Garden Party

"Just one for the road, Jimmy?" Lucas grinned, swaying a little, and gestured towards a hut half hidden in the trees that spilled onto the grass from the wooded area behind the house. "I'm down to the last few bottles of Uncle Eb's finest. I've been saving the best until last."

Wilson grinned back and nodded. "Okay," he said. "Just a small one, though. That stuff's lethal, and we've got to get home at some stage tonight."

Lucas grinned again, and turned towards the hut. "Wait here," he said. "I'll be right back."

Wilson sank into a chair, and turned towards the small crowd gathered on the lawn. Not immediately seeing what he was looking for, he narrowed his eyes and swiveled his head. It was late, and difficult to pick out faces in the shadows cast by the garden lamps. House's stance was unmistakable, though, and eventually Wilson spotted him propped against a table near the barbecue, engaged in animated conversation with a man Wilson recognized from the boat club and another with a face he didn't know.

Wilson smiled as his gaze settled on House. It was 4 months since he'd moved out of his hotel and into House's apartment, and 3 months since they'd begun to share a bed. Wilson was happy to take things a day at a time, and he hadn't been seeking changes, but House had surprised him with an occasional willingness to step out of his comfort zone.

This weekend was an example of that. An old friend of Wilson's from the boat club was getting married, and Wilson had announced his intention to attend the bachelor party. House had amazed him by volunteering to go along. "Are you sure?" Wilson had asked at the time. "I mean, I'd love you to come with, but you wouldn't know anyone, and you'd probably be bored out of your mind."

House had raised himself onto an elbow and cocked his head on one side. "What're you trying to say, Wilson? You think I can't play nice with the other kids?" Wilson had maintained a tactful silence, and House had rolled his eyes in mock anguish. "Hey, I'm crushed!" Then he'd slid across the mattress towards Wilson, and Wilson had smiled as he'd felt House place a kiss on his head. "Don't worry, Jimmy. I'll make nice with your friends. We can't have them thinking you've run off with an ogre."

House had placed a hand on Wilson's stomach, then, and eased the tips of his fingers slowly under the waistband of Wilson's boxers, and any response that Wilson might have been intending to make had been forgotten as House had leaned over again and dropped his face down for a kiss. Despite his semi-inebriated state, Wilson felt himself twitch as he remembered it now.

"Here you go," said Lucas suddenly, taking Wilson by surprise. Wilson looked up to see Lucas placing a bottle and a glass of clear liquid on the table in front of him. Lucas raised his own glass in salute, and then nodded towards Wilson's. "The end of the old and the start of the new. I had to open a fresh bottle for you, Jimmy." He looked over at House, then, and a few moments later he turned back and smiled down at Wilson. "Here's to health, happiness and a fresh start for both of us. To Molly and Greg. L'Chaim!"

Wilson took a firm hold on the sides of his chair, and pushed himself to his feet. Then he raised his glass and touched it to Lucas's. "L'Chaim," he replied, and raising his glass to his lips he tipped it quickly back. As the liquid burned a slow trail down his throat he looked back over at House, and then he turned back to Lucas and placed his glass on the table. "It's just as good as I remember it." Then he rolled his eyes, as Lucas grinned back at him. "Maybe there's time for another after all."

-- --- --

An hour later numbers had dwindled, and most of those remaining had gathered into groups. House was seated at the center of a small but rowdy group settled in chairs around a table beside the dying barbecue. The table was covered with empty cans and bottles, and the group was telling jokes and working its way through the last of the beer. All eyes were fixed on House, and he grinned as he reached for his drink before delivering his punch-line. "So he looked at his wife and said, "I wasn't talking to you,". He took a chug from his bottle as around him the other men dissolved into hysterical laughter, and some seconds went by before he was aware of somebody poking him in the shoulder. He looked up to find Lucas clinging to the back of his chair, and swaying slightly as if caught in a breeze.

Lucas leaned down towards House's ear, as though to impart a confidence. "I think maybe it's time for Jimmy to get to bed," he said, slurring his words slightly. "I think he's past his best. In fact," and at that stage he stood up again, a little too quickly, and turned to look towards the table under the trees, "he isn't saying anything. I think he may have passed out."

