A/N: Takes place not long after "Words and Deeds", but goes off in its own direction after that.
Wilson woke to the sound of a piano playing.
He'd fallen asleep on House's couch. House was softly picking out a tune - classical, or maybe turn-of-the-century. He felt like he'd been asleep for hours; his watch confirmed that it was about two in the morning.
"You planning to stay?" House floated the question over the music.
"Yeah." He felt dead tired. He'd woken up because he needed to relieve himself - two beers he'd had before he'd conked out - so he dragged himself up off the couch.
When he got out of the bathroom, the lights in the kitchen and living room had been turned off, and there was a pillow and a blanket on the couch. House was nowhere to be seen, so Wilson knocked on his bedroom door.
"'Night, Wilson," came the muffled reply.
Wilson yawned hugely and settled himself to go back to sleep.
"You stayed with House again last night?"
Wilson smiled around the yawn he was attempting to stifle. "Yeah. Late night."
Cuddy poked at her salad, and Wilson could feel her question coming a mile away.
"How is he?"
"He's got his pills, so he's... of course not happy, but functioning. He's the same. Nothing's changed."
The lines in Cuddy's face went so deep as to make her look twice her age. "That's a lot of hell to go through just to arrive back at square one."
Wilson thought about House's apology to him, but didn't bring it up. It wouldn't have helped. "Well, at least we know something now."
Cuddy arched her manicured eyebrow at him. "And what's that?"
"What would happen if we took away his pills."
Cuddy's laugh was grim, but at least it was a laugh.
"For what it's worth - I don't think we need to completely lose hope here. Everything looks the same, but..."
When the pause had gone on for too long, Cuddy made a gesture. "But...?"
Wilson gave a little shrug. "I don't know. But there's something there."
The patient was cured at the eleventh hour again, but House seemed more wired than before.
"C'mon, James. The new season of The L-Word. What will happen to Shane and baby Angelica?"
"What happened to watching it on mute?"
"Shane's husky drawl does wonders for the imagination."
Wilson looked over at House, who was bundling up as fast as only being able to really use one hand would allow. This would be the third time this week, for the third week in a row he's gone over to House's for the evening. The only times before where House hounded after his company coincided with Stacy leaving.
House stood there, ready to go and waiting for Wilson.
Wilson looked off to the side, out at the few people milling in the hallway, not sure what to do with the realization that House was anxious about something.
House, though, in his impatience to not think about whatever he didn't want to think about, wasn't going to allow Wilson to think about it, either. He reached out and tugged on Wilson's sleeve. "C'mon. It's coming on at ten."
"That's two hours from now."
"Well, we're going to need nourishment, aren't we? Otherwise we'll be too distracted by our tummies to give the show its proper attention."
"Do we need to stop by a grocery store on the way home?"
"Yes, dear - of course. Wouldn't want you to have to do the shopping all by yourself."
Another long night at House's. Wilson thought about the hotel card key in his wallet. "Let's swing by my hotel first. Get my things."
The closet had, of course, completely gone to pot after Lady stopped cleaning it, but Wilson managed to squeeze his suitcases into it. House was transporting groceries from the front door to the kitchen, one bag at a time.
Wilson was actually quite grateful to not have to spend another night at that hotel. There was only so much of bad abstract art, tiny toiletries, and smoke-tinged lounges he could stand. He'd already begun browsing for apartments, but yet to have found the right modulation of price, location, and the reeking bachelorhood a single bedroom apartment could sometimes give off. At least here, there was cable.
"Wilson! Come here!" House bellowed from the kitchen.
"You have neighbors, you know," Wilson chided as he walked in.
"And they have money for sound-proofing. Here - " he poked his finger at a passage in a book - a cookbook, Wilson realized, rolling his eyes " - this says it'll take about 45 minutes to make. Get started now, and it'll be ready by the time the show starts."
Wilson gave a long-suffering and completely ignored sigh while rolling up his sleeves. "The show's not that good, you know."
"There are about 500,000 lesbians who disagree, the butchier of which could probably make you regret that statement."
"Get out. You're in the way. Is there an apron somewhere?"
House pursed his mouth off to the side and went to dig through the pantry. He eventually pulled out something that was still in its original wrapping. Wilson could see the words "Where's the Beef?" printed.
"What? It's clean - Stacy and I never got around to whipping it out - too busy whipping other stuff out, if ya know what - "
"A nine-year-old child knows 'what ya mean.' Get out." Wilson skimmed over the recipe, then grumbled, "Yes, of course, pick the most tedious recipe in the book..." He heard House turn on the TV, and the distinctive sounds of monster trucks jamming blared. "You better not delete that when you're done!" he hollered.
