House Warming

Wilson knew everything important about House. How he took his coffee, how many Vicodin he really took each day, how to cajole him into work he didn't want to do. Apparently the only thing he didn't know was where House lived.

"Can I help you?"

The woman at the door was thirty-something, baby on her hip and smile on her face. She was pretty in an homely kind of way and Wilson found himself instinctively returning the smile before he remembered why he was there.

"Huh," he managed, shaking his head a little to clear it. "Sorry. I think there must have been some kind of mistake. I'm looking for Doctor House."

The smile dropped from the woman's face, not an unusual reaction where House was concerned.

"You're the fourth person today. Please tell me that you're Wilson." When he nodded, she gave a relieved sigh. "He left this for you." Leaning awkwardly so as not to drop the baby, she reached for something behind the door.

Wilson took the small card. On one side, in House's scrawl, was written: "I've moved House!" Rolling his eyes, he turned it over and read:

SURPRISE!
I'm not here (duh)
Catch me if you can

He looked at the woman.

"That's it?"

"Afraid so." She fussed a little at the baby, who was beginning to cry. "Sorry."

Back in his car, Wilson thought furiously, turning the card over and over between his fingers. He wasn't entirely surprised that House had chosen to move on. The condo that had been so right for him and Stacy had seemed emptier in the years since she'd left. That and the eight steps up to the front door must have finally driven House elsewhere. But where?

Putting the card on the passenger seat, still hoping it might give him some kind of inspiration, Wilson turned the ignition and began to drive. There were some leads he could try, all of them long shots, but probably worth it.

The restaurant's maitre d' recognised Wilson at once, coming over to give him a warm smile and ask if he would be dining alone that night.

"Sorry, I'm not dining at all. I'm looking for Doctor House."

"We haven't seen him in several weeks. Is everything alright?"

Wilson wasn't sure, but he muttered something vaguely reassuring and headed back out to his car. As he turned out of the parking lot, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, another idea struck him. Pulling over as soon as he could, he took out his cell and pressed speed dial 2.

"Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital."

"Hi, this is Doctor Wilson. That's Mandy, isn't it?"

"Yes, Doctor Wilson. How you doing?"

"I'm good, thanks. You?"

"Can't complain." Mandy giggled and Wilson forced himself to concentrate on the task in hand.

"Look, Mandy, I'm trying to find Doctor House's address. I don't suppose he thought to let the hospital have it, did he?"

"Let me see. You know, we're not supposed to give out this kind of information over the phone, but since it's you..." He could hear the keyboard taps down the line. "This is the only address we have for him." She read it out.

"No, you can take that off the system for now. He doesn't live there anymore."

"I'm sorry, Doctor Wilson. Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No, I'm sure I'll find him. Thanks, Mandy."

"Any time."

Not quite sure what else to do, Wilson began heading for home. His route would take him back past the hospital and he decided he could drop into the office on the way. There were a few files he could go through, letters he could write, and maybe House would have left him a note.

Yeah, and maybe Julie would be waiting for him at home with a pot roast and a smile. Right now getting some work done was the more appealing option.

The receptionist wasn't surprised to see him, although she did look pleased.

"Can't keep away, Doctor Wilson?"

"Something like that," he said, smiling weakly. "I don't suppose Doctor House has been through recently?"

She pursed her lips. "He left at 4.30. Were you expecting to meet him?"

"No. It doesn't matter. Thanks, Pat." He turned to leave.

"Doctor Wilson?" She was giving him a shy smile and slightly nervous look. "I was just wondering," she said. "Some of the nurses and me, we're going to see a film tonight. I know it's kind of late, but if you wanted to join us..."

Imagining what House would say if the story got round the hospital, which it always did, was enough to put Wilson off that idea. "Well, Wilson. Three nurses and the receptionist. Is that a personal best?"

"It's a nice thought, but maybe next-" He broke off mid-sentence, mouth still open. "In fact, it's a very good thought. Thanks, Pat." He raced out of the doors and back to his car.

An hour and a half later he was hunting for a parking spot and cursing all drivers of SUVs everywhere, ever. Four minutes later, he was ringing the doorbell of number 221. He was buzzed in and began knocking on the door of apartment B.

The door didn't open, but House's voice carried through it.

"Key's under the mat!"

Swearing under his breath, Wilson groped around under the mat until he located the key.

House's new apartment bore little resemblance to the old one, although that might just have been because it was still tidy.

"You found it alright then?"

House was leaning against the doorframe to the kitchen, watching Wilson with a smug smile on his face.

"Eventually." Wilson shrugged off his jacket and dropped it onto the back of the couch. "Do you have any idea how many Baker Streets there are in the Princeton area? Or how many video stores you owe money to?"

"Four, if you don't count the two that wrote it off as a bad debt." House nodded to the cases in Wilson's hand. "What did you bring me?"

"It's not a housewarming gift." Wilson shook his head. "The shop had four copies, you know. I had to go through all of them to find your note. And what if someone else had checked it out?"

"Couldn't." House grinned. "I bribed the cashier."

Giving in, Wilson held up one of the DVDs. "Well, since you asked so nicely, I brought the Tom/Leonardo classic. And because I'm your friend, though don't ask me why..." He lifted the other DVD, unable to keep the smile off his face, grinning in mirror image of House. "Debbie Does Dallas."

"Now that's a classic." House limped over, holding out a hand. "Pizza's on its way. Which do you want to start with?"

Before he could grab the disc, Wilson pulled it out of reach.

"How did you know I'd find you?" he asked.

"I was sure you were the gold medal winner at treasure hunt when you were a child." House made another grab for the film, but Wilson stepped back, forcing House to put a hand on the back of the sofa to steady himself.

"It was pretty tricky, even for you," Wilson said, meeting House's glare. After a moment, the glare dissolved into a half-smile and this time when House held out a hand, Wilson put the DVD box in it.

"I hope you have beer," he said, making his way towards the kitchen as House put the DVD in the machine. The piracy warnings were rolling when he got back and dropped onto the sofa, putting two bottles on the low table. "You know, you've got to be damn sure of yourself to pull a stunt like that."

House was apparently absorbed in choosing whether they wanted to watch in English, Spanish or Chinese. He didn't even glance at Wilson as he replied.

"I guess so. Or damn sure of you."