House frowned, and turned to follow Lucas's gaze. For a moment he saw nothing, but as his eyes adjusted to the gloomier lighting at the edge of the garden he noticed a body flat out on the grass. "Shit," he said, as he leaned forwards and grabbed at his cane. He glared at Lucas as he pushed himself up and began to limp towards Wilson. "How long's he been like this? He was fine earlier. What the hell have you been doing?"

Lucas shrugged and raised his palms. "Not very long," he said. "And hey! I didn't do anything. We were just sitting around, drinking and chewing the fat. He got a bit quiet, and the next thing I knew he was lying on the ground. I'd have left him there to sleep it off, but it's damp under the trees and it looked like he was shivering."

As House approached he could see Wilson breathing, and he let out a breath of his own. Wilson was a regular drinker, but House couldn't remember the last time he'd drunk himself into a stupor. It had been some sort of wife-related crisis, though, and House could think of no reason why Wilson should have repeated the trick this evening. Wilson was lying on his back, with his arms spread out beside him and his right leg crooked slightly at the knee. His head was turned to the right, and his face was partly hidden by the thick grasses cushioning his cheek.

Reaching Wilson's side, House dropped his cane and lowered himself to his knee. He reached for Wilson's shoulder and shook it. "Hey, Wilson. Wakey, wakey," he said. There was no response, and he reached for Wilson's face and slapped it sharply. "C'mon, Wilson. Time to wake up," he called, louder this time and leaning forwards to speak directly into Wilson's ear. Wilson still didn't react, though, and the small frown already visible between House's eyes deepened slightly as he placed a hand on Wilson's neck and turned to look at his watch. His fingers stayed at Wilson's neck, but a short time later he looked up towards the table, and then over at Lucas. "What's he been drinking?" he asked. "Beer wouldn't have done this to him." As he finished speaking he looked down again and took hold of Wilson's sweatshirt at the shoulder, and then he reached across Wilson's stomach to his left hip, bunched Wilson's jeans into his fist and rolled him onto his side.

Lucas raised a hand to his head and rubbed it through his hair. "Well it was mainly beer, but he began to talk about leaving so I broke out some of the good stuff. Just a drink for the road."

House glared up at Lucas and raised his eyebrows, and Lucas rubbed his head again and shrugged. "Moonshine. My uncle used to make it. Jimmy and I used to drink it, years ago after races at the club. I'm down to the last few bottles." He lowered his hand, and looked down at Wilson again. "He's only had a few glasses, though. Not enough to knock him out."

"What about you?" asked House, nodding towards the table.

Lucas kicked at a tuft of grass with his foot. "I only had one, to finish off the old bottle." At House's incredulous look he lowered his eyes and continued. "Well, I promised Molly I'd meet her for breakfast."

House was about to reply but at that moment he felt Wilson shift slightly against his legs, and he looked down instead and spoke again. "Hey, Wilson! Wake up. It's time to go home." Wilson groaned slightly but he didn't open his eyes, and House reached out and rubbed a knuckle hard against the top of his chest. Wilson groaned a little louder, and this time his eyelashes twitched. House took hold of his shoulder again, and shook him hard. "Come on, Jimmy. Wake up. It's time to leave."

Wilson finally opened his eyes, and he lay blinking for some seconds before starting to push himself away from House's knees. "What…?" he began, and then he flopped onto his back and lay staring up towards Lucas and House. "Who…?" he continued, but he ground to a halt again. House let out another slow breath, and patted him on the chest.

"It's okay, Wilson. Just stay there a minute." He looked up at Lucas, then. "Give me a hand to get him onto a chair, and then call a cab." House leaned back down, and tucked his right arm under Wilson's left armpit and up behind his shoulder. Lucas did the same on the other side, and between them they half lifted, half dragged Wilson onto a chair.

