When House steps out into the sweltering summer night, he swallows a Vicodin, sucking his mouth in at the familiar, bitter taste, and decides he'll go for a run.
House jolts awake.

He looks around the room in alarm. Sees sheets that aren't his tangled around his legs, walls he doesn't recognise, surroundings he's not familiar with. Daylight peeking through the curtains. Warm, something warm pressed up against his back. Someone breathing heavily, soundly.

House cranes his neck to look over his shoulder.

Wilson. With his face pressed in against House's shoulder.

He's in Wilson's hotel room.

It all comes rushing back to House in rapid-fire images. Wilson. Running. Pain. You need to sign for those. Running. Wilson fucking him from behind. Believe what you want. Running, running until he can barely breathe. Running because he can.

He feels a stab of pain in his leg, so sudden it startles him. Sharp, fierce, punishing. He holds his breath. Grabs his leg. Counts backwards from ten in his head while panic rises in his throat like bile. Bitter. Acidic.

He doesn't relax when the pain eases up. He wants a pill. Needs one.

He needs to get out of here. Maybe he'll run. Run until his lungs are about to burst, until his heart is about to explode. Run and run until he can't run any more.

You can run... he thinks to himself as he quietly climbs out of the bed, careful not to wake Wilson up.

He doesn't finish that thought because he refuses to believe it's true.

When House enters his apartment, he feels like he's wading through an endless wall of hot steam. The air is thick, almost unbreathable. Summer can be such a cruel beast.

He opens his closet door, giving nothing more than a cursory glance at his cane as he tosses his bag and helmet inside. He shuts the door again, firmly. Shutting out all thoughts of his cane, of the pain he'd felt in his leg earlier in the day. Closing any uneasy feelings away.

He strips off as he heads down the hall, leaving a trail of clothes to his bedroom.

His clean laundry is in a pile on the floor, where he'd dumped it the other day. Screw folding clothes and putting them away, when he's only going to wear them, anyway. He sorts through them, finds a t-shirt and shorts and tugs them on, sitting down on the bed to pull on his socks. He wipes his forearm across his sweaty brow as he does his sneakers up, and by the time he's fully dressed his shirt is clinging to him, the underarms damp with sweat.

Too hot to go running tonight, which just makes him want to run all the more. Damn the pain he felt in his leg earlier today, and damn what Cuddy said about the pain possibly coming back. He wants to feel adrenalin rushing through his veins, wants to feel his heart pumping until it might burst, wants to run until his lungs are dry and tight from lack of air.

After gathering up his keys, he lets himself out of his apartment and the warm, night air hitting his sweaty skin is refreshing, exhilarating. He stretches, his arms high in the air and his hands locked together as he arches his back. He looks up at the clear night sky, feeling his ribs pull, his spine click, his shoulder joints aching pleasantly. He breathes in, lets the humid air reach the very bottom of his lungs, and then exhales slowly, relaxing. He bends over to touch his toes; his calf and thigh muscles tighten, flex, and he keeps stretching until he can feel them burn and god it feels good.

When he stands tall again, he wipes his forehead with the hem of his shirt, letting out another slow breath. Rolls his neck from side to side, rolls his shoulders, shakes his arms out, jogging on the spot to gear himself up. He smiles to himself. He's ready.

He starts to run.

The streets are still. Calm. Like time has frozen just for him. It's relaxing; he feels like he's the only person in the whole world. His feet pound on the sidewalk, hard and fast, the sound carrying over dogs barking in the distance and the occasional car driving by. His breathing is even and controlled as he inhales through his nose and exhales through his mouth, in time with his sneakers clapping down on the cement. The warm breeze rushes through his hair, on his face, through his shirt, pushing the sweat faster down his face and neck. His insides are already starting to burn, burn, like he's on fire, aching and hurting in the best way possible. He feels so alive and when he rounds the corner and starts to speed up, he feels the first burst of adrenalin and he's suddenly not just the only person in the whole world, he's the fucking king of the whole world.

He darts off the curb between two parked cars, onto the empty street, gravel now crunching underfoot. Another dog barks nearer by, a dog in the distance answers, a bird or maybe a bat flies by overhead. The expanse of the open road makes House want to run faster, faster, all thoughts of the day, of the case he'd solved, of everything, slipping away from him until all he can think about is the road ahead of him. He pumps his arms and legs harder, pushing, pushing, breathing heavier as the road starts to incline. Up over the crest onto another street, sweat running down his face, down his back, his legs.

