A tension had lifted that Wilson hadn't even realized was there. It was the same kind of relief he'd felt after uttering the words 'I do'. Only, this time, there weren't hundreds of friends and relatives standing around waiting for the party to start. And, of course, after you said the words 'I do', the only thing left to do to seal the deal was kiss. Far be it for Wilson to break with tradition.
Before their smiles had a chance to fade, he leaned in and kissed Greg. But unlike a formal kiss at the altar, this kiss didn't bow to propriety. It was gritty and needy, and maybe a little bit awkward at first. But by the time they finally parted, there could be little doubt that they wanted the same thing.
Wilson dropped his gaze to House's lap where evidence of what the other man wanted had created a noticeable bulge in his jeans. House retaliated by overtly sizing up Wilson's own physical declaration. Wilson began to lean in again, but House pulled back.
"Too much too soon?" asked Wilson, concern etched into his boyish features.
House let out a snorting laugh. "Right—it only took us eight years to get this far, I think we should wait another eight before getting to second base."
"Then what's wrong?" asked Wilson.
"Nothing. It's just…the couch isn't the most comfortable place for this. The angles are all wrong," said House, giving his right thigh a pat as further explanation.
"Okay…so we move," said Wilson practically. He stood and headed off in the direction of House's bedroom like he owned the place.
House gave Wilson's ass an appreciative glance before getting up and following him. But instead of following him all the way into the bedroom, he took a detour into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him.
"Hey!" he heard Wilson call from the other side of the door.
"You're not getting anywhere near second base until I've had a shower," said House. A very quick shower, he thought to himself, sporting a wicked leer that would have had Wilson turning a violent shade of pink, had he been there to see it.
He stripped out of his clothes with a haste he rarely employed, and turned on the water. He impatiently urged the spray to heat up, stepping gingerly into the tub the instant it reached a tolerable temperature. The thrum of hot water sluicing down his body felt incredibly good—so good that he couldn't curb the urge to hum. And the humming drowned out the sound of the bathroom door opening; he had no idea he was no longer alone.
"Beethoven's Ninth?" came Wilson's voice as the shower door slid open on its track.
"Not even close," said House, hoping Wilson couldn't tell that he'd just scared ten years off his life. He was willing to forgive him, however, since the shock was instantly followed by the sight of the other man stepping naked into the bathtub behind him.
"I'm not much of a classical music buff," said Wilson, closing the shower door after him.
"That was The Grateful Dead," said House, peering over his shoulder.
"Then you're not much of a hummer," said Wilson.
"Everybody's a critic," House grouched beneath his smile. "Anyway, I thought you didn't like sharing the bathroom."
"What can I say…? I missed you," said Wilson. And to prove it, he slid his hands up House's back to his shoulders and stepped in close to lay a kiss at the nape of his neck.
House let out a soft, grumbling moan and dropped his head forward to give Wilson more room to work. Two warm hands gently massaged his shoulders as more kisses dotted his neck and back, each one sending a jolt of anticipation throughout his body.
Wilson's arms slowly circled his waist, drawing their bodies closer together. The kisses continued, more intently now, and House felt Wilson's chest press up tight against his back…felt his erection press up against his ass.
Suddenly the walls of the shower seemed to close in around House as a thin coil of panic began to unfurl in the pit of his stomach. He felt trapped, penned in, and now Wilson's kisses seemed altogether too demanding. He started to struggle, trying to free himself from the arms that bound him.
Wilson knew what was happening, but he also knew that if he let go, House was going to fall, and in the tight confines of the shower, he would definitely hurt himself. Wilson tried to talk him down, and his voice seemed to at least keep his panic from escalating. With careful manoeuvring, he managed to turn House around so they were facing each other, and when their eyes met, some of the fear seemed to melt away.
"Greg…" Wilson began.
House looked away, the compassion in those soulful brown eyes too much to contend with at the moment. It was hard enough trying to calm down without having to assure Wilson that he was okay.
"Greg, I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking," said Wilson, his voice raw with guilt.
House shook his head as if dismissing the apology. "It wasn't your fault."
"It was," Wilson insisted. "I should have known better. I went too fast."
"You're right. You were way out of line," said House, lifting his eyes. "I distinctly remember saying 'second base'—you were trying to slide into home."
Wilson let out a breath of relief, knowing that if House could joke about it, then he was okay. "I think we need an umpire," said Wilson, receiving a grunted laugh in response.
