Title: Pink Elephants – SLASH VERSION

Author: Rennie51

Summary: House forces Wilson to talk about a painful event; emotions and revelations ensue. I received a request to post the slashversion of this story. House/Wilson slash. Slash changes start in Chapter 3.

Rating:T (some language), slash (nothing explicit)

Disclaimer:I don't own them.

PART I

James Wilson sat on House's sofa as he flipped through the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, enjoying the fact that this was the annual swimsuit edition, but surprisingly bothered by some of its content. The recently injured doctor looked tired and drawn, but his energy was gradually returning.

"This is pitiful," Wilson lamented, holding the magazine up for House's benefit.

House casually looked up from his People magazine to note Wilson displaying a photograph of a very pretty young woman in a bikini romping on the beach. House scratched his chin. "Pitiful? He frowned. "What… is the world coming to an end? Since when don't you like looking at women in bikinis?"

Wilson shook his head, lowering the magazine and gazing at the picture again. "No…no, not the bikini. Look at this girl… she must be all of 95 pounds. What happened to curves? Women are supposed to have curves," he said. He looked up at House again, genuine annoyance on his face.

House regarded his friend noting that only a few signs remained of the physically and emotionally trying three months Wilson had just endured. He watched as Wilson casually flipped through the magazine, observing his boyish features and remembering how just a few weeks earlier there had been pain and fear etched on that face. It had been so bad that House had feared Wilson would never fully recover. But during that difficult time, House had never allowed Wilson to see the doubt he felt inside; he was there with the young doctor everyday, encouraging him, providing assistance and showing an optimistic façade for his friend's benefit. It was the least he could do since it was his fault that Wilson had been hurt.

House and Wilson had never discussed the shooting that had nearly taken Wilson's life, and that fact grated on House. If he and Wilson were to remain friends the details of that terrible day needed to be brought out into the open. While House might be able to live with himself believing that he was at fault, he certainly couldn't live with himself knowing … or even suspecting… that Wilson felt he was to blame. And he had to know. There was only room enough in this relationship for the two of them … pink elephants took up too much space and tended to crowd one's living area, eventually taking over and smothering the life out of the people whose lives they had invaded. So House needed to get Wilson to talk about that day, and he had decided that tonight was the night … this night would determine whether he and Wilson could remain friends.

House continued to watch as Wilson grew more engrossed in the magazine, almost amused at his own internal conflicts while his friend sat there innocently, completely oblivious to what lay ahead this evening. The fact that Wilson had never brought the topic up before obviously meant that he didn't want to talk about it. Either he blamed House and didn't want House to know, or he didn't blame him… but House had to know, not only to rid the room of the huge pink elephant taunting him, but also in order for their friendship to survive. There was always the chance that Wilson simply didn't remember what had happened and avoided the issue to spare himself the details of what was clearly a painful event. But whatever the reason, House knew they had to discuss it, for both their sakes.

He took a deep breath and looked away from Wilson, taking the opportunity to sneer at the elephant lounging in the corner of the room. He looked back at Wilson.

"So why haven't you ever asked me what happened that day?" House asked, his eyes trained on Wilson's face. He watched Wilson closely for a reaction, which he received in the form of him flinching slightly while avoiding House's gaze. He continued. "I would think that you'd be somewhat curious to know the details of an incident that almost took your life. So, what is it… don't care? Don't wanna know? What?"

Wilson shifted uncomfortably on the couch. "I didn't ask you because…. well, because I remember what happened," he replied, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible. "And what makes you think that I don't remember?" He looked at House, still unaware that House had planned this discussion for a specific reason.

"Because it's well documented that people often repress traumatic events. So, I just assumed that you didn't," House said. But even as he spoke those words, he believed that Wilson remembered. Now he just had to get him to talk about it. Wilson again avoided House's gaze and turned his attention back to the magazine.

"Well, I remember what happened and I don't want to talk about it," he said adamantly.

"Well, I do."

"Well, I don't."

"I do."

"I said no."

"You lose," House insisted, eyes boring into Wilson so intently, Wilson could feel them as he pretended to study the magazine.

"Why are you so intent on bringing this up?" Wilson asked, annoyance apparent in his voice.

"Well…because this is my apartment, because you're drinking my beer, because I'm older, because…well, just because. Take your pick." Wilson sighed heavily and looked at House, not saying anything. House continued. "Okay, how about this? We need to discuss this because there's a huge pink elephant in the corner of the room that I'm tired of looking at."

"What?" Wilson scowled at House; he had no idea what House was talking about, but he knew he was going to lose this argument, as he did most of them. So, as much as he didn't want to talk about what happened that day, he knew he had to or House would not give him a moment's peace.

"Okay, House, what do you want to know?"

"Tell me what happened."

Wilson sighed again. "We were in the clinic, at the nurses' station. Frank Petrone came in…. he was angry…furious. He accused you of killing his son." He tried to sound as unemotional as possible as he recited the events of that day, but he spoke haltingly and it was obvious that he was having a difficult time.

