A/N: Wow. So, this idea has been rolling around in my head for a little while and I finally started the story. I hope you like it. It won't be near as angsty as Stumble. It's a bundle of fluff and self-indulgence. That's all. Haha.
No slash intended! But damn, aren't House and Wilson cute as pie together?
Enjoy! Please read and review with details!
Greg House tipped his head back in laughter at the TV just as the phone started ringing. Damn it. It was 9 PM. He was supposed to have peace in the evenings, undisturbed by the human race. Fuck it, the person could leave a message. He faced the TV again, sipped his beer. The phone rang again. It was definitely not the hospital because they would page him. He looked at the pager sitting on his piano bench. Silent. No lights. The phone kept ringing.
"Hi. You've reached Greg House. I'm not here, so leave a message."
He didn't pay any attention to his drawl from the answering machine. It beeped.
"Greg?" That was Wilson's voice, Wilson's sigh. House looked back at the phone. "Listen, I really need your help. Something's happened, and I don't know what to do."
By then, House was already limping quickly toward the phone.
"Greg." Relief flooded into House's ear.
"What is it?"
"I – I don't know. I just – I need to come over."
"Okay," said Greg uncertainly. It wasn't often that Wilson sounded this needy or troubled. He skipped the sarcasm. "I'll be waiting."
The phone clicked off. House hung up, wondering what could possibly be up, while Wheel of Fortune started in the background. He sat anxiously on the couch, staring at the tube, until the doorbell finally rang, upon which he pushed himself up and limped to the door.
"Hi," James huffed, stepping in and past his friend. House looked after him, as he shut the door, and noticed that Wilson was lugging a baby carrier around. The oncologist headed into the dining room and House followed warily, unsure of what to make of this. Wilson set the baby carrier on the table, while House flipped the light on. As he drew near, he saw that there was indeed a baby sleeping in the carrier. Cute, actually. Standard chubby face, angelic quality, slobbery lips, glowing skin.
"Uh. Okay," he said.
Wilson pulled a chair out and sat down, sighing with his head in his hands. House waited a moment.
"James?" he started. "Do you plan on telling me what this means?"
Wilson lifted his head. "It's a baby."
House's blue eyes rolled up to the ceiling and he gave a slow nod against his cane. "Yeah… I can see that. But why do you have it? And why did you bring it here?"
Wilson buried his face again. His voice was muffled.
"Excuse me?" said House. Wilson straightened.
"She's mine," he moaned.
It wasn't often that something startled Greg House, but tonight was an exception.
"She's mine," Wilson repeated, staring miserably at the sleeping infant.
"What do you mean, she's yours?" said House. "You never mentioned getting Julie pregnant, unless there's some physical secret you've been hiding from me all these years."
"No," Wilson groaned. "She's not Julie's. She's mine."
It clicked. House looked at the floor. "Oh."
"Oh," Wilson lamented. House pulled out the chair next to him and settled down.
"Wow. You've really fucked up this time," he said.
"Thanks," Wilson replied bitterly.
"So – you're just now telling me about this? The kid's gotta be at least five months old."
"I didn't know until tonight!"
Confusion sprawled over House's face again. Wilson sighed at him, suffering to explain.
"Her mother – left her. On my fucking doorstep. Like some fucking movie. I haven't even seen the woman in over a year. She didn't say a word. And now she dumps her kid on me and disappears."
"You had an affair two years into your marriage?" House said. "Christ, James. Julie isn't that bad looking."
"Shut up," said Wilson. "Please, shut up."
He rubbed his eyes in anguish.
"Who was she?" House asked.
"Some woman I met in a bar one night. I had a fight with Julie; it was stupid. And then we kept seeing each other for three months, I don't even know why. She said she was moving to a different state, I thought it was over. She never said a thing about this. Oh, God."
House stared blankly, thinking, blue eyes clear in the chandelier light.
"What are you going to do?" he asked.
"What the hell am I supposed to do, Greg? I've got no address, no phone number. I'm stuck with this. The only thing to do is – drop her off at the orphanage."
House stared at him in disbelief. "You're going to leave your kid in an orphanage for some white trash family to pick up? She'll be molested before she's fifteen. You can't."
"And what do you suggest, House? I just go home and shove her at Julie and say 'Here, it's my bastard kid, let's be a family'?" Wilson scoffed and shook his head.
House looked bewildered, eyes searching for answers.
"The marriage is dead as it is," Wilson said, steadily. "I can't pretend that it's going to last more than a few years, no matter how much I want to think I can still fix it. Even if it were going to last, how the hell would I explain this to Julie? I can't. I have to get rid of the kid. There's no other way."
House sighed through pursed lips.
"Yes, there is."
Wilson looked over at him.
"You could keep her here."
Wilson stared blankly at him for a minute, before his face gave a twitch.
