Meaning

"I'm fine now," he'd said.

"You don't have to worry," he'd promised.

"It won't happen again."

They'd believed him, because he was smart. Because he knew better. Because they cared about him.

He was wrong.

He wasn't fine. Not the first time. Not the second time. Not the third or the fourth. By the time his brother disappeared for good, Wilson couldn't help but worry about everything.

Now House says he's fine. He calls Wilson bitchy.

Then he says his leg hurt, but it stopped. He wants more Vicodin, and swears it's not a scam.

But Wilson can't stop worrying.

----

Cane & Able

The light is still on in Cuddy's office and Wilson stares at it, half fearing she'll kick him out, certain that she'll take out her anger on him for ever coming up with the plan.

He deserves it.

She doesn't say anything. For a minute, neither does he.

"He figured it out," Wilson says finally.

Cuddy shakes her head. "I told him," she says. "I had to."

"He figured out it was my idea. You didn't have to try to take the fall, you know."

"So what do we do now?"

Wilson sighs, shakes his head. "How should I know?"

---

Informed Consent

House stands there, one hand on the cane, the cane firmly planted on the floor, as if it had always been there, as if it had never left, as if the past two months had never happened.

He doesn't yell.

Wilson wishes he would. He knows how to respond to House's anger. This is something different. Something worse. It's something burning slowly -- the embers of everything House had hoped for glowing bright, every emotion simmering, building, getting ready to explode.

Wilson doesn't know when it will happen, and he's afraid of what that anger will consume once it breaks free.

---

Lines In The Sand

"It's because he's in pain," Cameron once said.

"It's because of the drugs," Foreman argued.

"It's because he hasn't solved the case," Chase said.

"It's because he's lonely," Julie guessed.

"It's because Stacy betrayed him," Bonnie thought.

"It's because his father is a bastard," Stacy maintained.

"It's because he needs a friend," Blythe said.

"It's because he thinks he's better than everyone else," John claimed.

"It's because he's a jerk," Cuddy says.

Wilson shrugs. He knows House isn't happy. Sometimes he thinks he knows why. And sometimes being his friend is hard enough, without trying to understand everything about him.

---

Fools For Love

The first time it happened, Wilson told House.

He doesn't know now what he'd thought that would accomplish. Maybe he'd just wanted to confess to someone, and couldn't bring himself to tell his wife yet that he'd cheated on her.

The next time, House figured it out on his own. And the next time. And the next time.

Wilson protests every time. Even when he says he's not interested -- he's not looking for anyone -- House points to every pretty woman and asks him if she's the next target.

Wilson doesn't want to admit to himself that sometimes, House is right.

---

Que Sera Sera

"Fifteen thousand dollars?"

"Yes."

"Fifteen thousand?"

"The price isn't going to go down just because you keep repeating it." Wilson hears an echo from House's side of the line and pictures him in a concrete block room.

"What did you do?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing doesn't cost me fifteen thousand."

"Nothing illegal."

Wilson rubs his eyes and looks at the clock. "Then why were you arrested?"

House sighs. "It's a long story. If you want to hear it, it's going to cost you fifteen grand."

Wilson shakes his head. "Give me a couple of hours."

"Sure thing. I'm not going anywhere, apparently."

---

Son Of A Coma Guy

House lies, but he's quick to say that everybody lies, so Wilson shouldn't be surprised.

But sometimes, he tells the truth. It seeps out, slowly, like the drops coming one at a time from between rocks, exposing a hidden spring, a deep well of fresh, clear, pure water.

There's no way to tell when House will say something true, and pure, and unfiltered. Wilson knows you have to listen for it, to be prepared for when those words slip out, or you'll miss them, never see the spring hiding below the surface.

"I was fourteen," House says, and Wilson listens.

---

Whac-A-Mole

House always puts himself first, and Wilson always lets him.

"Why do you put up with him?" Bonnie asked, and then Julie. "What has he ever done for you?"

Wilson used to try to explain, to tell them they didn't understand. House cared, he'd tell them, I know he does.

