Oh Brother

House had spent the last few hours poking through his friend's files and, hard as he tried, he could find nothing. Even dragging up old yellowed newspapers from nine years ago had been fruitless. Though, there wouldn't be an excess of information he supposed, not unless the brother had been repeatedly stabbed in an alley somewhere.

Last week, they had treated a homeless man, and Wilson, as he usually did when the hospital had some sort of vagrant under its care, had been moping around a bit. Of course he was still his impeccable self; neatly blow-dried hair, straight eye-searing tie, and perfectly positioned pocket protector. No, he looked the part of Wilson, he just didn't act it. He'd thrown himself into the role of the dutiful doctor, always too busy with a patient to hide in an exam room with his best friend to watch General Hospital, or to sit in his best friend's office, his feet on the desk, hoping that when Cuddy walked by she wouldn't glance through the glass. It had to stop. Being a delinquent alone was boring.

The show was starting any minute and hopefully Wilson would be arriving soon to leech off his portable TV. Apparently, the other oncologists didn't appreciate a good curling match.

House lay back in his chair satisfied by the loud squeal it emitted, and, stretching his legs out onto his paper-strewn desk, waited for his friend to show. He was not disappointed. Wilson soon appeared at the door, his frame leaning against the glass, relaxed.

"Maybe you should relocate to the exam room," said Wilson, grinning in greeting to his friend. "Cuddy's looking for you. Something about skipping clinic hours?"

House groaned and rolled his eyes. While he had been musing over the fall issues of the 2001 New York Times, clinic duty had occurred.

"I was busy," said, House, looking down and beginning to adjust the TV frequency.

"Busy?" asked Wilson, looking skeptical, "Doing what? You don't even have a patient."

"Research," replied House, starting to glare at the little TV. All he could see was a jumble of lines.

"What kind of research?" Wilson asked curiously.

"The kind of research that is way more important than listening to imbecile patients demand drugs for their bad cases of sniffles," said House. With a scowl he rapped the TV against his desk, and with a click it shut off.

"Damn," he muttered and slid the device across his desk. He looked up at Wilson.

"The feature presentation is off, I'm afraid," he said. "Guess we'll just have to get Cuddy in here to perform a completely different sort of show." Wilson shrugged half sadly, smoothly ignoring his friend's tastelessness.

Luckily, he had an idea as to how to occupy this sudden gift of time.

"So," he said, "That research I was doing."

"Yes?" asked Wilson, making his way to the chair facing House.

"It's interesting how a hospital could be so bad at taking a family history, isn't it? I mean your history for instance: father, mother, but no siblings. I mean, I could see missing one sibling but two? That's just carelessness."

Wilson froze mid-descent into the chair.

"House," he said, his voice tight, "I thought we'd agreed not to speak about this."

"Huh?" said House, grabbing his cane and standing up, "I recall no such thing."

House knew from Wilson's tightened fist and his closed off expression that he was upset. But that wouldn't stop him. It never had before.

"Is he dead?" asked House, "is he a bum? Did he wrong your family somehow and get himself thrown onto the streets? Did…"

But before House could finish he was interrupted by the sounds of Wilson, whirling angrily out of the room and his office door banging. House sighed. Maybe he really could use that communication seminar that Cuddy had been hounding him to attend.

In the special place he liked to call "thank god it's not the hospital", House lay back on his plush leather couch, glass precariously balanced in his slightly quivering hand, medicated, buzzed, and as comfortable as he could ever hope to be.

His glass was empty. He was loath to get up, but the alcohol was screaming at him, begging him to come rescue it. Groaning, House dragged himself away from his sofa, (which he now realized he could never ever throw out, even if an elephant gave birth on it), poured himself another, and downed it in one gulp. Gah… heavenly. He picked up the bottle, set to pour another one, but was jolted by the unexpected absence of weight. Damn, he'd drunk it all. He held the bottle upside down over his empty glass, watching as a few straggling droplets dripped down into it.

The last thing he wanted to do at the moment was to leave his cozy apartment and walk a freezing ten minutes to the liquor store, so he resigned himself to returning to the couch empty handed. He tried to regain the warm bliss of ten minutes ago, but found that the sofa's charms had actually been the alcohol's charms. His eyes shut and he laid his head onto the cushion, fighting back a sudden burst of drowsiness. However, he was rudely woken by the sharp ring of the telephone in his ear. Lazily, he reached out for the offending device, thinking for a second about knocking it onto the floor, which was totally what it deserved for so impolitely interrupting him. But he couldn't do that because he was a doctor and this call was probably one of his slaves informing him that he was going to have to get off his ass and go back into the evil place he had just escaped. That would really, really suck, especially since he wasn't all too sure about his present motor capabilities.

"Hello?" he muttered into the phone, praying for a crossed line with the Chinese Takeaway.

