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[personal profile] menolly_au
I remember someone saying after the first snippet I posted that they'd read more even if it was just meandering dialogue - so here, have some meandering dialogue with a tiny smidgeon of plot :-)  Still not finished but I think if I can think up some plot resolution I probably will finish it at some stage.



"Hey, House! At least pretend like you're working!"

"You told me not to talk to the customers," House replied, his gaze never leaving his target. "Just doing what you said, boss."
"I said that you should restock the front display, not sit on your ass staring at that guy." Foreman followed the line of House's sight. At the front of the coffee shop a man was sitting, nursing his cup of coffee. He hadn't noticed House's scrutiny because he was busy staring out of the front window of the shop. There was a good view of the busy intersection, but nothing else that seemed to warrant such focus.

"This is the fourth time he's come this week. He always sits there and stares out," House said.

"So he's a regular customer. We do have them."

"The coffee in this place is lousy, Foreman. He's not here for the coffee."

"The coffee pays your damned wages. Not that you earn them. Now get back to work."

"I'm taking my break," House said.

"Your break? I hadn't noticed that you've done any work today!" Foreman frowned at him. "I'm going to have to call Cuddy."

"You do that. I saved her brat's life, remember? She's not going to fire me." House grinned at Foreman's furious expression and started to walk away.

"Don't harass that guy, House."

"Wouldn't dream of it," House muttered as he made his way towards his prey.

"Is everything to your liking, sir?" he asked, in his best Cameron imitation as he hovered over the man's table.

The man looked up, startled. He was older than House had first thought. Up close he could see lines of strain on the youthful features. His eyes were a warm brown, and although he wore casual clothes they were clearly expensive, and immaculately ironed. His eyes flicked over House, first noticing the clothes and then assessing his face. There was some puzzlement in his voice when he answered.

"Yes, everything is fine, thanks. Do you ask all your customers?"

House shrugged, pulling up a chair and straddling it, still facing the man. "The boss doesn't like me talking to the customers."

"And yet here you are. Talking to me. I guess you don't like being employed." House noted with interest that he hadn't protested having a sudden dining companion.

" His boss owes me a big favour." House reached over and picked up the stranger's slightly dry looking slice of mud cake. It wasn't like the guy had been eating it. He took a big bite. Yeah, that was pretty shit. Like the coffee. He took another bite, because - hey, free food. Brown eyes was still watching him, more amused than indignant. Interesting.

"I hope it's a huge favour," he said, his gaze flicking across to behind the counter, "because your boss is on the phone and he doesn't look happy."

"Yep. Saved her kid's life. Nobody on the East Coast could work out was wrong with her, except for me."

"You're a doctor?" The bushy eyebrows above the brown eyes lifted up.

"Yep."

"And you're working here?"

"This is a temporary gig. The Medical Board benched me for a year to punish me for saving the brat. Kid's Mom owns this dive. I need the money. I have expensive habits." He put out his hand. "Greg House."

Brown eyes stared at him for a moment and then slowly put out his own. "James Wilson."

"Cool," House nodded. "Want to go fuck somewhere?"

James Wilson didn't miss a beat. "Maybe later, I'll pencil it into my diary." He went back to looking out the window.

Interesting. So this Wilson was available, and not totally unwilling, but also considered he had something more important to do. Like stare out the damned window. Looking for something. House finished off the rest of the cake, and took a swig of the now cold coffee to wash it down. He watched Wilson's eyes. Not looking for something. Looking for someone .

"Break's over, House. Get back to pretending to work." Foreman was standing next to the I table. "Cuddy is on her way. She wants to talk to you."

"Probably wants to give me your job," House said, getting to his feet. Wilson didn't even look their way.

Foreman didn't look worried. "No, she probably wants to kick your ass. She takes this store seriously, House, even if you don't." He held up a hand as House started to say something. "And don't tell me again how you saved Rachel's life. I don't want to hear it. You were just doing your job . Cuddy doesn't owe you some sort of life-long gratitude for that."

House was warming up to a comeback for that when a sudden burst of motion caught his attention. James Wilson was disappearing out the shop door, almost running. House caught a glimpse of him making his way across the busy road but then he disappeared into the crowd. Damn.

"See what you did, Foreman? You scared him off." He should have picked Wilson's pocket, at least that would have given him a head-start on finding him.

