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09 April 2008 @ 08:21 pm
fic: Staging (Rebel Without a Cause) [House, ensemble gen, PG-13]  
Title: Staging (Rebel Without a Cause)
Author: kaydeefalls
Summary: "Two years after that, Wilson took [the poster] down, and no one ever asked him why. They understood."
Fandom: House
Characters: Wilson-centric, ensemble gen
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: not mine, no profit, don't sue.
Original story: Stage Five by thedeadparrot
Notes: with thanks to my splendiferous beta.

stage one (denial)

Foreman strides casually into Wilson's office, determinedly professional. Nothing's wrong, he tries to work into his posture. Everything's perfectly normal, his polite smile says. He deliberately avoids looking at the blank space on the wall opposite the desk. "Dr. Wilson," he says briskly. "I need a quick consult."

He pretends not to notice the dark circles under Wilson's eyes or the tight set of his shoulders. "Yes, Foreman, what?"

Foreman places the scans on his desk. "Chase is convinced it's paraneoplastic dermatomyositis, but we can't find any trace of cancer in the patient's scans. Just wanted you to double-check them for us."

Wilson looks them over, but there's no cancer there, just like Foreman and Cameron have been arguing for the past hour and a half. "Not a chance," Wilson finally concedes. "But you might try—"

"Yeah," Foreman says, cutting him off as politely as possible. "We already did. I just wanted to be sure."

"If you need help, you know," Wilson starts.

"Thank you, Dr. Wilson," Foreman says smoothly. The last thing Wilson needs right now is to see someone else running the Diagnostics office. "We've got a number of alternate theories floating around, I'm sure we'll manage. I do appreciate the offer, though."

"If you're sure—"

"I am," Foreman says. "Thanks again. Everything's fine."

And as long as he keeps repeating it, he's sure, everything will be.

He doesn't look at the empty wall again on the way out. He occasionally wonders where the poster went, but it doesn't really matter, does it?


stage two (anger)

It's not lupus, it doesn't even bear the remotest possibility of a passing resemblance to lupus, and Cameron's the goddamn immunologist here and she would fucking know, wouldn't she. She neatly swipes the marker out of Foreman's hand and uncaps it.

"Lupus doesn't explain the arrhythmia," she says as calmly as she can manage, underlining the symptom on the whiteboard with three broad swipes.

"We haven't ruled out the possibility that that's an unrelated condition," Chase argues.

"Occam's Razor dictates—"

"—that sometimes the simplest explanation is that there are two unrelated illnesses, one being lupus and the other a minor condition of arrhythmia," Chase finishes smoothly.

"I'd hardly call it a minor condition," she retorts. Chase glances over at Foreman, who quirks an eyebrow, and their lips twitch in unison. I'm not overreacting, she doesn't protest, because she knows they can read it in the slight flush of her cheeks and the roll of her eyes, and worse, they're probably right. Even if they're dead wrong about the lupus.

It's just that their solve rate still isn't as good as it was before, and sometimes she just wants to scream.

And it's perfect timing, as usual, when Wilson pokes his head in to make sure everything's okay. "Tricky case?" he asks.

The dull ember in the pit of her stomach suddenly flares, and she's just so goddamn sick of it, the hypocrisy of it all, acting like everything's the same as it always was, and Wilson, trying to pretend they need him when everyone knows he's the one who's using them as his goddamn emotional crutch, and why can't he just fucking admit it already and move on?

"We're fine," she says shortly.

Wilson's face is pale and drawn, and he should not be here. "Need a consult?"

"No, we're doing just fine," she snaps. It's almost a shout.

He jerks back as though she'd slapped him. Good. No, Wilson, we don't need you. We never have. The one person who did isn't here anymore, and it's time and past you faced the goddamn music.

It's not usually in her nature to be a bitch like this, but if she learned anything from House, it's that sometimes, you have to be cruel.


stage three (bargaining)

"Paperwork," Cuddy repeats skeptically.

Wilson pinches the bridge of his nose. He doesn't need lunch so much as a nap, Cuddy thinks, but she does what she can, because they're friends and that's what friends do. "I've gotten backlogged since – well, it's a mess," he says.