Minutes later Wilson sat established on his seat, propped against House's left leg and with his left hand arranged loosely around a glass of water on the table. House glanced at his watch and then towards the lights in the kitchen, and through the window he saw Lucas speaking into the telephone. The other stragglers had either left or moved inside, leaving House and Wilson alone in the garden. House slipped a hand into his pocket and extracted his Vicodin. He swallowed one and then he allowed his hand to settle onto the back of Wilson's neck, and squeeze gently.

"How're you holding up?" he asked, glancing down for a moment. "Feeling okay?"

Wilson didn't answer him directly, but he leaned harder into House's leg and clutched at his stomach. It sounded to House as though he was mumbling.

House was suddenly alert, and he moved his hand to Wilson's shoulder and shook him firmly. "Hey, let me know if you're going to puke. If you ruin these trainers you sleep on the floor, and first thing tomorrow you buy me a new pair."

Wilson didn't reply, and it wasn't clear to House whether he'd understood, but there was no puking. 5 minutes later the cab arrived, and 5 minutes after that Wilson had been strapped into the back seat. There was a delay on arrival at the apartment when it transpired that House had left his wallet inside, and a further delay while House searched Wilson's pockets for the keys, but 30 minutes after leaving the party House and the cab driver had maneuvered Wilson into the bedroom, and 10 minutes later House had rolled him into the recovery position and settled back on the other side of the bed to sleep.

-- --- --

Wilson wasn't sure whether it was birdsong, sunlight or the sound of House stumping around in the bathroom that had woken him, but he was immediately sure he hadn't experienced a headache that bad for as long as he could remember.

He put out an arm and tried to pull the covers over his head, but the movement caused a thrill of nausea throughout his whole body and he subsided with a groan into the pillows. He tried to settle back to sleep, but he was still lying there, fully conscious and with a pounding head, when the door opened ten minutes later and House returned.

Wilson heard House limp across the room towards the bed, and then he felt himself tip sideways as House sat down beside him. He breathed deeply, and tried to quell another wave of nausea. A moment later he felt House's hand on his wrist, and then the other on his forehead.

"Morning, Jimmy," came next, and the words were so loud that it sounded to Wilson as though House had bent down and shouted them into his ear. "Sleep well?"

Wilson cracked one eyelid very slightly, and stared up towards House. "I can't remember," he mumbled, "but I feel like death. Can you bring me some water?"

Wilson saw House slide back and gaze at him appraisingly. "You look like shit. It's a good job you don't normally look like this first thing in the morning. I'd never have invited you into my luxurious apartment if I'd known."

Wilson attempted to roll his eyes, but the movement triggered his nausea and he closed his eye and breathed deeply again. He felt House get up and heard him lift his cane away from the wall. Then he heard him leave the room, and a couple of minutes later he heard him return along the corridor. He heard the sound of a glass settle onto the bedside table, and then he felt House's hand on his shoulder.

"Here," said House. "Sit up and take a couple of these. Then you can go back to sleep. I've got to go in, but I'll ring and check on you later."

Wilson opened his eye again, and saw House fasten his belt and reach towards a pile of discarded t-shirts on a chair. Then he shifted his gaze to the bedside table and saw that House had left him a large glass of water and a packet of acetaminophen.

House reached for his trainers and socks and returned with them to the bed. He sat down, and as he fastened his laces he glanced across at Wilson. "What the hell were you drinking last night? You seemed fine until Lucas dragged you into a corner, and an hour later I found you passed out on the grass."

Wilson frowned, and began to sit up. He tried to think back to the night before, but the later stages were a blank. "I can't remember," he said. "I know I was drinking beer earlier on, but I can't have drunk enough beer to leave me feeling like this. What time did we get back?"

"About 1 am," said House. He finished with his footwear and sat up again. "Lucas mentioned Moonshine. He said his uncle used to make it."

Wilson rubbed a hand across his eyes, and reached for the water. "It's possible," he said. "He used to take it to parties. I assumed we'd finished it years ago, but I suppose he might have been saving some for a special occasion."

