The guilt is enough to keep Stacy around for four more months. This surprises Wilson, who had given it two, maybe three at most. They don't discuss telling House after the initial conversation, but Wilson knows that it plays on her mind as much as it does his.

Up until she leaves, he finds it difficult to be around House. Every time they are alone together, he wants to tell him the truth, to be the friend House thinks he is.

When Stacy goes, it suddenly becomes easy to keep the secret. Wilson is now completely occupied with House, looking out for him and looking after him. The secret is pushed to the back of Wilson's mind in a whirlwind of smashed furniture and House lying drunk on the floor. It is with an awful, guilty relief that Wilson enters House's apartment and finds fragments of shattered glass and crockery covering the floor and the heavy smell of porcelain dust in the air. He looks around the living room anxiously, wondering where House is. It's not unusual these days for him to be lying somewhere with a whiskey bottle, especially when accompanied by this much destruction.

A high-pitched smash, followed by the rattle of several fragments hitting the floor, directs Wilson to the bedroom. House is still holding out his cane, having used it to sweep the row of photos from the dresser in front of which he unevenly stands.

"House," Wilson says softly, and House slowly cranes his head around to see his friend in the doorway. "What are you going to do now?"

"What?" House asks hoarsely, moodily shifting the shards of glass back and forth across the floor with his cane.

"You can't stay here with all this broken glass over your floors."

House just shrugs and tells Wilson to get out. In the hall outside House's apartment, Wilson leans against the wall and grinds a hand against his forehead, all thoughts of a secret pushed far aside.

Seven years pass. Seven years of bad luck, perhaps, Wilson starts to think as two wives leave him, he temporarily loses his job and House seems to fall into a rut of despair that shows no signs of letting up. Aside from that, things continue as normal. House gets his own department and a few years later Wilson gets the coveted Head of Oncology spot, the youngest recipient for almost twenty years.

Stacy returns, briefly, new husband in tow. The subject of the secret doesn't even come up now – he knows that she plans to let it stay buried forever. She leaves – again. The reminder that she brought with her is hastily shoved aside by Wilson as he tries to stop House going off the rails.

And so things go on, until one evening in March when the sun is beginning to set and various shades of sunset glow over Wilson as he hunches over his desk and goes over some patient records with a half-eaten sandwich at his elbow. Someone is approaching the office from the hall outside, and listening to a couple of the heavy, irregular steps tells Wilson who it is, so that when the door opens he doesn't bother to look up.

"Hey, House. Thought you'd gone home."

"Consult."

"I'm a little tied up. Could it wait twenty-" Wilson cuts himself off as a file lands on the desk in front of him and he sees that argument is pointless. He lays down his pen and puts his hand on the beige folder, but doesn't open it. A glance at the label freezes his hand. He finally looks up. House is standing close to the desk, towering over Wilson with a carefully neutral expression on his face. Wilson scrutinizes it briefly, looking for a sign that something is amiss. Nothing. Wilson tries to quell the nervous welling in his stomach.

"This is Stacy's file..." he says quietly. House doesn't bother to acknowledge this fact, merely pulls a chair closer to the desk and sits down on it.

"Why have you got it?" Wilson continues uneasily.

"Patient of mine, presented with similar symptoms to Mark. I went to pull his records and I saw Stacy's."

Oh God, Wilson thinks, a fucking coincidence, a whim, could destroy everything. "That doesn't explain why you brought them up here to me."

House looks at him silently for a few moments, and Wilson gets the sickening feeling that he is being dissected under House's gaze. Finally, he says, "I was curious. Does that surprise you?"

"Yes," Wilson answers steadily, "You're curious when there's a reason to be curious. Otherwise, the only person you're interested in is you."

"Well, luckily, this time I am interested in me. About fifty percent me, the rest is all her. She had an-"

"I know," Wilson blurts out, unable to let House say it. "I...I know."

House stiffens in the chair and his eyes fix on Wilson, who is trying desperately to avoid them. He frowns, examines Wilson's half-turned face.

"You've known all along, haven't you?"