Now Wilson doesn't care what House thinks, what he feels. House has turned his anger inside out, buried his frustrations and self-loathing so deep he won't even tell the truth to himself.

House is cutting himself off from the world, from everyone. And Wilson realizes he just doesn't care anymore.

---

Finding Judas

Wilson paces the length of Tritter's borrowed office. He's afraid that if he sits down, if he gives himself time to think, he'll call it all off.

But he can't.

House needs this. He can't survive -- and it isn't just the Vicodin. It's about pain, and being so focused on pain he makes mistakes, and House couldn't live with himself then.

Wilson has run out of ideas, and now House is running out of time.

Tritter holds out a printed copy of his statement. "Sign here," he says.

Wilson takes the page, reads it over. He takes out a pen.

---

Merry Little Christmas

Wilson wonders if this is what is sounds like when a friendship breaks. There's nothing. No sound. No light. Just silence.

He sits in his car, watching House's windows, watching for House's stumbling form to make its way past the windows. He should go in again. He should check on him. He shouldn't have left in the first place.

But he's gone numb. His soul has collapsed into a black hole, consuming every emotion, every thought, leaving only a specter of anger on the surface.

Wilson wishes this was a dream, a nightmare. But the nightmare is that it's real.

---

Words & Deeds

Wilson walks away from the cell, knowing he should be mad. House lied. Again, swept them all into his conspiracy.

Wilson should be furious. He isn't. He's relieved. Happy. He feels lighter -- all of the pressures, all of the misery of the past months swept away by Cuddy's lies.

Nothing has changed, but this is a world that he knows how to handle. It's familiar. They all know its shapes, its hard edges, its frightening falls. Wilson knows he can't live in it forever -- and neither can House -- but it'll do for now, until he comes up with something better.

---

One Day, One Room

House is in the break room when Wilson walks in, spinning the foosball rods so hard that the ball flies out, bounces twice on the floor before Wilson scoops it up.

Wilson doesn't say anything, just mans the other side of the table.

He drops the ball in and plays. House's hands fly across the table, jumping rapidly from rod to rod, almost manic. There's no strategy to House's game, just speed, energy, anger and raw emotion that House usually tries to hide.

House doesn't stop to brag when he scores a point, just nods at Wilson.

"Again," he says.

---

Needle In A Haystack

Cuddy is the one who tells Wilson about the wager.

"He'll never make it," she says. "He's too proud to spend a week in that chair."

Wilson doesn't point out that House is too proud to give in that easily. And he doesn't say anything to House that Cuddy is nearly as stubborn as he is.

"Twenty bucks says she'll cave by Thursday," House bets.

He's better off this time on the sidelines. Let them have their power struggle. He won't pick sides. Wilson would rather save his energy for another battle -- something bigger than a parking space, or pride.

---

Insensitive

Wilson watches House walk through his office, the way he's leaning on his cane, the way his foot skims the carpeting because House is too tired to lift it any further than he has to.

House grabs his pack, and takes a little longer to straighten up than normal.

"How about Tony's?" House puts on his coat and pauses a moment before stepping away from his desk.

"How about someplace that hasn't been closed by the health inspector?" Wilson holds open the door and House passes through.

"They've reopened. If we hurry, we'll get there before they're shut down again."

---

Half-Wit

House doesn't share.

He holds everything tight: pain, misery, fear, depression. He's a miser with his emotions, as if he could somehow control his feelings by never exposing them.

Sometimes Wilson forgets how House hoards everything important. He wasn't surprised when he heard House was going to Boston, alone and under cover, rather than come to him for help-- disappointed, but not surprised. It would have meant giving up some secret.

But knowing that the tests, the trip, everything was just another lie, Wilson can see that House has let an even bigger secret slip out from between his fingers.

---

Top Secret

Is this how it begins? One system shutting down after another?

House is in denial. He won't admit that the Vicodin could finally be killing him, won't even ask for Wilson's help -- except to get more drugs.