"House?" said a woman's voice that sounded all too familiar.

"Cuddy," he said resignedly.

Of course it had to be Cuddy. No one else would have the audacity to bother him on his night off.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Is Wilson there?" she said.

'Wilson?' he thought.

"House" he heard, and started back into reality.

"No," he replied, "Why?"

"He isn't answering his pages."

"Is one of his patients about to kick the bucket?"

"Almost. Lucky for him, the bucket only wobbled a bit."

"I see."

"But that's beside the point," said Cuddy huffily, "I want you to tell him that…"

"Well, he's not here. Gotta go, hooker waiting," he said and hung up the phone. He wondered why Wilson wasn't answering his pages – it was most unlike him. Someone so caring, almost to the point that it sickened House, was not prone to ignoring the calls of his dying patients. Maybe something had happened – someone had stolen his pager, or he had hooked up with that blond, whiney Debbie from accounting and was too occupied to notice the loud buzzing object in his trouser pocket. He irrationally hoped it was the former, though he knew the chances of it being the latter were far higher. He paged Wilson, and in his mind appeared a rather satisfying image involving his friend, Debbie from accounting, and a very badly timed interruption.

Not long after he'd paged Wilson, House's phone began to ring. A soft jab of relief flooded his body and he went to answer it, fully intending on harassing his best friend.

"What's wrong?" he heard frantically from the other end. Perhaps he shouldn't have texted the word "help" he thought, though he felt only an obligatory sense of guilt.

"Hello to you too," he said, "Lovely day isn't it?"

"You're not dying are you?" came Wilson's exasperated tone.

"'Fraid not," said House, "You'll have to wait a few more years for my porn collection. Though y'know Cuddy called. Didn't sound happy. In fact I'd bet if you went back to the hospital right now there's a chance I might inherit your porn collection. How awesome would that be?"

"House…"

"So not answering pages this evening? Who were you with? I'd bet it's that hot new oncology nurse. She's just your type – tall, blonde, needy, chest like a porn star."

"I…"

"Or maybe it was that Debbie in accounting," said House surprising even himself with how vehement he sounded, "I mean yes she's leggy, blond, and the rest but have you seen her taste in handbags?"

"Just shut up!" snapped Wilson, "I'm… I'm… in the morgue."

There wasn't much that one could do to make House shut up once he got going, but Wilson had just succeeded.

"Oh," he said, and then the line sounded dead, leaving only an occasional crackle. And his brain began yelling at him – something about how it had been drowned in alcohol and was being prevented from its usual brilliance, eloquence, and acute sense of observation, and that maybe it should just shut his mouth for once.

"I um… I got a call earlier. They... well… they found him. My brother. And they needed someone to identify the body so I went to the morgue. To um… identify him"

Wilson's voice sounded thick, as though he had been crying. Or was about to.

"Which morgue?" House asked.

House stepped out of the taxi, handed the driver the sixteen dollars he'd had the gall to charge for a ten-minute ride, and began limping his way towards the grayish building. He really hoped that Wilson wasn't crying. Emotional scenes were not his strong suit. Maybe he shouldn't have come. What exactly was he going to do when he got in there? Offer words of comfort? Not likely. Any words that came out of his mouth, far from comforting his friend, would probably just end up making the situation worse.

The only word that could be used to describe the atmosphere of hallway was fluorescent. The bright lights interacted with the polished white floor, creating an effect that was almost surreal. The place was empty, save a few straggling staff nurses, a member of the maintenance crew, and a man sitting on a hard fold up chair – Wilson, who hadn't noticed House's entrance.

"Hey," he said and Wilson looked up. He looked exhausted but much to House's relief, his eyes were dry.

"They want to do an autopsy," said Wilson, "They aren't sure how he died."

"Your parents won't let them," said House, pulling up another chair beside his friend and sitting on it.

"No, probably not," replied Wilson.

"Did you call Cuddy?" asked House.

"Yes," said Wilson.

"Good," said House, "We don't need PMSing administrators stalking us when we get back to the hospital."

And then there was quiet. House could think of nothing to say. Wilson was looking straight ahead, concentrating very intensely at the far wall, seemingly trying to blow up the fire alarm with some type of staring mechanism. House wished something that great really did exist… then he could spend his days exploding the buttons on Cuddy's shirt when she was in meetings with really, really big donors. It would be the perfect plan to get out of clinic duty.

"Whatever it was, it's my fault," said Wilson suddenly, looking up at him. House tried to avoid his gaze.

"No it's not. You're far too nice to be a murderer," he quipped, hoping a joke might lighten the mood. It didn't. Wilson barely reacted, just looked away back towards the alarm, leaving another deadening silence.

"So… when are the parents due to arrive?" asked House.

"Should be here soon," replied Wilson.

