sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-11 11:29 am
Entry tags:

Douglas; PG.

Rating: PG for language.
Summary: House has a secret that isn't as funny as Wilson thinks it is.
Warnings: None.

Originally Published 10.8.2006

Now available at AO3.

***

They were in the middle of a differential when the reporter showed up.

He'd probably have billed himself as a journalist, actually, but he had "reporter" written all over him. Figuratively, of course, from the slicked-back hair to the slightly frayed cuffs on his trousers.

"I'm here to see Greg House?" he said, almost hesitantly.

House looked immediately at Cameron, who shook her head with that innocent "wasn't me" pout. Then he looked back at the reporter, who was coming forward with hand outstretched.

"Dr. House?" he asked, stopping in front of House.

"The last time someone came into this office without my express permission, someone got shot," House said, which was perfectly true. The man's fearful swallow was all he needed to know. Whoever he was, he didn't have a gun on him.

"My name's Rick Daly, I'm with the Princeton-Plainsboro Universal," he said, his voice shaking only slightly.

"The...school paper?" Chase asked. His lip curled slightly.

"Graduate division," Daly replied. "Sorry about just showing up, but you never answer your phone."

"Generally that's to prevent people from showing up at all," House said. "I've got sick people to heal, is there any way we can reschedule this for next year sometime?"

"I was hoping you'd let me buy you lunch," the reporter said. "When you're done here, of course."

"Kind of you to wait until people have finished dying," House murmured. "I don't eat lunch."

"Dinner, then."

"I have a hot date."

"Just an hour of your time, Dr. House," Daly insisted. He took a step closer to House. Chase and Foreman stood up, ready to move if Daly came any closer. Cameron slipped alongside Daly and placed herself in front of House on his right side.

"My bouncers don't like you," House said, leaning around Cameron. "Be careful. She kicks."

"Does the name Douglas mean anything to you, Doctor..." and here Daly paused delicately, "...House?"

Self-control was never House's strong suit in times of pressure, but he startled even his juniors when he pushed past Cameron and stood toe-to-toe with Daly. The reporter was about a foot shorter.

"Get out," he said. "Get out now or you'll go out through the plate-glass wall."

"Half an hour," Daly said, backing away slowly.

"Get out," House repeated, slamming his cane down on the table as he followed Daly. He picked up an empty mug (Chase's, it had a puppy with a blue bow on it) and tossed it up and down in his right hand.

"I'll be in the cafeteria -- ifyouchangeyourmind!" Daly cried, ducking as the mug crashed against the doorway he was cowering behind. He fled, and House leaned out the door after him.

"Choke and die on the lunch special!" he shouted. Most of the people in the hallway were well-used to House's outbursts. They barely batted an eye.

Inside the office, the others were staring at him, wide-eyed.

"Sorry about your mug," House muttered. "Maybe you can get a grown-up mug without puppies on it now."

"That's okay," Chase said warily, kneeling next to House to gather up the pieces. "I'm thinking of getting some plastic ones. Unbreakable."

"Anyone else want to get smart with me at this moment?" House asked. Cameron shook her head. Foreman rubbed his. "Fine. Back to the differential. Spontaneous nosebleeds and teeth falling out. Go."

"Are you okay?" Cameron immediately asked. It was like clockwork. "What did he mean, about the name Douglas?"

"Clearly 'Greg House' is an alias. He's probably in the witness protection program," Foreman said.

"Thank you for being my proxy asshole," House said.

"I got you covered," Foreman replied easily. "Just don't throw any dishes at me."

"Who's Douglas?" Cameron persisted.

"My secret gay lover. Wilson will be so jealous. MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE CASE..." House prompted, picking up his cane and whacking it against the whiteboard.

Cameron subsided and Chase, dumping the remains of his mug in the trash, returned to the table. House might have seen the looks the three of them telegraphed between each other, but if he ignored it long enough, maybe they'd take the hint.

***

His reaction had been all wrong to start with, but of course if Daly knew enough to taunt him with Douglas, he knew enough that denial would be pointless. Still, House wanted to know just how much Daly knew. He was damned if some Journalism grad student bucking to be the next Truman Capote was going to have the upper hand, though. He brought an empty mug with him on his lunch tray, just in case, and found Rick Daly sitting under one of the light fixtures that looked remarkably like heat lamps.

