that. Decisively, Wilson gets to his feet—or tries to. His legs have fallen asleep from sitting on top of them. When he finally manages to get untangled, he grabs scarf-bear and stumbles like one of the newly risen undead to the windowsill where cactus sits beside that orchid. He sits scarf-bear in cactus’s dirt, and puts the toy’s arm around the plant. The spines stick to the fabric—he’s not going to be able to separate them without tearing the bear.

Now, Wilson feels like he can sleep. He stretches out on the couch, lab coat over his shoulders like a blanket, and shuts his eyes.

Some time later, light pierces his eyelids and a familiar voice bellows, “Wilson!”

He throws his arm over his face. “Is it time already?” he asks sleepily.

“No.” House shuts off the overhead lights and limps across the room to switch on the desk lamp. He pauses by the plants, but doesn’t say anything. Wilson’s glad. “You weren’t answering your phone,” he says accusingly.

“Thought it was Julie,” Wilson lies.

House pauses. “Yeah, right.” He comes back over to the couch and pokes Wilson’s legs with his cane. “Shove over, make room for the cripple.”

Wilson sits up. His lab coat falls into his lap. House sits beside him and catches Wilson’s chin in his hand. Wilson’s breath draws in sharply; they don’t touch, as a rule.

“What are you crying about?” he asks, dropping Wilson’s face. He almost manages to sound sympathetic rather than just curious.

“Gee, I don’t know. I have cancer, my wife hates me. Take your pick.”

“Neither of those is new,” House points out. He looks away. “You shoulda called me.”

“I…I was tired.” Too tired for the verbal sparring and insane schemes that were all you got when Greg House was your best friend.

House sighs. “I know I’m lousy at this kind of thing, but for you, I’ll make an effort.”

Wilson believes him. He knows it won’t be a very convincing effort, but he does appreciate that House will try. He’s a lousy friend in a lot of ways, but not in the ones that matter. “I was thinking that I’m going to die alone. Not now, not of this, but if I can’t get Julie to—if she won’t be with me now, what are the chances that I’ll have anyone with me when I really am dying?” He shrugs.

“Oh,” House says. “That one.”

Right, Wilson realizes. House might not have to pretend he understands—between the infarction, and the addiction, and losing Stacy twice, he must have faced this particular demon down more than once.

House rubs his leg, thinking. “I’m older and sicker than you are,” he begins. Wilson’s about to tell him that isn’t the point, when he continues, “so chances are, I won’t be able to be there for you.”

But he would be if he could. Wilson gets that, and he appreciates it. House has been with him every step of the way since his diagnosis. But an emotionally distant and bitter best friend is not what he wants with him when he dies. He wants someone who can express affection in a slightly more direct way than Jello. Hoe doesn’t want to have to go out pretending his death is a joke. Fighting to stay interesting enough that House won’t leave him for some new puzzle.

“But I know you’ll be with me when I die, and it means a lot to me,” House says, not looking at him.

Wilson nods. “You’re welcome,” he says dryly. It’s very nice, but doesn’t do him any good.

Very quickly, as if trying not to give himself time to think better of it, House scoots closer to Wilson, and puts his arm around him. Wilson stiffens for half a second, surprised, and then leans into him. Glad for once that he’s the smaller of the two of them, he puts his head on House’s shoulder.

He figures this is one of those things they’ll never speak of again. Not only are he and Wilson not normally huggy, but House hardly ever touches anyone. He uses his cane as an excuse not to shake hands, and he uses the cane itself to hit or poke people while staying at arm’s length.

“Never think that I don’t love you,” House says. “I…maybe not enough. Maybe not enough to do something about the addiction, or the depression, or the self-loathing. Not enough to try and find a way to turn myself in a decent human being. But as much as I can.”
It’s the first time, as far as Wilson knows, that either of them has put the word love to what they have. For a moment, Wilson’s so surprised that the rest of what House said doesn’t sink in. When it does he says tentatively, “So does that mean you thought about it? Trying? For me?”