Looking at his friend, House appreciated how out of sorts he looked. It was quite unlike him – Wilson was usually quite calm and unemotional, qualities that House had always valued in him. The man rarely got upset, and if he did it was for good reason, which meant that House had the bare minimum of the emotional duties usually associated with having a friend as close as he and Wilson were. One of Wilson's wives would dump him and House would bring him out for a night of hard liquor and strippers – it didn't take much more than that. But looking at Wilson tonight he got the feeling that his friend needed more, which created a sinking sensation in his stomach.

"James!" he heard from the end of the corridor, and glancing up he saw Wilson's mother and brother approaching. House had met Wilson's parents on numerous occasions but the only impression he had been able to make of them was that they were seemingly pleasant and normal people, if a bit old fashioned. Looking at the mother now he was struck by her expression, which appeared to be the same one he had seen last year when she had served him brussel sprouts at dinner. In fact, she bore an eerie resemblance to a Stepford Wife.

"Your father is parking the car," said Mrs. Wilson, situating herself directly in front of her son. Wilson gave her a slight nod. The mother and son stared at each other for a second but Mrs. Wilson quickly turned away towards House.

"And Gregory," she said, "How nice to see you again." He gave her a slight smile of acknowledgement.

Wilson's brother stood Lurch-like by his mother's side. He had only met the brother a couple of times at Wilson's weddings and they had never spoken except to exchange general pleasantries. No one seemed to have anything more to add for the moment and silence crept back into the hallway. Not knowing where to look, he settled for his shoes, a nice new pair of navy and white Shox he had gotten on sale last Tuesday.

"They want to do an autopsy," said Wilson suddenly. His mother looked at him in surprise.

"Don't be silly dear, how can you even consider such a thing?"

"They aren't sure how he died," said Wilson, "We have to."

"I don't want my son's body desecrated. And what would everyone think when they looked at him and he'd been split down the middle like a scarecrow?"

"But…" began Wilson but he was quickly cut off.

"He'll be given a proper burial tomorrow," she said firmly.

"So what? No one cares?" snapped Wilson, banging his chair against the wall as he stood up. The sound echoed up the stark hallway, meriting a brief glace from a couple of the nurses. Wilson's brother stepped forward and grabbed him by the shoulder.

"Correct," he said, and released him, shoving him back down onto the seat, which Wilson landed on with a dull thud. Wilson glowered but merely bit his lip and kept quiet.

"Of course we care, James," said Mrs. Wilson, "But your brother made his choices and this is how he ended up. All we can do now is say goodbye."

Again, no one seemed to have anything to add and so yet another few minutes were passed in silence. All of House's instincts were telling him to flee, but he'd been banking on Wilson for a lift home and he was unwilling to give up on the idea. It was raining far too heavily for him to be out on the curb, waving his hands around like a madman, trying to pull over a taxi. He'd take uncomfortable family gatherings any day over being drenched, especially when the family in question was not his own. Besides, House always relished the opportunity to add to his Wilcyclopedia, and in his experience, the best way to discover a person's secrets was to talk with their family.

The quiet finally broken when Wilson's mother spoke.

"Well dear we had better be off. It's already past eleven and I'll want to start planning some snacks for tomorrow."

Wilson didn't seem to hear her.

Mrs. Wilson pushed her chair back with a squeak and stood up, followed immediately by her two companions.

"Goodbye dear," she said and bustled towards the door. The others followed saying nothing, and soon the two friends were left sitting alone again in the corridor.

Wilson hadn't acknowledged his family's departure, and House would almost have sworn his friend wasn't aware of it, but that thought was shattered when Wilson spoke.

"You were right," he said.

"I'm always right," replied House.

"You wish."

"You just don't want to admit it. Your ego just can't take the fact that I'm way righter than you are."

"Are not."

"Am so."

Wilson stood up and headed towards the door.

"Most definitely not."

House figured he'd better follow or risk being left stranded with the nurses. With a lot of effort, he managed to hobble up next to his friend before he reached the Volvo. God the Volvo. Wilson was the only person he'd ever liked that drove a Volvo. Normally about now he'd make a crack about how it was the ugliest car he'd ever seen, and only a drone would ever be caught driving it. Then Wilson would roll his eyes and look the other way so House's couldn't see his smile. But he decided against it today.

When they arrived at the car, Wilson turned and looked at him.

"Can I stay at your place?" he asked.

"You'll have to sleep on the couch," House replied.

"Yeah," said Wilson, sliding into the drivers seat. He sat with his hand on the wheel, the ten and two position, strumming his fingers on the plastic. He'd be doing that for the rest of the night, not necessarily strumming, but something. Something mindless and repetitive. He'd do it until he was too drunk to feel restless and would sink himself down onto House's leather couch, stretched out and too drunk to remember what had made him strum in the first place.