He decides to take the back streets; he knows where he's heading, but he wants to take his time getting there, wants to push himself until he's on the brink of collapse. He just keeps running even when his muscles start burning like white heat, his lungs tight, a sharp taste of copper in his mouth and his head pounding with the rush of blood and adrenalin.

God, it hurts, everything hurts right down to his bones but if he stops now it'll only hurt more.

Just as he's sure he's going to be sick or pass out, he finally sees his destination up ahead. It's only five miles from his place, but because he's taken the back streets he has no idea how far he's run. Enough to make him feel like his body is going to break. God, it feels good, so fucking good.

He pushes himself to sprint the last four blocks, even though he's gasping so hard for air that he can barely breathe.

When he reaches the hotel's front entrance, he pushes the door open with his shoulder and the air conditioned air hitting his skin is like water on a sun-scorched beach. He walks through the lobby, paying little attention to the night man behind the desk. His body feels as though it's still running, his feet still reverberating from pounding on the ground. He feels like he's floating on air. Like his limbs are no longer attached to his body. Everything seems to move in slow motion. Detached. He's light-headed from lack of oxygen. Almost hallucinating. It's surreal.

He heads for the elevator. He hits the button to call it to the lobby and slumps back against the wall. Lifts his shirt to his face and wipes away the sweat. Breathing hard. Sharp. His throat is dry, burning, and black spots are swimming before his eyes. He's still soaring on adrenalin. He wants to keep moving.

Fuck waiting for the elevator, he suddenly decides, and pushes away from the wall. He jogs across to the emergency exit and slams the door open; it bashes against the cement wall, sending a hollow crash echoing through the stairwell. He's so light-headed, he can almost see the noise dancing before his eyes.

Grasping the handrail, he takes the stairs two at a time, though his legs are starting to feel like jelly, so it's a bit of a struggle to get to the top of the first flight, even harder up the second. But he makes it, and when he's standing in the long corridor he smiles to himself. He really is the king of the fucking world. Of the fucking universe.

He makes his way down the corridor, still trying to catch his breath, occasionally bracing his hand against the wall for balance and using his shirt to wipe the sweat that keeps dripping down his face.

Room 321, 322, 323, 324...

He hears snatches of sounds coming from each room, televisions playing at low volume, someone laughing in room 325, a door slamming at the other end of the hall as someone leaves their room.

He stops outside room 328, giving the person who'd just left their room a quick glance; a woman in a tight dress. He rests his hand against the door frame and turns his head the other way when she passes, and he drops his eyes to her ass. Nice. He can see the outline of her panties against the form-fitting material.

Realising she's looking over her shoulder at him, he darts his eyes up, meets hers, sees her smiling.

He smiles back.

He continues to watch her until she's reached the elevator and, fuck, he feels so on top of the world, so alive and happy, he can't help the way his ego suddenly swells when she leans her shoulder against the wall and smirks at him. She then winks and House raises his brows with interest.

He moves back from the door, still breathing hard, bunching his shirt up once again to mop away the perspiration and when he lowers his shirt once more, she's gone; the elevator doors make a quiet humming sound as they close.

Damn. Oh, well. Doesn't matter. Out of sight, almost instantly out of mind.

He gulps and struggles to get his breath to even out as he knocks loudly on door 328. Three raps. He can't hear any sound coming from within the room and he has no idea what time it is, either; he didn't wear his watch.


He knocks again a moment later, louder, more sharply.

The muscles in his body are starting to shake, the dry copper taste in his mouth increasing in piquancy from the saliva pooling in his mouth as his body starts to unwind from the adrenalin high. He's about to knock again impatiently when he suddenly hears the door handle rattling and turning.

The door opens.

"House?" Wilson says, sounding equal parts groggy and exasperated. He has one eye screwed shut, squinting against the hallway light, and his hair is messy.

"Last time I looked," House agrees breathlessly. It's surprisingly difficult to talk, not just because his breathing is still somewhat erratic, but because his mouth is so dry. It feels like it's full of cotton wool. "Who knows, though. Could've changed since then."

Wilson lets his head rest against the edge of the door with a dull thump. Like he can't believe House is here. "It's almost eleven-thirty."

House is genuinely surprised at how late it is. "It is?"

Wilson ignores him. "Why are you here?"

House pulls a mock speculative look. "Why is anyone here?" he pants. "Bit philosophical for this time of night, isn't it?"

Wilson blinks and then stretches his eyes wide open before pushing away from the door. Watching Wilson come to his senses after just being woken up is amusing, House thinks. Wilson opens the door a little wider and peers incredulously at House. "You ran here?"

God, his muscles are really starting to ache. House leans over and braces his hands on his knees, peering up at Wilson. A single drop of sweat rolls down his nose and drips off. "Is that so hard to believe?"

