A/N: Hi all, here we are with another chapter. This one follows about a week from the previous, opening on the new condo.
I know I've been inconsistent with updates, and I make no promises for the future, but over the course of the two years I've been writing this story I have developed a rather extensive epilogue that I work on periodically, so should I ever abandon this entirely I promise to at least post that.
I am also in the process of editing this story, so if you're in the mood, I suggest re-reading the beginning chapters... its improved a lot since 2015.
Rose lays in the middle of the barren apartment, the bright orange couch she lounges over the only piece of furniture, haphazardly placed in the center of the room. That, and the organ at which House sits, his eyes closed as his hands and feet move beautifully in tandem with one another. He had mastered the added complexity of the instrument within hours of owning it- a housewarming gift from Wilson.
After a week of hotel living, when House couldn't be bothered to participate in the discussion of he and Rose finding a place together, she and Wilson took matters into their own hands and purchased a two bedroom condo for the three of them. Really, it made more sense this way, and House hadn't complained- other than the petty discussion between the two men over furnishing the place. As of yet, Rose had elected not to get involved and was letting them work it out for themselves.
Rose slowly dozes off, enjoying the returned presence of music in their home, and especially the return of House being carefree, if only for a few moments at a time.
When he finishes the sonata and pivots to find something else out of the box of scores on the floor behind him, Rose smiles a bit and mumbles over her sleepiness, "that's the song you played for the German lady."
House retracts, though out of Rose's line of sight, and barely manages not to fumble over his words. "What?"
Rose sits up, squinting a bit and rubbing her eyes. "The german lady, at the talent show. Short hair?" She moves her hands at the center of her neck, miming the woman's look and raising an eyebrow.
He shrugs some, shaking his head slightly too hard. "She told me she gave it to you, House." Rose looks at him quizzically, not understanding his sudden reservation.
"You… you talked to her?" He asks, his voice shaking minutely.
"Yeah?" She replies, as though it's a given, "they had refreshments for family after the show since some of us still weren't allowed to visit with the patients extensively. I went and Wilson stayed with you, I think. She and I chatted about who we were there for- she complimented your performance and told me that the two of you'd been playing piano together when she'd come to visit her sister in law."
When House doesn't respond, Rose continues, genuinely confused by his pallor, her words forming questions more-so than statements. "She was really nice. Said her husband is an engineer? They have a young son?"
Without a word, House walks directly past Rose and into the kitchen to take a swig of whiskey, straight from the bottle. He then returns, sitting on the organ bench and dropping his head to his hands.
Rose knits her brows and quickly crosses the room, placing a hand on his shoulder that he flinches from immediately. "House, what's wrong?"
He shakes his head hard, his breath heaving in his chest rapidly.
"Hey. Hey." Rose moves in front of him, squatting down in order to peer up at him. She grasps his hands in hers, murmuring as he finally meets her eyes.
"Come on, you're okay. Are you in pain? It's okay. It's okay."
When his breathing regulates again and he seems calmer, Rose plops onto the floor, crossing her legs in front of her and releasing his hands. "House, what's going on?"
As she watches him fight his own thoughts and shake his head repeatedly, her brain starts spinning too, trying to puzzle out what he isn't saying. She can see the fear behind his eyes, his reluctance to speak and his innate knowledge that, now, there's no going back.
Without looking to him, she whispers, hardly audibly. "You can tell me anything."
His body shakes with a large sigh and it seems like ages before he finally speaks. "I slept with her. The german woman."
Rose closes her eyes gently and breathes in deeply, knowing, above the hurt welling up inside her that how she responds now is of incredible importance.
To fill her silence he begins rambling, information spilling from his mouth in fragments. "It was just once but…. It just kind of happened…. We were playing piano and the keys opened a closet… I swear I didn't mean…"
She nods slowly, still processing carefully.
"Rosie... I…. I'm so sorry."
"Okay," she breathes, glancing at him. "Okay." She nods her head rapidly, her small response abating him for a moment and when she looks back up, he's peering down at her open mouthed, unable to produce anymore words.
They continue like that for a few moments, Rose staring at the floor with brows knitted, breathing hard and unsure of what to do, House's gaze flitting between her and out the window next to him, trying not to panic.
They both nearly jump out of their skin when Wilson bursts in the door, neither having heard his key in the lock. He opens his mouth to speak just as he walks into the wall of tension hanging in the room, and peers at the pair, wide-eyed.
"What's going on?" He asks, his voice cautious and scared and slowly walks to sit on the couch, rubbing his neck on the way.
Rose, thankful for the buffer, merely looks at Wilson and blinks slowly, sighing as she heads for the back bedroom, content to have a moment alone.
To her surprise, Rose can hear the two men talking in relatively calm tones from the cool, dark bedroom, and she lays in the middle of her and House's bed, staring up at the ceiling blankly.
"Greg." Wilson says, his voice a warning. "What's going on?"
House, knowing there's no going back from this either, answers in monotone, not meeting his eyes. "I cheated on her. With the german woman. The one whose sister-in-law was at Mayfield. Lydia."
Wilson, leans forward abruptly, propping his elbows on his knees and staring wide eyed at House. "What? How?... How could you?"
"I don't know Wilson okay? I don't know!"
House gets up, pacing back and forth in front of the organ. "If I knew how I'd… I wouldn't have…. Wilson what do I do?"
