Title: If you'd go to a shrink, I'd pay for it myself.
Fandom: House, M.D.
Rating: PG-13 (adult themes)
Summary: Wilson is ordered to see a counselor.
Spoilers: Through "House Vs. God"
Feedback is welcome. If you want to link to this, go ahead, but let me know.
"You wanted to see me?"
“Come in and close the door,” Cuddy said. “I’m not going to take a long time to say this.”
Wilson clicked the glass door shut behind him, eyebrows furrowed. That was a tone Cuddy usually reserved for House. “What’s up?”
“You need to see a counselor. A therapist. You’ve got some issues you need to work out. Now.”
“Excuse me?” He glanced around the room. Could she really be addressing him? “You want me to go to therapy.”
“No, I’m ordering you to go to therapy.” She picked up a business card from her desk and thrust it into the air, looking straight into the oncologist's eyes. “Beth is good. I don’t care if you see her or someone else, but," she waved her hand dismissively, "just in case you needed a recommendation.”
“Am I allowed to know what this is about,” he asked, taking the card. “Or will you give me a discussion agenda for my therapy sessions after they’ve been scheduled?”
Lisa rolled her eyes. “You slept with a patient. Just… just get some help. Now.”
“The alternative is I fire you.”
Wilson’s teeth clenched and he glanced out the window, half expecting his rat of a best friend to limp past. “House told you.”
“House knew? That figures. No, it came straight to me from the girl’s lawyer.”
Lawyer? The muscles tensing in his jaw relaxed, the fight gone. “She’s suing?”
Cutty sighed. “No. She isn’t. But she could have done. It doesn’t matter. This conversation is over. Call Beth or someone. I never want to have this conversation again. Understand?”
Questions filled his mind, but he left. Why would a lawyer have leaked this to Cutty? But maybe it was just for this reason-even Grace wanted him to see a counselor. Even she knew that his indescretion could ruin him professionally. But surely she had realized he might have lost his job immediately?
He glanced at the card in his hand. He’d talked with counselors before, but never on orders, and had never gotten too much out of the process. He knew nobody else he’d rather talk to, so he might just as well talk to this lady.
“Dr. Wilson, come on in.”
“All right, James.”
He walked into a large office decorated in black leather, mahogany woods, and dark forest greens. He took a seat on a wide leather sofa and gently fingered the overstuffed green velvet pillow beside him.
Dr. Bethany McClintock had black chin-length hair and a professional manner. She sat facing him in a hardback chair on the other side of the coffee table, on which sat a basket of silk flowers surrounded by a tasteful mahogany tissue box, a matching pencil can filled with freshly-sharpened colored pencils, and a tray of plain white printer paper. Everything the good corporate psychologist needs, he thought.
She picked up a legal pad and a pen from the table beside her and sat back in the chair, resting the pad on her crossed knee. “So what brings you here today?”
The highlights of his recent life flashed through his brain like a movie montage accompanied by Cuddy’s voice, You slept with a patient. Just… just get some help. Now. He took a deep breath. “I am a womanizer.”
Beth nodded slowly. “Is this your own conclusion, or someone else’s?”
“Oh, it’s mine. And I’ve known it for… years.”
“Okay. Tell me about that.”
“I’m on my third marriage, and it’s falling apart. Though I have to say this is the first time it was her infidelity that blew it all up. The other two times were all mine."
He paused, giving her a chance to respond, but she only waited for him to continue.
He forged ahead. “My first marriage never should have happened. We just got married too young. It isn’t like we didn’t know each other, but we believed that being high school sweethearts could be enough. After a year or two, though, she started to resent my being in college while she was working, and I didn’t exactly handle that well. I dealt with it poorly.”
“You had an affair?”
“An affair? More than that. Girls at school. Co-workers. One of my professors. It turned out I didn’t just have a talent for school work, but I knew people-really, really well. I had a talent for women in particular. I could read them, tell immediately what they wanted from me. And I never met a woman’s dream I couldn’t fulfill.”
“That sounds like quite a burden.” The sympathy in her eyes didn’t fool Wilson. But over the years he had learned to set aside his insights and choose not to pursue every woman he knew he could get.
Pushing forward, he shook his head. “No, not really. At least not for a 20-year-old. I was just a kid in a candy shop then. My wife found out about it and kicked me out. I got married again less than a year later to one of the girls I’d been seeing and who comforted me after my first marriage fell apart. But I guess I hadn’t learned my lessons yet. That marriage didn’t even last until I graduated.
“I tried to swear off women, but I just couldn’t. I like women. I like how they think. But there was no way I was getting married again. Instead I just went from relationship to relationship, nothing ever lasting for more than six or seven months. I went to med school and graduated, did my residency. And I just slept with anybody I wanted to. I never had to worry about being alone. If I wanted to be with someone, I just talked to her for a few minutes, and the deal was done.”
“How long did this go on?” She made a note on the pad, and Wilson came out of his nostalgia enough to realize just how pathological his choices might sound.
He thought back, counting the years. “Uhm, a decade? More or less.”
“And at the end of that decade, more or less, how satisfied were you with your life?”
He nodded and shrugged. “Yeah, it got old. And I started to think that maybe I could try marriage again. And maybe this time I might be able to stick it out. I met Julie pretty soon after that.”
“Was Julie just as easy to read?”
He shifted in his seat and unconsciously flipped the overstuffed pillow. “Yeah. I mean, I loved her. But yeah, I guess intimacy was pretty easy with her, no different than anyone else.”
“So what made you decide to marry her?”
“I was just ready. Look, it isn’t as if I didn’t love her. I… I loved all of them. I would have married any of them if I’d thought it would have meant anything. So getting married wasn’t about her, it was about me.”
“Really.” She cocked an eyebrow, her pen paused briefly over the pad. “Did you know this at the time?”