Wilson woke to the sound of power tools.
He blinked and saw New Yankee Workshop on the TV. His head was also on House's shoulder, and he apparently was drooling on it. He sat up with a start and wiped his mouth. "Sorry," he muttered.
"No problem. Just add it to the rest of the laundry you'll be doing tomorrow."
"I'm not going to - " Wilson halted, and sighed. It wasn't worth it. "Fine. Whatever. At least I don't have to iron your stuff." He got up to get something to drink. "You want a beer?"
"Why, yes - a scotch on the rocks would be nice. Thank you, James."
He said the words even though he knew House wouldn't listen: "Not with the Vicodin."
"Of course 'not with the Vicodin.' I thought you were a doctor, Jimmy - don't you know those things are contraindicated? I'm surprised even more of your patients aren't dead."
Wilson made a noise of annoyance, but was relieved. He spotted the bottle of Glenlivet and thought, no reason why House needs a sixty-dollar bottle of scotch all to himself. He poured out two drinks and went to sit back down. House handed him the remote.
"What? No need to assert your dominance - 'my house, my TV, my remote, my bitch'?"
"I think your bitch quota tonight has been pretty much filled, with the getting dinner, drinks, and laundry. Plus, I'm tired. Gonna knock this back and go to sleep."
Wilson looked House over, the self-professed night owl. "You okay?"
He could see the retort on House's lips, but then something made House flinch.
Wilson studied House's face carefully. "How bad?"
"I'm fine," House said curtly.
"No, you're not." When House didn't say anything back, Wilson knew for sure. "C'mon. Let's get you on the bed."
House remained still on the couch, staring straight ahead. Then his eyes snapped shut and he inhaled sharply through his nose. After a while, he nodded.
Wilson allowed him to get on his feet and make his way to the bedroom by himself. He only stepped in to help House get settled on the bed.
"Where exactly - "
"The whole damn thing," he growled.
Wilson nodded and put both hands to House's thigh. He worked in silence for a while. House just stared at the bedroom ceiling.
When Wilson paused in his ministrations to give his hands a break, House shifted and sat up.
"All right, that's enough," he muttered, swinging himself off the bed.
"Are you sure? I can still - "
"It's fine, Wilson." House stood himself up and made his way to the bathroom.
Wilson got off the bed himself, and he nearly missed it over the whisper of the sheets:
"Are you two living together again?"
Wilson tried hard not to let his supreme annoyance show on his face. Cameron was rarely looking at him nowadays, never mind talking. This was not going to be an easy conversation.
"Yes, we are." Wilson hesitated for a moment, then decided for the casual approach. "I'm sick of hotel rooms, but decent apartments close to the hospital that I can also afford aren't exactly a dime a dozen."
Cameron was watching him - scrutinizing him, really. "Is he okay with it?"
Wilson sighed. "Cameron. Do you honestly think he'd let me stay with him if he wasn't okay with it?"
Her expression remained hard. "You two have been through a lot." She paused, and her face softened some. "And there's something bothering him lately."
Wilson looked down at his papers, at the pen in his hand, and nodded. "Yeah. I know."
Cameron stood in his office, looking a little lost. "Is he... is he all right?"
Wilson felt for her despite himself. She wouldn't want his pity, of course, but having dealt with the dying does not help in dealing with the living. She did not have the resources to handle House. He wondered if anyone did.
"He's fine, Cameron - as fine as anyone as miserable as House can be."
Wilson saw the question forming behind Cameron's eyes: What can I do to make him not miserable? How can I make him happy?
Of course, if Wilson had the answer to that question, none of them would probably be here right now.
Of course, if Wilson had the answer to that question, none of them would probably be here right now.
Wilson had stayed late at the hospital, so House was already ensconced on the couch when he came home.
"Have you eaten yet?"
"Yes. What's for dinner?"
Wilson didn't know if he should feel flattered or put upon at the fact House's stomach was a bottomless pit when it came to his cooking. "Did you eat the leftover chicken?" he asked, hoping against all hope.
"I told you I ate, didn't I?"
Christ, he was starving. "I'm going to be making some eggs and rice. Do you want some?"
House made a face. "I'll let you know after I've tried it."
Wilson shook his head and took out enough eggs for the both of them.
The eggs were frying when House hobbled into the kitchen.
"They're almost done, probably a few more min - "
Wilson's words were cut off when House turned him and pressed him against the counter. Wilson was still trying to figure out what was happening when House kissed him.