"Dr. House, I'm so glad you reconsidered," Daly said, standing hastily and spewing sandwich crumbs as he spoke.

"Sit down and shut up," House replied, tossing his tray down on the table. Daly eyed the mug on it with trepidation.

"If I could just have a few minutes of your time to persuade you -- "

"That you want to do a story on me for your paper? You want to conduct an interview with the Man Who Was -- him?" House asked, letting one hand drift over the mug. With the other, he picked up his sandwich and snapped a bite out of it. He knew Daly heard his teeth click together.

"It'd be great publicity for the hospital!" Daly managed.

"Yeah? You think I want to see every moron who comes into this place with the sniffles and wants to be treated by the wunderkind? I'm forty-two years old, you fuckhead," House replied. "You don't think the amount of shit you had to dig through to find this was a subtle hint that I didn't want it found?"

"Why, Dr. House, how nice to see you," said a new voice. House looked up, then covered his eyes. Wilson was standing there like a knight in shining lab-coat, and behind him stood Cameron. "Mind if I pull up a chair? Are you going to introduce me?"

"Rick Daly, with the Universal," Daly said, holding out his hand. "And you are?"

"James Wilson, with the hospital," Wilson replied. "I think you met Dr. Cameron briefly this morning."

"Mr. Daly," Cameron said coldly. She had a mug on her tray, too.

"I'm in Hell. Which circle is public embarrassment and newspaper reporters?" House asked Wilson.

"We're here to make sure Mr. Daly doesn't bother you any further," Cameron said.

"You're here to find out who Douglas is," House retorted.

"Who IS Douglas? You've never mentioned him to me," Wilson asked.

"Told you he'd be jealous," House said to Cameron. Daly cleared his throat. Cameron glared at him and he subsided.

"I was just telling Mr. Daly what's going to happen in the next two hours," House continued. "Doctors are pretty good at predicting this kind of thing."

"What's...going to happen?" Daly asked, seemingly in spite of himself. House leaned back and smiled. It was not a nice smile, and he was aware of this.

"Well, you're going to lose what's left of your appetite and take your tray over to that stand," House said, pointing to one of the trash receptacles, "and throw out your trash. Then you're going to walk out of this hospital, so that Dr. Cameron here doesn't call security on you. Then, and this is the important part, you're going to go back to wherever you've stashed all the information you have no doubt gathered on me, and you're going to shred all of it. Did I say two hours?" he asked Wilson, who nodded. "After that you're going to enjoy a long and healthy life."

Daly swallowed again. "And if I don't?"

"Do you know there are nine different ways of killing someone without leaving any evidence?" House asked. "Doctors know them all."

Daly looked from a poker-faced Wilson to Cameron, who couldn't be described as having a poker face if only because she was actively trying to murder him with her stare.

"I don't like the tone this conversation has taken," he said snottily. But he did stand up, and he did take his tray to the trash can House had pointed to, and in another thirty seconds he was gone.

"I think I just got a little turned on," Wilson remarked to nobody in particular.

"You know the way to the mens' room," House answered. Cameron stifled a snicker.

"House, come on. You know neither one of us are going to stop now until we find out who Douglas is," Wilson said. "You might as well tell us now and save Cameron the research."

House sighed and twiddled a straw between his fingers. "She can't keep a secret."

Cameron made an offended noise somewhere between "Wha?" and "I!".

"House," Wilson said. House leaned forward again.

"Douglas was someone I knew who died under mysterious circumstances," he said. "Every ten years or so someone digs up the story and wants to play murder mystery. I got tired of playing, that's all."

He wasn't sure if they bought it or not, but he did know this: if they knew that he believed it was important enough to lie about, then they knew it was time to back off.

"What an asshole," Cameron muttered, stabbing her salad viciously.

***

House was halfway through his tivo'd backlog that evening, leg up on the table and a beer in one hand, when there was a knock on the door.

"WHAT?" he shouted.

"DELIVERY!" a voice shouted through the door.

"YOU STILL HAVE A KEY," House called. The key snicked in the lock and Wilson edged inside, carrying a large, grease-stained paper bag. "Chinese?"

"Thai," Wilson answered.

"Gimme."

Wilson dropped the bag over the edge of the couch and went to the kitchen, returning with a bottle of beer. House slid the bag down the coffee table to him and the familiar rhythm of their lives was affirmed.

