Leaning against the doorframe, James Wilson slowly crossed his arms over his chest as he studied the figure of his best friend. The sun had just started to set, and the half open blinds had begun to cast shadows over the office that were eerily reminiscent of prison bars. It was an ironic vision that seemed to suit the man before him.

Whether it was the stupidity of a worrying mother or the restrictions that came along with a cane, Gregory House always seemed to be trapped by something.

Wilson had hoped that his friend's date with Cameron would have freed the man from a few of his personal prisons. However, it seemed as if the dinner had only served to lock those doors even tighter. From the hunch of House's shoulders and the strip of paper that was casting shadows across the room, Wilson knew that his friend was sentencing himself to a long stay in solitary confinement.

The tip of the man's index finger slipped softly over the worn edge of a strip of photographs that had been taken in a tiny photo booth at a carnival years ago. Faded and worn by time and memory, the four tiny images on the strip showed a man and woman in various stages of a single moment.

It was a kiss suspended in four stops with each tiny square showing a different angle of what a kiss could be.

The miniature images started out with a couple smirking at the silliness of the situation and slipped through meaningful glances and soft presses of lips, before ending with the man examining his partners beaming face.

The oncologist had seen the strip of pictures years ago, but after the woman that occupied the tiny frames walked out of his friend's life, he'd only seen it appear on very rare occasions. Normally it was kept tucked away in the top right hand drawer of House's desk, nestled between an old file and a few medical journals.

"Coney Island?" Even though he could only see the other man's back and the pale reflection of his grizzly face in the windows, Wilson knew that his friend's brow was twisted in agony.

House didn't bother to turn around or even look up from the pictures. The only response that the man offered was a stretch of silence that prompted James to tread deeper into the prison of House's mind.

Instead of pushing for details about past loves and fantastical ferris wheel rides where love birds cuddled up with over sized teddy bears, the oncologist decided to touch on a subject that was more alive than the memories held within a still photo.

Softly and almost experimentally Wilson allowed his gently wise voice to fill the treacherous void. "So… did you ask about her dreams, hopes and aspirations?"

Even without seeing his face, House knew that a devilishly boyish smile that no nurse was able to resist was beginning to spread over Wilson's handsome features. Normally, he would have been up for three rounds of banter and snark with the oncologist but with the celluloid reminder of a previous life slipping through his fingers, he just didn't feel like it.

Just as the smile had worked its way into the soft lines that were forming around Wilson's eyes, it began to slip away as the man in the chair refused to bite on the joke. Earlier in the day, James had attempted to grill his friend about his "date" with Cameron. House however, had been very stingy with the details.

It wasn't as if they did show and tell with their feelings on a regular basis, but House's unwillingness to discuss his evening with Cameron was worrying. They'd already established that there wouldn't be a second date, but he hadn't expected to find his friend drowning his sorrows in his past.

Eventually they would talk. It wouldn't be tomorrow but it would happen and Wilson would be there. For now, all he could do was let his friend work through his thoughts and problems on his own.

Pushing away from the door frame that had begun to leave an imprint on his jacket sleeve, Wilson slid his hands down to his hips before trying once more to loosen a few of the locks on one of House's more high security prisons.

"Stacy is gone. You can't expect every woman you meet to be her. That's just a fantasy."

He didn't wait for his friend to acknowledge the words that were hanging in the air between them. On a good day House would have had some snappy retort out before he the last syllable of "fantasy" slipped over his lips. But today, with the aging picture in hand, House would sit and ponder, trying to connect the pieces in his mind.

Wilson watched as the House reflected in the window began to smooth out a bent corner before running his long finger down the side of the photos. Once again the oncologist bridged the gap of silence, but this time it wasn't to offer up jokes or words of wisdom; it was a soft goodnight before he turned and made his way towards the elevator.

Stacy's face smiled up at House from the four tiny frames, reminding him of a life that was now more fantasy than reality. Sighing softly to himself, the man let the depthless oceans of his eyes linger on the last frame for just another second. It was the ending of a kiss, the point where he had turned to her and simply gazed in wonderment at the fact that she was there with him.

For the first time in half an hour the man tore his eyes from his celluloid past and gazed out at the sun that was just moments from slipping completely behind the clouds for the night. Thinking of cotton candy and teddy bears, House whispered into the deepening darkness. "Night Wilson."

Cillian Chase's Chart

- This was originally written for the lj community houselas. The theme for the challenge was "fantasy".

- Katie – As always, you are amazing. Thank you so much for your help. :duck: