James E. Wilson (oncologist) wrote in plainsboro,
James E. Wilson

Date/Time: Wednesday, around 7:30pm.
Location: Blue Point Grill.
Open To: Stacy.
Currently Involving: Wilson.
Warnings: Nothing.

Escaping work Wednesday night was like something out of a James Bond film and probably all entirely unnecessary. Wilson wasn’t taking any chances. It was with a guilty conscience that he looked around corners before turning them, hoping to avoid running into House at all costs. The diagnostician had a professional talent for figuring things out based on the slightest detail and Wilson wasn’t 100% confident something as unassuming as the pattern of his tie wasn’t shouting his plans with Stacy out loud to an observant onlooker. This meant taking the stairs and avoiding the nurse at the front desk which he normally said hi too. It was a real undercover operation.

The rest of Wilson’s journey was even less exciting. From the moment he reached his Volvo, it was a safe trip to the Blue Point Grill. It was a bit of a drive from the hospital and that happened to be among the short list of reasons why he had suggested it in the first place. The further the distance, the less likely the chance he was going to run into someone he knew and knew House in turn. In the past, it’d been a convenient place for taking women he was interested in when he preferred his advances to go uninterrupted. The quality of food was somewhere near the bottom of the list, but it was worth the drive.

He arrived before Stacy and had the waiter seat him at an open table within plain sight of the entrance. When Stacy showed up he’d be easy enough to find. Picking up the menu to glance over as he waited, Wilson tried not to give his mind over to the million questions he had concerning the reason for this dinner. He’d find out soon enough.
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Stacy, usually highly punctual, was uncharacteristically late. By three minutes. It's not that late and a rather unavoidable problem with mass transit, but it had the effect of putting her on edge-- even more on edge than she was already-- so it was a fidgety, frustrated Stacy who pushed through the doors of the restaurant. She scanned the dining room quickly, spotting Wilson easily and putting on a big smile as she slid into the chair across from him.

"Long time no see," she said, tucking her purse neatly under her chair.

What the hell was she doing here? The entire train ride home after their phonecall she'd run their conversation through her mind, trying to figure out why she'd dialed at all. Impulse. It was her impulses that always managed to get her into trouble. She had considered calling to cancel, but that was rude, and besides, if she called Wilson during the day at work she ran the risk of Greg being there, and if Greg was there Wilson would have to explain why she was calling and she was pretty sure Wilson would have done everything he could to avoid Greg finding out. It was high school all over again.
Looking up from the menu, Wilson caught sight of Stacy just as she approached the table and sat down. It was with a surprised smile that he greeted her, “Tell me about it.” He said as he set the menu aside. It had been awhile, but little seemed to have changed on a surface level. She looked every bit the Stacy he remembered, down to the signature intelligent arch of her brow and impeccable manner of dress. “It’s good to see you.” Might as well get those predictable, basic exchanges out of the way first. His curiosity about what had prompted the dinner was strong and wouldn’t be silent for long.
Stacy smiled broadly across the table. "You too," she said, genuinely warm. "I've missed you."

It was true, although if she were going to list the people from Princeton she missed, Wilson wouldn't be at the top of the list and she was fairly certain he knew that. For a split second, she almost flinched but she covered quickly, bringing a hand up as if to brush hair out of her face.

She took a deep breath, reaching for her own menu. She didn't open it yet, instead fingering the corner of it, bending it back a bit before smoothing it flat again, a nervous action more than a deliberate one. Wilson looked like Wilson, and she wondered not for the first time if he ever actually aged or if he'd simply signed a pact with the devil. Of course, Wilson was also more than a decade younger than she was. Sitting across the table from him, she felt unbearably old somehow.

She blinked, pushing the thought out of her mind and smiled again. "Sorry I'm late, some kid in Trenton thought it would be funny to block the train doors from closing-- " eyeroll, there.
It probably didn’t help him look any older by smiling at the comment and chuckling with an awkward charm. Whether or not she missed him or missed another life that involved him, he wasn’t going to question. He fell short of returning that affection. Stacy had come to mean a world of drama when she was around and he didn’t quite miss that. House hardly needed the help. He caused stress and chaos with every breath, and that was on a good day.

There was also a subtle competitive aspect to it. When Stacy was around, Wilson only came in second on House’s important person list. He was more comfortable being at the top these days. It came back to that very basic need to be needed in some strange way. But despite everything, he was glad to see her again. “No, no, you’re not late.” He dismissed pleasantly, “I just sat down myself. Didn’t even get to glance over the entire menu yet.”
Stacy resisted the urge to glance down at her watch and correct Wilson about the time, but only barely. Instead, she opened her menu, scanning the wine list for a moment before flipping to the actual food. "I'm starving," she admitted, eyes darting up momentarily from the menu.

At least, she was pretty sure she was starving, because otherwise that odd feeling in the pit of her stomach meant nerves, and she was unwilling to admit to being that nervous about dinner with Wilson. It didn't escape her notice that her own sentiment wasn't echoed, however, and that did very little for the state of her stomach. She probably shouldn't be here, and he probably didn't want her here, but she was here, and they were forcing pleasantries and small talk and none of it seemed quite real.

