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.

Start chapter:

Wilson knew that at some point, things had to change. They were just too twisted not to. What he didn't know, though, was that he wouldn't exactly be the one to break. Okay, so it had been mainly his fault, but the fact that House had arrived at his door five hours earlier than usual had caught him off guard, so it wasn't all down to him.

It had only been ten o' clock when he'd heard the familiar knocking at the door; that particular impatient, slightly imposing but surprisingly comforting knock that made him smile but want to cry. He wanted to see House, to have him there and know he was there, but… sometimes he wasn't entirely sure that was enough. And whenever that thought crossed his mind, it interconnected with others and they weaved and bobbed through his head, able to for hours unless he stopped them, forcibly, with sleep; of natural causes or otherwise. Those thoughts confused him, and confusion was not something Wilson enjoyed. Nobody particular relished it, he supposed, but Wilson, more than anything, couldn't stand not having a certain amount of restraint. Particularly when the thoughts in question were the ones he found himself having at even the slightest mention of House.

What was it they had together? It was a friendship, certainly, but somehow it was a friendship that very few people understood. Although, he supposed it seemed to them like House was using him, in search of someone to torture and vent to. But that just wasn't it! They had absolutely no idea what House could be like when he was alone, away from prying eyes and whispered comments. They were completely unaware that House was fully capable of acting like he cared, and using his unnerving ability to read people in order to actually help them. He was Wilson's negative; his contrast, and he needed that to balance him out; without it he felt like he would have gone crazy. Keeping all of his emotions inside; restraint and control high on his list of priorities, his appearance valued above all else while his less favourable emotions stewed beneath the surface, that had ensured that he was liked, sure. But they didn't like him for who he was, just who he appeared to be. House didn't do that, which was why, when Wilson had an argument with one girlfriend, fiancé, wife or another, he had always found himself seeking refuge in House.

His wives had all blamed House for their divorce. Whether that was accurate or something to do with the fact that he'd used his friend as a cover many times was beyond him, but they did all seem agreed on the fact. Many of his friends made comments that showed that they agreed; House was a bad influence, a corrupting force, and he should get away from him as soon as he could. But Wilson knew he could never do that. He needed House, and the other man needed him, although he was less able to admit it.

When Wilson had answered the door, warning bells had gone off in his head the instant he saw just how drunk House was. Normally he didn't start drinking until a little later, when the pain got too much to bear… Sometimes Wilson thought he knew a little too much about the workings of House's mind. He was completely insane, and Wilson almost always knew exactly what he was thinking.

He couldn't tell what he was thinking this time, though. He was completely unreadable, eyes glazed with something Wilson knew wasn't just alcohol. He also knew, though, that he didn't want to know what it was House had been taking. Although it would possibly have helped to explain just why House had invited himself in, as usual, slammed the door behind him, and pulled Wilson into an embrace, a simple hug that took the other man's breath away. Unsure just how much of it was due to shock, and how much was due to the way House was squeezing him tighter than anyone had ever done before, Wilson found himself, after some initial hesitation, unable to do anything but hold the other man close, terrified of doing anything to scare him when he was clearly so emotionally vulnerable. He held him until he knew House's leg was beginning to cause him pain, before withdrawing, openly showing his concern in his expression as he guided House to the bed, helping him to sit down and taking his own seat beside him. It was a sign of just how wrong things were that House didn't even try to resist. He simply let himself be moved, completely passive, and Wilson struggled not to let fear take over. What the hell was going on?

It tortured him, the knowledge that he couldn't ask, but he resisted the urge, because he couldn't bear to see fear cloud those eyes. Those eyes that usually hid that hint of sadness behind mischief or at least the calculating thought that so distracted him when he was on a case. He let his actions speak for him, allowing another suppressed urge of his to surface as he reached out to trace the line of House's jaw with a single finger. The calculating stare it earned him saw nothing but concern and the anguish it was bringing with it, and for a moment they both just stared at each other, Wilson trying desperately to convey what he was feeling while House searched for the same thing, trying to look beneath Wilson's expression for what was hidden so artfully underneath. But as he searched, he found nothing, nothing but desperation beyond what the younger man allowed himself to convey, aware of just how much it would scare the other man.

Wilson was holding his own emotions back for him. Not for himself, not because he was scared of what it would bring him if he broke down; as a renowned ladies' man, appearing in touch with his feelings could only get him more attention. Not out of self-preservation, but because he knew that was what House wanted. Like the rest of his life, his own expression revolved around House, and with that realisation came pain that House knew that vicodin, morphine, alcohol wouldn't be able to suppress. The pain of hurting the only person he knew he could trust and knowing that there was nothing he could do about it. No matter what happened, he could only ever be himself. Despite his father's best efforts to change him, he had learnt that there was no denying who he truly what he was. Or what he truly felt.

And who he was, what he felt, what he did, would only cause his friend pain. He had learnt that, learnt from the many people who had left him, who had been unable to bear what misfortune he caused them. Had learnt from the way Wilson looked at him, the way those soft brown eyes, so used to conveying emotions House knew he would never be able to show himself, clouded, confusion showing all-too-clearly in their warm depths. It broke House's heart to see Wilson look at him like that, like he'd been betrayed. Like he was in pain. Like… he loved him.

House could feel tears starting, salt stinging his eyes as he struggled to hold them back, cursing himself for being so weak. For letting Wilson see so much of him because when Wilson saw him, vulnerable and weak and open, it gave him hope. Hope that maybe, one day, House would open up to him and explain just why he acted the way he did. Why he'd kept his distance for so long. And House couldn't do that. Couldn't bear the falseness of that hope because he would never, could never, tell Wilson just why he pulled away when they got too close, why he deflected meaningful comments with jokes.