"Yes, but once you've finished it, it just gets passed off to me," she points out. "What makes you think I want to deal with it?"


"It's lunchtime, James. The time of lunch. There is a noticeable lack of lunch in this office."

"I'm really not hungry."

"That's all right, I was planning on stealing your fries anyway."

"I thought you were trying to eat healthy these days."

"Calories off someone else's plate don't count. Come on, James. The cafeteria's special today is meatloaf. It's going to be quite the spectacle. Even you can't resist a bad meatloaf."

He almost looks like he's vaguely considering smiling, which Cuddy counts as a victory. "Well, if there's meatloaf," he says.

"Come on," she wheedles. "My treat. Just this once."

"Just this once," he agrees tiredly, but he stands and follows her out of his office.

I'll pay for your lunch as often as it takes. She smiles to herself. This could get to be a habit.


stage four (depression)

There's a piano in the shitty little bar down the street from the hospital. Chase never used to notice it; now he nurses his fourth gin and tonic (light on the tonic) and wishes to God they'd hire someone who actually knew how to play the damn thing. Right now, the pianist (as vile a misnomer as Chase has ever encountered) is determinedly whacking his way through some painfully sentimental old tune, rendered nearly unrecognizable; on the bar stool next to Chase's, Wilson shudders and hunches further over his Jack Daniels. Only his second, Chase thinks. The man's nowhere near drunk enough to weather this new form of torture.

He didn't know there was a piano in this bar. He didn't know the incompetent at the keys would be playing this song. He can tell the instant it hits Wilson all over again, the white knuckles grasping the Jack, the way it all snuck back up on him when he least expected it. This wasn't Chase's intention, but really, does it make a difference? Fuck.

Irrelevantly, he wonders how hard the piano could possibly be to learn to play. He could learn, he supposes. Just for the hell of it.

He orders another round of drinks instead.


stage five (acceptance)

"It's appropriate," House insisted.

"I don't even like that movie."

"Lying whore," House said. "You totally mainlined all those old movies back in high school. The angst! The rebellion! The distorted yearnings for domesticity! Also, James Dean in leather."

"I may have had a thing for Natalie Wood," Wilson conceded.

"You may have had a thing for Sal Mineo, you pervert."

"I just don't know what you're trying to imply," Wilson said, reluctantly unrolling the poster. "I have many causes, you know."

"Dying children, world peace, extramarital indiscretions," House ticked off on his fingers. "Hopeless cases. Free lunches."

"Sado-masochism," Wilson muttered under his breath.

House grinned. "The leather helps, doesn't it? C'mon, Jimmy, how can you resist? He's just so sullen."

"Reminds me of someone I know."

"It's like looking into a mirror," House said fondly. He gave Wilson a gentle whack in the shin with his cane. "Come on, we haven't got all day. It's lunchtime."

"It's ten thirty in the morning!"

"James Dean resents your mindless conformity to pithy social constructions of appropriate meal times," House informed him. "Look at that burning resentment."

"I'm going to be looking at his burning resentment every day for the rest of my life, apparently," Wilson grumbled.

"Like that's anything new," House said, grinning when Wilson rolled his eyes and reached for the stickytac. Life would probably be a lot easier for Wilson if he could just learn to accept the inevitable from the start, but as any good rebel knows, the whole point is in the fight.

Wilson spread the poster across his wall with careful fingers, and House leaned back comfortably against the desk to admire his work.
Zulu: j and w - love lightzulu on April 19th, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, man. Oh man I love this. Let me tell you, I'm a huge fan of Stage Five, and I'm so glad to see what you've done with it here. I love that every character gets a chance to have a POV--to be affected by House's death--but at the same time, each of those stages are about Wilson. Loved the characterization of all of them, too: Foreman, especially, is perfect for denial, and it's wonderful that it's Cuddy who urges Wilson out in bargaining. And then! The end, where it's House, at the last--the chronology reversed--I think that makes the fic hit all the harder. Wonderful stuff, and an excellent remix.
kaydee falls: house/wilsonkaydeefalls on April 27th, 2008 04:32 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad it worked for you -- the original fic is just so subtle and wonderful, and I was nervous I'd just screw it up in remixing.
ベル物 (bell)usomitai on April 19th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
This is sad, especially since you chose to end with the poster-tacking scene. Good choice, there.

