A/N: Thanks for sticking around! Hope you all liked. Keep your eyes peeled for Six.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wilson pulled the door open to the restaurant and motioned for House to enter before him. House curtseyed sardonically, offering an eye-roll and a middle finger before limping over the doorjamb. The day had been long and emotionally taxing, so the pair agreed silently on Cadenza's, their favorite trashy restaurant, if only because it sounded like it belonged to an Italian hooker.

After a week of confusion, failed differential diagnoses, and frustration, House had finally discovered that a fire that had burnt down his patient's home when she was young had singed the ceiling tiles and the compound used on the drywall when the house was built in the 1980s, releasing asbestos into the air and poisoning her. She was the only one home at the time, so her parents didn't exhibit symptoms, and she'd had no idea that asbestos had been used in pro ducts in the 80s. Pericardial mesothelioma was a slow-growing death sentence, and a rare one at that. And Wilson was the one who got to break the news.

They sat at their usual table and ordered their typical sorrow-drowning bottle of wine, neither thinking it would be the only bottle that would end up in their custody that evening. The waitress returned promptly with the wine and two glasses, and promised to return to take their dinner orders in a few moments.

House pulled the bottle to his lips and took a long drink.

"Classy," Wilson mumbled.

"Cadenza won't mind," House said, raising his eyebrows. The stuffed a piece of bread into his mouth whole, noisily chewing it as Wilson pretended he was invisible.

It was always this way. And it always would be.

"The next patient I diagnose is getting blown to pieces," Wilson said simply, no humor or sarcasm intended as he shrugged slightly and folded his napkin, placing it on his lap. He stared at it wonderingly, pausing to consider what had just come out of his mouth, but before he could string a thought together, the man across from him was aspirating $40 Merlot, exploding into laughter once his lungs found the oxygen to do so with.

Wilson's cheeks grew hot with embarrassment as other patrons started to look over at the pair. "What?" he asked feebly, trying to shrink into a ball of mortification in his chair. He started chuckling awkwardly. "What?" he repeated.

This made House laugh even harder, rocking back and forth in his chair. "What do you mean, 'what?'" he asked incredulously mid-cackle, his voice several octaves higher as he tried to squeeze the words out. He threw his hands up, palms in the air, suggesting Wilson was being absolutely ridiculous. He tried to speak again but could not, instead pushing a hand to his forehead and shaking his head. He slapped the edge of the table repeatedly with his other hand. Wilson was flabbergasted at the outburst, caught completely off-guard by the fact that House was not only laughing, but laughing so hard that he wine was coming out of his nose.

Slowly but surely, Wilson started to laugh, solely because House was absolutely beside himself with hysterics across from him. A little girl at the table behind them had started laughing too, but every other customer at the restaurant stared at them, eyes drilling holes into their backs as they tried to control themselves.

But Wilson could not stop, and did not want to. House was now crying, his face red from exertion and lack of oxygen. The maître d' approached and looked to Wilson, whose face was stuffed into a napkin in an attempt to muffle the sounds of his shrieks. "Gentlemen, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to – "

House made eye contact with him and, upon realizing where the statement was headed, screamed with laughter, all recovery he had made since his initial outburst lost. Wilson nodded and tossed a crisp fifty dollar bill onto the table, pushing himself to a standing position and holding his rumbling stomach as he did so. House followed, bracing himself against the side of the table for a moment, then stumbling after him. He grabbed the bottle of wine on his way by.

They entered the brisk November air and immediately had to sit on the curb, untroubled by the cars whizzing by in front of them. They leant on each other and rode out the hilarity, tears streaming from the corners of their eyes. Passerby stopped and stared; those seated by the windows at Cadenza's staring, unamused and annoyed by the two men's naked joy.

The laughter eventually died down, House wiping his eyes with the back of his arm as he refilled his lungs with the air they so craved. His abdominal muscles ached from the tireless contracting they had just been subjected to. "Jesus Christ, James," House breathed, pinching the bridge of his nose, amusement still scribbled across his usually troubled features. He searched for more words but said nothing, shaking his head in disbelief at his friend of nearly thirteen years. The tension of the day had dissipated into the air like a sad whisper blown away by the wind.

Wilson rubbed his face with both hands, exhaling on a small laugh himself. "What?" he asked again, though this time he understood why his friend had laughed so wildly.

House chuckled again and pushed himself to his feet, offering a hand down to Wilson. Wilson accepted and rose, following House as they walked back to his car. He handed the bottle of Merlot to Wilson, who took a swig and handed it back.

House put the bottle to his lips, and the corners of Wilson's mouth quirked upward. "I wasn't kidding, you know," he said quietly, and wine sprayed from House's lips like aerosol, peals of laughter spreading like wildfire into the starlit night above them.