"Yes." It is a strange relief to finally confess everything, and the thought of House's impending rage is oddly attractive. Wilson realises that he wants to confess, receive a punishment and be forgiven. Absolution is his goal, and he knows that he will pay whatever price House names to get it.

"Why didn't you tell me?" House asks. His tone and face have remained steady and expressionless throughout, which seems to make things worse. Wilson is on his feet now, too.

"She...she asked me not to," Wilson answers lamely, his head bowed, wincing in anticipation of the attack this weak reply is sure to provoke.

"She asked you not to? And you went along with it? That sounds about right," House has gotten to his feet and his voice is rising, welling with the feeling he has been clamping down. "Just like you, isn't it? Yeah!" he is shouting now, up in Wilson's face. "Gallant Jimmy Wilson, can't refuse a damsel in distress! Did you go with her, hold her hand? Tell her everything would be all right, that Greg would never have to know?" he yells, his face twisted with cruelty and bitterness. House stops abruptly and leans back. His rigid body relaxes and he lets his arms fall to his sides. Wilson knows that he is waiting for an excuse, that, somewhere in his heart, House believes that there is an explanation that will make everything all right.

"She was my friend!" he exclaims, his voice cracking slightly. House sets his jaw and Wilson sees immediately that this is not the miracle exculpation House was hoping to hear. He looks at Wilson with an even mixture of hatred, devastation and disgust.

"You were my best friend."

His pager bleeps and House lifts his shirt to retrieve it. He glances down at its message, then at Wilson.

"My patient," he says, in a firm, controlled voice, "is dying. I'll be back later, Jimmy."

The look he gives Wilson as he speaks his name is one of pure hatred. Wilson feels his stomach take a vacation near his ankles as House fixes him with it, then turns and leaves.

Wilson has his phone in his hand and is about to call Stacy when there is a knock at his office door.

"Come in."

It is Cameron. She slips into the room uneasily and Wilson finds himself getting to his feet like a gentleman. He has no idea why.

"Everything okay?" he asks. She thinks about her reply, takes a deep breath and comes out with it.

"That's what I want to know. What's with House?"

"What's up?" he asks cautiously.

"He seems...I don't know. Is he in more pain?"

"Yes," says Wilson. At least that's true, he thinks. "How long has he been like this?"

"Since he went to pull Mark Warner's records. I thought maybe he'd had an argument with you or Cuddy while he was there."

"What time was this?"

"Just after lunch."

Oh God. Six hours ago. House had been walking around with this knowledge for six hours, not knowing anything other than bare facts. For six hours, his brain must have been boiling, wondering why Stacy had done what she did, whether Wilson was any part of it. Wilson closes his eyes as he realises this. Then he snaps them open as he remembers Cameron standing on the rug.

"He'll be okay. He's in a lot of pain. Go and save your patient."

Cameron nods and leaves, but doesn't look satisfied. Wilson holds his head in his hands for a minute, then picks up his cell phone and calls Stacy at work, hoping she'll be there. She picks up and Wilson pours out the conversation he has just had with House. They have barely been talking for two minutes when House bursts back in. Wilson freezes – he wasn't expecting House back this soon.

"I thought your patient was dying."

"Not anymore..." he suddenly looks properly at Wilson and the phone he holds to his ear, "...that's her, isn't it? Give me the phone," he orders. Wilson remains frozen. "Give me the phone!"

Wilson is suddenly aware that Stacy is talking. Her voice sounds so distant all of a sudden.

"James. James!"

"Huh, what?" he says, shaking his head and trying to avoid House's eyes.

"Give him the phone. He deserves to hear this."

Wilson lowers the phone from his ear and House marches forward and snatches it up. He stands next to Wilson, who strains to pick up both sides of the conversation, his heart pounding.

"Did you think about telling me?" House demands, without any preliminary exchanges.

"Of course I did!" Wilson hears Stacy's exclaimed reply clearly. House sneers.

"But you didn't, did you? No, I understand," he continues viciously, "It was never the right time, I wouldn't understand, you did the right thing. Is that what you kept telling yourself?"

Wilson winces at the controlled, precise tone he is using, twice as hurtful as screams and shouts. "House," he starts, but House waves him quiet with a look of contempt.

"I did what I thought was right," she says firmly, but Wilson knows that she can't maintain this strong front forever.

