'House of Cards' by Eos

Author's Note: I started this tag right after "Skin Deep" because my mind got snagged on the fact that House always brings molestation into the differential when he's dealing with a pediatric patient. Could be a dozen different reasons, this is just one possible scenario that explains a little about House, and even more about Wilson.

H/W friendship - Rating: PG-13

"Don't move. Don't breathe. Don't even think."

House's warning stopped Foreman dead in the doorway. House himself froze, eyeing his grand design, the result of nearly twenty minutes of intense concentration and precise construction. He'd used nearly two-thirds of the card deck so far. The architecture of laminated paper remained steady, and House slowly sat back. He was going for something grand, Graceland maybe, but it looked more like that experiment in do-it-yourself shelving he and Wilson had attempted several years ago. House thought his house of cards might actually be sturdier.

"Shouldn't you be gone by now?" House asked.

"I wanted to finish my discharge notes." Foreman approached the desk carefully and handed House the documents.

"Unisex names are so useful, don't you think?" House asked. He set the papers on the floor and picked up another card. He twirled the card between his fingers as he contemplated its placement. "At least he won't have to change his name."

"She won't have to change her name," Foreman said.

"She is a he."

"She identifies as a she, and she should be allowed to keep her identity," Foreman said. He took a seat in front of the desk and refused to be intimidated by House's scowl. "What's your problem with her anyway?"

"My problem is that this 'she' identity is...well, a house of cards." House nodded at his construction as he began another layer. "It's founded on nothing and collapses if you so much as look at it hard enough."

"Alex looks like a woman and she feels like a woman. Should she be forced to give that up just because she had testicles instead of ovaries?"

"Ah...yeah," House said with a roll of his eyes. Foreman returned the gesture. "Besides, as a he, she's a lot less likely to get diddled by daddy."

"Not necessarily," Foreman said. "Pedophiles are more motivated by age than by gender."

"True," House conceded. "Although in this case I'm not sure it's truly pedophilia. Technically, yes, but Alex looked and acted like a woman, not a girl. I think it's pure incest all the way."

"Either way it's sick," Foreman said. "Either way it's a hang-up of yours."

"What?" House peered at him through the honeycomb of cards.

"You have a problem with child abuse."

"And you don't?" House asked. He sat up straight and gave Foreman a look of disgust.

"Of course I do," Foreman said. "But I don't fixate on it like you do. You suspect every pediatric patient we see of having been molested."

"Statistically speaking, I'm bound to be right more often than not." House narrowed his eyes. "And I already told you I wasn't abused."

"So what is it?"

House laid down the next card with a sigh. He stared at Foreman for a moment, unsure as to how far to trust him. Then he sighed again. "Not me. A friend. And no, I don't mean nudge-nudge, wink-wink, it's really me. I mean a friend."

"That sucks," Foreman said with genuine compassion. "Nothing like screwing up a kid's life before he's even really begun to live it."

"Yeah. Weird thing is, this friend isn't screwed up. Not obviously anyway. He's successful, respected. On the other hand, his br...." House stopped, a stunned look on his face.

"His what?"

"Go home," House said. He got up and fumbled for his cane, knocking it against the desk. The cards collapsed, some of them riding the draft of air to the floor as House stalked out of his office, completely unaware of the destruction.

"What happened to your brother?"

"Do you ever knock?" Wilson looked up from his desk with a mildly puzzled expression.

"You can spank me later." House planted himself in the chair in front of the desk. "What happened to your brother?"

"As far as I know—nothing." Wilson leaned over his work again. "He's probably switched jobs again since we last spoke...."

"Not David. I'm sure he's happily making more goy babies with his shiksa wife."

"See, this is why I don't let you anywhere near my mother."

"The other brother," House persisted. "What happened?"

Wilson leaned back in his chair and let out a long breath. "Not much to tell. He got into drugs, and it was a slow but predictable slide down from there."

"Why did he get into drugs?"

"Well, that's the question, isn't it?" Wilson ran his hand through his hair and shrugged. "Why does anyone get hooked?"

"He was abused," House guessed. Wilson stiffened and looked away. "He was abused by the same guy who abused you, wasn't he?"

"I'm not talking about this," Wilson said.

"You told me you were about twelve when it stopped. Your brother was what? A couple of years younger?"

"Three," Wilson said, his voice almost inaudible.

"Three years younger." House nodded to himself. "Makes sense. You hit puberty and suddenly Mr. Molester wasn't interested. You weren't young enough any more. But there's a younger version of you ready and waiting in the wings so Mr. Molester simply switched Wilsons. After all, he doesn't care about the who. All he cares about is pretty little boys."

"Shut. Up."

Wilson's hand slammed against the desk. He'd turned away so that House could only see his profile. It should've been a warning. It was a warning, and House disregarded it as usual.

"Did you know?"

"This is none of your business."

"Maybe not, but I need...."

"You don't need; you want. And your wanting to know supercedes all other considerations like the fact that this is none of your damn business." Wilson controlled his breathing with an effort. "Shut up and leave."

"Did you?" House asked. "Did you know he'd moved on to your brother?"

"Yes," Wilson shouted. He turned to glare at House. "Yes, I knew. Not at first, but I figured it out. I did nothing and he couldn't deal with it and he got hooked on drugs and for all I know he died in a gutter somewhere. Happy now?"

"You tried telling your mother when you were being abused," House said, his voice quiet. "She didn't believe you."

"Of course not." Wilson rested shaking hands on his thighs. "Nobody believed it back then. He was respected, liked, a pillar of the community as they say. I was just a kid who needed his mouth washed out with soap."

"You couldn't protect yourself; there's no way you could've protected your brother." "Could've killed the bastard."

"As satisfying as that would've been—on many levels—I'm not sure it would've solved anything," House said.

"Nothing solves it. You learn to live with it." Wilson sighed. "Or you don't."

"You did more than learn to live with it," House said. "You're a damn good doctor and a decent human being."

"Yeah, go me," Wilson said dryly.

"Damn straight," House said with a thump of his cane for emphasis. "You're a nice guy. Look at me—I'm a nasty troll, and what's my excuse?"

"Ah, but you can afford to be nasty. You have nothing to hide."

"Huh." House pondered that for a moment. "God, people are really fucked up, aren't they?"

"You don't have to convince me of that."

"I...could make arrangements to have the guy taken care of," House offered, hesitant. "I do have mob connections after all."

"Aside from the legal considerations, it's too late," Wilson said. "He's dead. The worst I could do to him now is spit on his grave."

"Then let's do that," House said.


"Let's go," House said. He got up from his chair, wondering if he still had that can of spray paint in the trunk of his car. "We'll take a little ride and trash the gravesite."


"So's diddling little boys." House made an impatient gesture with his cane. "We won't get caught. The police will probably suspect teenagers. They won't be far from right either."

"This won't solve anything," Wilson said, but he was turning off his computer and reaching for his coat.

"Didn't say it would. But this guy's life, his reputation, was all a lie, an illusion, a...house of cards." House planted a hand in the middle of Wilson's back and gave him a gentle shove out the door. "Let's go knock it down."

Added 30 MAR 2006

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