"At this time of night?"

House drops his head down and draws in a deep lungful of air. His chest hurts. His ribs hurt. Everything hurts. It feels beautiful.

He looks back up to Wilson. "You going to let me in?"

"Are you out of your mind?" Wilson exclaims.

"Why, who're you hiding in there? A hooker?"

"You ran here?"

House lags his head forward again and licks his lips. Tastes the salty tang of sweat on them. Sighs and rubs his hand over his face and then pushes himself upright. The sudden movement makes him feel dizzy and he has to slap his hand against the wall for balance.

"I'm coming in," he announces. No use waiting for Wilson to offer. He steps forward, moving his hand from the wall to the door to push it open wider .

"House, you--" Wilson starts to protest.

House cuts him off by shoving the door firmly, causing Wilson to step back.

He hears the door closing with a soft click. He lifts his shirt to his face again, mops away more sweat. God, he's thirsty. Wilson wanders past him, scratching his head, almost staggering as though being woken up is exacting a toll on his body.

"I was asleep," Wilson explains in an annoyed voice as he reels around to face House.

"Figured," House replies disinterestedly.

Wilson throws his hands up in the air and lets them drop back down with a clap to his sides. He then sighs. "I suppose you want some water."

"And a towel."

Wilson shoots him an irritated look and then heads off towards the bathroom, shaking his head.

House gulps, his breathing calming almost back to its normal pace. Now that his body is cooling, the air conditioned air on his damp skin causes him to break out in a sudden ripple of goosebumps, even though his muscles are still burning. He shudders, his shoulders and neck twitching quickly.

He gazes around the room. It's the first time he's been in Wilson's hotel room. It's impeccable. Doesn't reveal a thing about Wilson, aside from the fact that he has nowhere to live. Impersonal. Like a blank mask. Very Wilson, in a strange way. He looks at Wilson's clothes folded neatly over a chair, his shoes set evenly underneath it, a few books stacked just as neatly on the bedside table – and for the first time he feels his stomach twist.

The feeling rises up his throat briefly, like bile.

Or maybe that's just his stomach cramping from electrolyte depletion.

He decides it's the latter. He runs the back of his forearm across his brow one last time before he grabs the hem of his shirt and starts peeling it off. His ribs, spine, abs stretch and seem to creak like rusty hinges. He bunches his shirt into a ball once it's off and uses it to wipe his whole face and neck.

"Here." Wilson emerges from the bathroom with a glass of water and a white towel. He looks more awake now, but no less annoyed.

House tosses his sweat-soaked shirt aside carelessly and takes the water without offering thanks. He lifts it to his mouth and sculls it back, the coolness tasting metallic, almost painful as it runs down his throat. It tastes wonderful. He's breathless when he lowers the glass from his mouth and he swaps the empty glass for the towel.

"Thought your leg was hurting," Wilson begins dryly.

"Thought you didn't believe me," House shoots back.

"There's nothing to believe," Wilson replies. "Not if you're running to my hotel in the middle of the night."

House shakes the towel out. "Thought you'd be happy to see me."

"Happy?" Wilson snorts. He then adds sarcastically, "Do I look happy?"

"Is that a trick question?" House dismisses the conversation by raising the towel to his face.

"You going to tell me why you're here?" Wilson asks after a pause.

House's voice is muffled by the towel as he replies, "Does everything need a reason?"

"You woke me up."

He lowers the towel from his face to his chest. "So? Felt like visiting."

"At eleven-thirty at night," Wilson presses disbelievingly.


"You've never 'visited' me here."

House just shrugs. "Told you I've changed."

Wilson's face drops into a deadpan look. "No, you haven't."

"Yes, I have."

"No," Wilson replies sternly. "You haven't."

"Haven't we had this discussion already?" House asks. He dismisses the conversation again by brushing past Wilson to head for the bathroom.

"You brought it up!"

"And you're supposed to agree with me." He reaches a hand up when he's at the bathroom door and feels around on the wall for the light switch.

"That you've changed?" Wilson asks argumentatively. "I don't think so."

He finds the light switch and slaps it on. He then glances over his shoulder at Wilson. "Believe what you want," he replies with another shrug.

The last thing he sees before shutting the door is Wilson looking at him in bewilderment.

He slumps back against the bathroom door, his head hitting it with a dull thud. He closes his eyes. Spots are still swimming about in his vision even with his eyes closed,. His legs are trembling, his arms starting to feel heavy as lead and he has a sudden urge to go to sleep. He feels so relaxed, so spent. Like he's conquered the world. Doesn't matter if his feet are starting to itch from the sweat, or that his lungs are starting to ease from sharp burning to dull cramping. He feels alive, so alive. It's a feeling he never wants to let go of.