"And you had to drag Wilson into it, too."

"I'm sorry for that, I am. If I had to do it again, I'd leave him out. But we were friends."

"So I keep hearing. Was it mine?"

Wilson looks across at House sharply, shocked at the question. Stacy sounds similarly taken aback as she tries to answer.

"Greg-"

"Or is that why you didn't tell me?" he asks, scornfully.

"Don't you dare say that!" she hisses, "I know you're angry, but don't even think about saying that."

House's voice is still dangerously even, but Wilson can sense an explosion coming and dreads it. He wishes the conversation would end – it is simply tearing the wound further open, ripping a divide between them which becomes harder to bridge with each exchange.

"So why did you do it?"

Stacy almost stammers, then swallows hard and replies steadily, "Greg," she says, in a soothing voice which Wilson can tell is unbearable to House, "We couldn't have handled it. You were so sick a-"

"I would have gotten better!" House screams, slamming his fist against Wilson's desk and making Wilson take a step backwards. House has finally lost control now he feels the blame has been placed on him, Wilson can see that. House takes a long breath.

"How old was it? When did you-"

"Ten weeks," Stacy cuts him off. She wants the conversation over as much as Wilson does, as he stares at the ceiling of his office. An old technique – your eyes don't water if your face is upturned. House absorbs this information.

"Ten weeks," he repeats. "So...all essential organs formed. Facial features developed-"

"Greg..." Wilson hears Stacy start, but House talks over her, rattling off like a textbook. "Probably about eight centimetres long,"

"Greg, stop this!" Stacy exclaims, and Wilson can hear the crack in her voice.

"House," he says sharply, "That's enough. Let it be."

"Genitals differentiate, so you would have been able to find out if it was a boy or girl. I assume you didn't – would have been kind of morbid-"

"Shut up!"

"Able to move limbs, able to...able to," House hesitates for a mere moment, and then finishes with quiet malice. "Able to make a fist."

There is a short silence. "God help that child if it had ever been born," she whispers chokily and hangs up.

House holds the phone next to his ear, listening to the silence as though it were fascinating, then tosses the phone to Wilson without looking at him. Wilson slips it into his pocket and searches for the magic words unsuccessfully. He runs a hand through his hair and sighs.

"She shouldn't have said that."

House shrugs and sits down on the corner of Wilson's desk. "Why not? She was right. There's no way it would've worked. I don't blame her. I did more than enough to make her hate me-"

"House," Wilson says forcefully, "She didn't do it because she hated you. She loved you, and she wanted things to work with you. You knew that all along and you just pretended you didn't to hurt her. You shouldn't have."

"She deserves it."

"House, what she did was wrong. But she went behind your back once-"

"Twice," House cuts in, holding up his cane.

"Twice, okay. And she should have told you-"

"You should have told me."

Wilson considers this briefly. Conceding this point would be admitting that he was wrong, and then House wouldn't want to hear anything else.

"You should have been told," he eventually says, diplomatic to the last.

House nods and shifts off the desk and onto his feet. As he heads for the door, Wilson watches, still unsure if things will ever be all right between them again. House is so closed-up, won't even give him a sign that maybe things can be repaired, wounds healed. He opens his mouth and almost calls House's name, to ask if he can make things right, but stops himself.

Then, as he opens the door, House slowly turns his head over his shoulder and looks back at Wilson. In his eyes, Wilson immediately sees the unasked question. If he had tried harder, if he had shut his mouth to Stacy instead of saying something cruel, if he had struggled through the pain in silence, would she have done the same thing? The pain of the frustrated possibilities was plain on his face. Wilson spoke softly.

"It was her choice. There was nothing you could've done."

House looks at him for a long time, and Wilson knows that he is deciding whether to answer, to admit that Wilson senses his anxieties without being told them. Wilson holds his breath and hopes with every ounce of his being.

"Yeah," he says shortly, stepping out into the hall and closing the door behind him. Wilson lets out a long, relieved sigh and turns his eyes up towards the darkening sky above the building. Things could be all right again, one day. Maybe another seven years, maybe seventy; but Wilson is still thankful. He can wait.