A/N: OK, the end of the line. This one's for Claire, since I wrote it for her anyway :D . I hope everyone likes it…thanks to everyone who read, favorited, alerted or commented; your notices really helped…especially mikesh: thanks for commenting every time! That really made me smile. Please let me know what you think! Adieu!
Wilson finds it's twice as easy to feel lonely when people won't leave you alone. As a department head his job usually runs pretty autonomously. That doesn't mean that he never sees anyone else- of course, he's quite involved with most of his staff, and he's been slightly more than involved with several of the stationed nurses, but he takes pride in being generally self-sufficient. So when Cuddy passes his office for the fourth time at nine thirty, he surmises that something is up.
Rather wishing he had House's particular skills in interrogation, Wilson steels himself with a skirt-chasing smile and gestures with one hand to his boss, eying her guilty face with blatant curiosity.
'Good morning, Lisa,' he says in a friendly tone, trying to subtly appease her conscience, figuring she's much more likely to spill when she thinks he's not going to get angry. Not that he ever gets angry, really, unless it's about House. 'Can I help you with something?'
'I-,' she clears her throat anxiously and twists her hands in front of her scarlet crinoline skirt. 'I heard you've moved back in with House. He said you got kicked out of your hotel?' The confusion on her face is evident, but it doesn't explain the guilt. Wilson knows what would explain the guilt, however. Complicity. He feels a nervous dread settle heavily into his chest and his palms immediately begin to sweat.
'What else did House tell you,' he asks suspiciously, wondering what House could possibly know that would make Cuddy so uncomfortable after all their years of friendship. He feels distinctly warm in beneath the collar. He is not in trouble, he reminds himself desperately. He hasn't done anything wrong (recently, and that he can think of). He doesn't have any secrets that Cuddy needs to know about. He has a challenging job, a decent car, and dashing good looks…he has a missing brother. He has a headache. Not to mention he happens to be harboring a massively problematic (and puzzlingly homoerotic) crush on his best friend. But House can't possibly have told Cuddy all that.
Wilson closes his eyes, trying to imagine what life would be like as someone else, maybe someone whose patients actually live sometimes. Maybe someone who isn't such a fuck up. But Wilson's a doctor, not a philosopher, ergo no one honestly cares what he's thinking, so maybe he should just stop.
'He just mentioned something about a telephone, that's all. You said something about phone calls? I thought maybe you were being harassed by the family of a … deceased patient or something. Just thought I'd check in.'
Poor woman, Wilson thinks sympathetically. She probably figures she's going to hell for telling so many lies to an employee.
'Harassment? That's more of House's forte, isn't it? It's nothing like that. Someone's been calling late at night, is all. The management didn't like it.'
He's definitely going to hell for this. Somehow, he finds, it's possible to lie while telling the straight truth. Too straight, he guesses, to fit this situation entirely properly.
'It doesn't bother me,' he admits slowly, feeling his cheeks color. 'It makes me feel like- like some one is still there for me. Even though Julie isn't.'
Wilson leans back in his chair, silently wishing for an escape. Still, some boyish part of him is squirms with delight, knowing he's made her sorry that she's asked.
'I told you,' House murmurs sardonically from the doorway. He's leaning on his cane, looking tired but strangely satisfied. Cuddy raises a cross eyebrow and jumps up, indicating to House that the chair opposite Wilson is free, as he undoubtedly intended. He limps forward, face haggard and eyes bright.
'Hi, sleeping beauty,' House says casually, lowering himself down into the padded chair with obvious relief. He sounds nonchalant but something in the tightness around his mouth makes Wilson's throat clamp, and his heart flutters anxiously in his chest. He fights an absurd desire to smooth his hair in the bathroom mirrors.
'It was you?' A feeling of suspended disbelief allows him to choke the words out without stuttering.
'Sure thing, Jimbo,' House grins wickedly.
'Y-you're the one who's been calling at night?'
'Did you give anyone else your hotel number?' Jealousy, barely contained, gives the words a strangely ominous tone. Wilson feels cold panic in his bones.
'I'm the reason you look like shit?'
'What?' Cuddy stops suddenly in the doorway, her dark eyes quickly reevaluating the situation.
'That's my fault too?' Unbidden, House's gaunt face floats, detached, in front of Wilson's eyelids, pale and ethereal in a ghostly light. He feels like crying. He feels betrayed.
'What's your fault, Jimmy?' Confusion and hurt can't diminish the breathless charm of House's enchanting orbs.
'Shit!' Wilson curses angrily under his breath, rising from his chair in a fluid motion before either of them can anticipate it. He's pushing past Cuddy, out the door, down the hallway before either of them can respond, but there's the stamp of wood on tile and House's voice, rough and scared, shouting at him from the end of the hallway, 'James!' in a way that makes Wilson's vision fade.
Out on the streets, Wilson shakes his head to clear his foggy thoughts, quietly delighted as night blossoms over the city; neon signs unfurling delicately, giving off a shimmering heat that enchants him. He exhales sadness and betrayal into the atmosphere, redrawing fresh calm mouthfuls of fragrant city air, tasting soot and sweat and romance, the trifectum with which all cities are shaped.
With slow, measured steps, Wilson makes his way to a bus stop and sits, closing his eyes, feeling the heated glow of his cell phone pressing against his leg through his pants pocket. He closes his eyes and waits for it to ring, waits to wake up, hating this emptiness that consumes him in such private ways, on public streets. At least no one can see his tie in this lively dark. He stretches his long legs out across the sidewalk, daring each passerby to impinge on his silent vigil.
The call, when it comes, feels like 50 CC's of epinephrine straight to the gut. He smiles into the familiar silence on the other end, recognizing the cadent breathing with a jolt that forces his whole body to tingle in expectation, filling the moment with sensations to be catalogued, sorted, and examined later in a stronger, less tremulous atmosphere of two.
'…I love you.'
'Well, why didn't you just say so?'
'Baby, I tried all night, but it rang and rang…'
Now they're both smiling. 'Come pick me up. I'm at the corner of seventh and Nines.' Wilson has never heard static as wolfish as his.
'Hop on!' He steps up behind this tender, gruff obsession, sliding his arms around House's waist in a possessive gesture that comes as naturally as breathing.
'Let's go to my place and make out,' House suggests, 'afterwards I'll write you a love poem.' Wilson guffaws.
'Wilson and sex don't rhyme, House.'
'No, but Jimmy and shimmy do.' He reaches down and squeezes Wilson's hands once with his own, releases one trembling breath from its tomb.
Beneath them, the bike shudders into life as if waking from a long and dreamless sleep. They peel out from the curb, tires squealing in exultation. Wilson knows that sound. It is a roar of victory.