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It didn’t take months, but many of the employees at PPTH became accustomed to the sight of Brennan’s squints roaming the halls during her recovery. Agent Booth took an extended leave of absence, feeling vindicated as Brennan’s lucid periods became longer and more frequent. On the day that she was to be discharged, Angela, Hodgins, and Cam drove up to collect them.

Brennan stopped by House’s office on her way out, interrupting his glum game of solitaire.

“Did you bring the tar and feathers?” he asked.

“I don’t know what that means,” she replied.

“Probably lucky for me,” he said, too downcast to notice the twinkle in her eye.

“I just wanted to thank you for taking my case.”

“No need,” House said, not meeting her gaze. “And I really mean that.”

“And also for being honest with me.”

He finally looked up at her. “That’s something I don’t get very often.”

“I don’t blame you. When you lack enough information to reach a solution, it only makes sense to do more experiments. In your case, sometimes that entails certain risks to your patients.”

“I sense a ‘but.’”

“But it is true that if your team had taken a more thorough medical history initially, and believed my responses to the questions they did ask, you probably would have come to your conclusion about the mefloquine much sooner.”

House made a sound that might, or might not, have been an apology.

“By the way, Booth said that he watched you convince me that I had been having hallucinations. Apparently that was the turning point in my condition.”

“You convinced yourself,” House said. “I just reminded you about the evidence.”

“Still. I think that Dr. Sweets might say that you actually effected a talking cure.” Her eyes danced.

House’s lip curled. “If you told him.”

If I told him,” Brennan agreed. “Or if Booth did. Which, I am quite confident, is highly unlikely.”

House nodded. “Thanks. And you’re welcome.”

“We’re driving back to DC after dinner, but Booth thought we should all go out for a drink first, to celebrate. One of your colleagues recommended a bar just a couple of blocks from here. I hope that you will join us.”

“I’m not really big on partying with my employees,” House told her.

“While I used to think that it would not be appropriate, I’ve come to appreciate the value of social interactions outside of the lab in building trust and creating a more collegial and productive atmosphere,” Brennan said seriously.

House cocked his head at her with something approaching fondness in his face. “I’ll consider it. But don’t wait up for me.”

***

At four in the afternoon, the Alchemist and Barrister was still fairly quiet except for the Jeffersonian researchers and their recent acquaintances from Princeton Plainsboro.

“I heard a rumor,” Wilson said, sitting down next to Angela, “that you co-authored parts of Dr. Brennan’s latest book. If it’s true, then on behalf of all men everywhere, I would like to express my gratitude.”

Angela grinned. “I think it would have been more appropriate to express gratitude on behalf of women everywhere, but I can see how that might be misconstrued.”

Wilson had the grace to blush. “Um. Bet it must have been a lot of fun for you to work together on a project like that.”

“Oh, it was,” Angela said. “Once I convinced her that the steamy scenes wouldn’t detract from the seriousness of the science.”

“Stubborn, huh?”

“You have no idea.”

“Oh, I think I might.”

Angela smiled. “You and Doctor House are pretty close, aren’t you?”

“No! I mean, yeah. But not close, close. I mean, we’re not- We’re both seeing other people.” He sighed. “I’m not helping my case, am I?”

“Don’t worry,” Angela laughed, patting his arm. “I just meant that I can tell you guys are old friends.”

“You and Dr. Brennan must be, too. Are you like sisters separated at birth, completing each other’s sentences, that sort of thing?”

“Are you kidding? Brennan and I are like night and day. Sometimes I feel like we speak completely different languages.” Angela smiled again, her whole face lighting up with a beauty that Wilson couldn’t fail to appreciate. “But it works. We make a great team.”

“I usually understand what House is talking about,” Wilson reflected. Then he frowned. “That’s what’s so worrying.”

***

“Angela seems terrific,” Chase observed, trying to sound friendly but wincing at the bitterness in his own voice.

“I’m crazy about her,” Hodgins said. “Always have been.”

“Look, I’m sorry,” Chase said. “It’s none of my business. You just… seem so happy. I guess I’m a little envious.”

Hodgins looked at him closely. “No, it’s okay. Bad break-up?”

“Divorce, actually,” Chase said, pulling the ring out of his pocket and moodily spinning it on the table until it collapsed on its side with a sad little clink.

“Sorry, man,” Hodgins said sympathetically.

“Yeah,” Chase said. He replaced the ring and took a big gulp of his beer. “I was crazy about her, too. But she was never sure about us. We almost broke up right before the wedding, and then it lasted less than a year.”

Hodgins took a swallow, then came to a decision. “I’ve been there, man.” Chase looked at him, doubt plain on his face. “Seriously. When we first started dating, things were so… great.” He didn’t have to resort to crude terms for Chase to understand that the sex must have been amazing. Much as it had been in his case.

“But Angela, she wasn’t ready. She didn’t want things to get too serious.” Chase nodded encouragingly. “I asked her to marry me, and she said no. So I backed off. I tried being patient. Then I… well, it’s not important. But once she stopped feeling like I was pressuring her, she agreed to marry me.”

