Summary: It's agonizing to see how much House cares. But he's not the only one who's suffering because of it. HW slash.

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It's agonising, how much House cares. And it's made worse by the fact that it sounds so unbelievable. House. Dr House, renowned diagnostician, known not only for his medical talent but also his unorthodox procedures; lack of respect for rules and generally abrasive personality. The Dr Gregory House, who doesn't give a damn about what anyone thinks.

Or so all of those people believe. It's a sort of paradox, the way House operates. He acts as though he doesn't care, because that's what he wants. He wants to be indifferent, oblivious to the judgements and conceptions of others around him. But it's just that; an act. He cares desperately. He's so scared of people, so he puts up those barriers to stop them from seeing the real thing. He's incredibly insecure.

And that act. He can't keep it up all the time. That's what the morphine is for; the alcohol; the vicodin. It's for the physical pain, but it does so much more. When he's alone, in his empty apartment, completely out of his head on God knows what, he can escape. He can feel like he doesn't care, like others don't care. And he needs that desperately.

But sometimes, that's not enough. Being alone is not enough. And it's on these occasions that Wilson really proves himself. And somehow, by showing his dependence on the other man, it's on these occasions that House proves himself. Proves his trust in his friend.

Wilson knows that if he hears the doorbell ring at 3am, it's him. Who else could it be? And he knows that, when he sees the older man struggling to stand for a reason that has nothing to do with his leg, that he's not going to get any more sleep that night.

House denies it at first, attempting to act normally as he invites himself in despite the hour and makes himself comfortable on Wilson's couch. Wilson grabs him a beer, against his own better judgment, and that's where it starts. The moment Wilson sits down beside his friend, he feels the change. House gradually drifts closer, over an hour, or more, and as he closes that final distance, Wilson moves, shifting to accommodate the body against him and wrap his arms around his friend, keeping him close in case he has any funny ideas about moving. And Wilson will sit there, holding him, maybe pressing a kiss to his temple or rubbing his back softly as he waits. There will be a moment. A moment when all of House's resolve breaks down as he feels completely comfortable in his surroundings. And, acting fast but not hastily, because soon House will have time to doubt, Wilson sits up, pulling House with him, makes the other man face him, and asks if he's okay.

The effect is instantaneous. Refusing to let his friend see the tears that are starting, House falls back into Wilson's arms, sobbing into his shoulder, shaking uncontrollably. Wilson has never understood why his seeing House's tears is so much worse than his feeling them soak his shirt, but he doesn't ask. He doesn't want to scare him. Instead, he pulls him close, ignoring the uncomfortable dampness of his shirt; House's fingernails digging into his back as he clings desperately; the feeling of his leg slowly going numb as House puts almost all of his weight on it. Instead, he focuses simply on the other man; ensuring that their position, however awkward it is for him, isn't hurting House's leg; rubbing his back soothingly, stroking his hair; anything to show that he's there, that he cares. Even if nobody else seems to.

Eventually, House will stop crying, a combination of exhaustion and the cocktail of drugs in his system causing him to fall into a deep, dreamless slumber. It's only after this that Wilson allows himself to speak again. Words scare his friend, like so many other things. Statements, acknowledgements of his emotions, of the slightly odd progression of their relationship. House can't stand those, not at the best of times, and certainly not when he's in that much of a state. So Wilson waits. Ensures that the other man can no longer hear him before saying it, as he says every time. To the darkness of his apartment, he speaks, wishing he could say it to the one it is actually directed to.

"Love you, Greg," he mutters, denying the tears that prick at his own eyes as he realises just how true it is, and how much he wants to hear it said back. He kisses the top of House's head, unable to sleep for the 3 or so hours before his alarm as he savors the feeling of that body in his arms, hoping that at least House's unconscious mind will hear him. Maybe prevent him from, one day, just going that step too far.

When House wakes up, the first thing he does is fumble for his vicodin. The second is make it perfectly clear that Wilson will never, ever, under any circumstances, speak a word about the previous night to anyone. And the third thing he does is say thank you.

He doesn't do it literally, with words of gratitude. That would be far too emotional. And House doesn't do emotional. Instead, he avoids Wilson's eyes for a moment, summoning the courage to do it, and leans in to touch his lips chastely to Wilson's cheek.

And Wilson smiles slightly, his expression full of affection for the other man. House would never admit it, but he loves seeing that smile. Because, like him, this is the only time that Wilson is truly honest. Unlike him, though, Wilson can say it. He kisses back as well, leaning in to brush his lips against the corner of House's mouth, imitating but exaggerating his gesture as far as he believes he can, since full on the lips would be a little too much for this early in the morning.

And then he speaks, referring not just to this, but to everything.

"You're welcome."

End Chapter

Sunday night after a few glasses of wine, that was. I want to continue it, with some real love, but with my attention span I'm not promising anything. Let me know what you think, though, okay?