House took hold of his cane again, and Wilson watched him push himself away from the side of the bed. He turned back, then, placed a hand beside the pillow and leaned down to push the hair out of Wilson's eyes. "We may need to have a conversation about holding your drink. Finish your water and get some sleep. I'll ring you after lunch."

Wilson settled back against the pillows, and a couple of minutes later he heard the door close behind House. A short time after that he heard the roar of an engine, and by the time House was moving away from the curb Wilson's eyes were already beginning to close.

-- --- --

It was several hours later when Wilson next opened his eyes, and this time he knew what had woken him. He wasn't sure what was causing it, though.

There was a sound coming from somewhere outside the bedroom. A high-pitched, trilling noise. It sounded over and over again, and each time precisely the same as the last. It was familiar, but Wilson couldn't quite place it. He closed his eyes to concentrate, but suddenly the noise was gone. Minutes later it hadn't returned, and so he turned over and went back to sleep.

-- --- --

Some time later Wilson woke to bright sunlight in the room. He didn't notice it until he opened his eyes, but when he did the light was so bright that he could barely see the walls.

He was thirsty, and so he turned on his side and reached for his water. He could see the glass on the table, but he couldn't seem to get it into his hand. He reached forwards several times, but first his hand passed above the glass and then to the side of it. He tried to adjust his aim, but nothing seemed to help. It occurred to Wilson that if he began on the left and moved his hand towards the door he was sure to make contact with the glass at some stage, but moments later there was a crash and then the glass was gone. He was still trying to work out what had happened when he drifted back to sleep.

-- --- --

The third time Wilson woke he heard the noise again, and he sat up in bed to try to locate it. He looked towards the bedroom door, but the room was misty for some reason, and he couldn't see clearly. He raised a hand to his eyes and rubbed, but when he lowered his hand the mist remained.

Meanwhile the trilling persisted, and so Wilson swung his legs over the side of the bed and set off towards it. He was aware of a sharp pain in his foot, and a stickiness on the floor, but instinct drew him towards the noise and he pressed on regardless.

He'd made his way through the door and into the corridor before the noise stopped again, leaving nothing but a faint echo behind it. He paused, unsure about what to do next, and then he swayed and reached for the wall as a wave of dizziness hit him. Nausea followed, and Wilson leaned towards the couch to steady himself. The couch wasn't there, though, and then the floor moved and the table rose to meet him.

-- --- --

When Wilson woke again it was cold and dark in the room. He was stiff and sore, and when he opened his eyes he saw that it was snowing. He reached for his blanket but it was gone, and so he curled himself into a ball and tried to protect himself against the snow. It was falling so fast, though, that he couldn't avoid it, and he started to shake with the cold.

Through the snow Wilson heard a bird begin to sing, and he turned towards the sound and tried to find it. He couldn't see the trees, though, and he realized the snow had crept into his eyes. He reached for his face and tried to brush the snow away, but it was falling faster than his hands could move it and he could hardly even see his fingers. Wilson was suddenly afraid and he cried out for House, but House didn't answer; and all that Wilson could hear was the sound of the bird in the invisible tree, as the blanket of suffocating snow grew steadily around his face and lulled him back to sleep.

-- --- --

The last time Wilson woke he didn't wake properly at all. There were lights, now, and heavy footsteps, and they'd scared the bird away.

The lights moved closer, and then Wilson felt warm hands on his body and heard a voice in his ear. He tried to reply, but the snow had filled his eyes and mind, and he wasn't sure what he was saying. The voice grew more urgent, and Wilson tried to shake the snow away. As the ice thawed his face began to hurt, and then there was a smell in his nose and a strange taste at his lips. He tried to speak again but the snow had worn him out, and finally he turned towards the warmth and closed his eyes.

-- --- --

It was almost 7pm when House's patient finally died. By 7.30 he'd spoken to the parents and released his fellows, and by 7.35 he was on his way out of the hospital.

