This is something of an introductory chapter - the medical mystery will start in the next chapter.
Gregory House rolled his cane in his hand and glared around the board room. "Why am I here?" he asked acidly.
"Because this is a Department Heads meeting," James Wilson replied patiently from the seat beside House. "And as the Head of Diagnostic Medicine, you are required to attend."
"I never have before," House countered.
"Yes, that is true," Wilson said idly. "So why are you here?"
House grumbled and thumped his cane against the floor a few times. "Cuddy threatened to give me more clinic hours if I didn't start turning up."
Wilson swallowed a smile. "Ah, that would explain it. Well, it won't be too bad."
House gave him an incredulous look. "Really?" he said with disbelief.
"It's just a meeting, House. We sit around and make sure there are no major problems in the hospital and if there are, that we all know about them," Wilson replied as other doctors began to filter into the room. "You don't even have to pay attention. I'm sure Cuddy's not expecting that from you."
"Which brings me back to my original question of why am I here," House said as he began twirling his cane in his hand, much to the annoyance of the doctor who had sat down on the other side of him.
Wilson shot the doctor in question a look that combined both an amused apology and an air of 'well, what can you do, it's House'.
"That's a circular argument. You're here because Cuddy threatened you."
House's response was cut off by the arrival of Lisa Cuddy and the start of the meeting. He slumped down in his chair as much as he could and stopped twirling his cane in favour of tapping it on the top of the table, enjoying the annoyed looks he was getting. If he kept this up, Cuddy might actually forbid him from coming to these meetings. For his part Wilson was torn between watching the slyly amused look that was growing in House's eyes and watching the increasingly frustrated and irritated expression growing on Cuddy's face. Finally he settled on watching House since he always enjoyed seeing his friend being playful.
It was the movement of the other people in the room that started Wilson out of his thoughts and he realised that the meeting was over. He gave himself a small shake and wondered how long he'd been caught in his introspection. He glanced over at Cuddy and had to quickly look away before he laughed at the expression on her face. That expression promised revenge and probably more clinic hours.
"Tell me you didn't spend the entire meeting annoying Cuddy," he said quietly to House. "She's going to want revenge and she's going to get it."
"It'll be worth it," House replied as he pushed himself to his feet. "Besides you spent the entire meeting looking at me. Which was flattering but is definitely going to start all those rumours again."
Wilson hesitated but as he couldn't actually deny that he chose to ignore it or at least deflect it. And he was definitely not going to get House started on the rumours that periodically ran around about the two of them.
"You need a case. You're dangerous when you're bored."
House looked pleased with himself as they walked out of the board room. "Good. Maybe Cuddy will make me stop coming to these things."
Wilson laughed. "Actually I don't think that's going to work. She's just as likely to decide that torturing you is more fun than her own frustration."
House frowned as he used his cane to push the button for the lift then his face cleared. "I can beat her at this."
"This should be fun to watch," Wilson said as blandly as he could manage. "Quite frankly, I'm not sure who to put my money."
House gave him a mock hurt look as the walked into the lift. "You think I won't win?"
"Cuddy knows you too well," Wilson said, wondering if he was waving a red rag in front of a bull. "And you don't know her nearly as well as you think you do."
House's eyes narrowed and he was silent as they got out of the lift and walked along the hallway to House's office. House sat down behind his desk and Wilson took a seat in front of the desk, inwardly amused by the look on his friend's face.
"I wonder if I could get hold of her file," House mused.
Wilson gave a snort of laughter. "House, if you want to know more about her do it the normal way and incidentally you really don't need to know everything about everybody."
House gave him an arch look. "You've said that before. Accompanied by a very distressing limping twerp comment. Besides my way is more fun."
"Yes, I could see how devastated you were at the time," Wilson replied dryly. "And I think your way could get you into trouble."
House shrugged. "What's wrong with that?"
"Trouble with Cuddy always ends up with you getting more clinic hours which means I end up hearing the complaints. And getting the consult calls. Which leads us back to those rumours."
House gave him an amused and slightly scornful look then started packing his things. His next glance at Wilson was rather bland. "I'm getting out of here."
Wilson sighed but didn't move. "Good idea."
House slung his bag over his shoulder and eyed his friend for a long moment before giving a long-suffering sigh. "Come on. I have beer and you can buy the food. Chinese, I think."
Wilson perked up a bit and stood. "I'll get my stuff. Meet you at your car."
"Of course we're meeting at my car," House said smugly. "Who wouldn't want to meet at my car? Who wouldn't want to own my car?"