“I guess so. But I didn’t think it was a big deal. People get married for all sorts of reasons. The fact that I was as in love with Julie as I’d been in love with every other woman I’d been with… it didn’t seem relevant. I’m still not certain it was. The important part was that I was ready for the hard work of being married, of being a husband. I was ready to commit to being faithful.”
Beth looked up again, nodding slowly as if waiting for him to continue. “Being faithful…” she repeated.
“And how much of a challenge was that? Was it enough of a challenge to keep you interested?”
“It isn’t like I didn’t have other challenges in my life." He could sense his defensiveness increasing and tried to force himself to relax. "My job is very challenging. My best friend--he’s a piece of work. That’s enough of a challenge. I didn’t need my marriage to be any more of a challenge than it was.”
“Your best friend is a challenge? That’s unusual.”
Wilson choked out a laugh. “There’s nothing normal about him. Yeah, he’s a challenge. He’s an ascerbic genius. And he keeps me on my toes.”
The therapist grinned curiously. “Most people choose their friends because they’re comfortable. Easy to be around. Fun.”
Wilson objected. “Oh he’s fun. Just not in an in-person-fun kind of way.”
Beth nodded, the corners of her mouth turned up in a bemused smile. She made a note and returned her attention to him. “You said your wife left you for another man.”
Wilson’s enjoyment at attempting to describe Greg House vanished with the change of subject. “Yeah. She did. An old friend.”
“Had that ever happened before? With any of your girlfriends?”
He stared into space, thinking back through the women he could remember. “I think a few of them might have left me for someone else. One left me for a woman, I remember.”
“What’s that like for you?”
Ignoring the pang of regret in his chest, Wilson raised a shoulder in half a shrug. “I couldn’t let that get to me. I never expected those relationships to last forever. Sometimes we broke it off because I wanted to move on, sometimes because she wanted to move on. I just enjoyed it while it lasted.”
“Have you ever allowed yourself to be truly alone? In complete solitude?”
“I haven’t always been in a relationship, if that’s what you’re asking.” He laughed. “Of course not.”
“But have you ever given yourself complete solitude? Sat in your home, for instance, without any radio or television, not distracted with an urgent task, not hanging out with a friend. Just with only yourself for company.”
“I spend lots of time alone. I have to, just to keep up with all the reading. Do you have any idea how many journals-”
“Not reading, either. Do you ever just sit with yourself in silence, with only yourself to connect with?”
He paused, searching his memory for the ‘lots of examples’ he knew must be there. “Okay, not any specific time I can think of right now, but… you mean not even playing music?”
She only smiled and nodded.
“Is this important? Are you going to tell me I’m… emotionally stunted… because I like to have music on?”
“Tell me what you like about your friend. The one you started to describe earlier.”
Wilson’s eyes widened in surprise at the abrupt change of subject again. “Uhm. He’s… he’s a doctor. Extremely self-centered. Genius. Funny.”
She smiled appreciatively. “Do you like him because he’s funny or because he’s self-centered?”
Wilson laughed. “We never run out of things to talk about.”
She smiled again and made a note on her pad.
“So did you call me because your wife left you?”
That change of subject again. What an odd therapist. “No. Actually, Lisa Cuddy gave me your name. And she told me I had to come see you.”
“Yeah. I… I slept with a patient. I could have lost my job, but Cuddy is giving me a second chance.”
“That sounds like her.”
“Yeah, it is.” He studied the sharpened pencils.
“Do you deserve a second chance?”
“I hope so! And I’m here because I’m taking it.”
She jotted further notes, then laid the pad and pen on the table beside her. She leaned back and folded her hands in her lap. “We’re nearly done, but I have some questions I’d like to ask you about our session today.”
Wilson nodded. This was different, too.
“How are you feeling about our conversation?”
“Uhm, fine. I’m not sure we made much headway…”
“It can take time for those insights to come. How about the environment. Are you comfortable here?”
Ah, so this is like a satisfaction survey. “Sure. It’s very nice,” he said, looking appreciatively around the room. “Very comfortable. Very professional.”
“And what about me? Was there anything about me that stood out to you in our conversation?”
He looked at her a moment, studying the questioner and subject of the question. What was she really asking? “I think you seem like a very nice lady. Very sympathetic. I thought a few of the subject changes were a little abrupt-I’m not used to that. The counselors I’ve been to before have pretty much let me just talk.”
“Did that work for you?”
He grinned. “Not really.”
“Did you feel uncomfortable at any time in the conversation?”
“Not really. If you weren’t a therapist I might have thought your questions were too personal, but after all--”
She smiled. “I am a therapist.”
He returned her smile and started to pull his checkbook from his pocket. “Yes, you are.”
“Before you get ready to go, I still have another question.”
“Oh. Sorry.” He sat back, laying the checkbook on the seat beside him.
“You said you had a talent for reading women. For knowing right away what they want from you. Did you exercise this talent on me?”
Impressive, he thought. Psychotherapists--particularly those enlisted to counsel someone whose transgressions with a patient nearly cost them their employment--rarely allowed themselves such openness. Measuring his words carefully, he leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. “I believe that, if I made a pass at you right now, you would turn me away. But you would wish you didn’t have to.”
She smiled. “Thank you for your honesty. That gives me confidence that we can make some progress.” She glanced at the clock on the table beside him. “Our time is up.”
This is my first fic in the House, M.D. 'universe.' I have tried to stick to cannon where we know the facts, but this has a lot of speculation. If there are obvious errors, please let me know. I've seen most if not all of the episodes at least once, but my memory isn't foolproof.
Because there's so much speculation, this might be pretty dated and, by next year, completely outdated. But until I have to start retconning it, I might actually continue with further 'therapy sessions.'
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