Wilson writes the prescription, just as he still writes the prescription for the same Vicodin that's poisoning House. He tells himself that it's the only way House will take his help at all, and the only way he can monitor what's going on inside House's body.

Now that body may be shutting down, and soon even House won't be able to deny it.

---

Fetal Position

After the infarction, Wilson had sorted through House's desk, tossing everything into a box that he thought House could want during his recovery: magazines, old medical files, toys.

He found the passport in the center drawer. He glanced at the photo, then flipped it open to the pages in the back, and read the names of countries stamped there: Germany, Japan, Brazil, China, India.

When House tells him his vacation plans, Wilson thinks to himself that he'd be surprised if House goes anywhere. He's barely left Princeton for the past seven years. Then suddenly Wilson realizes that he hasn't either.

---

Airborne

Robin agrees to meet him at the coffee shop on the corner, and Wilson gets there early. He wishes he'd brought a file with him, or a journal, something to keep his hands busy.

He reminds himself that he's comfortable around women. He's always known how to talk to them, how to make them relax, how to make them feel good. But this isn't about comfort. It's about sex. It's about taking chances.

Wilson isn't very good at taking chances. He's always been the safe bet -- the solid choice -- but being safe isn't getting him anywhere. It's time to change.

---

Act Your Age

This is good. This is fun.

Wilson smiles as he drives back to the hotel after dropping off Cuddy. She'd smiled too. It was nice.

He smiles when he sees her the next day, and she thanks him again.

He grins when House leaves his table, both frustrated and baffled.

It's been too long, Wilson thinks, since he just enjoyed himself, since he simply relaxed. Since he laughed. Since he just had fun.

He stops, and realizes he can't remember the last time since he actually did enjoy his life. And that's something that scares him more than he'd imagined.

---

House Training

House doesn't say anything when he sees Wilson. He doesn't say anything as the hours stretch on, just accepts his presence. Wilson tells himself that's enough, that he can't force House to take any other form of comfort.

He's been here before -- more often than he wants to remember, less often than House's detractors would have anyone believe.

Wilson startles awake when the phone rings. House doesn't say anything to whoever's on the other end of the line, just hangs up and looks at Wilson.

"I need you to do something."

"Anything," Wilson says. He means it. He always does.

---

Family

House doesn't sign the note, just gives it to the clerk at the desk, and she hands it over to Wilson when he finally walks in just before midnight.

There's only an address, 813 University, and a time, 10 a.m.

Wilson stares at the note, crumples it up and tosses it in the closest garbage can.

He's still pissed at House the next morning, still mad as he leaves his office and heads out to his car. He tells himself he's crazy to expect anything from House as he walks into the store.

But maybe this time will be different.

---

Resignation

It's too bright. Wilson should get up, flip the switch. He doesn't. It's just like House to come in and turn on every light, leaving a harsh glare on every surface. House wants to see everything, and doesn't care if he exposes something that should have remained hidden.

Wilson started taking pills because he should move on, but can't. Because he's in a rut, and doesn't care. Maybe his attempts to fix House are just another rut, another excuse to not move on.

But right now, it's hard enough just to work up the energy to turn off the light.

---

The Jerk

Cuddy talks to him about House.

Cameron talks about House.

Foreman's the focus of hospital gossip, because of House.

Wilson wonders when House took over his life, and he became just another satellite in his orbit.

It's not that he resents House for being larger than life, for being who he is. It was that intensity that drew him to House in the first place. He doesn't even regret his place. It's nice there. Familiar.

But he can't define himself by House's moods forever. He doesn't have to give up House, but he has to find his own life too.

---

Human Error

"Did you really think I couldn't change?" House sits with his new guitar, idly strumming.

"I knew you were physically capable of it, but you don't like change."

"Neither do you."

Wilson shrugs. "No one does." He takes a drink. "You really just going to let them all go?"

"It's their time," House says, "except for Foreman. Maybe he'll figure that out before he kills someone else."

Wilson listens to the chords, watches House's fingers move across the fretboard as comfortably as on the old guitar. "Change suits you," he says.

He takes another drink. Maybe it'll suit him too.