He'd called Wilson twice during the day, but Wilson hadn't answered the phone. House had assumed that Wilson was sleeping, and he'd reached the same conclusion when he'd called again just now from his office. Still, though, he hadn't been able to entirely dispel a feeling of faint anxiety. Even for a man as hung over as Wilson had been that morning, almost 19 consecutive hours' sleep was unusual. Less than a minute after reaching his place in the parking lot House was pulling away, and as he steered the bike out into the traffic he leaned forwards and turned the throttle a little more sharply than usual.

The apartment was in darkness as House approached it, and had it not been for the dull light cast by the street lamps through the un-shuttered window House would probably have stepped on Wilson, curled up, as he was, on the floor behind the door. To House in his surprise it felt like longer, but in fact it was only seconds before he was dropping to his knees and rolling Wilson onto his back.

House felt his stomach contract as he reached forwards to check Wilson over. He heard himself calling Wilson's name, but Wilson didn't respond. He was dressed only in boxers, and his skin was cold beneath House's hands. His breathing was fast and low, and House could feel his pulse racing at his throat.

House grabbed a penlight from his pocket and pushed Wilson's eyelids back. His pupils were wide and slow to react, and for a moment House felt his head begin to spin. A sweet smell rose from Wilson's breath, though, and suddenly a dull roar began to sound in House's head. There was a bluish tinge to Wilson's lips, and House dropped the penlight and reached for Wilson's hands. He was already dialing 911 as he compared the blue of Wilson's fingernails with the blue of his lips, and just minutes later he was yelling at the on-call ER resident to prepare for a methanol poisoning.

After that House reached for the table and dragged himself up. He propelled himself fast towards the kitchen, and returned moments later with a glass and a bottle of whiskey. He dropped to his knees again, and he was hardly aware of the shriek from his leg as he pulled the cork from the bottle and slopped the whiskey into the glass. Then he placed the glass on the floor, and leaned forwards to shout into Wilson's ear.

"Wilson! Open your eyes for me. It's time to wake up." He shook Wilson hard as he spoke but there was no response, and so he dug his knuckles into Wilson's chest and rubbed. Wilson began to move then, and to mumble, and House fastened his arms around Wilson's chest and dragged him back towards the door. He propped Wilson against the wall, sat back on his haunches and slapped him hard across the face. Wilson muttered, and House slapped him again. "That's it, Wilson. Look at me." Wilson's eyes began to open, and House reached for the penlight on the floor and picked it up. He waved it in front of Wilson's face. "This way, Wilson. Tell me what I'm holding."

"House?" Wilson was awake now, but his eyes were still unfocussed and his head rolled back against the doorframe.

House shook him again, and waved the pen. "Wilson, look at me. What have I got in my hand?"

Wilson turned towards House's voice, but he didn't react to the movement in front of his face. "I can't see you," he said, and he shivered. "I'm cold." He clutched suddenly at his stomach, and House felt him move his knees. "My stomach hurts." Wilson's eyes began to close again, and House dug his knuckles into Wilson's chest and reached for the glass.

"Come on, Jimmy! Stay with me." He lifted the glass to Wilson's mouth, and placed the edge against his lips. "Drink this." Wilson's eyes closed completely, though, and his head fell back against the wall. House lowered the glass and eased Wilson down to the floor, before slipping his arms out of his jacket and wrapping it tight over Wilson's shoulder.

-- --- --

Once again it was a sound that woke Wilson, but this time it lacked the shrill urgency of the phone in the apartment. As Wilson lay attempting to identify the rhythmic beeping he became aware of an odd sensation in his throat, and he tried to raise a hand towards his face. He found he couldn't move his arm, though, and he heard the beeping increase in speed as he opened his eyes to find that his surroundings were a blur.

He heard a sharp scraping noise to his left and was aware of movement before quite suddenly a face loomed into view in front of him.

"Wilson?" The face spoke, and a moment later Wilson recognized House's voice, although the expression on his face was unfamiliar. "Can you see me?" Wilson tried to speak but found that he couldn't, and seconds later House dropped out of view just as suddenly as he'd appeared. A moment later he was back, though, and Wilson jumped as he felt a hand settle firmly against his head. "Hold still a moment." A light appeared suddenly in front of Wilson's eyes, and he felt a finger pushing at his eyelid. The light flicked off and on again and then moved to his other eye, and suddenly it was gone.