Neither spoke on the way to the apartment. House was growing weary of the constant heavy silence that could not seem to leave them alone. Today was the first time he could remember that he'd had nothing to say to his friend.

A few minutes later, and after a quick detour to the liquor store, they were parked outside the apartment.

"My Volvo could take your motorcycle," said Wilson suddenly.

House smiled.

"How d' ya figure?"

"It has greater mass and hence greater momentum. If I ran into you, it'd be all over."

House laughed.

"Trust me," he said, "that piece of crap could never catch up with my bike."

Wilson shrugged, grabbed the two paper bags from the backseat, and walked towards the door.

A few hours later the finger tapping and neck rubbing had finally stopped. Though to be honest, it had been a while since House's senses had been sharp enough to be truly bothered by it. The two were stretched out on House's couch drinking themselves into a stupor. Though to be fair, it was Wilson who had emptied most of the contents of the brown paper bags.

House lay suspended in a haze of lassitude while he fought to stay awake and listen to whatever Wilson was saying about Doctor Jones, one of his fellow oncologists that he had lovingly nicknamed "that prick." Of course, that was only when he was drunk. Sober Wilson called him "that idiot."

"Yesterday he -uh he invited me for a round of golf."

"I hope you told him you'd sooner spend your Sundays shoveling shit," replied House.

"Yes actually."

"He's a sleazy little suck up, and if you don't tell him to shut up and go away now you'll spend the rest of your career listening to his twaddle."

"I'll bring you with me."

"I'm offended that you'd use our valuable friendship in such a way," said House, doing his best impression of 'mocked outrage.' His impression wasn't that good.

Wilson laughed.

"Just don't make it too early," said House, "Greg will need his beauty sleep so he can be in top form."

"Sure thing."

Just then Wilson's phone rang. Looking very loath to leave the warmth of the couch, he dragged himself to the coat rack, fished his phone out, and answered with a slightly slurred "Wilson."

House groaned. Hopefully, none of the cancer kids had suddenly taken a turn for the worse because their oncologist was in no form to help them, and their boss was probably in no mood to humor them. He smiled as he had a sudden image of a drunken Wilson, stumbling up the cancer ward, hugging all his patients and telling them they were the best patients he'd ever had.

"I understand that mom," Wilson was saying, "But I'm busy tomorrow."

Wilson just evaded his own brother's funeral? Intrigued, House tuned in to the rest of the conversation.

"My patients are dying. They have cancer."

House snorted. Apparently even his friend the master manipulator was unable to lie to his own mother. That, or Wilson was drunker than he'd thought.

"Yeah, lots and lots of cancer," Wilson was saying as he zigzagged towards the sofa, the phone loosely gripped in his hand. As he plopped down, the mobile left his fingers with swoop and landed on the center couch cushion. Wilson looked down at the phone, a slightly confused expression on his face.

Rolling his eyes, House grabbed the phone.

"Hello, Mrs. Wilson?" he said, "I'm afraid Jimmy has collapsed into a drunken stupor."

"But I…"

"Hmm… there seem to be some type of projectiles coming out of his mouth. But don't worry! I'm sure there's a doctor around here somewhere."

The phone let out a little beep as he disconnected. Wilson looked up at him with a face that was probably trying to be indignant but hadn't quite succeeded.

"You lied to my mother."

"Sure did, cancer boy."

Wilson opened his mouth, but soon closed it, after trying and failing to come up with a witty retort. House burst out laughing.

"I hate you," muttered Wilson sleepily. And then he leaned over and rested his head on House's shaking shoulder.

House started and gave him a nudge.

"What am I your pillow now?" he snapped, fidgeting.

"I'm tired," said Wilson, moving back into his previous position. This time House stayed still, slightly intrigued. Wilson had never really tried to touch him before. It was an anomaly. And it wasn't that bad, really.

"So you're skipping the funeral?" he asked, "I mean don't people kind of have to go to their brothers' funerals?"

"I have to," replied Wilson softly.

House waited for the explanation but his friend remained silent.

He debated whether to probe, torn between the personal route the conversation was likely to take and his insatiable curiosity. Naturally his curiosity won.

"Why's that?" he asked, wondering what the answer would be. Maybe Wilson had a funny uncle or something.

"I killed him," said Wilson.

Well he hadn't expected that. Wilson - the Oncologist slash axe-murderer. It had a nice ring.

"What weapon did you use," House said, "an axe? A knife? A candlestick?"

Wilson didn't reply. House looked over and to his horror he saw Wilson looked close to tears. Fucking curiosity.

Whenever he saw crying people in movies, their sympathetic friends usually patted their shoulders. He wondered if maybe he should do that. Or maybe he should just sit still and pretend he didn't notice – after all Wilson was sure to be embarrassed enough by the display without him acknowledging it. Yes, that's what he'd do.

