Chapter 2 – Promises

House made good on his threat to go to Julie's wedding reception. As a result Wilson found himself helping House knot his tie on the morning of the wedding. House had even picked out and paid for a gift. Wilson didn't want to know what it was, but he knew for certain that it would be highly inappropriate.

- - -

Wilson and House stood in the grand ballroom where Julie's wedding reception was being held. Wilson sighed, once again wondering how he ended up in these situations. Then he remembered. As always it was all House's fault and he would have to think of an act of revenge that was suitably elaborate, clever and deeply embarrassing. He then remembered another fact about House. It was almost impossible for him to be embarrassed. That was why they were standing opposite Julie and her new husband.

"Hello Julie. Congratulations." Wilson said. He kissed Julie on the cheek in greeting.

"Hi, James." Julie replied. She glanced across at House almost holding her breath as she waited for a scathing remark from him.

"You look beautiful." House said. He could see her exhale in relief which caused him to smile. 'The calm before the storm.' House simply thought.

"Thank you, Greg. This is my husband Michael Ellis." Julie continued to eye House suspiciously as he reached out and shook Michael's hand. "Michael, meet Gregory House and my ex-husband James Wilson." Michael took another look at House and then glanced at Wilson. Realisation gradually dawned across Michael's face and House grinned as the situation became even more deliciously awkward.

"So how did you and Julie meet?" House asked. He had guessed what the answer would be, but just had to ask the question. Julie glared at House remembering exactly why she hated him. Wilson also glared at House hoping that it would be enough to make House stop asking any more uncomfortable questions.

"We work together." Julie answered tersely, hoping to make the conversation as short as possible. House then knew for certain that Michael was the man she had had the affair with which led to the break up of Wilson's third marriage.

"Well we're pleased for you both." House continued. He leaned a little closer and bumped his shoulder amiably against Wilson's.

"Thanks." Michael replied. Julie suddenly gasped as she saw the extremely smug expression on House's face and then the dismayed look on Wilson's face.

"How…how long have you been...together?" Julie used an almost accusatory tone of voice for her question.

"As friends or…" House deliberately let the sentence trail off.

"Two years." Wilson interrupted, rubbing his hand over his face. It didn't take long for Julie to do the calculation. She had often wondered how close a friendship House and Wilson shared. She had even once jealously remarked about it during a particularly heated argument with Wilson, but now she knew she was actually right didn't give her a feeling of satisfaction.

"You didn't… while we were still married…?" She found herself asking.

"No! No." Wilson said quickly, feeling increasingly ill. He wanted the ground to open and swallow him up, so that he could disappear.

"Actually I should thank you Julie. You did Jimmy a favour." House said smiling widely at Julie.

"House!" Wilson admonished. House just shrugged his shoulders as if it was a perfectly normal topic of conversation.

"Well you certainly deserve each other." Julie said unable to hide her animosity towards House any longer.

"I don't know if I deserve Wilson and perhaps he deserves someone better than me..." The rest of the sentence remained unspoken as House turned to face Wilson and looked directly at him.

The intensity with which House gazed at Wilson took his breath away. Wilson couldn't help himself as he kissed House, completely lost in the moment. He suddenly remembered where they were and broke away, looking down at his feet, his face burning in embarrassment. House grinned once again, pleased that they had made it clear to Julie exactly how much they meant to each other.

"It was good to see you again Julie." House said insincerely. "I'm sure you and…"

"Michael." Wilson interjected.

"Right, Michael." House said dismissively. "I'm sure you and Michael will have a great marriage." Julie smiled tightly and House could just imagine all the insults that were on the tip of her tongue.

"Congratulations again Julie." Wilson said sensing House was satisfied with the damage he had caused. Wilson started to walk away, knowing that House had no choice, but to follow him.

"Are you done? Because I really want to go home now." Wilson whispered impatiently once they were out of earshot.

"And give up all the free food and drink? What was the point of me driving all the way up here?"

"You've had your fun." Wilson continued.

"It was fun, seeing the look on Julie's face when she worked it out." House commented.

"Well, yes." Wilson conceded. "But I really don't want to have to talk to Julie's parents."

"Why would you want to do that?!" House shuddered as if it was too horrible to contemplate.