"Whatcha watching?" Wilson asked.

"QI. San Francisco," House added, in answer to Stephen Fry's latest trivia question regarding the origin of fortune cookies. Wilson picked up the remote and muted it just as Alan Davis rang in with "China".

"Can I ask you something?" Wilson said, staring at House.

"Yeah, but I'm ignoring you to read the subtitles," House answered, not looking away from the television.

"Nobody named Douglas died mysteriously while in your care," Wilson said. "I'd have heard about it. Nobody's ever come up to you asking about anyone named Douglas before. And Cameron says you were really angry about it."

"Were you going to ask a question or just state the obvious?" House asked around a mouthful of Kang-Pa.

"Is there any good reason I shouldn't know who Douglas is?"

"Yeah."

"What's the reason?"

House sighed at the television and leaned forward to look at him. "Why is it important?"

"Because it's important to you."

"You really need to get a life."

"House..."

House stood and limped, caneless, to a shelf of DVDs sitting next to the television. He opened one box, slid it into the DVD player, and sat down again.

"Are you just going to keep ignoring -- "

"Shut up," House said, and clicked the play button. Bouncy synthesizer music filled the room as the opening credits of a television show played.

It took until the third headline, Princeton Graduates 10-year-old Prodigy, for Wilson's coin to drop.

"Doogie Howser," he said slowly. "Douglas Howser. Howser. House."

"They don't tell you it was based on a true story, but the information isn't that hard to come by," House said quietly. "Every now and then someone tries to look up what happened to The Real Douglas Howser."

"So you changed your name...moved around a little, clouded up the paper trail..."

"Should never have come back to Princeton," House muttered.

Wilson stared at him for a long moment, while on the screen Doogie Howser, the sixteen-year-old doctor, showed off his sneakers.

"If you tell anyone, I will kill you," House warned. Wilson looked back at the screen. Young Dr. Doogie was treating a small child and smiling a lot.

"More 'inspired by real events' than 'the E True Hollywood Story', I take it," was all he said. House nodded and switched back to QI.

The next morning someone had reset his desktop to a screencap of Neil Patrick Harris. But, once he'd clarified matters by moving all of Wilson's furniture and books out onto the patio early one wet morning, they never spoke of it again.

END

Sam: You know he was one of those horrifying kids that left high school before puberty with ten credits of college already. He's Doogie Howser.
Juni: Sneakers and everything.
Sam: I bet there will be an episode where House's academic history comes out and Foreman says "Med school at 19? The guy's Doogie Howser!" and House will appear with batlike stealth and say "Yeah, but my kicks are cooler."
Juni: Ah, but a question for the ages: Who's cooler, Vinnie or Jimmy?
Sam: Surely you mean who is merely less UNcool. Vinnie's shorter.
Juni: Wilson has pot.
Sam: Yes, but also a pocket protector.
Juni: Wilson wasn't in Newsies, but he was in Swing Kids. This is really hard.
Sam: DANCE OFF.

[identity profile] villainny.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 04:36 pm (UTC)(link)
*chokes happily*

Plus. Dude. QI!

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2006-10-09 01:55 pm (UTC)(link)
*offers an affectionate heimleich* :D
ext_52603: (Your're the Top!)

[identity profile] msp-hacker.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 04:48 pm (UTC)(link)
OMG, you put in QI! You win at the internets, Sam!

Though now my brain is breaking at the thought of both Douglas Howser/Greg House and Hugh Lauire existing in the same universe. But QI!

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2006-10-09 01:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, it's kinda Canon that Hugh Laurie and House exist simultaneously, since House has Blackadder TiVO'd :D

(no subject)

[identity profile] msp-hacker.livejournal.com - 2006-10-15 04:23 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] crowgirl13.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 04:48 pm (UTC)(link)
I felt the punchline coming about halfway through. I think the sudden presence of the 'Jaws' theme clued me in. :D

This is marvelous crack; thanks ever so much for sharing with the rest of the class.

[identity profile] bluejeans07.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 04:48 pm (UTC)(link)
*sits there laughing ass off*

You're an insane, insane person and I like it. Plus, ZOMG Q.I., BEST GAME SHOW EVER. As for who's less uncool, Wilson scores points for having passed puberty completely. Plus he's cuter.

