Wilson watched House disappear down the hallway to his bedroom and knew the smart thing to do would be to walk out the door and put all of this behind him. It might mean the end of their friendship if he did, but the alternative…Wilson couldn't even wrap his head around that one. He looked down at the remaining piece of luggage at his feet and picked it up. Then he turned around and opened the door to leave—but found he couldn't do it.
He stood in the open doorway a long time, trying to sort through his emotions. He could still feel House's lips on his, and remembering the surreal incident was making him hard all over again. It was impossible to continue to deny that he was attracted to the other man. But what House had done to him was humiliating, manipulative, and inexcusable. In other words, it was exactly what he should have expected from him.
There was still a choice to be made; one that could possibly change his life forever. If he left now, he could carry on with his life House-free. He'd go to work every day, go home alone every night, maybe start dating again, and eventually wind up in another dead-end marriage. It sounded safe, normal, and utterly depressing. If he stayed…well, it would be like diving head-first into the deep end of a murky pool without first having learned how to swim. It was insane to think he could take on House—imperfections and all—and at the same time try to deal with his first homosexual experiences. The knots in his stomach twisted again as his anxiety over the situation dialed up a notch.
Sitting on his bed waiting, House heard the sound of the front door closing and he hung his head briefly. So that was it, then, he thought; he'd scared Wilson off for good. He was surprised to discover that he was truly disappointed. He'd convinced himself that it didn't matter—if Wilson stayed, then great! If he left…at least there'd be less nagging to put up with. But now that Wilson was gone, the nagging no longer seemed like such a big deal. With a sigh of resignation, House got up off the bed and started back towards the living room.
When he almost ran headlong into Wilson coming from the opposite direction, he was surprised enough to let down his guard, and some of the relief he felt flashed across his face. "Took you long enough," said House.
Wilson smiled at the lame cover-up attempt. "If we're going to do this, we need to set some ground rules," he said.
House rolled his eyes. "Here we go," he said and limped his way back towards the bedroom.
"First," said Wilson, following; "hurt me again like you did today, and you'll lose me for good. Understood?"
House had an excuse for his behaviour on the tip of his tongue, but he knew that if he voiced it, Wilson would turn tail and run. Biting his tongue, he managed to keep quiet and nod back at him.
Wilson studied House for a moment, waiting for the argument. When it didn't happen, he continued. "Second, I get to set the pace. This is all…new to me…and if I need to take things slowly, you have to be patient. Got it?"
House winced. Going at Wilson's pace could be the death of him—as it was, he was finding it hard not to toss the younger man down on the bed and rip his clothes off. With evident disgruntlement, he restrained himself and grudgingly nodded again.
"Good," said Wilson. "Alright. Would a rule number three be pushing it?"
"Damn right," House practically growled back.
"Too bad," said Wilson, taking great pleasure in his moment of power. "Rule number three: I decide if and when we let other people know."
House had no problem with that, and he quickly nodded in agreement. He knew that if it was up to Wilson, their little secret would stay buried for a very long time, and as far as House was concerned, the longer his private life stayed private, the better. "I can live with that," he said, and took a seat on the bed, patting the spot beside him in invitation.
"Uh-uh. My pace," said Wilson.
House watched Wilson walk away and a slow smile spread across his face. There was nothing he loved more than a good challenge. He waited a few torturously long minutes before following him.
He found Wilson in the kitchen, digging out ingredients for a meal that looked like it was going to be aggravatingly healthy. Leaning against the counter, very much in the way, House quietly began to pester Wilson, toying with the food and generally ogling at him.
"Are you going to help, or are you just planning on staring at me all night?" asked Wilson, as House started getting on his nerves.
"You're giving me a choice?" asked House innocently. "In that case, I choose to stare. I might even mentally undress you, if that doesn't break any of the rules."
Wilson felt the heat creeping up from under his collar at the lascivious look House was giving him. He felt a fluttering in his stomach, which was better than the twisting knots he'd had earlier, but just as unsettling. He turned away and tried to focus on chopping vegetables, but a minute later he felt a warm presence behind him, and hot breath against his neck.
"House…do you mind?"