Wilson rolled his eyes and walked out of the office, glad of an opportunity to avoid going back to an increasingly unwelcoming home.
Two hours later, Wilson was sprawled on the couch in House's apartment while House himself sat at the piano and played a few random notes. Wilson had stripped his suit jacket and tie off and the top two buttons of his shirt were undone. Being more casually dressed, House had merely removed his jacket though Wilson had been surprised to see him take his shoes and socks off as well.
Containers of take-out Chinese and empty beer bottles littered the low table in front of Wilson and he emptied his current bottle before letting it join the others. He then let his head fall onto the back of the couch and sighed. He knew he'd probably had too much too drink and he also knew the reason why.
"Was that your fourth?" House said idly as he continued to play the piano. "You'd better stay. It wouldn't look good for the respected Head of Oncology at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital to be pulled over for drink-driving."
And there was the reason why. Wilson didn't really want to think about why he would rather spend the night on his best friend's couch than in the same bed as his own wife. Or maybe that should be ex-wife. It certainly looked like it was heading that way and that would make him 0-3 in the marriage stakes. Yet another thing he really didn't want to think about.
"Thanks," he muttered as House started playing something soft and yearning that he couldn't quite place.
He was half-expecting some kind of comment from House since this was the third time this week he'd stayed the night but much to his surprise nothing came. He tilted his head to one side and looked over at House. The older man was staring into space with a pensive expression as he continued to play. It was about at this point that Wilson realised he'd been spending a lot of time lately staring at House and that until today House hadn't really called him on it. He sighed as he let his head roll back and stared at the ceiling instead.
Truth be told Wilson knew why he'd rather spend time with House instead of his wife, it just wasn't something he wanted to spend much time contemplating though it seemed that his brain wasn't planning on obeying him much tonight.
For a start he wasn't quite sure how he'd gotten from being a self-admitted panty-peeler to finding his best male friend attractive and once you'd gotten to that point what did you do about it? As far as Wilson was aware House had only ever dated women…for that matter so had he. Oh, he'd done some experimenting back in college but nothing really since then.
And House was attractive in his own unique way. He didn't have the kind of boyish good looks that Wilson possessed but underneath the scruff and the lines that the pain had etched into his face there was a rather handsome man. And Wilson had always liked the grace with which House moved, even with the limp. House's sarcastic and acerbic sense of humour was sometimes a bit hard to deal with but once Wilson had learnt to fight back it had simply become amusing, in fact he'd found that House liked it when he was equally if more subtly sarcastic in return.
Wilson slowly became aware that the music had stopped and House had turned around on the piano stool and was now staring at him with a very familiar expression on his face. Wilson winced slightly. He knew that expression; that was House's diagnostician look. His 'I'm going to figure this out if it kills me, you and the ducklings' expression.
"The little woman not expecting you home?" House said blandly.
Wilson sighed. "I severely doubt it," he admitted reluctantly.
Understanding flickered across House's face before a sardonic expression settled on it.
"Don't start," Wilson said warningly. "There is nothing you can say that has not already occurred to me and I don't need reminding of my disastrous marriage record."
House blinked; Wilson didn't often use that tone of voice with him. He considered what he'd been planning on saying then, in a rare flash of good sense overriding his desire for amusement, he discarded it.
"Come on. Time for bed," he said instead as he grabbed his cane and used it to push himself upright.
Wilson closed his eyes as a surprising and rather inappropriate feeling of lust flashed through him at that comment. He scrubbed his face with one hand as he let himself accept the fact that not only was marriage number three over but at least he had the consolation this time of knowing the reason for it.
Wilson pushed himself up from the couch and looked around, expecting to see House heading for the cupboard where he kept the spare sheets and blankets. Instead House was heading towards his bedroom. When he became aware that Wilson wasn't following, he turned around and gave the younger man an irritated look.
"Uh, mind telling me what's going on?" Wilson said hesitantly.
"My couch is not designed for extended periods of sleeping," House said with a roll of his eyes. "If you keep sleeping on it you're going to hurt something. Then you'll blame me. My bed on the other hand is very comfortable and very large."
"Yeah, I know," Wilson said in a vaguely dazed tone as he stood. "You dragged me along to the shop when you bought it."
"Right, so come on," House said with a jerk of his head.
As House turned around, Wilson noticed that the expression on his friend's face had become his usual smug one that he regularly got after solving a case. Wilson felt something heavy settle in his stomach and he fervently hoped that for once House had got it wrong.