Wilson went on. "You told him that if anyone was responsible for killing his son, it was him, for waiting so long to bring him in for treatment." He stopped talking and looked over at House. "I remember I told you to 'shut the fuck up'". He continued to look at House a few moments longer for effect, then turned his attention back to the floor. "When I looked back at Petrone he had a gun pointed at you. It took me a moment to realize that it was a gun because I figured the metal detectors would've picked it up."

"Gotta love those plastic guns," House said. Wilson gave House an annoyed look. "Sorry, go on."

"You know the rest; do I really have to…."

"Yes, you do!" House barked. He hesitated when he saw the startled look on Wilson's face. "Please go on," he added, his voice softer.

Wilson sighed. "Petrone had the gun pointed at you and …"

He stopped talking. House waited a few moments.

"Don't stop now, Dr. Wilson, you're just getting to the good part."

"I…he…. I didn't have time to think. I wanted to push you out of the way, but I wasn't close enough, so I moved in front of you…"

"Hoping that your super duper doctor shield would save us both?" House shook his head. "Damn it, James, when are you going to learn that I'm not worth it?"

"When are you going to learn that you are?" Wilson shot back.

House looked away; Wilson continued. "The next thing I remember was waking up in ICU four days later." Wilson took a deep breath, and without looking at House, began to stand. "Okay, happy now? I'm…."

"Sit down!" House commanded.

Taken aback, Wilson turned to look at House angrily, but obeyed and sat back down on the couch. "What, House?" This was not easy for him and he was becoming increasingly aggravated with House for forcing him to relive that day.

"Now it's time to get rid of the pink elephant," House replied, and gestured with his cane to the corner of the room towards the imaginary elephant. He took a deep breath before asking the question, the one that had plagued him since that day. "So, Dr. Wilson, do you blame me?"

Wilson looked towards House questioningly. "Are you serious? You actually think I blame you? It was my choice to move in front of you and it was Petrone who shot the gun." He now understood what House meant about the pink elephant, although he never felt House was to blame.

"Some people said I provoked him," House replied, insides churning, but remaining calm outwardly. "And while I'm not really the type of person to do that, I guess some people could make a case for it." He smirked.

"Some people? What 'some people'?"

"We're talking about you now."

"I can't believe you think I could blame…"

"I didn't say I think you do. But I need to hear you say that you don't."

"I don't, I never have."

There was silence in the room for a few minutes as House watched the elephant fade away, replaced with a strong sense of relief. He had needed to hear this. But there was more to be said. His best friend was struggling, but he couldn't let it end here. He needed to let Wilson know how he felt; this entire conversation was long overdue.

Again, Wilson attempted to make his escape. He started to get to his feet again. "So, we're done here…."

"No!"

"Jesus, House, what do you want from me?" Wilson was exasperated. Why wouldn't House just leave him alone?

There was more that House had to say and, apparently, now was the time to say it. Since he had needed to hear Wilson say that he didn't blame House for the shooting, it was only fair that Wilson hear these words from House. He looked straight at Wilson. "Thank you for saving my life," House said quietly.

There was silence in the room, House staring at Wilson, Wilson staring at the floor, incredulous at what he had just heard. During these past three months he and House had never discussed the shooting, hence the appearance of the pink elephant. But while it grated on House, Wilson was okay with it. He never blamed House and he assumed House knew that. And he also assumed that House was grateful to him for saving his life. Yet, today, House insisted on the words being said. And hearing them, for Wilson, was too much to take. He had never cried those many weeks since the shooting, those weeks of intense physical and emotional pain, fear, anger. He didn't allow himself to, instead channeling all of his energy to recovering, using his emotional strength to think as positively as he could under the circumstances. House had been there with him every step of the way watching his back, being House, not allowing Wilson to dwell on his injury and difficult recovery. But, today, House insisted they say the words, and all the emotions that Wilson had managed to keep under the surface were pushing their way up while he fought against hope to keep that from happening.

They continued to sit there quietly, House watching Wilson intently, Wilson staring at the floor, fighting a losing battle with his emotions. His hands clenched in fists on his lap, his body tense, and then water started to fill his eyes. He quickly wiped away the tears with his sleeve, but they kept forming and he couldn't keep up. Finally it became too much for him so he gave in, quietly crying while looking at the floor, very aware that House was watching him, but not caring.

After a few moments had passed, he felt House sit on the couch next to him, saw him lay his cane on the floor through blurry eyes. Then he felt House's arm around his shoulder, pulling him towards him. Wilson avoided looking at House's face, fully aware that House was as uncomfortable with this show of emotion as Wilson was, but he allowed himself to be held against House's chest. At that point, Wilson grasped House's shirt in his hands and continued to cry.

He didn't know how long he had been crying; all he knew was that he couldn't cry anymore and he needed to get away from House. He pulled away and sat up, House not resisting. Not looking at him, Wilson again wiped his eyes with his sleeve. A handkerchief appeared in front of him which he gratefully accepted. "Thanks", he said, stood up and turned to go into the bedroom.

"You okay?"

"Yeah. I'm good."

"Well, that's more than I can say for my shirt," House said surveying his tear soaked shirt.

Wilson smiled tentatively as he continued to the bedroom. He headed for the bathroom to wash away the lingering emotions.