WONDERING (companion to Knowing)

Title: Wondering
Rating: G
Characters: Wilson, House (friendship)
Summary: This is a long overdue companion piece to Knowing in which House explores his belief about why Wilson stays, and what could cause him to leave. In Wondering, it's Wilson's turn to explore the question--and to answer it.

Wondering (Wilson's POV)

Wilson simply stands there, leaning against the wall, posture open and relaxed--inviting House to accept what comfort he can offer. House's pain is bad, worse than usual, and it's reflected in House's mood, in the way House's own posture is closed-in; his body curls protectively into itself. It's clearest in the way House won't meet Wilson's eyes.

Wilson suddenly remembers an article he'd read, a study of the psychological implications of serious illness in adopted kids. One line comes back to him: Many of these children see their illness as the ultimate test of the question that's always been on their minds; "will they desert me now?" The article had gone on to say that adopted children never overcome the feeling that if they weren't good enough for their birth parents, they can never be good enough for anyone else; their entire lives turn into an exhausting test--What will I finally do to push you away? Wilson's not sure why watching House has reminded him of this, but the connection makes him sad nonetheless.

He's spent a lot of time, over the years, wondering what he could say, what he could do, to convince House that he'll always be around. He'd thought, for a while, that he'd truly messed it up, leaving House on the floor last Christmas Eve. He could tell that House thought he'd really torn it that time--had found a way to push Wilson out, had proven his theory that everyone would leave him eventually.

What House had been unable to figure out, though, is that--while Wilson had walked out that night--it was only in the physical sense. He'd never left; not emotionally--he couldn't. Wouldn't. Didn't even want to. Oh, House. What can I say? I'm here because I want to be here. I'm here because you're worth all the crap. I'm not here because you need me; I could never pity you.

Wilson walks into the bedroom and returns with a couple of pillows and a blanket; he tosses it all to House. "Get comfortable; looks like you're stuck there a while."

House lets the bedding fall to the floor. "You're not. I'm fine. Go."

Wilson sighs quietly, then walks to the couch and retrieves the linens. He puts the pillows on the end of the couch and covers House with the blanket. House twists his mouth, but when he doesn't protest, Wilson chances sitting down next to him, just inches away, hoping that House can feel the caring he's trying so hard to telegraph. After a full minute of silence, Wilson takes a chance. He doesn't look at House when he speaks.

"I'm not going anywhere, ya know. Not now." Wilson turns his head and meets House's dubious eyes. "Not ever."

Now House is the one to look away, as Wilson continues to study his face. "That a promise or a threat?" House's voice is dry, and his eyes are amused and challenging. But Wilson's already seen the truth--the vulnerability, the fear House had instantly masked as he'd turned his head away.

Wilson takes a deep breath, and in that moment, it comes to him--the answer. The only right answer. He smiles at House, and then allows his expression to grow serious. "Neither one. It's your favorite thing, House--a fact. Not a promise to break, not a threat to hold over your head. A fact. Black and white. Plain and simple. Inarguable. Just... a fact."

House leans his head against the back of the couch and closes his eyes. "A fact," he repeats, almost in a whisper. "Inarguable."

And then, as Wilson watches, House pulls in a long, shuddering breath and lets it go. He opens his eyes, looks directly at Wilson, and nods.

Wilson stands and grabs one of the pillows, arranges it gently under House's right leg, and watches as House's body relaxes, as House finally sinks into the comfort that's always been there, all along.