House's hands slipped down Wilson's chest, lightly tracing the livid bruises left by Karl's attack—bruises that mirrored his own. He brought a hand up to Wilson's temple, ghosting over the bandage there before dropping it back to his chest again. He'd come too close to losing him today, and he couldn't help thinking that a few more well-placed strokes of his cane would have ensured that Karl Polski could never touch them again. It was bad enough that the memory of Polski had ruined what should have been a perfect night between him and Wilson.
"Sorry, Jimmy—I think the game's over for tonight," said House sadly, wishing he could give Wilson what he wanted.
"That's okay," said Wilson, cupping House's face in his hands. "We have all the time in the world."
House placed a rather chaste kiss on Wilson's lips. "Water's getting cold," he said, matter-of-factly, but his eyes betrayed the depth of his gratitude.
Wilson could get used to this. Waking up in House's arms made him feel both safe and needed, and he hoped they would never grow out of this stage. What surprised him most was how affectionate House was—something he'd never suspected in all their years of friendship. It also surprised him how easily his friend had adapted to the shift in their relationship—he seemed to have none of the reservations that Wilson had. But then, House never seemed to have reservations about anything he did, so perhaps it shouldn't be so surprising after all.
The peaceful moment was shattered when the phone rang. Even in his sleep, House flinched at the sound and the memories it undoubtedly stirred up in him. Wilson quickly reached over and picked up the phone before it could ring a second time.
"Hello?" Wilson said quietly into the receiver.
"Hello, Dr. House, it's Captain Barnes."
"Uh…actually, this is Dr. Wilson," he answered softly.
"Oh—I'm sorry, Dr. Wilson. I must have dialled your number by mistake," she said.
"No—you've got the right number. Dr. House is still sleeping."
"Oh." There was a pregnant pause as Captain Barnes digested this bit of whispered information. It was a revelation that shed light on a couple of things that had been bugging her…like why Wilson had been targeted when Vogler had only intended to go after House, and why House had kept such a close eye on him when he should have had no reason to fear for his safety. Trying not to sound too shocked, she said: "Well, can you pass a message on to him when he wakes up?"
"I just thought he might like to know that Edward Vogler was arrested early this morning, thanks to evidence provided by Polski."
"That's…wonderful news," said Wilson.
"Not as wonderful as it sounds, I'm afraid," she replied. "Mr. Vogler has money and power on his side. I doubt he'll stay behind bars for long. Just a warning."
"Right. Thanks," said Wilson. He cast a glance at his peacefully sleeping friend and placed the phone back in its cradle, careful not to wake him up.
"So what's the wonderful news?" asked House, his eyes still shut as if he was still asleep.
"You could have told me you were awake," said Wilson.
House cracked an eye open. "You could have just let it ring—the machine would have picked up eventually. Really; what would Cuddy think if she called here first thing in the morning and you answer the phone? Rumours will spread."
Wilson took one look at House's devilish grin and rolled onto his back, throwing his arm over his eyes in defeat. "What am I getting myself into?"
"Traction, if you don't tell me what the wonderful news is," House answered.
Wilson sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed with a sigh—it was time to get up, anyways. "That was Captain Barnes," he said, twisting around so he could gauge House's reaction when he told him the rest of it. "Vogler's been arrested."
House seemed to ponder the news for a moment, then he nodded once, as if he approved. And that was it. Just a nod and he was ready to move on.
"Are you going back to your place to pack?" asked House. "'Cause if you are, you can take me with you. I need the 'Vette."
The thought of returning home made Wilson's head ache. Even knowing Julie wouldn't be there, he hated the idea of going back to pack hi things, and if it weren't for the personal belongings he couldn't bear to part with, he would just leave everything for Julie to throw out. "Yeah. I guess it's best to get it over with," he said with a deep sigh.
"If it helps, I've got a spare suitcase you can use," said House with a distinctly mischievous look. "Under the bed."
Curiosity got the better of him, and Wilson took the bait. He knelt down on the floor and reached his arm under the bed. His fingers quickly encountered the leather hide of a suitcase, and he felt around for the handle. Snagging it, he dragged the dust bunny-laden luggage out from its hiding place, where it had obviously resided for years.
When he saw the familiar blue, floral-patterned suitcase, Wilson's jaw dropped open. It was one of three matching bags Julie had bought for their honeymoon in Tahiti. The bag that had mysteriously gone missing from the trunk of their taxi when they'd arrived at the airport.
"How…? Three years! You've had this stashed under your bed for three years?" Wilson sputtered. "My jeans…so that's how you got my clothes!"
"See? I knew you'd remember," said House smugly.