House squeezes him. “Yeah. ‘Course. You deserve better than me,” he says, looking straight ahead.

“So do you,” Wilson says.

House looks at him then. “Better than me, or better than you?”

“Nah. You’re almost too good for me.”

“That’s certainly the majority opinion,” Wilson says, and then realizes his mistake. It might be enough to jolt them out of this weird confessional mood and back to the usual banter.

But House says meditatively, “Yeah. Good thing we both know you’re almost as screwed up as me. You just hide it better.”

Wilson doesn’t deny it.

“I’ve always wanted to believe that two screwed-up people can save each other,” House continues, looking out the window. “I don’t think it’s true, but it should be.”

“Depends on what you mean by save, I guess,” Wilson ventures.

“Hm.” House points his cane at the cactus. “You don’t really think they’ll be happy, do you?”

The bear and the cactus? “Maybe,” Wilson says. He rubs the back of his neck. “They weren’t very happy before,” he points out.

“Guess not,” House agrees. “But they were just plain old unhappy before. That’s nothing compared to how miserable someone you love can make you.”

“You’d know,” Wilson agrees.

“So’d you,” House counters.

That’s true. He still loves Julie—even though the only way he’s sure is that she can still hurt him. “I still think they should try.”

“Well,” House says. “You’re the boss.”

Wilson is about to say, “Since when?” when House leans in and kisses him.

It’s nothing like he ever imagined. He realizes that he’s been afraid all along that House would touch the way he talks—probing for weakness and then pushing to see which way you flinch. But House is surprisingly—and endearingly—awkward and tentative. He tastes like scotch and smoke; other than that, it’s like kissing anyone else, only far more exciting.
Wilson decides to stop thinking for a while.

When House ha gone about as long as he can without talking, they part, and House says, “I wasn’t gonna say anything, but that hat is really, really gay.”

Wilson laughs nervously. “It’s the only one I had.”

“I’ll let you wear my Gravedigger hat,” House decides.

“Patients will love that.” House might be willing to tell people bad news while wearing a hat with skulls on it, but Wilson isn’t.

“You can wear it at home.” He takes off the Bugs Bunny hat and rubs Wilson’s scalp. “What do you think the other bears are going to say?”

“Dunno,” Wilson says. “Maybe they won’t mind as much as he thinks. It’s not much of a secret that he’s always liked the cactus. Even though the other bears don’t really get what he—can we drop the metaphor now?”

“I guess.”

“I’m not going to tell you how long it took me to get that.”

“It was somewhere in the last ten minutes, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Wilson admits.


He doesn’t want to know if any of the other animals represent people they know. The lesbian pig is probably Chase or something. “Anyway, I’m not too worried about what anyone will think.”

“Cameron might lose it,” House says hopefully.

“Nah, she’ll think it’s adorable.” Plus it’ll suddenly make sense why she couldn’t win House over. Wilson hesitates. “The cactus’s parents, on the other hand…”

“Let’s not think about that right now.”

“’kay.” Wilson rests for a while, and House rubs his back.

“You ready to go home?”

“Um, yeah. Okay.” Home is House’s place now. Funny.

“Only we’re going to have to break into the pharmacy on the way out. I left my pills in my other pants.”

“There’s a bottle in my desk. For emergencies.”

Getting to his feet, House says, “You know, this just might work out.”




( 73 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 5th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC)
I'm Plaindog on TWoP, and nightdog_writes on LJ.

If I may, I'm strongly suggesting you post this (and your earlier fic, Lunch With Jimmy) on house_wilson. It's an exuberant, thriving community that loves good stories, and this story will find a wide, appreciative audience, because it's terrific. It's more than terrific, it's fantastic. People want to read good fanfic. This is way beyond good. The voices are excellent, the situation entirely believable.

