Rating: T so far.
Disc.: Uncreative explanation of how I don't own any of the characters, yada yada.
Summary: Alvie shows up at the hospital looking for House, who discovers he's off his meds again. AU, takes place before "Baggage."
ATTENTION: if you're having trouble reading, you might want to CTRL+. Mac users hit command+ to enlarge font.
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House paced, consciously avoiding the urge to lay a hand on his thigh and rub the knotted, disfigured crater where muscle had once been. With each step he grimaced, twirling a dry erase marker as he moved.
"So basically," he began, tapping the marker obnoxiously on the white board as he passed it, "what you're saying is we have no idea what's wrong with our patient."
Although the statement was aimed at everyone, his eyes instinctively zeroed in on Foreman, who sat with his arms folded.
Foreman sighed uneasily at being signaled out, his head slowly bowing in defeat.
"At this point?" he shrugged. "Yes."
House studied his team, a puzzled frown pulling at his mouth. He pointed the marker in their direction accusingly. "I thought you guys were supposed to be doctors."
Thirteen groaned loudly and slouched, resting her chin in her hand.
"Every test we ran came back negative," she said.
Taub sighed and bowed his head, busying himself with papers on a clipboard.
"Maybe he's not really sick," he offered timidly.
Thirteen's eyebrows rose. "You think he's faking?"
"Wouldn't be the first time," Foreman added.
House twirled the marker around and listened to what Taub had to say. He noticed, however, that Taub began to trail off, his brow creasing. He sat forward in his chair, tilting his chin up and sitting tall, in order to see beyond Thirteen.
House snapped his fingers.
"Hey, I'm not paying you to sit around and—" but then he saw what the problem was.
From where he stood, he could easily make out a short, dark haired man walk around in circles, scratching at his neck nervously and poking his head into offices. House squinted and stared hard, his head cocked to the side. The man was carrying an overstuffed duffle bag that hung around his neck and forced him to lean too far to one side. He walked stiffly up and down the hall, as if searching for something. Or someone.
"Oh, crap," House muttered.
"What is it?" Thirteen asked, swiveling around so quickly that her dark hair fell across her shoulder. "Do you know that guy?"
"Stay," he instructed, grabbing his cane and heading into the hall.
He limped along with surprising speed, watching as the man managed to corner an older doctor (Crais…Crags?), waving his hands expressively, clearly frustrated. The man shook his head and pointed in the direction of House's office, then stalked off, leaving Alvie with a scowl on his face.
Alvie turned to leave, and then caught sight of his friend, his face lighting up.
"House!" he hooted and hollered in excitement, making House cringe in chagrin. "Yo, House! It's me!"
House signaled for him to lower his voice, watching helplessly as Alvie began barreling down the hall, duffle bag bouncing against his knees, and slammed into the less enthusiastic man, capturing him in a bear hug.
"Guess what? I'm out!"
"I can see that, Alvie," House said, pushing him off and grabbing hold of his shirt collar.
"In my office," House said, beginning to limp back to his office, dragging Alvie along with him. "Now."
"What's the big idea? Lemme go! C'mon! I just stopped by to say hi! C'mon, let go! House—okay now you're hurting me!"
When they were out of the hall, House released him, glowering and contemplating the extreme uselessness of the large, glass wall for the first time in a while.
"Tch." Alvie jerked away and began to smooth down the front of his shirt, shifting from one foot to the other. He removed the bag from around his neck and shoulder and let it thump loudly onto the floor. "Not cool."
His annoyance was quickly forgotten, however, as he inspected his surroundings. "Hey, nice office. What's that thi—"
"What are you doing here?" House demanded, raising his voice.
Alvie jumped at the sudden sternness of his voice.
"Just wanted to see you. Relax."
House could see his team watching them intently out of the corner of his eye, and intensified his glare in hopes of warding them off.
"You can't just barge into a hospital and interrupt people," he explained, waving his hand for emphasis.
"Interrupt?" Alvie looked to his left and blinked in shock, spotting the trio of people in white coats sitting around the glass table. He grinned and waved enthusiastically. "Who're they?"
"Cool. They work for you?" Alvie asked, inching his way to the door that separated the office from the conference room. He put both his hands on the glass and pointed. "Is that a coffee maker?"
"Alvie, get away from—" Not only was Alvie already introducing himself, he was also awkwardly leaning across the table, intent on shaking everyone's hand.
"Is this that Wilson guy?" Alvie asked as House entered, inspecting Taub, who appeared very uncomfortable with the extra attention. "The one that hung up on you?"
Taub stiffened and smiled politely, though still looked afraid. "Hi..." he answered slowly, carefully, as though talking to a rabid dog. "I'm Doctor Taub."
"That's Taub," House repeated. "The black guy is Foreman," he added, then gestured to Thirteen. "She's not Wilson, either."
"Uh, House?" Foreman said. "Who's this?"
He made a sweeping gesture with his hand. "Minions, Alvie. Alvie, minions."
Alvie cheerfully announced, "I was his roommate," and nudged House.
"Mayfield?" Thirteen asked.
Alvie held up three fingers in a W and turned them upside down to make an 'M'. "Representin'! Hey, any of you guys like rap? I got some killer lyrics like you've never even seen before."
"This guy's great," Thirteen said with a big grin.
"Is he for real?" Taub asked cautiously.
House felt his patience wearing thin, and decided to speed things up. "Yes. We're home boys for life, and while I'd like to solidify that with a customary fist-bump, I've just been informed that Alvie here is late for a rap battle. He has to leave. Immediately."
"What?" Alvie said, spinning around. "No I don't. I just got here."
"Which is why we're all so sad to see you go," House assured him, setting a heavy hand on his shoulder. He squeezed hard enough to elicit a response and nudged Alvie back to the door. "Back into the office."