"But…why?" asked Wilson.
"It was a wedding present," House answered. "I thought it might spice up your honeymoon if you had no clothes and were forced to hang around your hotel room naked."
House was right; it should have been the perfect excuse to start their honeymoon off with a bang. Wilson had to laugh—if only House knew—that stupid, missing piece of luggage had sparked their first serious fight as husband and wife. Maybe that should have been an indication of what was to come, he thought wryly. Not that it mattered much anymore. Wilson looked down at House, who was lying propped up on his elbow with a proud smile on his face, and he realized that he'd left Julie for House a long time ago.
House called Cuddy while Wilson was in the shower and told her he needed the morning off to help Wilson move. She was only too willing to give him the time off, and House did his best to ignore the overly-sympathetic tone in her voice when she asked how they were doing. He assured her that they were fine with a little more snark than he usually employed, and hung up.
Of course, he didn't actually spend the morning helping Wilson move. He had a score to settle, and that meant calling in a big favour and pulling some strings to do it. A few misleading phone calls and some outright lies to the right people got him a meeting with the man who'd started it all.
House waited in the phone booth-like cubicle until Vogler appeared, escorted in by two guards. Much to House's disappointment, he wasn't in chains, but they did have him decked out in one of those garish, orange jumpsuits, which was a start, at least.
"Big man behind bars…" said House. "Looks like you pissed off the wrong guy."
Vogler took a seat in the chair opposite House. He didn't look the least bit surprised to see him, and despite being on the jail-side of the bullet-proof barrier, Vogler seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.
"If you've come to gloat, I wouldn't bother," said Vogler. "My attorneys assure me I'll be out in a week, with an apology from the D.A.."
House glared back at him, his blue eyes glinting hard and cold in the stark fluorescent lighting, and his lips curled up in a bitter smile. "A week is long enough. A lot can happen in a week when you're in prison."
"Am I supposed to be scared?" asked Vogler, flashing him a brilliantly white grin. "You forget that money goes a long way, even in here. Let's just say that I've been made more than comfortable here."
"You may have money," said House, "but I have connections. Guess who I bumped into today. Go on, guess."
Vogler said nothing, refusing to play along with him.
"Party poop," said House. "Fine, I was gonna tell you anyway. I paid my good friend Mr. Arnello a visit this morning. I told him I didn't want the Corvette he gave me anymore because you ruined it for me. And when he asked me why, I told him enough of the truth to get him really pissed off at you. Not that he wasn't already pissed at you for nearly getting his brother killed. He was very interested to hear you were in jail. Turns out he knows a few guys on the inside—guys with some serious clout—and they arranged for you to get a new cellmate."
The smile on Vogler's face dimmed a notch, but that was the only indication that House's words had affected him at all.
"You remember Karl Polski? Huge, blond, psychopathic serial rapist? I'm sure the two of you will be very happy together," said House. He got up and left, ignoring the futile threats made by Vogler behind his back. A small grin of satisfaction lit up his face—there was a great deal to be said for Karma, he thought.
House was one step closer to erasing Vogler from his life for good. In a few days, things at work would settle back into the usual routine, and he had Wilson to help him over the rough patches…so in a way, some things had improved. Only one thing remained unresolved.
On his way to the hospital, House took a side trip—one last errand to set things right again. He arrived at Cameron's apartment and took a moment to compose himself. As much as he wanted her back on his team, he had to admit that he felt more than a little uneasy asking her to come back. Of the bunch, she was the most likely to make a fuss over the Vogler thing, and that was the last thing he wanted to deal with right now. But if he could downplay it before she had a chance to hear the hospital gossip…
Steeling himself, House raised his cane and rapped sharply on her apartment door. Cameron opened it a moment later, looking less than happy to see him. Good, he thought, the news hasn't spread yet. She just stood there looking at him, and he realised she was waiting for him to explain his presence.
"I saw the light on," said House, figuring it was a start, at least.
"It's daytime," Cameron answered flatly.
"Yeah, it's a figure of speech. Always so literal," he said and paused, lost for ideas. It was turning out to be more difficult than he'd anticipated.
"Got a new cane," said Cameron.
House hid his flinch and did his best to sound casual; "Yeah. Guy in the store said it was slimming. Vertical stripe…"
"Why are you here?" asked Cameron, cutting to the chase.
"Vogler is dead," he said, and in that moment he felt a weight lift off his shoulders. It was true…to him, Vogler was dead, and he finally knew in his heart that it was over. Life would go on. And tonight, just maybe, he might make it to third base.