Foreman shook his head. "It was probably the lunatic who decided to share his meal with him. Now make yourself useful and clear the table. We're short staffed as it is."

House reluctantly picked up Wilson's discarded cup and plate and dumped it in the general vicinity of the trash. He caught a glimpse of Chase sneaking out of the staff area, followed, at what was presumably supposed to be discreet interval, by Cameron. Chase was grinning like an idiot and Cameron wasn't much better. They probably thought no-one knew about them. Morons!

Taking this job had been an idiotic idea. Even with his medical license suspended there had to some other way he could make enough money to live on. Except Cuddy had promised to match his old salary - and there was no way he could make that amount anywhere else. He wasn't sure what she was getting out of the deal. Foreman was right, he was just doing his job when he saved the woman's spawn. Even if it was doing what no-one else would do.




"I need you to do your job, Doctor House," Cuddy said to him sharply. She'd arrived in a hurry, her steps purposeful as she'd entered the shop. After greeting Foreman, and nodding at Chase and Cameron who both seemed a little in awe of her, she'd gestured for House to follow her into the back room. He'd leered suggestively and Foreman had rolled his eyes. "I can't have you setting a bad example for my other employees."

The 'doctor' only stung a little. Ten more months he told himself.

"I'm here," he said. "Sorry if the x hours of medical school didn't prepare me for the rigors of making the perfect vanilla latte. I should have spent less time in the lab and more time in Starbucks. 'Course your kid would probably be dead..."

"I'm grateful that you saved Rachel's life, that's why I gave you this job. You were suspended because you broke the rules saving my daughter's life. I don't want you to suffer for that. On the other hand, if your bedside manner had been a little better maybe you wouldn't have had to go to those extremes."

"So... what? You don't want me to starve on the streets while I'm serving my suspension, but you won't just give me the money because you think I should learn some humility serving the bozos who have so little idea of what good coffee should be that they come here?"

"I think it could be good for you to interact with the public. Then the next time a worried mother of one of your patient's approaches you with her concerns maybe you won't call her a moron and accuse her of neglecting her own child!"

"I could sit with her at the funeral - think that would make her happier? Guess it would save her college fees anyway."
They were standing toe to toe in the small back room, and their voices must have been raised because Foreman poked his head around the corner of the door.

"Customers can hear you," he warned.

"She's a screamer," House said, watching Cuddy's face and enjoying the irritation he saw there. "

Cuddy threw her hands up and made an exasperated sound. "Just do your job, House. I'm grateful to you for saving Rachel's life - but I'm not going to let you disrupt this store. Consider this your last warning."

She nodded to Foreman and brushed past House on the way out. He watched her attractive derrière all the way out the front door and into her expensive sports car.

Foreman watched him watching and then reached into the closet, producing a mop.

"Floor needs cleaning."

House looked down at his watch. "Sorry, boss. Shift just ended. I bet Chase would do it for you, if you asked not so nicely. He likes being told what to do."

On the way out the door he snagged a cake and coffee that Cameron had just announced was ready for 'Phoenix'. Anybody with a name like that would be used to having their food stolen.

James Wilson was nowhere to be seen on the street outside, not that House had expected to see him there - wherever he was going he had gone in a hurry.

Well, House wasn't going to pound the streets of Princeton looking for him. Ol' Brown Eyes had been in four times this week. Unless he'd found whatever it was he was looking for he'd be in again soon.




"So are you FBI? CIA? MI5? NASA?" House asked, settling down in a chair at Wilson's table.

Wilson turned a startled look on him and House studied him carefully. Whatever had happened yesterday had him rattled. Where before his eyes had calmly scanned the street, now he was jerking his focus around, looking first this way, then that. Twice he'd started to rise out of his chair only to sink back down.

"NASA? Do I look like an astronaut?"

"You don't look like a spy either, but I notice you didn't dispute those."

Wilson spared him a brief, and polite, smile before turning his attention back to the street.

"You caught me, I'm following Mr Big - we think he has plans to turn on his top secret freeze ray and turn Princeton into a giant skating rink."

House was beginning to like Wilson more and more.

"So, this person you're looking for - you saw them yesterday didn't you? You bolted out of here like Chase at end of shift."

Wilson was looking away from him but House saw his jaw tighten and his mouth twitch."Don't you ever have to do any work?"

"I'm the decoration - I'm just here to bring in the chicks."