Pushing away from the door, he drops the towel to the floor as he moves to the toilet. He pees quickly, flushes and then heads across to the shower. As he toes his shoes off, grimacing at the vaguely unpleasant feeling of air rushing over his sweaty socks, he reaches into the shower and switches it on and he can just imagine the look of exasperation Wilson is probably giving right now as he hears the water hitting the shower floor. Not that House cares. He strips off the rest of his clothes and steps under the hot spray of water and, god, it's heavenly.

He just stands there for a long few minutes, letting the heat soak into his muscles, washing away the aches and the sweat. The steam rising quickly from the floor acts like a sauna and soon, he's resting against the shower wall with a grin on his face. He quickly washes with soap, scrubbing his hair and his body until his skin feels tight, and when he shuts the shower off he feels refreshed. Re-energised, even though his muscles are still trembling and aching.

He steps out of the shower and uses the only other towel Wilson has in the bathroom to dry off, because no way is he drying himself with the towel he'd used to mop his sweat away with. He scrubs his hair, his back, and when he reaches his legs he slows almost to a stop as he peers down at his thigh. All gnarled and disfigured. Ugly. His happiness fades for a moment.

He frowns.

Without warning, he feels a sudden stab of pain in his leg. White hot. Sharp. Like knives. Twisting and digging like the unrestful feeling that's still twisting and digging into his gut. He snatches at his leg with a tight intake of breath, grimacing, panic now clawing its way up his throat.

He makes himself snap out of it and the moment he does, the pain fades until it is gone. All gone. Like it was just a figment of his imagination.

He glances at his reflection in bewilderment, only just able to make out a foggy, distorted image of himself in the steamed-up mirror. He cautiously rests his weight against the bathroom cabinet for a moment and then slowly resumes drying off.

By the time he wraps the towel around his waist, he's managed to put out of his mind those unsettled feelings and the flash of pain he'd had in his leg.

A cloud of steam billows out after him as he steps out of the bathroom. He sees Wilson sitting at his desk, looking utterly perplexed, if not irritated. Wilson's hair is still sticking up in all angles and House notices for the first time that Wilson is only dressed in a white t-shirt and boxers. He hadn't really noticed what Wilson was wearing, earlier; he'd been too focused on coming down from the adrenalin high of running.

Wilson turns his head and looks at him. "Have a good shower?" he asks, sharp with sarcasm.

House starts sauntering across the room towards Wilson. He's still floating on air, not quite back to reality. His aching legs still feel detached, like they're not a part of him. Like he's gliding, weightless, hovering across the floor. The sensation is better than any drug high. "Yep."

"Good," Wilson replies. House can practically hear Wilson's blood pressure bubbling. "I wouldn't want to deprive you of that, even if it is my shower you're using at quarter to midnight."

House rolls his eyes. "The water pressure sucks, by the way," he says. Not because it's necessarily true but because he derives a level of sadistic pleasure out of winding Wilson up.

"Oh, really," Wilson replies snidely. "I'll put a complaint in to management first thing tomorrow morning, just for you."

"Really? Gee." House pulls a mild look of mock gratitude. "Thanks. No need to go out of your way or anything, though."

"How generous of you."

He stops in front of Wilson and peers down at him, watching the way Wilson is staring right back up at him. Wilson's eyes are no longer bleary, despite the bags under his eyes; they're sharp and fierce. House feels his stomach churn uneasily again, but he pushes it away before it can ignite into anything bigger.

"Used your last towel," House says, not at all apologetically.

"Why are you here?" Wilson snaps.

"Hope you don't mind," he continues, ignoring Wilson.

"House," Wilson says warningly.

House rolls his eyes again. He knows it's always best to stop when Wilson starts using that tone. "We've had this discussion already."

It's Wilson's turn to do the ignoring. "You're here, because... why?"

"Because I can."

"That's not an answer."

House reaches his hand out and brushes his fingers against Wilson's sleeve. "It isn't?"

"You know it isn't," Wilson retorts, pushing House's hand away from him.

House just shrugs like he couldn't care less. He reaches back in and brushes his fingers against Wilson's sleeve again.

Wilson shoves it away once more.

"You want me to leave?" House says lazily.

"I want to know why you're here."

"Why do you think?"

Wilson stares up at him hard for a long moment. House brushes his fingers against his sleeve yet again. Wilson is staring at him so intently that he doesn't seem to notice.

"House," Wilson eventually says, and he's serious this time. No sarcasm. "No."