However, then the sniffs started and House figured maybe the whole comforting thing might be the way to go. Tentatively moving his hands towards Wilson's shoulders for a nice shoulder pat, his conscience started grumbling at him for being such a terrible friend. Knowing it was true he aborted that plan, put his arms around Wilson, and hugged him properly. His friend hugged him back and he was surprised to find that it actually felt alright.

Wilson was warm. And soft. And smelled nice. Vaguely House wondered what cologne he used.

Wondering time was cut short, however, when Wilson reached up and touched House's lips with his, producing in House equal amounts of astonishment, panic, and excitement.

It was obviously a dream, or a hallucination. That was it; he'd overdone it on the LSD again. He was currently on his couch, drugged to a stupor, with only a few moments to wait until he could once again see the beautiful music.

His brain was telling him that the whole situation was a bit odd, especially considering that Wilson had been married three times – to women!

Yet Wilson was definitely kissing him, most ardently and passionately. And he, House, was enjoying it. And why shouldn't he enjoy it? He was a man, and sexual pleasure was a good thing no matter what the source.

Wilson was his best friend – interesting, funny, and desirable. And letting out a moan as Wilson kissed a particularly sensitive spot along his ear, House told his mind to shut up and let his body get on with it.

When House awoke it was not naturally, but rather because of a stubbed toe.

"Ah!" he heard, and immediately identified the voice as Wilson's – probably the only man alive not to scream an obscenity whilst stubbing his toe.

"Wilson," he said, getting up off of the couch. He noticed with a jolt that he wasn't wearing any trousers. Or boxers. Oh yes, last night they'd…

"House," said Wilson, squinting, and looking slightly pink around the ears. He was fully dressed and looked as though he were on the way out.

"Where-"

"I have a patient!" Wilson interrupted, sounding jittery, "I . . .um . . I really have to go."

"Yeah, sure, ok," said House. He wondered where his clothes had gone.

The door slammed and Wilson was gone. And House was struck with the horror of turning in to Julie Wilson.

It took him a while to find all of his clothing – a lot of it had been stuffed down the seat somehow. He was late for work as usual but he didn't really care. Outside his apartment his motorcycle stood waiting on the curb, waiting to be ridden. He limped to it, straddled it, and sped off, needing the release it brought.

This was perfect. It was a great idea, having sex with your drunken one and only friend and causing a probable state of irreconcilable awkwardness. Wilson had probably dashed off to strip joint, leaden with dollar bills, repeating the mantra "I'm not gay, I was drunk." After all, he hadn't reacted too well when that patient had mistaken them for a couple.

When he arrived at his office his team looked up simultaneously and wore varied expressions. Cameron was pleased to see him. Chase was not. And Foreman… well Foreman looked vaguely happy.

"House, new case, looks interesting," said Foreman, dangling a patient file in front of him. House grabbed it and took a look.

"Pitch it," he said to Foreman.

"High fever, chills, and jaundice. Sounds like Hep B but the tests came back negative."

"Lepto?"

"Negative," said Cameron, "And so are the tests for Hep A. And it isn't an infection because his white count is normal."

"Maybe we…" began Chase, but he was interrupted.

"Maybe… it's time you children turned into teenagers. Or at least pre-teens," House said.

Three faces turned towards him.

"See, it's fun. I'm nurturing my ducklings, my children, letting you flourish into, well, real doctors."

Foreman opened his mouth to speak.

"Of course you aren't literally my children, especially not Chase. I'd never let my child grow up sounding like a pansy."

"You're just going to ignore this case?" asked Foreman.

"Are you saying that leaving you guys in charge is as good as ignoring it?" asked House, looking Foreman in the eye and smirking.

"Of course not," snapped Foreman.

"Good. I'll be in my office. Days of Our Lives will be on in a few minutes."

Days of Our Lives wasn't all that entertaining, so he wasn't bothered when he heard a door open and close behind him. A pair of heels walked towards him.

"Cuddy," he said, "welcome to my abode."

"Don't you have work to do?" asked Cuddy, looking back and forth peevishly between House and the television.

"Nope," replied House, spinning to face Cuddy, "that's why God invented slaves."

Cuddy looked through the glass and into the other room, where Foreman appeared to be in charge of the white board.

"Ok, that was just bad timing," said House.

"Uh huh," said Cuddy, "Where's Wilson?"

"You mean for once I'm not the one you're after? I feel unloved," said House, leaning back in his chair and putting his feet up. Suddenly, he had a notion. He darted his eyes downwards and towards Cuddy's breasts. Big, buxom, and pleasing to the eye they remained. She was attractive. But Wilson was more attractive.

"Is there some reason you're staring at my chest?" asked Cuddy.