"Promise me that we will sit in the corner of the room and you will not traumatise anyone else here. Only then can we stay." Wilson spoke as if he was negotiating with a child.

"I promise." House replied in an appropriately mocking tone and raised his right hand to his chest as if that was a guarantee of good behaviour. Wilson rolled his eyes, but he knew that it was all he could expect from House.

House managed to surprise Wilson and actually keep his promise. They sat in the far corner of the room and didn't talk to any of the other guests. Instead House whispered into Wilson's ear a running commentary, sarcastically mocking all the dull, unfunny speeches. Wilson did his best not to laugh out loud and draw attention, but he wasn't entirely successful.

- - -

House was wondering if he could tolerate the horror of Julie's wedding reception any longer when the announcement was made for the bride and groom to have their first dance together as husband and wife. That was House's cue to curse with exasperation. He stood up and grabbed Wilson by the arm forcing him to stand up also.

"Let go of my arm!" Wilson protested.

"Follow me." House released Wilson from his grip. He then started to walk towards the nearest exit.

"Are we leaving?" Wilson called out as he took a few long strides so that he could catch up.

House didn't respond and just kept walking out of the room and down a winding hallway. House abruptly stopped and walked straight into the men's restroom. Wilson shrugged his shoulders in confusion and wondered what the great secret was before following House.

House quickly scanned the restroom to check if there was anyone else there. As soon as he realised it was empty, House stood still for a moment tapping his cane on the floor as if he was deciding what he wanted to do. Wilson crossed his arms, waiting patiently for whatever House wanted to say. Wilson was about to ask why House was being so mysterious when he was silenced with an urgent, passionate kiss. Wilson was too stunned to react at first, but the feeling quickly disappeared as House ran his fingers through Wilson's hair and pressed his body against him. Wilson could hear their breathing speed up and low moans escape from their mouths. He wrapped his arms around House's waist, pulling House even closer towards him.

"What was that for?" Wilson asked, still a little breathless after he eventually broke away from the kiss.

"I wanted to." House replied quietly. Wilson studied House's expression for a moment, but his eyes gave nothing away. He could normally work out what House was feeling, but this time he was clueless. "Would you have preferred for us to kiss in front of all the other guests?" House asked.

"Let's see. The only two doctors in the room being responsible for all those heart attacks? Not a good idea."

"Yeah and Julie would hate us for upstaging her at her own wedding." House smirked.

"I think that would be an understatement." Wilson chuckled. But then a thought suddenly occurred to him. "Wait…do you think…that I want us…"

"I messed up your hair." House interrupted, as he pointed to Wilson's hair which was sticking up in crazy angles. Wilson recognised that as a sign that House didn't want to discuss it further so he walked towards the basin and turned on a faucet.

House stood next to Wilson, watching him intently as Wilson let the cool water run over his hands. Wilson then ran his wet fingers through his hair in an attempt to return it to his usual, well-groomed hairstyle. House took a side step so that he stood directly behind Wilson, his chest pressed against Wilson's back. House idly raked his slender fingers through Wilson's hair as he continued to watch him. He secretly loved how he was responsible for messing up Wilson's hair. House associated it with the intimacy they shared as well as the lack of order and control that Wilson only displayed with him. It was a side of Wilson's personality no one else was allowed to see. House then rested his chin on Wilson's shoulder as he gazed thoughtfully at their reflections in the large mirror in front of them.

House took a step back and turned Wilson around so that they were facing each other. Wilson could see House's expression cloud over as uncertainty flashed in his eyes. House took a deep breath, making the decision to tell Wilson what was on his mind.

"You have to promise…that you won't propose so we don't have to pledge our everlasting commitment to each other in front of our families, ex-wives and ex-girlfriends." House finally said, his voice faltering a little. Wilson was bemused at House's nervousness, but he smiled at him.

"That's a shame because I was so looking forward to picking out our matching gold rings." Wilson answered. He knew that after three failed marriages, even thinking about getting married again was a really horrible idea and House was definitely not the marrying type. They didn't need rings or a ceremony to prove to anyone they cared for each other. Their relationship was perfect for them. It still worked despite going through so much first as friends and then as lovers. Wilson could see it working for the rest of their lives.

"Promise me." House said seriously. Wilson just nodded his head in reply.

