1Author's Note: Has anyone else noticed how House can't stand for anyone else to be with Wilson? That, friends and neighbors, is love!
Warning: Beans explode in the microwave, so be sure to cover that dish unless you want to spend an hour scraping bean boogers off your microwave roof.
As House stepped into his apartment-well, their apartment, Wilson had started to get snippy about the distinction-he became aware of three things: first, that something smelled great, second, that 80's New Wave music was blasting from the kitchen, and third, that there was a midget in a cage screaming its lungs out in the middle of the living room.
House frowned. Backed out of the apartment. Checked the number on the door. Yeah, his and Wilson's, but he clearly remembered it as being midget-free when he'd left that morning. Maybe the midget was an hallucination brought on by overwork and lack of sex. After all, 12 hours was a long dry spell since Wilson had moved in for good.
House re-entered, deliberately dropping his backpack on the floor where Wilson was sure to trip over it later, and cautiously approached the caged midget. From his own cage on the floor, Steve was eyeing the midget with ratty distrust and bruxing fretfully. Said midget was now struggling to pull himself up by the mesh "bars" of his cage.
"It puts the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again," House told it, and turned to the kitchen. "Wilson!" he bellowed over the sound of his lover and Berlin belting out "Metro".
Wilson stuck his head out of the kitchen. "Oh hey. Didn't hear you come in. How was your day?" He turned the music off.
House leveled a finger at the midget."What is that?"
The younger man glanced in the direction of the point. "That," he said, "is a baby."
"Yes, you know, baby: a small human being." He popped back into the kitchen.
House followed him. "Oh, Jimmy, you told me you were on the Pill! Can't believe I fell for that old one!"
Unperturbed, Wilson stirred the contents of a pot. "Right. I cleverly got myself knocked up to trap you into marriage. Very cleverly, as it turns out I don't have a uterus. My brother and his wife got called out of town on an emergency and I said we'd take Alex for the weekend."
"Alex?" House frowned. "That's your nephew?" He looked back at the baby. "Seems he was smaller when I saw him last."
"Babies grow, House. Remember that from your pediatrics rotation in med school?"
"I remember not liking my pediatrics rotation in med school." He looked over Wilson's shoulder into the pot. "Homemade chili. Yum. Now what the hell made you think we can care for a baby for two and a half days?"
"Welllll," he replied with exaggerated thought, "we're both doctors."
"An oncologist and a diagnostician. Useless, unless the kid has cancer caused by some really cool rare disease." House cast an eye toward the living room hopefully. "Does he?"
"Of course not!"
House sighed dramatically. "Well there goes my interest in this case. I don't like children." He limped back into the living room sullenly and plopped himself down on the couch. Alex watched him closely for a moment and then resumed wailing. "Does it happen to have an off button?"
"Babies do cry, House, and I'm cooking dinner. Try taking him out of his playpen."
House made a face. "That would mean touching him, right?"
"Riiight, but it would also stop the crying. Decide for yourself which is more important."
No sympathy or offer to solve the sniveling child problem, House noticed. Wilson was a terrible, abusive partner and he didn't deserve the likes of the great Gregory House. On the other hand, there was still the noise problem to be solved.
House approached the midget cautiously, as a bomb tech might approach an unstable explosive device. Seeing him, Alex held out his chubby arms and started to babble. House leaned down, plucked the baby from the playpen and held him at arm's length. They regarded each other solemnly.
"You smell," House informed the midget. "He smells!" he called over his shoulder.
"Busy," Wilson called back equitably. "Diaper bag's on the floor by the couch."
"I'm leaving you for Chase," House announced irritably.
"Fine, more chili for me, and Chase can't cook."
"I meant I'm leaving you after dinner. Don't beg me to stay."
"Tears will do you no good."
"Chase has better hair than you do."
"No he doesn't."
Damn Wilson and his unflappability, if that was even a word. Problem was, the man knew him too well. Knew his buttons. Dinner was definitely a button, along with breakfast, lunch, snacks and, well, Wilson himself.
Trapped with the inevitability of having to change the midget's diaper, House lay the kid on the floor, snagged the diaper bag and unzipped it. "How come your mom and dad packed so much shit? Hope you're not planning to be a Kato Kaelin-style permanent houseguest. The last houseguest I let in never left." He shot a significant look toward the kitchen.
