The warmth of Wilson's forehead flowed into the cool leather of the steering wheel upon which it rested. The alcohol flowed out of his system steadily, leaving him painfully sober. Embarrassment could have replaced his blood, it flowed so strong and continuously through his veins; it washed over every cell, leaving nervous energy in its wake.

Unbridled thoughts made their way through his mind so quickly that time was forgotten; the coughing jerks of the car underneath him went unnoticed. It was the stillness of the engine, the quiet of the vents that broke through Wilson's self-absorption.

Wonderful. Wilson sat back into the seat of his dead car, slamming his hand into the steering wheel. It hit back, leaving him angrier than before, now only with throbbing digits. What am I going to do?

A sharp rap sounded on the window, allowing Wilson the ability to feel every nerve in his body. Long fingers wound around a key that was presently tapping a steady beat on the glass; House stared at him, like a child looking at an exotic animal at the zoo. The car had become Wilson's cage. Brown eyes darted from side to side, finally meeting House's cold blue gaze.

House flipped his mobile open and pressed it against the glass. The pale blue light was reflected in red-rimmed eyes so dark they looked black. Wilson's face was drawn; he looked as if he were going to be sick.

"License and registration, please."

Wilson took a breath to steady himself before reaching for the door handle. The cool winter air greeted him roughly, pouring itself over his skin, numbing him.

"My car ran out of gas." Wilson's voice was harsh; as he opened his mouth the cold poured down his throat and lowered his already cool body temperature. He shivered slightly under his thin dress shirt.

"They tend to do that when you leave them running for, oh, say……five hours.

"Come on. You need to sleep."

Wilson's eyes stayed glued to the ground, mirroring the black cement beneath his shoes. He climbed into House's car, grateful for the warmth that enveloped him. House got in and drove the short distance back to his apartment without saying another word. They arrived to déjà vu; neither man moved to leave the car. The collective unwillingness of both men's refusal to make the first move created a heavy stillness; engendered a sense of being stuck in neutral.

As usual, House was the first break the silence.

"Come on." The words were impatient, tossed carelessly over his shoulder as he moved carefully from the car. Wilson obeyed. He shivered as he entered the apartment; he couldn't force the cold from his body.

"Come here," House ordered, flicking those long fingers carelessly at Wilson.

Wilson's legs moved without his permission. He stood in front of House, watched as the older man assessed his body, looked at his hands, and placed a finger on his lips. He couldn't stop shivering; the cold seemed to come from inside him.

House peered at Wilson, taking in the man's blue lips, shaking form, and purple nail beds. The fingers that lingered on the younger man's cool lips were withdrawn; Wilson's saliva lingered on House's thumb.

House turned away and Wilson stood static, wanting to follow but unwilling to actually do so. The destination was the bathroom, which House disappeared into, though he made no move to close the door. A squeak echoed out into the hall, then the loud pounding of water against tile.

"Wilson!" House's voice carried no instruction, but it was an order. But Wilson couldn't bring himself to move. He was at rock bottom; he waded through a thicket of contradictory feelings and thoughts. His life was no longer under any form of control; an invisible puppeteer pulled his strings this way and that, keeping him guessing at every step. The foundation of his schema was crumbling, leaving him questioning every fact he had taken for granted before this night.

Like the fact that for thirty-eight years prior, he had considered himself straight.

The pressure of House's hand on his woke Wilson.

House was silent as he led his friend into the bathroom. This quiet was maintained as he began to unbutton Wilson's shirt, meeting the dark eyes questioningly as he did so. When they acquiesced willingly, and cold hands didn't move to stop him, he continued until Wilson stood shirtless in front of him.

Wilson closed his eyes. House's gaze was too much for him; it was too intense, too knowing. He brought his hands up to his own waist and tugged at his belt. It slid through the loops of his trousers. He paused, waiting for House's hands to finish what they had started. They appeared, but in the wrong place. They were pressed flat on his back.

When did he—

But before the synapses in Wilson's mind could finish the thought, the hands moved, and Wilson's body focused on their endeavors. A finger traced a line down his back, then stopped and drew another, perpendicular line. The lines connected, and Wilson's mind supplied the image of a Y.

He's spelling something.

The finger was removed, then touched down again, moving up past Wilson's right shoulder blade. The sensation sent tingles through Wilson, making him lean into House like a cat getting its stomach stroked. The finger created an arch between the shoulders, coming down just before the left blade. It traveled down towards the lower back, then returned to its origin.


The tracing continued as the shower ran; steam swirled around the men, slowly warming Wilson's half-naked body. A 'U' came after the O, then an R. An E followed, but fingers weren't being used anymore. When it first made contact with his back, Wilson was unable to identify the warm, slightly wet object that traced an E onto his neck, right where his shoulders met. The scrape of teeth as the letter ended put an end to his confusion.

"You're," Wilson whispered.

The last few letters were quickly traced onto Wilson's increasingly flushed skin.

"Safe. You're safe."

Wilson turned, finally able to meet House's eyes without shame or reticence.

"I think I am."