Please do not stop writing.
Dec. 5th, 2006 05:55 am (UTC)
I would, but I don't know how. Would you like to post a link to my journal there?
(no subject) - poeia - Jul. 15th, 2007 07:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - poeia - Jul. 15th, 2007 07:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alex51324 - Jul. 15th, 2007 09:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 8th, 2006 04:28 am (UTC)
Now that we know who you are on TWoP

This is so sweet and sad and funny...write more write more!


And I second on the post to house_wilson. All you have to do is join the community, then you take your post and use the drop down box underneath and instead of alex51324, you use House_wilson.
Dec. 8th, 2006 06:44 am (UTC)
You have good House and Wilson voices, and I applaud your ability to avoid falling into the pit of melodrama that so often pops up in "Wilson has cancer" stories. I also agree with the user who suggested adding spaces between your paragraphs (especially in the dialogue sections)- content-wise, your story is lovely, but it's a bit difficult to read.

Dec. 8th, 2006 04:47 pm (UTC)
This is an outstanding story - so excellent. (Please add line returns between the paragraphs to make it easier to read.) Excellent characterization and pacing. A+
Dec. 8th, 2006 10:59 pm (UTC)
Phew, great stuff! I'm looking foward to reading a lot more of your stories. Many thanks for posting :)
Dec. 9th, 2006 01:04 am (UTC)
This was fantastic. Not melodramtic, no OOC, lovely metaphors, just a really good read!
Dec. 9th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC)
This is very good -- a refreshing take on the cancer plot, with everyone's practicality and the Neuticle and the banter and eventual comfort. I love the bear-and-cactus metaphor, and the fact that Wilson moves them together before he consciously realizes what that means. The tough part of reading this was the format; please do, as others have mentioned, skip lines between paragraphs. Looking forward to more from you!
Dec. 9th, 2006 02:05 am (UTC)
Believable, and sad, and somehow still hopeful... this story together with the tale about cactus and its bear got me all teary-eyed.
Dec. 9th, 2006 02:17 am (UTC)
That was a lovely, lovely fic. I was already smiling when Wilson put the bear next to the cactus. Which is probably the weirdest piece of feedback I've ever written, LOL. Anyway, I loved the characterisation, and it was all handled with a very light touch, and a great eye for details of all kinds.
Dec. 9th, 2006 04:13 am (UTC)
Oh, great fic! At first I was turned off at the formatting. Whenever I see one-line paragraphs and almost all dialogue, I prepare myself for misused quotation marks and very little depth. Neither were problems. The voices were spot-on. So much is conveyed with very little. And Julie-what a pill! Wilson putting the bear with the cactus made me all gooey and I hadn't even figured out the metaphor yet. It was sweet.

It's good to see a House-character-gets-sick fic without it either being fluff or angst or melodrama. Thanks for writing and sharing!
Dec. 9th, 2006 04:18 am (UTC)
Oh, lovely. Long and quiet and oh-so-believeable. I adored "Animal Hospital" and the chemo scenes made my heart hurt. And there's still a happy ending, oh, I love you for it. You get a gold star. *stars you, mems this*
Dec. 9th, 2006 05:56 am (UTC)
Dec. 9th, 2006 05:49 am (UTC)
This totally rocks my socks off! it rocked my mom's too! your voice was good for all the charaters and the feelings were perfect..now..who's the pig?
Dec. 9th, 2006 05:55 am (UTC)
LOL...nobody, as far as I know, but you'd have to ask House.
Dec. 9th, 2006 06:10 am (UTC)
Very sweet and original. Don't think I've ever read a fic where cancer didn't spell either death or a miraculous Salvation Through The Power of Twu Wuv.
Dec. 9th, 2006 06:59 am (UTC)
This is one of the best House/Wilson I've ever read and your voices are absolutely perfect, I can really picture it in my head. I LOVE the cactus and scarf bear metaphor - pure brilliance.
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( 73 comments — Leave a comment )