He sorted through the bag until he found a clean diaper, powder, and some baby wipes. He was pretty sure the three went together. Carefully, he opened the dirty diaper and-
"Good Lord!" he exclaimed, coughing and slamming the diaper shut again. "Do the child welfare people know your brother is feeding his kid nuclear waste?"
"Stop being such a drama queen and finish with the diaper. Chili's ready." Wilson's voice sounded sadistically cheerful while still managing to be devoid of all sympathy.
House re-opened the diaper, hoping beyond hope that the Magical Poo Fairy would have come and spirited away the mess. No such luck. Sighing the sigh of the damned, he wiped up as quickly as possible, dumped gigantic amounts of powder haphazardly in the direction of the diaper, and slapped the clean one on quickly before Alex could hose him down.
Wilson set two steaming bowls down on the coffee table. "Very impressive," he said, nodding toward the diaper. "You managed to get it on right. Little cartoon bears in the front."
House glared. "Yeah, I went to college for eight years, remember? Summa Cum Laude in Advanced Diaper Placement." He stood up. "Going to wash my hands now." He went to the bathroom and scrubbed with soap and hot water until the skin on his hands threatened to seek asylum on someone else's body. Then he returned to the living room and his chili.
"S'good," he mumbled through a mouthful. His eyes narrowed as he regarded the interloper currently crawling across the living room floor. Alex found Steve's cage and poked his fingers through the bars enthusiastically. Steve hissed, yanked his tail out of the reach of chubby fingers, and retreated into his plastic rat house.
Okay, it was one thing for Wilson's Mini-Me to inconvenience House, but he had to draw the line at rat harassment. He leaned over and placed a casual hand on the oncologist's thigh. "You know," he said seductively, "I've always wanted to take you away for a long weekend in New York City."
Wilson looked over, surprised. "You have? You never mentioned that."
"One more way in which I've neglected our relationship and for which I'm deeply sorry." He managed a sigh. "Thing is, this weekend would be perfect. Beautiful weather. Leaves are turning. What do you say?"
Wilson nodded. "Sure. I mean-" his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "And Alex?"
House widened his blue eyes and looked directly at his companion. "Well, I wouldn't want him in the same hotel room with us while we...you know..." he gestured to Wilson, then himself, and back. "I mean, you know how we get sometimes: beds broken, lamps hurled to the floor, underwear hanging from the ceiling fan; just isn't a healthy environment for a child. So, I was thinking maybe we could call in a favor."
"A favor." Suspicion turned quickly to skepticism. "House, no one even likes you, let alone owes you anything but a kick in the ass."
"But everyone likes you and that's why we make such a good pair! See, I was thinking we could call Cameron. She's all warm and tender, be a great sub-contracted babysitter."
Wilson sighed. "Cameron's gone to some kind of retreat for the weekend."
House shrugged, not willing to give up the dream of midget-free weekend. "Chase, then. He loves kids, practically runs the NICU, and he's Australian."
Wilson didn't bother to ask what nationality might have to do with it, but instead said, "Chase is on call all weekend. Traded with Cameron."
"Well, then Foreman-" he reconsidered. "Nah, the kid would wind up in a downtown chop shop being harvested for spare parts." He looked speculatively at Alex. "Wonder how much a slightly used Jewish baby would fetch on the black market."
"Cuddy!" House cried triumphantly. "She wants a kid, let's give her some practical experience. Might stop her from hinting about a 'donation' from you. If we just-"
Wilson rubbed the bridge of his nose. "House, I think my brother expected me to take care of Alex myself, don't you?"
"Maybe technically, but-"
Wilson grinned and pointed at his nephew. "Look at that! You can't tell me that's not adorable!"
Alex took three tottering, unsteady steps and plopped to the floor on his diapered butt.
Unimpressed, House shrugged. "So what? When I do that you take away my Vicodin."
"House, when you do that it's my two-minute warning that you're about to throw up all over yourself, me, the floor, and anything else in your way." He spooned up the last of his chili. "Besides, it's only a couple days. You'll live. You might even come to, I dunno, actually like having a kid around."
