A/N: I did think I was done with this fic, but I wanted to add House's reaction to Wilson's decision. Anyway this fic is definitely finished with now!
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From the very beginning of their friendship, House paid attention to what Wilson said to him. House quickly realised Wilson unintentionally revealed how he was feeling even through the filter of carefully chosen words. What was equally important was what Wilson didn't say. It wasn't just his body language, but also which pieces of information he had decided to leave out. House would store the valuable little clues that gave him insight into who Wilson really was.
So after all those years of friendship, he knew how Wilson's mind worked. That meant he couldn't help but feel growing anxiety ever since Wilson had stopped asking him about his Vicodin intake. Instead Wilson asked him about his pain or his leg only in vague terms; if it was a good or a bad day for him before quickly changing the subject. House began to think that the only explanation was that Wilson was starting to distance himself emotionally, caring less about him. He had seen that pattern of behaviour with Wilson's previous relationships with his wives; the way he gradually became more and more closed off to the point where the breakdown of the relationship was inevitable.
House wondered if Wilson was having second thoughts about the new direction their relationship had taken, that perhaps he felt it was a mistake and he wanted to go back to being friends. The idea began to grow and develop until he couldn't stand it any longer. He dreaded Wilson's response, but not knowing for certain was slowly driving him insane.
House waited until after dinner that evening. Wilson was curled up on the couch, dozing peacefully. House sat at his piano as if about to play, but his gaze was completely focused on Wilson's sleeping form. He decided that then would be the best time to confront him. Wilson would be unable to evade his questions in his half-awake state. So House picked up his cane which had been resting against the piano and stood up. He willed himself to cross the room as his nervousness increased. He took his time walking over to the couch and sat down next to Wilson. He then repeatedly tapped his fingers against Wilson's face. Wilson eventually swatted House's hand away and mumbled a few words in irritation before he sat up and opened his eyes.
"Why don't you ask about my Vicodin anymore?" House abruptly began.
"What?" Wilson replied as he rubbed his eyes.
"You heard me." Now that he had finally asked the question, he felt impatience and even growing anger at Wilson for hiding something that was so important from him.
"I didn't realise I'd stopped you about it." Wilson said feigning ignorance.
"Oh, come on. I'm not an idiot." House countered. Wilson sighed as he shifted his body towards him.
"Do we have to do this now? I'm tired." Wilson asked still hoping to derail the conversation.
"Yes. I don't care." House said firmly.
"Okay...it's been an issue between us for so long. I don't want it to be the one thing we always fight about." Wilson explained.
"So, what? You pretend to ignore it while secretly keeping track of how many I take?!" House scoffed with disbelief.
"Basically, yes." Wilson smiled, but it soon disappeared as he saw how annoyed House looked. "We live together and we see each other at work, so it's easier for me to see how many you're taking, but I'm not going to lecture you about it anymore."
"Lecture me." House murmured almost to himself. He had accused Wilson of that very thing many times in the past, but now he had stopped asking about his Vicodin use, House had realised what Wilson had been trying to do all along. Wilson might not have used the right method, but his intentions towards him were always good. House looked away, feeling guilty for ever questioning his motives. "I've been taking less lately." House admitted.
"I've noticed." Wilson replied as he watched House and closely gauged his reaction.
"You didn't want to know why?" House looked back at Wilson, the surprise clearly visible on his face.
"I'd like to think the reason is that maybe you're happier...or a bit less miserable." Wilson smiled again as he saw House shrug his shoulders. House remained quiet for a few moments, but began to speak after taking a deep breath.
"I've been thinking about it for a while. Of course I have to take something for the pain, but it doesn't have to be Vicodin." House said, trying his best to sound casual, nonchalant. Wilson had longed to hear those particular words for such a long time. To hear that House was finally willing to confront and deal with the issues he had with his Vicodin use. It would be so easy to say how glad he was that House was taking that first step, but he had finally learned that his feelings on the subject weren't relevant. Instead he took his time formulating his response. It was far more important to make sure he said the right thing to House.
"Are you sure you want to do this, House? You know how difficult it's going to be." Wilson eventually replied.
"Yes, I know." House nodded his head. He wanted to tell Wilson that he meant what he said, but he looked across at Wilson instead, hoping that he could see he was being sincere.
"You can't do this for me either." Wilson continued more forcibly. "If it doesn't work out, I don't want you to hate me." There had been times when House had disliked Wilson, wanted to push him away, but no matter what they had been through together, he had never hated him, not even for a second.
"I'm not." House reached out to hold Wilson's hand. He didn't know if it was to reassure Wilson or himself, but he felt comforted by the action.
"You'll need help to do this too, more than I can give you...in the past I thought I knew what was best for you, but I made some mistakes. I know that now." Wilson then shook his head as if apologising for all the times he had resorted to manipulation and underhand tactics to force a change in House's attitude and behaviour.
It was clear to House that Wilson had spent a lot of time thinking about the consequences of the change he would have to make. Their relationship would definitely change too; for the better or for the worse, House thought. But it seemed that Wilson was willing to take the risk if House was. It also meant a lot to House that Wilson had been able to offer objective advice and simply be his best friend. House turned so that he could face Wilson, his left leg bending up on the seat of the couch. He then moved forward to kiss Wilson on the lips, his hand still grasping Wilson's firmly. Wilson broke away and released his hand from House's grip so that he could wrap his arms around House. He remained in the embrace when he spoke, his warm breath drifting across House's skin.
"Thank you." Wilson whispered, holding House even more tightly. House could feel Wilson smiling against his cheek and nodded his head in acknowledgement.
In the back of Wilson's mind had been the frightening thought that he would soon lose House to the Vicodin. It wouldn't be a sudden event, he guessed that he might get some warning in the form of House's liver shutting down, but it would happen. However he now felt as if they had been allowed to at least be a little hopeful.
Wilson had sometimes let himself daydream of House growing old with him. Images of them being cranky, grumpy old men still sharing dumb jokes and warm memories of a long life together could now perhaps become reality. House had given him reason to think that they both wanted the same thing, to be with each other for as long as possible.