"Ow!" Alvie yelped.
"Uh, it was nice to meet you?" Taub called over his shoulder, then looked back at Thirteen and Foreman and shrugged.
House pushed Alvie back into his office, and told him as gently as possible (which wasn't very gently at all), "you need to leave."
House perched on the edge of his desk, watching Alvie blink rapidly. "Because this is a hospital, not a daycare." He frowned. "Why are you so twitchy? Are you on something? If you are, maybe you shouldn't leave."
"Twitchy? I'm not twitchy."
"Of course you aren't," House said belatedly, giving him a quick, thorough head to toe. "Are you lying?"
"I'll stay out of your way, I promise," Alvie interrupted, his face showing desperation. "Just let me chill with you for a while. Please? Don't make me beg. Come on."
House scowled deeply. Something definitely wasn't right. He caught Foreman's attention and waved at him to stop sitting around and get busy, then watched them leave. He turned back to Alvie.
"You're not taking your medication," he said, narrowing his eyes. "Why?"
"I already told you! I can't think when I'm on that stuff! My lyrics suffer."
"It also evens you out," House pointed out, curiously leaning in to get a better inspection of his friend. "Keeps you from jumping between wanting to run a marathon and wanting to lie in bed all day every ten seconds."
"I'm telling you, that stuff just makes it worse."
"Maybe you're not on the right medication."
"Yeah?" he said, jerking his head toward House's leg. "How're you doin' on those those non-narcotics?"
House held his breath, becoming as still as a statue. His fingers twitched slightly, and he wondered how long he'd absently been rubbing his thigh.
He mumbled, "It's manageable."
Alvie scoffed and said, "Riiight. I knew that whole 'take your medicine, stuff'll be great' thing was a load of crap."
"Pain can be managed," he retorted, the hairs on the back of his neck prickling. Why did that sound so wrong to say? Probably because he didn't want to just manage his pain, and he knew that Alvie was aware of that.. "For you it's different, but with proper medication and psychotherapy, you can—"
"Or maybe, all that stuff is a load of crap!" Alvie spat, beginning to rapidly pace the length of his office. "You know, there's been studies, sayin' that antidepressants can make you depressed."
"I'm a doctor; don't throw 'Studies Show' at me," House said, rolling his eyes. He gestured to the comfortable chair the corner. "Go sit down before you wear a hole in my carpet, and tell me why you're really here."
"I got nowhere else to go," he said at last. Beads of sweat were beginning to collect on his brow, his cheeks were red and he looked out of breath. He crossed the room and collapsed into the armchair, head in his hands. "I can't go back to Mayfield. I can't. I already been there four times."
"If you're using, maybe you should go back. I could check you in for the night, get you a ride—"
"I'm not! Not... not right now." he said quietly, fidgeting in the chair. "It's just…I dunno. It's hard. Things've been real hard lately."
"What about your family?"
He snorted, wrapping his arms around himself. "Yeah, I got family, but they don't wanna be around me. Not until I'm 'better'. Can you believe that? Of all the stupid—wish somebody'd tell 'em you don't just 'get better'."
"So why me?"
"I told you," he said quietly, shrugging. "I don't wanna go back. I won't go back."
It wasn't anymore of an answer the second time, but he decided to let it slide.
"What's your prescription?"
"Effexor… But I don't want to go see my old doc anymore. He doesn't get me. Not like you get me, House."
House raised his eyebrows in surprise. He almost smirked. "I don't think anybody gets you."
He was just about to ask Alvie to leave again, when he saw the hurt flash across his face, and realized he'd lost his edge. He nearly swore. He didn't do nice, and he especially didn't do caring, but something stopped him from sending Alvie away.
"Where are you staying?" House asked curtly, setting his jaw.
"You don't know, or you don't want to tell me? Do you have anywhere to stay?"
"Don' wanna tell you," he mumbled.
"How much money do you have on you?"
"Don't worry about it."
"Oh, don't give me that crap. How much money do you have on you, right now?" He eased down from the desk with a wince and hobbled behind the desk, opening a drawer and reaching into it.
"Thirty bucks," he mumbled.
"Look," he said, fiddling with a key ring. He tossed him a single key a second later. "I'm about to do something that goes against everything I stand for, so you better not make me regret it."
"What are you talking about?" he asked, catching the key and turning it over in front of his face. "What's this for?"
House cleared his throat and rattled off an address, hobbling in his direction. "Go there, and wait for me. Got it?"
"No, I'm joking," he snapped, slapping a hand against his side. "The keys were just for effect. Yes I'm serious. Go and wait, and don't touch anything. Give me a couple of hours to figure out what's going on with my patient."
Alvie stood and gazed upon the keys as though they were the equivalent to the Holy Grail.
"Hold up a sec, you didn't just give me the key to your locker and a fake address, right?"
"As much as the thought of you wandering around the city looking for a fake address with the key to my locker warms my heart, no. Address is real. Key's to the apartment."
"Oh man, you rock!"
"Yeah, I know, I'm a saint." He touched Alvie's shoulder and roughly guided him toward the door.
"I knew you'd have my back!"
Suddenly a strange sound filled the room. House reached for his pager and looked at it, frowning at the code.
"Huh." He squinted at his pager, raised an eyebrow. "Looks like my patient isn't faking afterall."
"That's what I need to figure out."
He walked Alvie to the elevator and rode down with him until his stop came up. He paused for an instant and looked over his shoulder as the giant metal doors closed, Alvie giving him the thumbs up. He wondered how the hell he was going to tell Wilson. Temporary or not, he couldn't see him thrilled about the prospect of having another person living with them.
He shook his head and hurried along, crossing something off from the whiteboard inside his head. Vomiting blood was hard to fake.