Unfortunately for Wilson and his argument, the gods picked that moment to trip Alex. He fell back with a thump, knocking his head on a pile of books. He looked around for a moment, then broke into high-pitched screams of indignation. Wilson jumped up and collected his nephew.
"Did you fall?" he cooed, checking the baby's head for injury. "Poor baby. It's okay. Uncle Jimmy's got you now." He stood up and paced around the room, murmuring quietly until the baby calmed down.
Unmoved, House glared. "Is this going to go on all weekend?"
"Yes, House," Wilson's voice was mild enough, but with the touch of sarcasm reserved for House-related arguments. "Sorry for ruining your weekend. I know you'd rather have all my attention and spare time focused on you, but sometimes I slip and accidentally care about someone else. I'm evil. Face it: this isn't about the noise, it's about having to share me."
"I don't care who else you pay attention to," House scoffed, running his spoon through his empty bowl to avoid looking at his partner.
"Right," Wilson snorted. "Then why chase away any woman who even talks to me?" His eyes shone with that knowing superiority that made House simultaneously throttle and-and-no, actually, that was the only thing that look inspired.
But since he was pretty sure that he didn't actually want to throttle Wilson and very sure that murder was still illegal in some parts of New Jersey, he contented himself with, "Like when?"
"Like when haven't you? Take just this morning when I was discussing a patient with Gretchen: you limped up and proceeded to announce that I'd left my crab and louse ointment under the night stand again. Real subtle."
House considered. "Well, you left some kind of ointment under the night stand."
"Hydrocortisone for a spider bite!"
"Oh." Blink. "Sorry about that, it was dark and I couldn't read the label-"
"What about my wives?" The knowing superiority glow next-leveled in Wilson's baby browns.
House waved dismissively. "They don't count. They were hell spawn."
"Yes, but those tendencies didn't arise until a few months of association with you. Let's see," Wilson shifted the baby to his opposite hip and looked off into space in a parody of deep thought, "I spent my first wedding night holding your head over the sink because you drank a whole bottle of Jaegermeister-"
House batted his eyes. "You really do have gentle hands, Jimmy."
"-came home early from my second honeymoon because someone paid a hooker to pretend to be Cuddy and place a call saying you'd been exposed to yellow fever-"
House screwed up his face. "And if I ever find out who did that I'll rip 'em a new one."
"and, finally, oh this is a good one, my last wife was nearly driven insane by a flock of bats that somehow got into our new house on the first night we owned it."
House shrugged. "No different than your in-laws visiting."
Wilson shifted the baby again and pointed his free index finger at House. "Admit it, you can't stand to share me."
House pointed his own finger, and not the index. "Admit this, Tumor Boy." He picked up the first magazine he could find and started thumbing through it.
Wilson rolled his eyes. "Very mature and totally your way of avoiding this conversation." He smirked and sat down, settling Alex on his lap.
House wiggled his magazine. "I'm reading. Bettering myself. Keeping my medical skills sharp."
"With the Weekly World News?"
"There's a perfectly good article on the mystical healing power of sea snakes." House flipped the page and pointedly refused to look at Wilson. That'd show him.
Wilson cocked his head. "I forget. Did we resolve anything here? I mean, before you ran away from the conversation."
"Um, yeah." Flip. "We've resolved that you can't stand to be away from me, that I keep saving you from your colossal connubial mistakes, and that you, Dr. Wilson, have serious issues."
Wilson's jaw dropped. "I have-you're trying to tell me that-you-you think-"
House sighed dramatically and set his magazine aside. "All that rushing to my side, clinging to me and my couch until you finally got me...you know, it's getting so tiresome saving you from yourself, James."
Wilson made a few noises, half-choked words and sighs.
"We resolved one more thing." House jabbed his magazine at the midget dozing in Wilson's lap, usually House's own dozing spot, dammit. "We're never having one of those."
Wilson waited a beat.
"You know, if anything happens to my brother and his wife," he said with great relish, "I'm Alex's legal guardian."
House froze and looked at him in horror.
"As well as the legal guardian of any other children they might have." He sighed happily. "They always wanted a big family."
"I'm so leaving you for Chase."