House moved back a little, and Wilson felt rather than saw House's fingers peeling tape from his cheeks. "I'm taking the tube out. Take a deep breath and then blow." Moments later Wilson felt movement deep within his chest, and then he was coughing and gasping for breath. The coughing subsided, and he opened his eyes to see House's face in front of his again. House's expression was still guarded, but his words were the same. "Can you see me?" This time Wilson nodded, and House's expression relaxed a little.

Wilson cleared his throat, and tried to speak. His cough began again, though, and his head swam, and House turned his head to the side and spoke to somebody Wilson couldn't see.

"Get me some ice chips." Wilson heard the door open, and then House turned back towards him. "Do you remember the party?" he asked.

Wilson tried to cast his mind back to recent events, but his memory was hazy and he shook his head. He noticed House's frown return.

"Your idiot redneck friend Lucas managed to poison you with his uncle's home brew. Chase just finished the tests. The second bottle was 60 methanol."

Wilson blinked and felt his throat contract, and his alarm must have shown on his face because a moment later he felt House's hand on his arm. "It's okay, Jimmy. I think we caught it in time. You're on hemodialysis, intravenous ethanol and bicarbonate therapy. The CT scan was clear." Wilson blinked again, and House continued. "Your methanol level was 160mg when you came in, but it was down to 50 thirty minutes ago. You've been here three hours."

Wilson heard the door open, and suddenly House was gone. A few moments later he moved back into view, and Wilson felt a cup at his lips. "Drink. I need you to tell me what you can see, and then I want to check your eyes again."

Wilson lifted his head to swallow some ice, and as he lay back against the pillow the relief to his throat was almost immediate. He coughed, and tried again. "I can see you, but everything's hazy… like a snow storm. My peripheral vision..." He stopped abruptly, and in the brief silence that followed his words he became aware of the beeping again. Then the warm pressure on his arm returned, and moments later House produced his penlight.

"That's normal at this stage. Your vision should improve as the methanol clears. Let's get this out of the way, and then you can go back to sleep."

A few minutes later House pocketed his penlight and turned to Wilson again. "Okay. We'll check some more bloods in an hour. I'll wake you again when you're sober."

Wilson smiled briefly and closed his eyes. The snow-like sensation didn't entirely disappear, but there was a noticeable improvement. He heard a chair scrape against the floor again, and moments later he felt House's hand close around his own. He lay waiting for House to speak, but for once it seemed that House had run out of things to say. To his surprise he felt House's thumb begin to rub small circles against the back of his hand, and it wasn't long before he descended once again into sleep.

-- --- --

Wilson was dozing in front of the television when he woke to a tap on his shoulder. He turned to the left but there was nothing to be seen, and he was about to close his eyes again when he felt a sharp finger poke him in the top of his right arm. He rolled his eyes instead, and lifted his feet onto the coffee table. "Very funny, House," he said as he rubbed his arm. "I'd never have guessed it was you."

"Just checking your reflexes, Jimmy," said House, appearing suddenly from behind the couch and dropping into place beside him. "How're you feeling?"

Wilson stretched luxuriously in his seat. "Good, thanks. In fact, I called Cuddy earlier. I'm going back to work on Monday."

"She told me you'd called." House picked up the remote and began to flick silently through the channels. "Well there's no reason why you shouldn't go back. You'll just have to take it easy for a while."

Wilson put his head back, and ran a hand through his hair. "I don't need to take it easy, House. I'm fine. As good as I'm going to get, anyway." He rubbed his eyes, and opened them again. It was 5 days since the party and he'd regained his peripheral vision. Things still looked a little blurred towards the end of the day, and at that stage it was likely that they would remain that way. He knew how matters could have developed, though, and he was grateful the permanent damage wasn't worse. Beside him he noticed House still toying with the remote.

"Wilson." House began to speak but he didn't look up, and the remote continued its journey through his fingers.