"Are you high?" he asked House. "Wait, don't answer that."
House grinned. Wilson buried his face again.
"That's insane," he mumbled down into his lap. "That's beyond insane."
"Why? It could work. Who ever visits me here besides you? We could make it work. It'd be cake."
"Are you listening to yourself?" Wilson snapped. "This is you we're talking about! And me! What the hell do we know about parenting? We're at work three-fourths of the day! You don't have anywhere to put her. How are we supposed to keep her a secret for the rest of our lives? You're nuts!"
"She's your daughter," House said. Wilson looked away from him. House turned his attention to the baby.
"What's her name?" he asked. Wilson looked up at her.
"Uh – Wendy. That's what her birth certificate says."
"Wendy? As in the burger place?"
Wilson glared at him.
"Hm. Wendy Wilson. Well, I'll be. That has a ring to it, don't you think?"
Wilson sighed. "This is not happening."
"Hate to say I told you so, but they did make condoms for a reason."
House shrugged. "Well. Guess I'll have to run to the store then. Babies don't sleep forever."
He pushed himself up and turned away, heading back out into the hall where the TV was audible.
"Wait!" Wilson said. House stopped and peered at him. "You're serious? You really want to keep her here?"
House paused for a moment and then shrugged nonchalantly. "Sure, why not? Watching TV is always more fun when you have company."
"God. We are so screwed."
"Hey," said House. "Don't worry. We'll figure it out."
"There's nothing to figure out, Greg. This is an atomic bomb waiting to go off."
"Well, at least it's a cute atomic bomb."
Wilson managed to smile.
"Hell, at least it's Friday. We have the weekend to buy all her baby accessories."
Wilson shook his head, still not believing this. He didn't know what was more surreal: him suddenly having a baby or House actually wanting to take partial responsibility for it.
"This could be fun, James," House warned, hobbling away again. "Watching Sesame Street and picking out girly outfits. Hey, when's her birthday? Any instructions at all?"
Wilson reached carefully into the carrier and pulled out the manila folder tucked there.
"January 28th. That makes her a little over five months. Cherie left a list of things." He handed the scrap of paper to House, who had shuffled back over, now with his keys. "I think there's brand names of food on there."
"Cherie? You did a girl named Cherie? What are you, twenty?"
"Let me see that," House said, indicating the folder. "Damn. This woman is good. Birth certificate, vaccination chart, list of all past doctors visits. And the kid likes "Lullaby" by Shawn Mullins. Well, it's still early, we have time to fix her musical preferences."
Wilson grinned. House started to leave again.
"All right. I'll be back in half an hour," he called. Wilson heard him shut the door. Wheel of Fortune was still on.
When House returned, Wilson was on the couch watching the news. The baby was still asleep in her carrier on the coffee table.
"Quiet kid," said House. "This'll be sweet."
Wilson smiled. House wasn't surprised the kid wasn't very fussy. James was a pretty quiet person himself. He dumped the brown paper grocery bag on the kitchen counter, and Wilson got up to see what he'd brought.
"Hey," said House. "You think she wants a beer?"
Wilson rolled his eyes.
"You're right, that's lesson number fifty-eight. Lesson 1: eating habits."
As he pulled out the things from the bag, Wilson watched and his eyes softened, hands on his hips.
"I got bottles, pacifiers. They didn't stock the formula on the list, so I bought four different kinds (because you never know what women like), diapers, baby powder, wipes, baby shampoo and conditioner (for those luxurious curls), soap, and this beauty…."
A small, stuffed dog emerged, caught in House's spindly fingers. Wilson's smile stretched. House looked at him finally.
"What?" he said. Wilson just kept smiling and shook his head.
"I thought you hated the world," he said.
"I told you," House replied. "People don't bug me until they get teeth."
"So she's got another six months or so, huh?"
"Well, she's related to you, right? Maybe I can make an exception – an extension."
Wilson smiled. House passed him and approached Wendy.
"Yes," he started, lowering the dog into the carrier, leaving it at the little feet poking up from the blanket. "This girl and I are going to have a long-term relationship. Which is a damn miracle, so you should be flattered." He spoke down at the sleeping infant, who remained oblivious to him.
"Where's Julie?" he murmured to Wilson.
"She's away on business. Won't be back until Monday."
House smirked. "Perfect. Tomorrow, we can go get some furniture." He returned to the kitchen and pulled out a pot, filled it with tap water, placed it on the stove, switched it on. The light next to the knob lit up, a lazy red-orange.
"Where are you going to put it?" Wilson said, hands on hips again.
House shrugged. "Well – there's always the guest room. Actually, that would work out perfectly. See? My lack of a social life really has been a good thing."
Wilson rolled his eyes.
"We can get rid of everything in there and set up a crib and maybe a dresser or two. Good thing I never did much with that room."