“Seems to have worked out for you,” Chase said.

“Yeah.” Hodgins grinned at him. “But not before I discovered on our wedding day that she was still married to someone else.”

“You- really.”

“And then when her dad found out we’d broken up, he tracked me down and tattooed her face on my arm.”

“Wow,” Chase said. “But… you eventually did get married?”

“Yup. Last year. We were in jail.”

“In-“ Chase started to repeat, then shrugged and grinned. “You crazy optimistic bastard,” he said, tapping the neck of his beer bottle on the rim of Hodgins’ glass. “Cheers.”

***

“Oh, I’ve always enjoyed getting married,” Angela said cheerfully. “It’s waking up the next morning that’s the killer.”

Wilson looked distinctly uncomfortable.

“Kidding,” she reassured him. “It only happened once. What about you, how many times have you been married?”

“Um… three.” He paused. “Does it count if you wed the same person twice?”

“Sure,” Angela said, smiling. “In fact, Hodgins and I have decided that it counts twice as much.”

“That’s a nice way of looking at it,” Wilson acknowledged.

“So then does that make it four for you?” Angela asked.

“No,” Wilson said quickly. “At least, not yet.”

Angela took a sip of her water. “What about House, has he ever been married?”

Wilson laughed, shaking his head. “No-ho-ho. No.”

“Reluctant to commit?”

“Not exactly,” Wilson admitted. “Maybe more reluctant to be committed to.”

Angela nodded in apparent understanding. “Brennan’s never been married, either.”

Wilson leaned forward. “So, are she and Booth…”

Angela looked fondly over to where Booth and Brennan sat, slightly separated from the others, heads bent close together, laughing at a shared joke. “No,” she said. “But it can be kind of hard to tell sometimes.”

“I know what you mean,” Wilson said with feeling.

***

“Oh, I’ve got another one for you.” Cam took a gulp of her gin and tonic and pointed a finger at Cuddy. “Last year, Hodgins used melons as stand-ins for people’s heads when he was trying to identify a murder weapon and blew one of them clear off.”

“House once shot a cancer patient’s corpse in the head. Try explaining that to the funeral home.”

“Hodgins and Brennan’s former grad student blew up the lab.”

“After House shot the corpse, he tried to scan the bullet-ridden body and blew up our MRI.”

“Hodgins dropped a frozen turkey off the balcony to see how it would shatter, and it bounced and hit Angela in the face.”

“House punched Dr. Chase in the face. And that was because he was about to cut off a little girl’s arm and leg with no medical justification but Dr. Chase stopped him. And then a week after that, he got caught stealing a dead patient’s drugs, and I had to perjure myself to keep his ass out of jail.” Cuddy ran out of breath and stopped, looking flustered.

“Wow. I think you win,” Cam said.

“Yeah,” Cuddy said, trying to smile. She downed the contents of her glass and signaled urgently for another.

***

House pushed open the door about half an hour behind everyone else, pausing to take stock of the situation before selecting a seat. He could see Booth and Brennan huddled together, oblivious to their surroundings; Cuddy chatting animatedly with her counterpart from the Jeffersonian, Chase looking unusually cheerful in the company of the curly-haired entomologist, and Wilson appearing all too captivated by the beautiful Eurasian artist at his side. (Near the end of the first trimester, if he was any judge.)

As his gaze swept over the small crowd, something about the way one of the scientists was eating his shrimp cocktail suddenly snagged his attention. House thought about it for a second, then allowed himself a half-smile. Catching the other man’s eye, he pointed and mouthed silently, “Page 187?” Hodgins squinted, blushed, then broke into a pleased, embarrassed grin and raised his glass.

House sat down next to Wilson, satisfied, and held up his hand for the bartender to bring him a beer.

 

THE END

Afterword:

A professional writer acquaintance with little appreciation of fanfiction as a phenomenon recently read “Three Months” and expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of an original medical mystery, her favorite aspect of House M.D. I agreed that it would be great if I could come up with a plausible plot for a genuine casefic, but it took a while for inspiration to strike.

The described side effects from mefloquine (Lariam) are the real deal, although rare. A friend of mine was forced to return home early from Africa this past year because her paranoia from the drug became so debilitating. When Brennan came back from Indonesia at the beginning of the current season of Bones, I realized that it was the perfect opportunity to bring her in contact with the PPTH Diagnostics Department. However, the lack of synchrony between the shows’ subjective timelines required a little fancy footwork on my part. My sincere apologies for any canonical inconsistencies that may have resulted.

I consulted a significant number of online sources while writing this story. These included the CDC website, Drugs.com (particularly this page), and this article from the primary literature. Television without Pity was a lifesaver. I tried to be as accurate as possible, although, as on the shows themselves, there was a certain degree of dramatic license.