"Oh, you mean that low cut blouse isn't your way of saying 'Sex me up, House?'" he replied.

"You're funny," said Cuddy, "But I wouldn't waste this shirt on you – God knows you've gone so long without sex that you'd jump someone wearing a nun's outfit."

"That's what you think," said House smirking.

"Uh huh," said Cuddy, smirking back, "When you see Wilson, tell him I want him."

"But I thought I was the only one you wanted!" he said, as Cuddy shut the door on him.

House spun himself back towards the TV only to find that Days of Ours Lives had ended and had been replaced with Oprah. Well, any television was better than working.

Cuddy had been gone only a few minutes when the door opened again. Good, it was probably one of his team coming to report to him that his patient had been cured. Or that his patient had gone into multisystem organ failure. Either would be an exciting development.

But when he spun around he was met not by Foreman's arrogant smirk, Cameron's innocent face, or Chase's floppy hair. He was met by a person he'd only met a couple of times in his life, including the previous night at the hospital – Wilson's brother.

"You're House, James' friend," the brother said. House began to think he should take more care in learning people's names.

"And you're Wilson's brother," said House. Great, another 'state the obvious' contest.

"Where is he?"

"No idea. Though my current guess is that he's at a strip club."

"I see," said the brother, looking like he was thinking of sitting down. House hoped he wasn't.

"Yep."

To House, that seemed like it should be the end of the conversation but the brother remained standing next to House's desk.

"He told mom he was too busy to go to the funeral."

"Yeah," said House.

"The nurses told me he was probably with you. Obviously not huh?"

"No," said House, who was beginning to think that this man was a bit strange.

"You and James seem close," said the brother, now leaning towards the desk.

House had had enough. He began contemplating some way to signal his team to walk in and interrupt them. Some type of paper clip device, perhaps?

"Yeah, we're bosom buddies," snapped House, " Y'know, the longer you stand here and annoy me, the more the sick people get even sicker."

"Are you fucking my brother? 'Cause that's all mom needs again."

Before this moment, House had always assumed that he was the king – no emperor - of rude and inappropriate comments. He had just been proven wrong. Scowling, he gripped his cane tighter. The man's shins looked ideal for a good whacking.

"Yes I am, and it's fucking fantastic," he replied, "And if you'll excuse me I've got to go find your brother so we can have more mind blowing sex. He's probably waiting for me in the exam room – they have all sorts of homosexual utensils in there."

He rose and hobbled towards the door, giving Wilson's brother a sweet look as his cane 'accidentally' trod over his toe." Once in the hallway, House popped his head into the other room.

"Call me if the patient dies," he said, shut the door, and made his way to the patient's room. He slid the door open and stalked in.

Lying in the bed was a teenaged boy, whose tanned face had a slight twinge of yellow.

"Who are you," asked the boy, sitting up.

"Hospital entertainment crew," said House, "I'm a psychic."

"Whatever," said the kid, slumping back under the covers, "Go away. I'm tired."

House shut his eyes, stuck his two index fingers to his temple, and made what he thought could be a psychic expression.

"Florida," he said.

"What?"

"I see palm trees. I see demented cartoon characters. On your last vacation you visited… Florida!"

"Umm how did…"

"Sorry, gotta go. My psychic powers are telling me our time is up."

House exited the room and made his way out to the parking lot.

He was still slightly bemused by the earlier event with Wilson's brother, and was thinking that perhaps his own family wasn't quite as strange as he'd always thought.

House sometimes fancied himself a detective. He had put his powers of deduction to the test – had pondered and perused until he had come up with a precise location for his oncologist friend. That, or he had called Wilson and asked him where he was.

Either way, he was standing at the door of a dingy old pub, a place the pair had visited on occasion when Wilson was playing hooky from his wives. House liked it – it was quiet and had a "ye olde tavern" quality about it.

Looking at the bar he spied his friend, perched on a bar stool, and slouched onto the counter. Hopefully he wasn't too drunk.

Wilson turned towards him as he approached, wearing an expression House was unable to interpret. Maybe a combination of terror and embarrassment.

"Keep this up and you'll be needing a liver transplant," said House, sliding onto the adjacent stool.

"Ah, and does the Vicodin addict have any more health tips to share with the class," replied Wilson.

"A retort. Not too drunk, I see?" said House. That reminded him – he popped a pill into his hand and dry swallowed.

Wilson didn't say anything, though House knew he was merely restraining himself. Strange, actually, since his friend was never shy about pointing out his bad habits. A peace offering or a placation perhaps?

Wilson turned back towards the bar and stared down into his drink, which to House appeared to be a harmless glass of Coke.

"I'm gay," said Wilson, picking up his straw and swirling the ice around in his glass.

"Really?" replied House in feigned astonishment, "because I thought all straight men had sex with their male best friends."