Couldn't tell Wilson that he loved him. Because the closer they got, the more pain he caused. House loved him too much to do that to him.

Wilson swallowed a little self-consciously as House continued to stare, his own evasive glance at the floor meaning he failed to notice House watching the movement of his throat, noticing awkwardness Wilson was aware he couldn't hide. He bit his lip, knowing he needed to talk about this, about what was happening to the other man and the effect it was going to have on them, but also knowing that House needed him to remain silent, and that need was the more important. Because he'd do anything to keep House close. And although it tore him apart, it was nothing compared to the thought of losing him.

House struggled to hold himself back as the urge to give in to Wilson's ever-loving care attempted to force its way to the front of his mind, its movement aided by the cloud of drugs and alcohol that had consumed his brain. He used them to dull the pain, to stop his mind from torturing him with its thoughts, his thoughts of happily ever after with Wilson, but the more he drank, the more he took, the weaker his will to resist became. The key was finding a balance, but today the thoughts had been stronger, stronger than they'd ever been, and they'd won over his actions. Brought him here before he could think that this would not end well. The problem with balance, though, was that the slightest thing to upset it, and that slightest thing could be the difference between him collapsing drunkenly at the floor at home, lonely but so thankfully alone, and bursting into tears in the arms of his best friend. Sobbing, shaking with long-suppressed emotion, the pain in his chest worsening with each time he does it, each time he tortures his best friend with those damn false hopes, he clings until exhaustion overcomes him.

The problem with suppression, though, is that it builds up. And when that final thing that tips the balance breaks through the dam that was holding back the pain, it comes pouring through at full force, ignoring everything in its path, everything that attempts to hold it back. And House's restraint is shattered.

He grips Wilson's forearms, a hold so tight he's sure he'll leave bruises, but he needs to keep his resolve, and forces himself out of that embrace, breathing heavily as that pain washes over him, making him want to scream and cry and really fucking hurt something, but this is Wilson, and House isn't thinking straight, and against the static, the white noise in his brain, is one command. Wilson hisses in pain as that grip tightens further, a sharp intake of breath through his teeth that is cut off as House kisses him. Once. Softly, tenderly, lovingly, as though all his aggression is being channelled elsewhere to make room for that one extra gesture.

For a moment Wilson wonders if his heart has exploded from the shock, but the kiss is over before he has a chance to really understand what's happening, and the pain of his heart beating hard in his chest and House's fingers digging into the soft skin of his arms bring him back to reality all too fast. His brain struggling to keep up, he stares at House, completely lost, for a moment, as the other man hangs his head, struggling with what had just happened even more than Wilson. Because he had been the one to initiate it and the only thing that could possibly have been worse than having no idea why, was knowing exactly why he'd done it. Knowing exactly what he wanted and the many, many reasons why he couldn't have it. Have him.

His grip tightens further and, hitting him harder than a heavyweight boxer in a particularly bad mood, Wilson whimpers softly, unintentionally, because House has never mastered the art of grooming enough to cut his fingernails and he's sure they're drawing blood. He's surprised as the other man suddenly releases him, and blinks as he traces gently over the marks he's made, as though he's struggling to understand them. Not just them, but why he can't stop causing his best friend pain. And Wilson is overcome with the sudden urge to clarify things for him. He shifts forwards, reaches out with both hands to curl his fingers around House's neck and pulls him into another kiss. House doesn't resist, but he doesn't help either, too busy drowning in sensation; Wilson's soft touch tickling his hairline, keeping him close; the clean, unfragranced smell of Wilson's soap, because he's got sensitive skin and, God, House is suddenly desperate to touch him, to feel him, warm, soft and responsive underneath him. He's not co-ordinated enough to manage it, physically, though, and the idea of being too out of it to remember anything is already hitting him. He just kissed Wilson for the first time, had Wilson kiss him back, and he's going to have that memory for the next five minutes before his brain decides that remembering how to walk straight is more important.

"Stop."

He speaks, the first words spoken since he arrived being, strangely, the last ones he wants to either say or hear. He feels Wilson tense against him, knows the other man is wondering desperately if he's made a mistake, and reaches a hand up to lay it on Wilson's cheek, trying to calm them both.

"Not now. I want to remember…" he can barely get the words out, his brain's so addled with… to be honest, he can't even remember that. But Wilson understands; he always does. Helps him into the bed, divesting him of his jeans and shirt, soft touch lingering on his chest for a moment before he forces himself to pull away, unbuttoning his own shirt. He blushes, beautifully, as he notices House's eyes on him, watching his every motion; he's never done that before, for anyone, and they both know it. Both know that this is it. Wilson finishes, leaving his trousers on the floor beside the bed, the mess the last thing on his mind as he slips into bed beside House, pulling the other man into his arms. House objects at first; feeling much the submissive in the situation, but the warmth of Wilson's body is comforting, and as he wraps his arms around Wilson's waist, he feels safe for the first time all night. He can feel Wilson shifting slightly and wonders if he's uncomfortable, then sighs as fingers run gently through his hair, lulling him into sleep. He's just about conscious when Wilson speaks, quietly, as though he's half scared of saying it.

"Love you, Greg."

He knows the smile on his face tells his friend more than words ever could.

End

Yeah, you waited that long for a kiss. What a fucking waste of time. I'm feeling particularly British, tonight, and my language is getting progressively worse. Still, hope you enjoyed this. If you made it this far, because even I can hardly make it through the whole thing without wanting to slit my wrists, then I congratulate you.

I'll try and get some humour up soon, alright? All this half-arsed angst is killing my brain.