"Thought you went the other way. Or was that invite yesterday just you being an asshole?"

"I'm flexible, and when I say flexible..." House trailed off as he assessed his prey. Wilson was only half paying attention to the conversation, although clearly House had hit a nerve with his observation about the day before. Wilson had seen who he was looking for. So why would he come back here?

It wasn't a medical mystery, but it was a mystery and that was close enough to feed House's addiction.

The second mystery of course was whether Wilson was seriously considering House's invitation. House hadn't put a lot of thought into it. The 'wanna fuck' question had been as much about screwing with Wilson as screwing him.

He shelved the second mystery for now and homed in on the first one.

"So, whoever you were looking for - you saw them yesterday but they got away. Maybe you need to spend more time on the running track and less time in coffee shops."

"I play tennis," Wilson said absently.

"Interesting but irrelevant." House took a sip of Wilson's coffee. "So, who is this mysterious person and why are we looking for them?"

" We are not looking for anyone. I am looking for my brother." As soon as he said it Wilson clamped his mouth shut, as if regretting letting it slip.

"Does he randomly walk past coffee shops in Princeton?"

"No, he..." Wilson stood up abruptly. "Look, I don't know you. I don't know why you're so interested in what I'm doing it but how about you go stalk someone else?" He threw a couple of bills down on the table - for a tip presumably - and headed towards the door. House scooped up the money, and the abandoned half full coffee cup, and followed him.

"Seriously?" Wilson turned on him as soon as they were outside. He had his hands on his hips. "You're going to follow me? Just how big is this favour your boss owes you anyway?"

"Not working today."

"You're not working?"

"No," House said cheerfully.

"So you just came in to... "

"... to look for you, yes. You are seriously that interesting." House shrugged. "Also all my usual hookers were busy."

Now Wilson looked pissed. Oops. Possibly a step too far. But it wasn't like he'd dropped Mystery Number Two entirely, just parked it on the back bench for now. And Wilson looked pissed more in a 'I'm not a hooker' way than 'I'm not gay way'. So there was still hope for his long term plan.

"So, I'm guessing this brother of yours isn't gainfully employed, or going to school, somewhere in Princeton."

Wilson still looked pissed off but he took his hands down from his hips - much to House's disappointment - and started walking along the street, still scanning the passers-by.

"Because if he was you could just go knock on his metaphorical door and do all the brotherly bonding your heart desired," House explained. "So, you're persona non grata with baby brother Wilson."

"How do you know he's younger than me?"

House shrugged. "Fifty-fifty. So what's the deal with him? Did you covet your brother's wife?"

Wilson blinked. "Why would your mind go to that? No. Danny isn't married. At least he wasn't. He was in college here when he disappeared."

"Disappeared?"

"He left his dorm and was never seen again. Hence my use of the term 'disappeared'."

House took a sip of the now cold coffee and pulled a face. He really should talk to Cuddy about the coffee. He threw the cup away. "So now you spend your days sitting in lousy coffee shops hoping he's going to reappear in front of you?"

"No, now I work at Princeton General. I only spend my vacation time looking for him." Wilson looked away and House bet himself that Wilson spent a fair few nights and weekends looking for his brother as well. "I... I thought I saw him once a couple of years ago, on the streets. I looked for a long time but never saw him again."

"Until yesterday." No wonder Wilson had bolted out the door. "Are you sure it was him?"

"He's my brother! Of course I'm sure." Again there was a touch of defensiveness about his words. "I don't know why I'm telling you this. I haven't even told my best friend."

House briefly wondered what a Wilson BFF would look like. Probably some boring guy who worked in the office next door.

"Complete strangers often tell me their secrets," he said. "It's my super power."

"My super power is being able to tell when someone is feeding me a line of crap."

House looked around. As they'd been talking they'd been walking down the street, oblivious to everything - and everyone - around them. Including the famed Danny if he was still hanging around. Privately House suspected that if it had been Danny - and not some other poor homeless bum - and he'd seen Wilson it was likely that he'd taken off quickly in the opposite direction. If Danny had wanted to make contact with Wilson he would have done so long before now.

Still, there was some value in encouraging Wilson's optimism.

"Look, I know a few people who know people. I can put the word out on the streets for you. See if anything turns up."