A slight snort of laughter escaped from Wilson, and he began moving his straw in a vertical motion, smushing the lemon into the bottom of the glass.

"You aren't drinking alcohol," said House.

"I am, actually," said Wilson, looking up at him sheepishly, "there's rum in this. It's only my first one though, so don't go getting any ideas."

Perfect. In his experience, Wilson was quite unable to hold his liquor. Hell, neither of them could hold their liquor, which had made for some very interesting drunken experiences. Like the night he and Wilson had decided that they should grow their own tomato plants and make their own ketchup. They'd dug up Wilson's garden, including an area devoted to Julie's prized rose bushes. He wouldn't be surprised if she had listed it as a contributing factor in the divorce. It had taken them ages to remove all the thorns.

There had been none so interesting as the previous night, however. He supposed having sex with one's best friend took a special sort of combination of alcohol, divorces, and dead relatives.

"Why are you staring at the wall?" asked Wilson, snapping House out of his reverie.

"I was just thinking we should start our own ketchup business," said House, smiling at his friend. Wilson laughed, unconsciously rubbing his elbow, where, House recalled, the biggest and most painful thorn had been lodged.

"Was your brother gay?" asked House. He hated to interrupt their quasi normalcy, but his curiosity was demanding gratification. Wilson sobered up slightly, opened his mouth, and hesitated.

"No, but he thought he was for a while," said Wilson. He laughed again, but this time it was less happy and more rueful, forced rather than free. Wilson didn't look like he was about to divulge any more information so House gave him a questioning stare. It worked.

"It's not that interesting. My brother found him in an umm… compromising position with Steve Kapowski from down the street. He had a fit - told the parents. They had a fit – lectured him for a few weeks and sent him to the rabbi. And, probably driven insane by Rabbi Ari's talks about being a good Jewish boy, he ran away and undertook a life of god knows what."

"That is interesting. In fact, it would make a great lifetime movie," said House. "Maybe you should try and sell it to them."

"It would," said Wilson, "Though of course that's his version of events. I wasn't actually there when the drama occurred. Though my mother's version is probably even worse. I can see it now – the wicked son who ran off to engage in a live of drugs, indolence and debauchery, leaving her the scandal of the town. She never really forgave him."

The two were silent for a moment.

"My patient has a case of what I'm pretty sure is Yellow Fever," said House, changing the subject.

"Interesting," said Wilson. His glass was empty now save a few cubes of ice. He pushed it towards the barman.

"Want a drink?" said Wilson.

"We can drink at my place," said House. Wilson's eyebrows scrunched ever so slightly.

"Your breasts are a bit smaller than I usually like. But you're good and leggy. And have nice hair," said House, getting down from the bar stool and standing directly in front of his friend.

Wilson at this point was beginning to turn a bit pink, particularly around the ears. He rubbed his hand against his neck and gave House a questioning look.

"Do I have to say it in plain English?" said House, grabbing Wilson's arm, "My place. Bed. Fornication."

"No," said Wilson, yanking his arm from his grip. House frowned at him. Had he completely misread the situation where Wilson was gay and they'd had fabulous sex the night before?

"My brother is dead," said Wilson, his voice quivering very slightly.

To be honest, that fact had slipped House's mind momentarily. It had been more agreeably engaged with such images as Wilson lying on his bed wearing naught but his tie.

"And since when are you gay?" said Wilson, "You can't be gay. If you were gay you'd tell every male patient you had and then you'd leer at them just for the hell of it."

House shrugged.

"Maybe I'm not," he said, "But I like you."

"You like me?" asked Wilson, suddenly looking as though he was trying to restrain himself from smiling, "You do realize that you sound like a thirteen year old boy?"

House stuck his tongue out in return and Wilson's smile cracked through for a second. House grinned back. But it didn't last long enough. Wilson flopped back down onto his seat and gave a dramatic sounding sigh.

"I- I need to be alone," Wilson said, nodding to himself, "I just need to think. And hell, I need to visit my mother – God she'll never forgive me for not showing up."

House shrugged again. "You're a terrible son?"

"I am!" said Wilson, snapping his head up, "a terrible, terrible son."

"You went to the funeral though," said House, "You ran off early this morning, and you aren't drunk so you obviously weren't here all day."

"No."

"And you weren't in the hospital. Cuddy's like a hunting dog – she can track anyone in the hospital down. Besides, I know you. You'd feel terrible if you didn't go."

"I really didn't," said Wilson.

"You went afterwards then," said House. "After everyone had gone."

"Why didn't you become a psychiatrist?" said Wilson, "Then you'd get paid to annoy people with your psychoanalyzing."

House smirked. He had proven, once again, that he was always right.

Wilson stood up again, and House began to wish he'd just sit still for a moment.