By the time Wilson got to the bedroom, House had already disappeared into the bathroom and Wilson sat down heavily on the side of the bed. He had a funny feeling this was going to be something of a mistake but he was too tired and had had just a bit too much to drink to really care. He slowly stripped down to his boxer shorts and rifled through House's drawers until he found an old Who t-shirt which he pulled on. As he was doing that, the door to the bathroom opened and House limped out.
The older man eyed the shirt Wilson was wearing with a raised eyebrow but did not comment. Wilson walked past him into the bathroom, hearing the rattle of House's pills behind him. When he came out only a single light beside the bed was on and House was under the covers. Wilson gave a tiny huff of relief when he realised House had chosen the side of the bed that meant he wasn't like to accidentally knock his leg during the night.
"Come to bed, dear," House said with a ridiculously overdone leer that caused Wilson to roll his eyes and feel normal for the first time since he'd left the hospital.
"No wonder those rumours keep reappearing," Wilson said mildly as he got into the admittedly very comfortable bed.
"And here I thought it was because you seem to keep getting lost on your way to the Oncology department and end up in my office."
Wilson rolled on his side so that he was facing his friend. "Maybe it's was because of those supposed consults you keep calling me to the clinic for," he countered with a snort. "Though the woman with the breasts she bought for her husband was very nice. Did I ever thank you for that one?"
"Repeatedly," House replied with an amused look in his eyes. "Though the hooker…er, masseuse you got for me was a much better way of saying thank you."
Wilson closed his eyes briefly as he felt a twinge of jealously flicker through him at the memory of the expression on House's face when the masseuse had worked on his hand. He rolled back onto his back and opened his eyes only to find House watching him intently.
"Well, that answers that question," House said in a satisfied tone of voice.
Wilson tensed. "What question?" he asked carefully.
"What your reaction is likely to be if I did this," House replied as he pushed himself up on one elbow then leaned over and kissed Wilson.
Wilson froze in surprise for an instant as he processed what was happening then he slid a hand around the back on House's neck and returned the kiss rather enthusiastically. When they finally separated both men were a touch breathless and Wilson was pleased to see House was looking a little dazed as well as annoyingly smug.
"That was surprising," Wilson said, allowing his curiousity to colour his voice and knowing House would pick up what he meant to say underneath what he did actually say. "Nice but surprising."
House settled himself a little more comfortably on his side, wincing only briefly as his leg made itself known. "Just nice? I'm crushed. I know I'm a little out of practice but I was hoping for more than nice."
"Well, maybe it was a bit more than nice," Wilson allowed with a small smile. "But still, I rather expected that it would be Cameron in this position."
House raised an eyebrow as he shuddered. "Now that's a thought that's going to fester. Cameron believes I can be fixed and I'm not sure I want to be around when she works out that's not going to happen. Disappointment is so taxing to deal with. You on the other hand already know that fact."
"Yes," Wilson said with a hint of sadness.
"Of course that does lead to the question of why you and not, say, Chase," House continued blithely. "Which is basically what you were really asking."
Wilson sighed. "Pretty much. This isn't exactly what I expected from you."
"You're the ladies man, Dr Panty Peeler."
"You're the one who dated Stacy."
"And look how that ended up."
"Yeah," Wilson said heavily. "But you still haven't answered my question."
"I think the more relevant question is your opinion on all of this," House countered. "You're the married doctor after all."
Wilson propped himself up on his side again. "I think I can safely say this is what I want and have wanted for some time."
"What about Julie?" House asked flatly.
"I'll call my lawyer tomorrow," Wilson said challengingly, enjoying the slight widening of House's eyes.
"Are you sure?" House asked, suddenly serious.
Wilson deliberately misunderstood. "Well, you are the biggest pain in the ass in the entire hospital but I knew that already." House didn't look amused and Wilson sighed. "Yes, Greg, I'm sure. I think both Julie and I are aware that the marriage is dead. It's really only apathy that's been holding us together lately."
House stared at him for a long moment then nodded once. "Get some sleep. You need it."
With that House rolled onto his back and reached out to turn off the light. Wilson hesitated then decided that if there was going to be something between them then he had to establish a few things early on. If he didn't then House would likely walk right over the top of him and that would not be a good thing. So he wriggled over until he was lying next to House and slid one hand onto the older man's stomach. He felt House flinch briefly then, just when he was thinking he'd possibly made a big mistake, he felt House's hand cover his then he entwined their fingers. Wilson smiled and slowly dropped off to sleep.