They were angry with him for about a week, until someone said something - Foreman, he suspected, because Wilson wouldn't have bothered trying - and slowly, Cameron stopped glaring and Chase's expressions when he entered the conference room were back to looking only vaguely constipated. Of course, House mused, the neurologist would remember that sticking a shunt of anti-depressants into the nucleus accumbens wasn't just the new, cool way for all the kids to get stoned, but a nifty method of pain management as well. He'd never admit it, he'd never confirm their suspicions, but he didn't have to. They knew, and he knew they knew, and it was as close to an apology as they'd get, as close to absolution as he'd get. So that was okay, and a week after the cancer-that-wasn't things were back to normal, or a close approximation of it.

Wilson came to him a couple of days after that, confessing that even he'd jumped to conclusions about House trying to treat depression and not pain, and that it was pretty obvious that it'd never meant to become a public issue. It also wasn't an apology, but House didn't want one from him. Wilson had nothing to apologise for, ever - though he'd never really admit that, either.

"But I meant what I said," added Wilson, over Thai (House, in fact, hated pizza) and beer in his office. It was late, everyone else had gone home, but Wilson was on call for the impending death of a longtime patient and didn't want to have to make two trips. House, for lack of anything better to do, decided to wait with him. It was either that, or sitting at home alone mocking Ryan Seacrest with Steve, who was pretty lousy at snappy comebacks.

"About?" House said rather messily, around a mouthful of noodles. He swallowed quickly and licked his lips. "Oh. About wanting me to open up to people." He rolled his eyes. "About me taking a chance."

Wilson nodded. "Yeah-"

"And about how you want me to ask you out on a date."

House didn't own a digital camera, but sometimes he wished he did. Like now, as Wilson inhaled sharply and immediately began to cough and snort as a noodle found its way into his nose. He smirked, and tossed a napkin across the desk.

"Sorry-" Wilson blew his nose and made a disgusted face. "You- What!?" He sniffed, and blew his nose again. "I did not-"

"Pizza and a movie," said House, sucking thoughtfully on the end of a chopstick, "is considered in most cultures a date."

Wilson wadded up the napkin and dropped it into the wastebasket under his desk. "I did not ask you on a date!"

House smirked. "Okay, granted - it's mainly a date in the eyes of those fourteen and under. But for the sake of this argument, we'll just assume we're basing this on our mutual level of maturity rather than actual physical years."

"House," said Wilson sternly. "That's not what I meant."

"It's totally what you meant," House said, looking at Wilson. "So, when were you gonna tell me that you're hot for me?"

Wilson gaped. "I am- I'm not-" He sputtered, looked around as if he expected someone else to be there. "Why does everybody think I'm..."

His voice trailed off and he looked at House. "I wasn't," he said finally. Wilson ducked his head and exhaled slowly. "Okay? I wasn't going to. It wasn't relevant and it wasn't something I felt comfortable sharing. With anyone."

"S'what I figured," said House. He leaned back in his chair and regarded Wilson with the same intensity and curious amusement he usually saves for his particularly troublesome patients. "You're perfectly content to keep the important stuff to yourself, all bottled up inside so that it can fester and grow into a happy little mental illness that turns you into a fourteen year old girl."

"Look, House-"

House waved him off. "Save it," he said. "I don't need another impassioned Wilson speech. I get it." He looked at him. "I get it."

Wilson swallowed audibly. "You get what?"

"You've been looking for the right woman since you were old enough not to be afraid of cooties anymore," said House, with a sigh. "You don't get to be almost-forty and thrice-divorced without either being a complete asshole to women, or unable to cope with the fact that the right woman is, in fact, your awesome, male best bud." He picked at his noodles with his chopsticks, dangling them into his mouth and sucking them up noisily. "And since I wear the asshole-pants in this relationship, that leaves you with option two." House grinned at Wilson. "You totally want in my asshole-pants."

Wilson made a face. "Wow," he said, in a tight, odd little voice. "That was... Really bad."

"Well, yeah," said House. "Also, it was the truth."

"It was- Yeah, okay." Wilson sighed and ducked his head, pinching the bridge of his nose for a moment. "You don't seem all that concerned that your best friend's been carrying a torch for you," he said wearily.

"Wait, what?" House snickered. "Carrying a- Seriously, man, what decade do you live in?"


"Who even says that anymore?" House snorted. "Carrying a torch. Wow..."

Wilson thumped his desk with his hand. "House!" he barked. "Focus."

House sobered quickly and looked up at him. "Do you want me to be concerned?" he asked sharply. "You want me to freak out, pelt you with Bibles, go vote against your right to marry?"

"I want you to react!" snapped Wilson. "Have a thought! Say something that isn't veiled in sarcasm!" He looked at House, chest rising and falling with short, anxious breath. "I hate to break it to you, but my life isn't just for your own, personal amusement. It's... my life."

You're my life was unspoken, but they could both hear it in the room as loudly as if it had been.

House looked at him for a long, silent moment. "What're you doing tomorrow night?" he asked, quietly.

"Uh." Wilson blinked. "...nothing. Watching Grey's?" His voice was small and unsteady. "Why?"

With a shrug, House rose, plucked his cane from where it'd been hooked over the edge of Wilson's desk. "At great personal sacrifice, I'll TiVo it," he said, with a grimace. "There's this new place over on Mercer. And 300 comes out tomorrow, so..." He looked at Wilson, fidgeting with his cane. "How about it?"

Time, like Wilson, seemed shocked and instantly ground to a halt. The office was still except for House picking water chestnuts out of Wilson's abandoned dinner and popping them into his mouth, chewing methodically and not looking at Wilson.

Wilson, meanwhile, looked a little like a fish. His mouth opened and closed a couple of times before he finally found his voice again.

"Are you-"

"Yeah," House said, cutting him off. "Whatever you're thinking? That's what I'm doing."

Wilson stared. "Really."


"This... isn't a joke." Wilson eyed him warily, then glanced quickly around the office. "Chase isn't going to pop out of the ficus plant with a camera. The picture's not going to be your Christmas card this year."

"You wouldn't get one anyway." House snared a peapod and snapped it open. "I can't promise it'll be magical, with roses and candles and moonbeams, but I can promise two things."

"You- What's that?" Wilson asked, looking up at him, eyes wide. House smirked and bent over the desk, palms against the blotter. He looked Wilson in the eye.

"One," he said, "is that I'm buying. I'll give you a moment to recover from the shock."

The corner of Wilson's mouth twitched with the threat of a smile. "And the other?" he asked.

House's smirk became a slow grin.

"The other," he breathed, leaning in, "is that I totally put out on the first date."