Wilson's eyes fluttered shut and he allowed House's hands on his back, allowed House's mouth to open his. It was real, it was good, and it had been a while.
When they broke for air, Wilson snapped out of his daze a little. "House - what... what's going on?"
House's answer to that was to latch his mouth onto the side of Wilson's neck. Wilson groaned and gripped the back of House's head.
Wilson laid in House's bed - panting, naked, and wondering what the hell just happened.
It had been good, but weird - good because it was weird, good because House apparently carried his attention for detail to all aspects of his life, good because it had been a long, long while.
House was showering in the bathroom, and Wilson thought, we can't do this. This was way too dysfunctional, even for them.
House appeared at the bedroom door with a towel around his waist. Wilson sat up a little and the thought crossed his mind on whether he should cover himself.
"You're sleeping in the wet spot."
Wilson smirked a little. "We're guys. It's all a wet spot."
House said nothing, but limped over to the bed and sat down heavily.
"How's your leg?"
"It's fine." Wilson studied his face, and it actually was. "Nighty-night, James." He clicked off the light before Wilson could say anything.
Wilson laid there in the dark, unsure of what to do. He looked over at House, who had turned his back to him. He was wondering if he should go back to the couch when he drifted off to sleep.
They had sex again when they woke up the next morning - still good, still weird.
The question of what was going on was pressing rather heavily in Wilson's throat, but it was also stuck there. Wilson gave a thought to just ignoring the whole thing, as House seemed to have a head start on that, but that would've been much too absurd.
Wilson went to the kitchen and caught House eating eggs out of the pan from last night.
"Aren't they burnt?"
Wilson stared at him, and wanted to blurt "we had sex, we had sex twice," but as far as House seemed concerned, it was just another day.
"House..." he tried to start, "do... do you, do we - "
"It's just sex, James," House said around a mouthful of eggs.
"Oh, well, if it's just sex, then it's all right. Is my payment on the night stand?"
"Free room and board not enough for you?"
Just another service to provide.
That thought sobered him up a little. Wilson had the feeling he would be far angrier if House just hadn't made him come pretty hard onto his sheets. As it was, he was agitated, but at a loss.
"I'm sleeping on the couch tonight."
"Fine. Whatever floats your boat. Just make sure dinner's on the table."
Wilson found himself galled. "Maybe I should go back to the hotel."
Something dark passed over House's face, and now there was something between them, but this - this wasn't -
Just ask him. Ask him what's going on.
"House - what's - "
House dumped the pan in the sink with a noisy clatter, and limped out the room. Wilson didn't grab him, but let him go.
First Cameron, now Chase? At least Foreman knew better than to get involved.
"Yes, Dr. Chase?"
Chase, at least, had the grace to feel uncomfortable about this. "How are things... is House all right?"
"They're... as fine as can be when it comes to House," Wilson found himself echoing. Really, what else could he say to that question? "Why do you ask?"
"He's... in a bad mood. In a worse mood, than usual. It's a bit hellish, really."
Wilson smirked, briefly relieved at Chase's self-interest. The knot in his stomach remained, though. "I... don't know what to tell you, Chase. Just steer clear of him, I guess. Try to make good diagnoses," he added with a half-hearted smile.
Chase nodded and looked down and fiddled with something on his coat. Wilson tried to be patient. "Rehab did nothing for him, did it?"
House was probably popping Vicodin in front of them again. "Yeah. Pretty much."
Something in Chase's face changed to make him look even younger. "He loves you, you know." Wilson blinked at him, shocked. "Not that I'm saying he's... or you're..." He exhaled. "But he... depends on you."
Wilson thought briefly, mother - alcoholic and died; father - left and died. He was irritated at Chase, for being the one to say these things, because now he couldn't react. All he could say was, "Yeah. I know."
House wasn't home when he arrived. Of course.
Wilson found himself making a circuit throughout the apartment: gathering his clothes together in the living room, trying to eat something in the kitchen, looking out the window, using the bathroom and leafing through a July '83 issue of Guns and Ammo, going back to the living room and sitting on the couch, staring into space.
Finally, he heard House's motorcycle pull up. He was on his feet when the door opened.
House just looked at him, and then shut the door.
"All the hotels in the entire Princeton area booked up? I hear New Brunswick is lovely this time of year."
"We need to talk." The first words, but the worst words. House reacted as expected:
"We need to get that extra $20,000 to complete your transformation into a woman."
"We had sex!"
"Oh, I'm sorry - was it your first time? I should've been more gentle."