[identity profile] nasty-shrew.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 04:51 pm (UTC)(link)
a) This is now canon to me. Honestly.
b) DANCE OFF. YES.
c) "Thank you for being my proxy asshole," House said. and "I think I just got a little turned on," Wilson remarked to nobody in particular. = these lines should be dipped in bronze and taken out occasionally to fawn over.

[identity profile] rufus.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 04:57 pm (UTC)(link)
bwahahaahha!

[identity profile] sophiap.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 05:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Dying of laughter over here. Simply dying.

[identity profile] cleversimon.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 05:38 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm positive you're not the first person to come up with this, but this is much, much better than that other guy's. Also, QI shout-out. <3!

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2006-10-09 01:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Shucks! Ah well, as they say, nothing is original. :D Glad I surpass my colleage, at any rate *grins*

Do you know if you can download QI episode by episode? I have a sinking feeling we'll have to wait until the s4 dvd comes out.

(no subject)

[identity profile] cleversimon.livejournal.com - 2006-10-09 17:30 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] quean-of-swords.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 05:42 pm (UTC)(link)
*dies* I love you.

[identity profile] gaffsie.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 05:44 pm (UTC)(link)
This was hilarious, and even more imortantly, in character. The ducklings' reactions to the reporter was just as they should be. :)

And you threw in some QI!

[identity profile] sharp-tongue.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 05:56 pm (UTC)(link)
*grins* Very cute, Sam.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2006-10-09 01:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks! *waves and hugs*

[identity profile] chicating.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 05:59 pm (UTC)(link)
How cool is this. Very.

[identity profile] gypsyjr.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 06:30 pm (UTC)(link)
...*dies* You rock, Sam.

[identity profile] ruisseau.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 06:31 pm (UTC)(link)
I laughed and scared my cats. I'm making my husband read it when he gets home.

Now, I want a post-script where House updates his LJ (OMG! he already has one!) Doogie stlye.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2006-10-09 01:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Man, I'd forgotten about Doogie keeping journals!

[identity profile] terrylj.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 06:41 pm (UTC)(link)
BRILLIANT.

[identity profile] sanura.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 06:53 pm (UTC)(link)
HAHAHAHAHA ahem. The conversation snip at the end to explain the origin really just makes it even better.

[identity profile] hhhellcat.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 07:14 pm (UTC)(link)
The next morning someone had reset his desktop to a screencap of Neil Patrick Harris. But, once he'd clarified matters by moving all of Wilson's furniture and books out onto the patio early one wet morning, they never spoke of it again.

*bows to the master* This was brilliant and hilarious. And the convo with Juni an added bonus. :)

[identity profile] tzikeh.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 07:17 pm (UTC)(link)
I...

I think I love you.

It's so wrong, it's come full circle back to right.

*weeps*
ext_13504: Kara Thrace, Starbuck, BSG (Default)

[identity profile] unicornvamp3z.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 08:21 pm (UTC)(link)
brilliant the ducklings were perfect, wilson was great, house throwing chase's cup was wonderful. Love love love love love. :D You are win, mr. sam.

[identity profile] aura218.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 08:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Spontaneous nosebleeds and teeth falling out.

Scurvy.

[identity profile] saturnalia.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 08:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Vasculitis!

(And wow, the thought of House watching QI is so fantastically meta. Yay QI!)

[identity profile] astrozazel.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 08:26 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks, Sam. *grins* This has made my day much brighter. I am confined to my college-standard twin bed, thinking that I really want soup and don't have the energy to walk down to the grocery store, and 'lo! Copperbadge fic! Mmm. This is much tastier than chicken noodle.

[identity profile] gothicauthor.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 08:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Dude, Vinnie originated Timon in The Lion King. I'm thinking he could dance circles around Wilson.

Gothic Author

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2006-10-09 01:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Did he really? That's pretty awesome.

[identity profile] bicrim.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 09:41 pm (UTC)(link)
lol, you rock, sam!

[identity profile] lady-nimua.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 10:00 pm (UTC)(link)
for the QI thing you get...my heart. feel free to pin it on the wall and throw knifes at it, I wouldn't mind.

DUDE. QI. YOU'RE THE BEST.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2006-10-09 01:48 pm (UTC)(link)
*pets your heart and puts it in a dish for safekeeping* :D

[identity profile] cobweb-diamond.livejournal.com 2006-10-08 10:04 pm (UTC)(link)
You give me happeh.

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