Wilson closes his eyes and exhales quickly. "I'm not exactly the expert on salvaging relationships House," he replies pointedly, thinking, "but you don't have a whole lot of options."
Wide eyed, House returns to the bench, breathing harder. "What do you mean? What if she… I… I can't Wilson. I can't."
His voice trails off in a whisper as he imagines what could come next, his eyes pleading with Wilson for a way out.
"You have two choices House," he begins, a solemn tone to his voice. "You either break up with her now, clean and quick-" glancing to House's increasingly fearful form before continuing, Wilson can't help the gut wrenching feeling that rises in his chest- "Or, you go in there and you be completely open with her. You apologize sincerely- no excuses or niceties- and you let her tell you what she needs in order to make this better. You let her know that you're willing to do whatever it takes to fix this. And you have to make peace with the fact that there might not be anything you can do."
Wilson watches House a moment longer, doing his best to hide his own fear over what would happen if Rose wasn't in a forgiving mood. When he's satisfied that House has heard his message, he rises quietly to go speak to Rose, patting House on the shoulder as he passes.
Rose knows it won't be long before Wilson comes to talk with her- ever the rational one- and she doesn't move when the door opens slowly, a triangle of light appearing on the floor and disappearing again as Wilson gingerly sits on the bed next to her.
"Rose," he starts, lamely and unsure, "how are you?"
"I don't know what to say James," she sighs after a few silent moments, her voice low and hollow. "I don't know what to do... I never thought…. Of all the stupid things he's done…"
She trails off, glancing to Wilson who nods slightly, his own thoughts mirrored by Rose. Of all the things she'd let slide over the years- failing loyalty had never even been a blip on their radar.
"I don't know how I feel or... I don't want this to damage his recovery but I don't even know what that means." She flops onto her side to face Wilson, sighing dejectedly.
He raises an eyebrow, prompting Rose to continue. "I don't know what's worse- seeing him hurt or letting him think this is excusable… I don't know what to do."
She stops, searching Wilson's face for any hints and knowing he can't make this decision for her. With a small gasp, she barely whispers, "But I don't think I can stand to lose him."
Wilson waits a few more seconds before giving Rose's hand a squeeze and going to the door, knowing she's found her answer. Just moments after he leaves, House tentatively enters and sits down as gingerly on the bed as possible, looking haggard.
Knowing he fears the worst, Rose sighs and reaches for House's hand, giving it a small squeeze. Words tumble out of her mouth before he musters up the nerve to speak.
"House… I don't know what to say. I don't want… I know that you…. I really don't know. I'm sorry."
"You're sorry?" he asks, incredulous, squeezing her hand back. "Rose you have nothing to be sorry for! I'm the one…." Trailing off, he shakes his head and takes a deep breath.
"Look," House begins, looking to the woman in front of him. Rose, surprised by his sudden calm, sits up to face him and nods her head, their hands still lightly intertwined.
He gulps, continuing. "I could tell you that it meant nothing, or it was only once, or that I was a mental patient and didn't know what I was doing. But neither of us wants to hear any of that kind of bullshit… I screwed up and I'm sorry… I want to… What can I do to make this right?"
Rose looks down and smiles, nearly imperceptible, the maturity of House's words ringing in her ears.
Without looking up, "would you have told me? If I didn't bring her up I mean."
He sighs heavily, glancing down. "I kept telling myself I wanted to but I honestly don't know."
She nods slightly, the air between them still tentative.
"Rose, honestly. What do you need from me?"
She sighs then, knowing it's her turn to be an adult after the example House had set. Sometime later, maybe she'd remember to be proud of him.
"I need time."
When he peers at her quizzically, she continues, "I don't want to leave you, House. And I want to see your recovery continue. And I… I think I want to forgive you. But I can't force things to go back to normal yet. I… I just need you to be okay with that."
House nods heartily, relief visibly flooding his body and fears washing away.
"Thank you," he whispers, scrunching up his face before sighing loudly. "You've already given me more second chances than I care to count… this is… I know this is different. I…. Rose I can't stand the thought of losing you. I love you."
The significance isn't lost on Rose and she smiles a little, reaching out to touch House's face. Before she can say anything else, he's wrapped in her arms, his breathing quickening with the surreal relief that she isn't going anywhere.
She holds him tightly, as much for her own comfort as his, her hand running up and down his back as she gives him the relief he so craved, the irony that she was also what he was afraid of floating in the air.
The two lay next to each other on the bed for what seems like hours, lost in their own thoughts and occasionally reaching out to touch the other briefly.
Some time later, Wilson- having cooked dinner- quietly opens the door and peeks in, smiling to himself when he sees the pair asleep with their fingers intertwined.
He tiptoes back to the living room and settles in the center of the couch to eat his plate of food, letting out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding. He could only imagine the hell both House and Rose would have gone through to lose each other, and, while he imagines there's a long road ahead- so there was yesterday, too.
After rinsing his plate in the sink, Wilson picks up a furniture catalogue from the counter and returns to the bright orange couch, kicking off his shoes to put his feet up and lounging back. He absentmindedly flips through the pages of tables and chairs and TV stands. Eventually dozing off himself, he finds himself thanking a long forgotten god that the sun would come up tomorrow, his best friends still relatively intact.