by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: Okay, it's 9:20pm in the Eastern Standard Time zone, which means at least I'm posting this before the next episode is finished there (and well before it's even started here). Now all I can do is cross my fingers and hope, hope, hope that something in that ep doesn't make this a very silly thing to have written.

Once again, not read over by anyone but me. I think I did a little better with Foreman this time, but then, this is a situation we've seen him in before. Anyway, do be sure to let me know if I'm way off the mark.

Working with Dr. House was both a privilege and a curse. The man was unquestionably brilliant. Foreman knew that he'd learn a great deal by observing him alone. However, he was also one of the most irritable, antagonistic, arrogant, narrowed minded, stubborn individuals that Foreman had ever met in his life. Including his short bout with juvenile delinquency.

Which made his friendship with Dr. Wilson all the more confusing. The only two people Foreman had ever seen Dr. House be remotely friendly with were a woman who was supposed to be crazy and Dr. James Wilson, who was a perfectly ordinary man. No matter how much he thought about it, Wilson's explanation for why House liked him was the only one that made sense to Foreman, even if it was twisted. But even that left him with one last question:

Why did Dr. Wilson like Dr. House?

Foreman's brain had been at the problem like a terrier at a chew toy for days now and he was no closer to an answer. It was maddening. Distracting.

Distraction was never a good thing around Dr. House.

The sound of a dry erase marker squeaking over the whiteboard came to an abrupt halt. "If that's the best you can come up with," House said, turning awkwardly to glare at Foreman, "then you need to go back and repeat at least one year of medical school."

"I was just--"

House cut him off. "You were just suggesting an explanation for these symptoms," he stabbed the marker toward the board in emphasis, "that is so wildly unlikely I'm surprised your mind stretched far enough to encompass it. Let's try the plausible explanations first, shall we?"

Foreman had to snort at that. "Because you do that all the time."

The mock confusion House pasted onto his face was almost comical in its intensity. "Was that supposed to be sarcasm?" he asked disingenuously, "because, actually, I do."

Out of the corner of his eye, Foreman could see Chase and Cameron's heads swiveling like spectators at a tennis match. "Really," he said flatly, trying to ignore their audience. "Then it must have been someone else who dreamed up that 'two illnesses striking at the exact same time' idea."

"Given the information we had at the time, that was the most plausible available explanation," House argued.

"No, you just refuse to admit it when you're stuck," Foreman shot back. "Maybe if you'd admit to your mistakes every now and then our diagnoses would move fast enough to spare our patients a little pain."

"I'm not here to coddle--"

"Coddle!" Foreman said incredulously. "You know what, it's no wonder you can't figure out why Dr. Wilson actually likes you. It's a fucking mystery to me, too."

House's tone dropped straight into the condescending range. "Non sequiturs work much better as conversational strategies if you aim them a little," he held up thumb and forefinger to illustrate, "further off the mark. Besides, who says I don't know exactly why Dr. Wilson likes me?"

"He does," Foreman answered at once. "According to him, that's the only reason you don't brush him off the way you do the rest of us."

"Oh, now that hurt," House mimed a dagger to the heart. "Really, I feel so ashamed for being such a shallow friend."

Now Foreman turned to Cameron, who went a little wide-eyed when she realized she was about to be drawn into the argument. "Dr. Wilson actually refused to tell me why he likes Dr. House. You know why? He was afraid that I'd let the secret slip."

"And this conversation is such an example of restraint," House said dryly.

Foreman ignored him. "Despite the fact that they've known each other for six years," he went on, "Wilson is convinced that Dr. House would drop him like a hot potato if he ever figured it out."

"Now that's just not true," House said, sounding hurt. "I would never pick up a hot potato in the first place." Cameron and Chase did their best to choke down their giggles, but neither Foreman nor House were convinced by the sudden coughing fits. "Now, if you've had enough of this little drama," House cocked an eyebrow in Foreman's direction, "we actually have work to do."

Foreman sat back in his chair and let the others carry the differential diagnosis for a moment. Strange. Dr. House wasn't one to hold back when he'd solved a mystery that someone else was struggling with. He liked to parade his superior intelligence around. But he hadn't said anything at all about why Dr. Wilson liked him. Not even sarcastically. Which was a pretty clear indication that he really didn't know. Foreman would have expected House to be prodding at the mystery, picking away at it until he had it figured out. But he didn't even seem to be trying.

If he wasn't even trying to find the answer, that could only mean one of two things, as far as Foreman could see. Either House was afraid that figuring it out would somehow unravel Dr. Wilson's affection for him, or he was afraid that if he did figure it out he really would stop liking Wilson.

What it all boiled down to was that Dr. House liked liking Dr. Wilson and didn't want to stop. Well, that just made the two of them a matched set, since Wilson liked House liking him and didn't want him to stop, either.

Twisted, Foreman thought, and turned his attention back to the diagnosis.