"Not at all," said House, his voice directly in Wilson's ear.
"Am not," said House petulantly. "I'm not touching—I'm just looking."
"Can't you look from further away?" asked Wilson. House's breath on his skin was raising goose bumps all up and down his body.
"I could, but I don't want to."
"I can't make dinner with you hovering around me like that."
"I don't feel like eating…at least, not food."
Wilson squeezed his eyes shut and tried to block the mental images that sprang to his mind. "House…"
"You never said anything about not talking dirty in your rules," said House, and he leaned in closer, forcing Wilson to belly up to the kitchen counter. "So…if I want to, I can tell you how much I'd like to run my hands over your body right here, right now. Maybe I'd strip off your clothes…or maybe not. Maybe I'd leave them on, and just feel how your muscles tense and tremble under my hands. Then I'd kiss you, kiss trails down your chest, through your shirt…through your pants…I'd tease you until you're weeping. And when I finally undo your fly and pull you free, you'll look down at me and beg…"
"Or something along those lines," House agreed.
Wilson twisted around to face him, his eyes dark with need, and he effectively wiped the smirk off House's face by grabbing hold of his shirt and yanking him in for a kiss. Their teeth clashed, but the brief pain didn't slow Wilson down. It was like a light had been switched on, and everything had suddenly become clear. Some part of him had known, since the moment they first met at that party all those years ago, that no one could ever live up to House in his eyes. The wives, the nurses, the inevitable divorces—all of it was nothing more than a refusal on his part to accept the unacceptable. Now his hands fumbled, trying to keep up with his need to feel more of the man he'd denied himself of for so long. They fought with buttons and zippers, prying at incompliant cloth to uncover more skin to explore.
House was busy doing some exploring of his own, his hands deftly honing in on the parts of Wilson's anatomy he believed would elicit the best responses. Popping the buttons that got in his way, House tore open Wilson's shirt and instantly set to work on his nipples, bringing them both to attention with groans of approval coming from deep within his friend's throat.
"Is it okay to touch you now?" House breathed hoarsely in Wilson's ear.
"Do you really need to ask?" Wilson panted in response.
"According to rule number two…"
"Shut up and touch me," said Wilson, capturing House's lips with his own to shut him up.
This was one instance in which House was quite willing to obey a direct order.
The next morning at work, Wilson had to put up with House's smug pride in overcoming Wilson's attempts to control the 'pace' of their new relationship. The odd remark here and there was bad enough—like calling him Speedy Gonzales in front of Cuddy, or asking him repeatedly if he was 'going too fast' for him as they walked down the corridors—but it was the high and mighty attitude that went along with it that made Wilson want to smack him upside the head.
It wasn't until late that afternoon that he came up with a better method than physical violence of getting even. House was at his whiteboard, jotting down the symptoms of his latest patient. His underlings were keeping their distance, wary of their boss' unusually good mood, when Wilson wandered in. The tension in the room instantly shot through the roof, as Chase, Cameron and Foreman waited for the blowout they thought was inevitable.
It was the perfect opportunity to settle the score.
"House!" Wilson exclaimed, rounding the table towards him, three sets of startled eyes tracking his every move. "I think we owe your staff an explanation."
House sighed and placed his black marker down. He should have known he would insist on letting them off the hook; unlike him, Wilson didn't believe in using mind games as a means of maintaining discipline. He expected Wilson to stop and face the others (hands on his hips, no doubt), and regale them all with a lengthy discourse on the folly of deception and the value of trust and honesty in the workplace. But instead, Wilson kept coming towards him, and until they were face to face, House had no idea what he was up to.
The kiss shocked House nearly as much as it did his underlings. Wilson—shy, conservative Wilson—had locked him in a very steamy and un-conservative embrace, complete with groping hands.
The moment Wilson released House and saw the look of absolute astonishment on his face, he knew it was worth it. It was a hell of a way to come out of the closet, but he figured that if the rumours were going to spread anyways, he might as well take House down with him.
As Wilson walked serenely out of the conference room, a grin tripped across House's face. He wasn't sure what he loved more, the pandemonium this little incident was going to stir up, or the fact that he might have finally met his match.