Finally, I couldn’t have done this alone - thanks very much to stenveny , jezziejay , and especially longtime RL beta Susanne for encouraging me to rise to the challenge and offering helpful suggestions, and to these friends plus yarroway  and menolly_au  for constructive criticism and positive feedback during the drafting process. If you enjoyed this story, please let us know!

 

 

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
freddie_mac
Nov. 3rd, 2010 11:11 pm (UTC)
WONDERFUL! This was such a joy to read -- the voices were spot-on, and you conveyed the atmosphere so well. I think that the best parts are actually a tie:
--- when Bones is explaining why things are different for Wilson and House, and
--- when Cam and Cuddy are exchanging war stories ...

Absolutely divine --- good cross-overs are so hard to find.
flywoman
Nov. 3rd, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
The epilogue was a ton of fun to write - in a way, the rest of the story was just the means to that end. And my f-list gave me some wonderful suggestions for the cocktail conversation between Cuddy and Cam.

Anyway, thanks so much, I really appreciate the feedback! I'm so glad that you thought I nailed the voices, particularly since this was the first time I'd written any of the characters from Bones. Nice userpic, too ;).
pinigir
Nov. 4th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC)
Loved the crossover! Loved the interaction between the characters and the comparisons that were being made.
flywoman
Nov. 4th, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
This whole thing got started with a post I wrote at the beginning of September on the parallels between the shows' last seasons. I had a lot of fun playing with everyone, and I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it! Thanks very much for reading and commenting!
jezziejay
Nov. 5th, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
Wonderful - just wonderful! The additions you made were so seamless that I had to go back and check the draft to see what exactly you had changed - and they certainly flesh out the Bones story without taking anything from the House story. I have the first three eps of season 6 Bones recorded, but I'm not going to watch them yet as a colleague has a box set of the first three seasons which she is going to lend me. I think I'm going to be a fan! (And Booth has a girlfriend now? Is it worse than the Huddy?...and his name actually is Seeley? Oh dear!)

As I've already told you, I love the humour, the interactions between House and Wilson, the tensions in the relationships with their girlfriends, the scene where Bones thinks they are in a relationship (and she is a perceptive woman - she clearly reads body language and subtext! Not that I have any agenda here!), how well you stayed IC, and the medical case was very interesting. I could follow it, I believed it - but it was never over-stated. And the epilogue was magnificent. A great big *mem* - I look forward to revisiting this when I catch up on my Bones watching. Thank you!
flywoman
Nov. 5th, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for supporting me through this process - I have to say that as much as I enjoyed developing the story, I'm awfully relieved to be done with it at this point. Susanne and I collaborated quite a bit on the ideas for the additions, and I think that the final product is definitely the better for them. I'm proud... but also exhausted!

I think waiting to watch the current season of Bones until you've seen the first few is a good choice! You'll enjoy them, I'm almost certain. And yeah, why on earth would you name one of your leads "Seeley" (or for that matter, "Temperance")? No wonder they call each other Booth and Bones. As far as the girlfriend, it's quite clear to most fans that it's a rebound relationship following Brennan's rejection of Booth's advances last season. Make of that what you will in comparisons with Huddy - not that I have any agenda either ;).
aud_woman_in
Nov. 6th, 2010 07:21 am (UTC)
So just as your prologue took "House's" signature fake-out, I loved that the epilogue felt like a scene straight out of "Bones," with colleagues wrapping up the case having a drink and trading quips. Nicely done, I say, nicely done. This is definitely one of the best cross-overs I've had the pleasure to read. 'Scuse me for being repetitious, but I thought you managed to meld the two universes seamlessly, keeping the character voices perfectly pitched, the action moving at a good clip, and observing the character interactions very authentically. Bravo!

Don't suppose you'll bring the teams together on a shared mystery, hm?
flywoman
Nov. 6th, 2010 12:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you for saying that the epilogue felt like the end of a Bones episode - that was exactly what I was going for. I am definitely more obsessed with House M.D. than with Bones, but I appreciate the openly expressed affection and camaraderie evidenced by the Bones regulars at the end of the day.

And thanks so much for all of your feedback - I am delighted to hear that I succeeded in melding these universes and keeping the characters' interactions believable. I have found few really good crossovers myself - the BSG/House series by thedeadparrot being a notable exception - so if you have any personal favorites you'd like to rec, I'm all ears!

When I first started working on this, my RL beta and I decided that it would be better to make it a House medical mystery because if I did it the other way around, 1) someone connected to PPTH would have to die, and 2) it would be a lot more difficult to justify the involvement of all/most of the House regulars. Having said that, though... I have an idea. Dammit. Maybe after I've had some time to recover from this one!
jiraiyasgirl
Nov. 8th, 2010 09:35 am (UTC)
Great ending to an awesome story!!! Bravo!!! Look forward to more from you!
flywoman
Nov. 8th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! Plausibly getting all of these guys into a bar together was pretty much my motivation for writing the entire piece... shhhh...

I really appreciate all of your comments - there's nothing nicer than waking up to an inbox full of feedback!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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