Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with House, M.D. or its affiliates.

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Just As Sleep Comes

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The night was late, the scent of pizza that they had eaten during the movie lingering in the air, and there was now nothing but the mindless drone of a midnight infomercial on the television and the sound of rain beating heavily against the windows of House's apartment.

Wilson had become drunk enough to start talking about Julie, something that he never discussed with anyone, House included. It was a bitter, self-pitying monologue about how empty his life was and he paid no attention to the awkward, uncomfortable look on House's face until his friend told him to shut up and stop feeling sorry for himself, or go home.

He'd given House a sullen look, to which House told him pointedly that if he started crying he wasn't going to give him a hug or wipe his nose for him. Wilson replied that Julie wasn't worth spilling tears over -- that none of his wives were worth crying over -- and when he shifted on the couch to lie down, resting his head drunkenly on House's good leg, he expected his friend to push him away.

He wasn't pushed away, however. House had silently allowed him to prop his head upon his thigh and Wilson lay there, staring at the flickering images on the television of a man with a dazzlingly overenthusiastic smile trying to sell a set of titanium kitchen knives. Listening to the relentless rain against the windows, Wilson noted how quiet and still his friend was. It was as though House wasn't entirely comfortable having Wilson's head resting on his leg, but wasn't in any hurry to do anything about it, either.

Soon, Wilson's eyes had become heavy with weariness and he began to fall asleep, his face tiredly pressed against the fabric of House's trousers. The sound of the television and the falling rain became distant background noises, his own deep, rhythmic breathing lulling him to sleep. Images of Julie and sharp steak knives flashed through his mind as the beginning fragments of a dream, and just before he succumbed to sleep Wilson felt House's hand smoothing over his hair tenderly, from his forehead to the back of his skull in soft, gentle strokes.

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