"What?" said Wilson, his gaze switching back and forth between House's face and the remote. All signs of House's earlier levity had gone, and they'd been replaced by an expression that reminded Wilson of the one he'd seen when he'd woken in the hospital on Sunday night.

House's fingers began to move faster. "On Saturday, at the party." He paused for a moment, but then he went on. "I should have picked up on the methanol. I knew you hadn't drunk enough to…" He stopped again, and then he dropped the remote onto the couch and looked up at Wilson. "It's my fault. I'm sorry." He looked as though he was about to continue, but Wilson was already frowning. He raised a hand and cut House off.

"Just stop. You're not actually God, House, much as you like to pretend. You're not omnipotent." Wilson got up and began to move around the room. He'd been expecting this conversation, and he was determined to quash it before the idea became a permanent fixture in their relationship. "It was a bachelor party so people got drunk. I'd drunk the stuff before without any sort of reaction. There was no reason for you to do anything other than what you did." He stopped at the piano and glared over at House. "What happened to me was just bad luck. I don't want to have to talk to you about this again."

Wilson watched as House reached for the remote, and for a few moments there was silence in the room. Then House looked up. "Have you eaten?" he asked, "because I think I'm about ready for bed." Wilson saw that some of the tension had drained from his face, and he let out a cautious breath and smiled.

"I had some pizza earlier. There are leftovers in the fridge if you want some?"

House reached for his cane and leaned forwards to push himself out of his seat. "It's been a long day, Jimmy. What I want has nothing to do with pizza." He glanced up at Wilson then, and Wilson thought he detected traces of a grin. Then House set off towards the bathroom, but when he reached the corridor he stopped and turned back. "D'you think you can find your way to the bedroom on your own? I'd hate you to think I'd abandon a helpless cripple."

Wilson smiled more broadly now. "Less of the 'cripple', House, or maybe I'll speak to Cuddy about reallocating your parking space. I don't think the insurers would like the idea of a blind employee negotiating the hazards of the parking lot." House didn't reply, but he made a gesture involving a finger and his cane and disappeared towards the bathroom.

Ten minutes later Wilson finished in the bathroom and joined House in bed. As he lay back against the pillows he felt House shift on the mattress beside him, and a moment later he felt House's arm settle across his chest.

"You know, I've been thinking about this 'blind' thing, Wilson."

Wilson raised his eyebrows and turned his head towards House, but House's expression was unreadable.

"Further deterioration is unlikely, but it is a possibility. I've been wondering whether it's a possibility we should prepare for."

Wilson felt his breath hitch in his throat, and attempted to roll onto an elbow, but House pressed him back against the mattress. "Relax, Jimmy. There's nothing to get upset about." He slipped his other hand under the blanket at that point, and then withdrew it slowly. "I'm just suggesting a little practice."

In the low light cast by the bedside lamp it took Wilson a moment to focus on the object in House's hand, but as he recognized it a slow smile replaced consternation on his face. "I thought maybe we should start now," said House, pushing himself up against the pillows and then moving closer.

As House fastened Wilson's favorite tie around his eyes, Wilson felt a shiver of anticipation course through his body. The shiver grew into something entirely more substantial when he felt House guiding him towards the center of the mattress, and by the time House had finished fastening his wrists and ankles to strategic points around the bed Wilson had to swallow several times before he was able to speak. "I think I'm going to have to invest in some new ties. There's no way I'm going to be able to face Cuddy in these now."

"I didn't say you could speak, Jimmy." House's tone was even but his words were pregnant with menace, and Wilson experienced a frisson of alarm at the realization of just how arousing he found them. "I don't want to have to gag you, but if I need to…" House's voice tailed off, but a moment later Wilson felt a warning brush of silk against his mouth.

Wilson said nothing further, and shortly after that he felt House's palm settle against his chest. Then the mattress dipped, and there was a twitch in his groin as he felt House straddle his hips. A moment after that he breathed in sharply as House leaned forwards and began to trace a line of small kisses along his collar bone, and the last thing he remembered thinking before he felt House's lips on his brow was that maybe there was something to be said for sensory deprivation after all…

The End