Wilson looked at him suspiciously, as if he thought House might have an ulterior motive. Of course House did have an ulterior motive but what did it matter if Wilson's ultimate goal of finding his brother was achieved? It was what House's old boss would call a 'win-win' situation. House wasn't very fond of those - he preferred 'win-lose' - but you can't always get what you want. House was pretty good at getting to what he needed.

"These people who know people who know people? There aren't any mob bosses amongst them are there? I don't want a hit put out on Danny, I just want to find him."

"Do I look like the sort of person who would have mob contacts?" Wilson was still looking doubtful so House plunged on. "Gotta photo of Danny I can flash around?" He figured that Wilson would have had them printed out by the gross. He wasn't disappointed. When Wilson produced it he glanced at it. Perfectly normal looking college aged kid. Close enough to Wilson in looks that you wouldn't be shocked to find out they were brothers.

"He... doesn't look quite the same now."

"No kidding." House tucked the photo away in a pocket. "Usual time tomorrow?"

Wilson looked a little confused by then nodded.

"And order an espresso none of this latte crap. And a donut not a low-fat muffin."

"You know you work there and can order whatever you want? You don't have to eat mine."

"Where would the fun be in that?"




When House slid into the chair opposite Wilson the next day it was to find a tall black coffee and a chocolate brownie waiting for him. Wilson was eating his own food, still watching the street outside.

"Been fired yet?"

"Nope. It's a new record."

"And you're 'working' today?" Wilson made little 'air quotes' gestures with his fingers much to House's delight.

"I'm pacing myself. Besides, Foreman's on a day off today. Cameron is in charge. She won't sell me up the river. I caught her and wombat-boy doing the dirty in the supply room. She owes me."

"Isn't blackmail wonderful?"

"It comes in useful."

Wilson dropped his show of indifference and leaned in close, lowering his voice. "Did you find anything out?"

"I gave the photo to someone I know who er.... works with the homeless. They didn't recognise him, but they're going to show it to some other people." House took a bite out of his brownie. It was just about edible today. He reached over to grab the rest of Wilson's muffin just on general principle. Wilson rolled his eyes but didn't try and stop him.

"You know, you could go to those people in uniform who help us when we are in trouble." House said, spitting bits of muffin back onto the table as he ate.

"I went to the police when he first disappeared, and then several times afterwards. They just said there's nothing they can do. He's an adult, he's not causing trouble. They have better things to do than round up people who don't want to be found."

"And have you ever thought that if he doesn't want to be found there's a good reason?"

Wilson started shredding his napkin into tiny pieces, his focus intent on that. "Danny is schizophrenic. He doesn't need a good reason - he just needs to stop taking his meds. If I can find him I can get him into a hospital and get him back on his meds."
"And then what?"

Wilson looked startled. "Then I can help him."

"You like helping people?"

Startled changed to quizzical. "I am a doctor. "

"So am I. But you don't see me going around helping people."

"Well, I wouldn't want to accuse you of that, but on the other hand you did talk to a guy who knows people for me."

"That's because I want to get into your pants." House said, making a small pile of the debris on the table. He waved Chase over to clear it away.

"You're helping me find Danny because you want to sleep with me?"

"Sure, why not?"

Chase arrived at the table, an annoyed look on his face. "I'm not cleaning up after you, House. Bin's over there."

"Wilson here is a customer. I don't know how you do it in Kangaroo country but here in the land of the Tip we do everything we can to keep our customers happy. How else are you going to be able to afford to keep going to those clubs you like?"

Chase coloured in a way that House always appreciated watching and then his eyes darted between he and Wilson. House bet himself which way Chase would go. Sure enough Chase picked up the cups and plates and dumped them in the trash - although the expression on his face was more 'what an arsehole' than 'have a nice day'.

"I think your break is over, House." Wilson said, reaching into his wallet and producing a couple of bills. He dropped them on the table and then intercepted House's hand as he reached for them. "Leave them for the kid."

"After all I've done for you. I'm hurt, Wilson."'

"So far you've drunk my coffee, eaten my cake and propositioned me. Repeatedly."

"So I have to produce the prodigal son here in the shop before you'll leave me a tip?"

"House, if you bring Danny to me I'll give you everything you've ever dreamed of." Wilson turned and left and House stared after him.

"He's cute." He turned at the sound of a voice behind him. Cameron was looking after the departed Wilson, a sappy expression on her face. "You should ask him out."

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