When a waiter appeared, it was with almost embarassed relief that she ordered a glass of pinot noir.
Wilson hemmed for a moment before just informing the waiter he’d have the same. Wine sounded good right now. It would help ease the nerves. It was almost a surprise that Wilson wasn’t a complete drunk with all the stress he dealt with if that was his reasoning.

After the waiter left, he had his eyes glued to the menu. He was somehow contemplating what to say next to Stacy and what he wanted for dinner all in the same silent moments. It was harder than it looked. There was only so much time you could spend trying to figure out if you felt like chicken or fish. Closing the menu with a dish in mind, he smiled at Stacy. “So, how’s the conference going?”

(Sorry about the unbelievable delay!)
"Surprisingly well," Stacy answered, closing her own menu as well. "I'm not sure if it's Philadelphia or the conference or the time away from Mark, but this week's been fantastic."

She paused then, smile fading slightly as she unconsciously twisted her wedding band around on her finger. She'd wanted to talk about Mark, and marriage in general, but she hadn't meant for it to come out quite in that way. She'd said more than she meant to, and when she spoke again, her face was a mask of professionalism. She was covering, trying to talk her way out of words already spoken, a futile effort, she was sure.

"Yesterday I took part in what turned out to be an excellent panel discussion on the impact Gonzales v. Carhart* will likely have not just on Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence but on the role of judicial review and legislative regulation on modern medicine."

(*Partial birth abortion case currently before the Supreme Court, a decent snapshot of which can be found here.)

(And it works out-- I didn't feel guilty for avoiding all things fandom while I was in New York in favor of food and theater!)
It was a good try, but failed to entirely distract Wilson from what she’d already said. After all, he had knowledge of the Gonzales v. Carhart case, but nothing as in depth and informed as Stacy in order to run away with the topic. Instead it earned an interested nod and raise of the eyebrows in full acknowledgement of the panel summary.

“It figures you’d being having a good time away from home, away from your husband, arguing matters of professional interest.” He commented lightly but made a rather frank observation about Stacy nevertheless. Wilson had a habit of making bold analysis, enjoying his amateur attempts at psychology. “How is Mark doing anyway?” He wondered, considering the last time he’d seen Mark, the man had been in a wheel chair and undergoing therapy. House didn’t care to check up on what happened to his patients after release, but Wilson held a curiosity. Besides, this was Stacy’s husband.
And there it is. Stacy wasn't sure if Wilson knew just how big a can of worms that question opened, but probably not. How could he?

"He's walking," she began, looking up. "He's fine, all things considered."

She took a deep breath, considering her next words carefully. He doesn't trust me, we don't talk unless we're fighting, if there was anything wrong I'd be the last to know, I hate being in the same room with him and I'm pretty sure the feeling's mutual? All enitrely too on the nose.

"He's--" And at this moment, the waiter appeared. She took her glass of wine, grateful for the distraction and ordered a tasty looking salmon dish.
The waiter’s appearance distracted Wilson from the conversation briefly but not entirely. He was a good conversationalist and had a knack for keeping focused on what was being discussed even with the occasional interruption. Half of the nursing stuff would probably testify to this apparent ability of his. God knew it scored him enough points. It was merely a pause as the orders were taken.

After passing the waiter their menus, the conversation was back on. Wilson took a sip of the wine out of curiosity before pushing on. “So you were saying about Mark?” He encouraged.
Stacy hadn't really expected the waiter's presence to distract Wilson. If nothing else, years hanging around Greg had sharpened her ability to stay focused in the face of distraction, and she couldn't imagine Wilson developing any less focus. House was a hell of a lot better at intentionally distracting than their waiter was at unintentional distraction.

What the waiter did do, however, was give Stacy a moment to collect herself and to put her words together. "Mark's fine," she said again, then, taking a deep breath added. "But we're not."

She paused then to lift her wine glass to her lips and take a slow sip. "The thing I can't figure out," she said, eyes darting to the tablecloth before back to Wilson again "Is whether it's just a rough patch that we'll get past or if it's over and we need to file the paperwork, sell the house, and agree on settlement terms."

Stacy managed a rueful smile. "You've been there, James, how the hell do you figure that one out?"
In the span of a few sentences, Stacy had managed to drop quite an amount of serious information on Wilson without prior anticipation. Stacy and Mark were having marriage trouble. Serious trouble by the sound of things. It was unexpected news, but as he drank it in, not entirely surprising. She had cheated on Mark during her employment at Princeton-Plainsboro and if things had gone better with House, Wilson wouldn’t have been surprised if the marriage had ended sooner. All past experience with Stacy’s marriage to Mark seemed to lead them to this conversation without too much room for shock. It still caused Wilson’s eyebrows to rise at the news.

“Well… ah…” He started unintelligently, looking down at the table for a second. The conversation had gone from casual to important quickly and he had to take a second to catch up.

“I think it’s just one of those things you know, to be honest. I mean, if you feel like it something you can work through, want to work through, then it’s a rough patch. Otherwise, well…” He shrugged his shoulder, not needing to say anymore. His record of divorce spoke for him.