"Oh, I'm sorry - was it your first time? I should've been more gentle."
"House, would just fucking shut up for once in your life? What the fuck has been going on with you lately?" He knew in the back of his mind that this was the absolute wrong way to do this, but the words kept coming: "Everyone's noticed - you're moody and high-strung, not to mention clingy with me - I haven't seen so much of you since you were tethered to a bed with IVs - " Wilson choked back the rest of it and looked down.
He has had drained, listless patients thank him for telling them they were dying. How he could be so devoid of tact now he did not know.
Wilson saw House standing there with a grip on his cane that threatened to crack it and thought faintly, if looks could kill.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," he whispered, his hands trying to convey his contrition, his sincerity as he went over to House. "I just - I don't understand - "
House's hand shot out and pulled Wilson into a kiss, and Wilson closed his eyes and thought, this is wrong. He broke away but didn't move back, just put his hands on House's shoulders.
"This isn't right, House - "
"You don't need to psychoanalyze everything, Wilson. What does it matter? We're here, and it's good. So... just..."
He let House pull him against him, because it did feel good; and he let House trace the outside of his ear with his tongue, because that felt even better; and he let House fuck him on his bed, because it was House and it felt inevitable.
When Foreman knocked on his door, Wilson's heart dropped.
Foreman hemmed and hawed for a second, then asked bluntly, "Can you talk to him?"
"Talk to him about what?"
Foreman just blinked at him, then said, "His patient's dying."
"What?" Wilson nearly jumped up from his seat, but where was he going to go?
"I thought - we thought -" Foreman's brow crinkled in genuine surprise and confusion. "Didn't you know?"
"No, he hasn't said a damn thing - how long has this being going on?"
"For about a month."
A huge why formed in his chest, but he couldn't unload this all on Foreman. Instead, he choked out, "Please - could you explain..."
Foreman started to make a vague gesture, but then just shrugged. "We thought we had it, but we didn't. We tried something else, then tried everything, and nothing worked." Foreman took a breath, then added quietly, "House seemed to know from the beginning that he wasn't going to get it."
This wasn't the first time this had happened. House has had to deal with missing the answer before. But the last time - he had been living with Stacy then.
Foreman had to see all of his anger and hurt and worry and even disgust on his face. Wilson was grateful that it was Foreman and not any of the others; Foreman could bear it without letting it burden him.
"Thank you," he started, but he had to clear his throat, and he had to look away. "Thank you for telling me. I'll see... I'll..." He cleared his throat again and went back to his paperwork. "Thank you."
Wilson knew he wouldn't be able to look at House, not while they were at the hospital, so he went straight home and waited.
He couldn't sit still, so he cleaned. He washed all the dishes, reorganized the closet, scrubbed the bathroom, stripped the sheets off of House's bed and then made it with new ones. He was in the middle of sorting the laundry when House came in.
All House had to do was take one look at him and he knew. Something shuttered in House's eyes and now Wilson knew exactly what Stacy meant by there not being any room for her. Did Stacy want to throw things, too?
Just talk to me. Just this once, talk to me, he wanted to plead, but didn't.
"Have you been neglecting your cancerous patients, Wilson? I'm sure one of them is dying for a sponge bath or some chicken pot pie or that sweet, tender loving only you can provide."
Wilson closed his eyes and whispered vehemently, "You fucking asshole."
House walked right past him and locked himself in his bedroom.
Wilson stood there in the hallway for a long while, trying to figure out what to do next. He could go to a hotel and do what House apparently wanted him to do and forget that the past month ever happened. He could sleep on the couch and face House's arctic, bitter distance in the morning. He could bang on House's bedroom door until House let him in and they could fuck again because he could not think of anything else to do.
He could stand there and pretend he knew how to grieve, or he could break House's piano, or do both.
Wilson went and sat on House's couch and put his head in his hands.
After a long, blank stretch of time, the door to House's bedroom opened. Wilson sat there and listened to House shuffle to the bathroom, pee, flush, and shuffle to the living room.
There was silence, and Wilson assumed that House was standing there, just staring at him. He didn't know for sure, of course, because he refused to look at him. Just leave me the fuck alone, he thought, but didn't say.
Wilson turned at the sound of his name - not said with an air of mocking for once, but utterly intimate and serious.
House was standing there, looking simply old and defeated in the low light, and he was waiting, for him.
Wilson shut his eyes at the sight of him, then went over and pulled House into his arms. He could feel House stiffen briefly, then felt his hand low on his back.
He could say I love you, and mean it, but it would be pointless. House already knew.