House had his hands on his hips now, cane propped up against the nearest cabinet. He looked back at the pot. Tiny bubbles rose to the surface from the bottom.
"We could paint it," Wilson suggested.
"I think a soft pink would work."
"Pink?" House wrinkled his nose. "God. I can't lose that much dignity. How about we go with something less female. Blue?"
"She is a girl, you know."
"Fine. Lavender. I won't go any farther than that."
Wilson shrugged and grinned at House using the word lavender. "Sounds good to me. Though I think she'd like pink better."
"She can have a new, pink blanket, how's that? Compromise: it's a beautiful thing."
House cleaned out a bottle, filled it with formula, twisted the cap on tight, and put it in the pot of hot water.
He popped a Vicodin and washed it down with a glass of scotch that had been sitting on the counter, half-empty. Wilson pursed his lips, silencing protest.
"Wow. This means we can't watch porn here anymore," said House. Wilson chuckled.
"I think we'll survive."
"Yeah – because there are always the VCRs at work."
Wilson smirked. House sighed.
"I'm becoming a new man," he said wistfully. "All because of the cute atomic bomb. How touching."
He tapped the bottle with his fingers. Wilson bowed his head and shook it.
"I can't believe this," he said.
"Better start soon," said House. "She'll throw a fit sooner or later. She's a female infant, it's just a matter of time."
"And I can't believe you!" Wilson ignored. House stared at him, leaning on his cane once more.
"Do I really seem that much of a sociopath?" he asked in his bored tone.
"You have no idea how big this is, do you?" said Wilson. "You're committing yourself to this kid for the next seventeen years. And she's not even yours."
House hushed him. "God, James, do you want to scar the kid already?"
Wilson rolled his eyes. "I'm serious, Greg. Are you sure you want to do this? I can take her down to the orphanage right now. The sisters will take good care of her. You can go back to the store and return all that crap and use the money for a six-pack from the gas station."
House gazed at him relentlessly, the weight of responsibility in his chest. He had always believed himself to be insane. He did now without a doubt.
"James – she's yours. Yours. Do you get that? Do you really believe you have the balls to drive her down to the orphanage and leave her there? I wouldn't bet my condoms on it."
Wilson smirked, but the look in his eyes didn't fade.
"You've gotten yourself into some shit," House continued. "But maybe it doesn't have to be as bad as you think. We're not getting any younger. We've lived a good while and what do we have to show for it? Expensive cars and salaries that could feed a small, third world country. And I hate to ruin my hard ass reputation, but this could be our chance to mean something, instead of just passing on as two more idiots of the human race."
Wilson shook his head, eyes shining. "Wow," he said. "You are really, really high."
"And besides," said House, wondering if Wilson was right. "Even if you could drive her down and leave her with the ladies that wear the funny hats, (which you can't), I couldn't let you. It would bug me forever, and I like sleep."
"So that's settled," said House. "She stays."
"And life as we know it is officially over," said Wilson.
House shut off the stove and lifted the bottle out of the pot, squeezing some droplets onto his wrist. Satisfied that it wasn't too hot or too cold, he limped past Wilson and toward the baby, who had conveniently woken up and started to fuss.
"Ah, we meet at last," said House, as Wilson followed him. They fell back into the couch, and House sighed to be off his leg. Wendy threatened to cry, her cheeks suddenly reddened in upset.
"Hold this," House said, handing Wilson the bottle. He reached out with both hands, the only sign of caution in his blue eyes. She wriggled in the air as he lifted her out and cradled her to him at once. "There," he said, muscles relaxing once she lay in his arm safely. House stared at her and Wilson stared with him and gave him back the bottle. House offered her the bottle carefully, and she latched on to it with her rosebud mouth greedily. House smiled. Wilson mimicked him. Her hands barely fit around the bottle, as she drank in satisfaction.
"Easily satisfied," House said softly. "I think I'll like this gal."
"We should monitor her for any signs of allergic reaction," said Wilson.
"She'll be fine," said House.
"So," he started, voice so soft that Wilson didn't recognize it. "I'm House."
Wendy suckled on in absolute tranquillity.
"And this is James – your dad."
She stared at Wilson, who looked as if he had melted in that precise moment. Yeah, thought House, she's definitely here to stay. Silence passed on for a long moment, baby staring from House to Wilson, and both men looking at her.
"She's got your eyes," House murmured.
"No, she doesn't," Wilson replied. "She doesn't look anything like me."
Greg looked at the baby, and the baby looked at Greg. Both were unusually still.
"She's got your eyes," House repeated. It almost scared him – how those little eyes were mirrors of his best friend's. He didn't think Wilson heard him because he received no response. House had the feeling that this would be a lot like the monster truck show he had taken Cameron to – cotton candy, screaming, adrenaline, and near-death experiences.