Somehow, I felt the worst for Wilson when he was barging in on the ducklings, using them as an "emotional crutch." So sad; almost pathetic. And I felt better to see Cuddy luring him towards the cafteria/a normal life, especially since that seemed to be one of the bright spots in the original fic (he was happiest during the lunches with her).
kaydee falls: house/wilsonkaydeefalls on April 27th, 2008 04:33 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad it worked for you. :)
thedeadparrot: wilsonthedeadparrot on April 19th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Hi, remixer! I love this so much, the structure and how it fits in well with the original even as it supports a different story, the switching POVs that shed such different lights on Wilson and his coping mechanisms, the little things you wove in that I recognize but make perfect sense where they are.

I love your characterizations, especially Cuddy, who's so tough and comforting, and Foreman, who tries in his own way.

And that ending! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. So perfect. It's exactly what needs to be there, and I love the interaction, love the argument, love the way it makes this story all the more heartbreaking.

I don't know if you think of this as a gift exchange, but seriously, thank you.
kaydee falls: house/wilsonkaydeefalls on April 27th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)
Can I just say, it was ridiculously hard remixing your fic, because Stage Five is so beautiful and understated and lovely?

Anyway. Thank you, so much. I'm so very glad it worked for you.
Dee Laundrydeelaundry on April 20th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
This is wonderful. I love the original, and this adds a gorgeous extra layer to it. The tie to the five stages of grief (and it's so great that you gave Cameron anger; she has a capacity for it that some people can't see), and the tie to the experiences Wilson has in the original.

This line from Cuddy particularly made me smile: "It's lunchtime, James. The time of lunch. There is a noticeable lack of lunch in this office."

It's got an echo of House, but it's Cuddy, too. Great.

Another favorite line was House saying "James Dean resents your mindless conformity to pithy social constructions of appropriate meal times," and him casually calling Wilson a lying whore. Perfect.
kaydee falls: house/wilsonkaydeefalls on April 27th, 2008 04:36 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I have a great deal of respect for the original fic, so I'm very glad this worked for you.
female version of a hustler: booksandflower: myownmorningwanderlost on April 20th, 2008 01:26 am (UTC)
Oh, but this is so sad :(

I loved the way you showed the stages of grief with the corresponding team member. The final stage was beautifully written.

You did a fantastic job!
kaydee falls: house/wilsonkaydeefalls on April 27th, 2008 04:37 am (UTC)
Thank you!
elsaneelsane on April 20th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
oh, oh, this is great. Fantastic structure and the last scene -- the banter, fantastic, and such a kick in the gut.

All of these scenes are wonderful but I especially liked the one with Cameron. I thought you really captured both the complexities in her personality and her uncomfortable, almost territorial relationship with Wilson.

kaydee falls: house/wilsonkaydeefalls on April 27th, 2008 04:38 am (UTC)
Thank you! And Cameron's tough for me to write, so I'm glad that in particular worked for you.
Flameo, Hotman!swatkat24 on April 21st, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
Oooh, just gorgeous!
kaydee falls: house/wilsonkaydeefalls on April 27th, 2008 04:38 am (UTC)
Thank you!
insufferable know-it-allbironic on April 21st, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, very well done. Like queenzulu said, it enhances the original by showing how House's death affects everyone else, but it's still about Wilson through those lenses, and at the same time you can imagine that each of them went through each of the stages of grief in their own time and ways. Fabulous dialogue, too, especially House and Wilson in that last scene.
kaydee falls: house/wilsonkaydeefalls on April 27th, 2008 04:39 am (UTC)
Thank you! I was trying very hard to balance the different characters' perspectives while keeping Wilson at its center, so I'm glad that worked for you.
alemyrddin: HouseWilson rule the worldalemyrddin on July 22nd, 2008 07:50 am (UTC)
*wipes tears*

This was so moving and poignant. I loved how you used other characters to better enlighten Wilson's feeling. I loved Cuddy in particular.
And the last one killed me.
Wonderful fic.
kaydee falls: house/wilsonkaydeefalls on July 23rd, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad it worked for you.