"Who'd have thought that you would be the one to bring up the subject of marriage?" Wilson teased, trying to lighten the atmosphere between them. It seemed to work as House rolled his eyes.

"I just didn't want you getting any ideas about me becoming wife number four." House retorted.

"We're fine the way we are." Wilson tenderly kissed House before turning away to look at his reflection once more. Satisfied with his appearance, he led the way back into the ballroom.

Wilson was about to sit down at their now empty table, but House held out his hand and jerked his head in the direction of the crowded dance floor.

"You want to dance?!" Wilson asked incredulously.

"It's full of people and it's dark. If we stand in the corner no one will see us if that's what you're worried about." House offered.

"Okay." Wilson replied after hesitating for a moment. He took House's hand and they walked onto the dance floor. Wilson put his arms around House's waist letting House lean against him as they swayed in time to the music. Wilson closed his eyes as he let the corny, sappy music wash over him. He put his head on House's shoulder, breathing in the smell of House's cologne.

It seemed to Wilson that it sometimes took him a while to figure out what House was feeling, but he would get there in the end. Wilson finally realised the motivation behind the kiss in the restroom, the ensuing conversation and the real reason why House had wanted to go to his ex-wife's wedding.

It had been a test of sorts. That is how House operated in every aspect of his life. He had wanted to test Wilson, to see if he was jealous; if there was still a remnant of love for Julie left in him. It was also to see if Wilson did want to get married which would inevitably create expectations. Wilson guessed House was probably afraid that he would never be able to live up to those expectations.

But the most important point which Wilson had almost missed was that it was House's twisted way of asking for reassurance from him. It wasn't enough to joke about it anymore, to cautiously avoid conversations that laid bare their emotions. Wilson wanted to pass the test and actually say how he felt about House out loud. He took a deep breath and lifted his head so that his mouth was near House's ear.

"I know we never say it, but I love you." Wilson whispered. "I meant it when I said we are fine the way we are. You don't ever have to worry about that." He didn't expect House to respond, but he sighed with relief. Wilson felt good that he had finally said it. "I wish you were a little less cryptic with your clues though. It took me far too long to break the House Code." Wilson continued. He could hear House chuckle and felt him smile against his cheek.

"Wilson…" House began. "I love you too." He added so quietly Wilson barely heard it being said above the music. But he felt it. He felt warm breath float across his neck. And he felt his heart leap for a moment with shock, but which was quickly replaced with such joy. He didn't need to see House say the words or look into his eyes as he spoke to know he was being truly sincere.

"I think we should go now." Wilson said after the song had finished. Their bubble of intimacy had burst as the singer of the band announced the name of the next song they were going to play. House nodded his agreement and they moved apart. Wilson glanced across at House as they navigated their way off the dance floor. Wilson's small smile turned into a grin which then turned into laughter as he realised he was actually one step ahead of House for once when he saw House's puzzled reaction.

"What's so funny?" House asked.

"You have to admit..." Wilson said as his laughter died down. "It is pretty funny and pretty impressive that they first time we say the L-word to each other is at my ex-wife's wedding. And the sole reason we're even here is because you wanted to go!" Wilson explained. House laughed along as he listened to Wilson speak.

"At least you'll never forget to send the happy couple an anniversary card." House joked. "Although, I bet Julie and Whatshisname will only last six months, tops!" House raised his voice gleefully.

"Hey, say that a little louder, why don't you?!" Wilson glanced warily at the guests around them, hoping that no-one else had heard House's acerbic comment.

"I only said what you were thinking." House smirked.

They eventually left the ballroom which was still full of wedding guests. When they reached Wilson's car House threw the car key at Wilson in an unspoken agreement that he would be able to sleep on the long drive back to their apartment. They were barely out of the parking lot when Wilson noticed House doze off, still clutching his cane in his right hand. Wilson switched on the radio, hoping that he would be able to find a few songs to hum along to while he drove.

Wilson began to think about how strange the day had been as House gently snored. As well as he understood House, he could still be amazingly unpredictable. But the day had also been incredible. They had managed to say that they loved each other without the world ending. In fact now their relationship was better, stronger than ever and yet fundamentally it was still the same. He still felt they had the same level of ease with each other. Wilson then grinned, realising that House would continue to challenge him in even more unusual and creative ways. And Wilson knew exactly how to push back.

The End.