"I'm going to visit my mother," said Wilson. He sounded determined and House waved him off.

"Ok, go," he said, and he sat himself back onto his barstool.

"I'm going," said Wilson, walking towards the glass stained door, "See you later!"

House wondered if Wilson had been lying when he'd said the drink had been his first. Oh well, what matter. He motioned the barman towards him and ordered a whiskey.

His phone rang. And rang. And rang. House groaned and pulled himself out of bed.

"What?" he snapped into the speaker of his phone. It was Chase's voice that greeted him at the other end.

"It's yellow fever," said Chase

"Great," said House, "What else is wrong with him?"

There was silence for a second.

"Umm… nothing," said Chase slowly, "It's yellow fever. The tests have confirmed it."

House blinked his eyes and opened them wide. The pounding in his head was rhythmic. Interesting.

"You woke me up at this hour for that?"

"Was that not what you wanted?" asked Chase slowly.

"No," snapped House, lying back into his comforter, "What I want are drugs. Lots and lots of drugs. The really good and illegal kind."

He looked over at his clock. The neon red numbers gazed back 8:30.

"Well, anyway, that's it," said Chase. "I guess I'll go now."

"Yeah," growled House, hanging up the phone and tossing it to the corner of the bed. Eight thirty. Maybe he should think about going in to work.

"Here he is," said Cameron, as House walked in the door of his department, moved automatically towards the white board, and grabbed the marker.

"Just in time for lunch," remarked Foreman, looking up from a medical journal. He directed his gaze towards the marker in House's hand and then back up to his face.

"New case?" Foreman asked.

"Nope," said House, switching the marker for his Vicodin in his jean pocket, "Just need something to graffiti Cuddy's wall with."

"Umm… right. Dr. Wilson was looking for you," said Cameron, "I told him I'd tell you when you came in. Does he have a patient he needs you to look at?"

"Nope, we have an interior decorating date," replied House.

So Wilson wanted to see him. This was most likely a good sign. A bad sign would have had Wilson holed up in his office for the day, complete with bolted doors and pulled shades. His friend hated disappointing people. House limped out onto the balcony, grabbed a bunch of pebbles, and threw them. They flittered against the glass and to the floor. A few seconds later, the door slid open and Wilson's annoyed face popped out.

"You know, normal people knock," he said, coming out fully onto the balcony and walking towards House.

"Hence the stones," said House.

"Right," said Wilson.

"Cameron said you wanted me?"

"Yes," said Wilson, "That was why I wanted to talk to you."

"Oh, you."

Wilson grinned, rubbed his neck, and leaned against the edge of the balcony.

"I TIVOed the OC," said House. "Wanna come over tonight and watch it?"

"Only if I don't actually have to watch it."

"I could arrange that. In fact, we could pass the evening with you telling me about how you beat your brother to death with a candlestick."

"Funny," said Wilson.

"Y'know that was meant to be a subtle lead in for you to tell me what happened."

"Was it?" asked Wilson, feigning surprise.

"Yeah," said House, "so spill it."

"Well," said Wilson, "First Colonel Mustard and I met in the library – to hatch our diabolical plan. And…"

"If you don't tell me, I'll annoy you forever," said House. "You know I'm capable."

"Fine," said Wilson, "After he left I was the only one he still spoke to. Occasionally, he hit me up for cash. And one week, during the middle of exams he called me asking me to send him some money. I was in a bad mood, we argued, I told him to leave me alone, and he never contacted me again."

Wilson's voice had quivered slightly while relating this tale. House was torn between smacking and hugging his friend.

"That's it?" said House, "No physical violence at all?"

Wilson glared at him.

"Oh c'mon," said House rolling his eyes, "You saying you killed your brother is like those idiots saying McDonalds made them fat."

"Maybe," said Wilson.

"Not maybe, really," said House firmly.

Wilson gave him a small smile.

The two stood in a comfortable silence. House wondered how angry Wilson would get if he kissed him. He wouldn't chance it – not yet. Maybe he'd save it for a time when he was sure his entire team and Cuddy too were staring out the window.

"What's that marker for?" asked Wilson, gesturing towards the object resting between House's fingers.

"It's for writing JW + GH hearts all over the side of the building. Duh," said House smirking.

"Oh, of course," said Wilson. He grabbed the marker, grabbed House's arm, and before House could react his hand sported a piece of graffiti – GH + JW. House gaped at it.

"You bastard," he muttered.

Wilson merely laughed.

"Well, my patient will probably die from whatever is ailing her if I don't get back in," he said, and made his way towards his office door. "See you tonight."

"Yeah," said House, still staring at his hand.

Wilson's office door slammed shut. House stared at it for a second. Then he stuffed his hand into his pocket, and joined the ducklings in the conference room.

THE END

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