Little Mysteries

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: This hasn't been read by anyone but me and I have the sneaking suspicion that I screwed Foreman up, but oh well.

One of the side effects of making sure that he spends a little time with Greg most days is that sometimes James ends up spending time with his team instead. There's always this funny little quirk of puzzlement at the corners of their eyes when he wanders into their breakroom or accompanies Greg back from clinic duty. He can almost see the mystified thought: there he is again.

But they never question his presence. James doesn't know if they're grateful for an additional buffer between themselves and Dr. House--not that his presence makes any difference to Greg's sharp wit--or if they actually appreciate his occasional contributions to their cases. He suspects that they're afraid that if they ask him why he's there he'll vanish and leave Greg in an even worse mood than usual.

They do, however, ask him all sorts of questions about Greg himself. Cameron asked James not so long ago if his friend was single. He'd been sorely tempted to tell her that Greg was spoken for--half just to see the look on her face, he admits to himself--but he managed to control the impulse. God knows what Greg would have said if the conversation got back to him. And it would. The man was a closet gossip. You'd never know it, but he knew more about what was going on in the hospital than half the orderlies did.

Today he left Greg in his office and went to the breakroom for a coffee, where he was promptly buttonholed by Foreman.

"How long have you been friends with him?" the man asks.

James doesn't pretend to be confused. "About six years now," he answers, dosing his coffee with too much sugar. He wonders if he can sneak a bottle of honey in here without Greg noticing. Probably not. Worth a try, though.

"Don't take this the wrong way," Foreman says brashly, "but if Dr. House only likes people who are puzzles, why does he like you?"

James has to chuckle at that. "What, you think I'm too buttoned down and average to engage his curiosity?"

Foreman shrugs. "I know I've known you less than a year, but I'm not sensing any hidden depths. You seem like a pretty ordinary guy to me."

"You don't like Dr. House much, do you?" James asks, sipping his coffee.

The non-sequiter doesn't throw Foreman for a moment. Working with Greg will do that to you. "I respect him," he temporizes.

"I like him," Wilson says.

"I don't get that."

James smiles. "Neither does Dr. House."

It takes a moment for Foreman to apply that to their conversation, but when he does James can see understanding dawn in his eyes. "You're telling me he likes you because he can't figure out why you like him?"

"Pretty much."

"That's twisted," Foreman says, shaking his head. "So why do you like him?"

"I can't say," James responds. He swirls the cup in his hand, trying to get some of the overly sweet coffee on the bottom to mix with the overly bitter brew on top.

Foreman lifts his brow. "You don't know."

"Of course I know," James corrects him. "I can't say. What if you slipped and told Dr. House? There goes the puzzle."

"You really think he'd stop being your friend just because he finally figured it out?" Foreman asks incredulously.

James pauses, considering. "Well," he says eventually, "I'd like to think that in six years we've built up some intertia."

"Intertia," Foreman repeats.

"I'd rather not test the theory," James says. "Have a good evening, Dr. Foreman."

He leaves the breakroom, taking his mug of nearly finished coffee with him. The mug is plain white so there's no telling whose it is, but James suspects Greg will be momentarily puzzled by its disapperance regardless of ownership.