"Why not?"

"I'm not playing this game with you. I mean it this time."

"You said that the last time." House runs his finger down over the collar of Wilson's shirt. "Who said it was a game, anyway?"

"Everything's a game to you." Wilson shoves his hand away once again and then pushes himself up from the chair. House refuses to step back, causing Wilson to be trapped between him and the chair. House is almost nose-to-nose with Wilson.

He feels another thing ignite in him, and it's not unease this time. It's almost predatory.

"This whole screwed up... thing between us," Wilson continues, "has been one big game."

"You started it," House replies matter-of-factly.

Wilson's face goes momentarily blank, like a deer caught in the headlights. He quickly recovers. "It doesn't matter who started it."

House gives Wilson an even look. "It doesn't matter to you," he replies coolly, "because you hate being reminded of that cancer chick you were banging."

Wilson sets his jaw. "Grace has nothing to do with it."

"No, but the part where you kissed me in the middle of an argument over Cancer Chick and you moving in with her, does."

"Cancer Chick's name is Grace," replies Wilson in a low voice.

House narrows his eyes a little. There he goes again, House thinks wryly. Wilson rushing to Cancer Chick's defence to hide his shame behind. It's on the tip of his tongue to remark that Wilson doesn't really feel sorry for Amazing Grace because if he did, then he wouldn't use her illness as a scapegoat for his actions. House bites his words back, though. He's not here to get into another fight with Wilson.

"Semantics," House drawls. "Besides, she's most likely past tense by now."

Wilson pinches his lips into a thin, tight line.

House lifts his hand up to touch Wilson's arm and draws back quickly when Wilson shrugs him off. He tries again, this time placing his hand on Wilson's chest. Watching him challengingly. He notices Wilson swallowing, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down. Notices the way Wilson tenses up, but doesn't move or push House away. Not this time. Not yet.

House drops his hand away, anyway. "Fine," House says. "I'll leave. If that's what you want."

He watches the way Wilson licks his lips. Swallows again. Lowers his eyes slowly, hesitantly, down to House's naked chest. He can almost see the cogs turning in Wilson's mind.

"What's changed?" Wilson finally asks. He darts his eyes back up to meet House's. "You've never been the one to come to me."

"Told you," House says. His hand returns to Wilson's chest. He caresses it, feels the heat of Wilson's skin underneath the material of his shirt. Having permission to touch settles the uncomfortable feeling in his gut. "I've changed."

"You haven't changed," Wilson insists. And then his voice drops, almost like he's talking to himself more than to House. He frowns. "But something has."

House swallows this time. Sometimes, he hates the way Wilson knows how to read him. Hates how Wilson just knows when something isn't right. When something is somehow different. Out of place. He feels his gut tightening again.

He runs his hand slowly down Wilson's chest to his stomach calmly, so calmly it settles the brief storm of apprehension inside him. "Believe what you want," he repeats.

He starts to lean in, his eyes now set on Wilson's mouth. He parts his lips, gets as far as being a mere breath away from Wilson's--

"House," Wilson says again. He braces a hand on House's chest. Holding him back. But only just.

"You didn't say yes," House murmurs.

Wilson exhales, a little shakily. "To what?" he murmurs back.

"Me leaving." House cranes his neck, opening his mouth wider to meet Wilson's. Still just a breath away. Closer. Closer still. So close.

"House." He feels Wilson's hand push against his chest, weakly.

He stops. Tuts in frustration. "Now who's playing a game?"

"Don't do this."

House presses back against Wilson's hand. He feels Wilson's fingers stiffen, digging into his chest. Resistance. "I asked if you wanted me to leave."

"You wouldn't leave, even if I told you to."

"You don't want me to leave."

Wilson's hand starts to slacken, allowing House to lean in again. Slowly. "You mean you don't want to leave."

No, he doesn't want to leave. Not yet. Not now. He doesn't answer Wilson, just closes the distance between them. Wilson tips his head back and opens his mouth, inviting, and House captures it in a cautious, slow kiss.

He keeps his eyes open, watching Wilson's eyes watching him. The kiss breaks with a soft sucking sound and then resumes, soft, pliant. Wary. House doesn't like the way Wilson is looking at him. He doesn't like the way Wilson seems to know something isn't right.

Wilson breaks the kiss, but House keeps Wilson close, his mouth just ghosting over Wilson's. Hot, quick breaths. He hears Wilson swallow. House knows Wilson is about to say something. Something he doesn't care to hear, so he crushes his mouth back against Wilson's again. Hard, deep, slick. Wilson makes a quiet sound at the back of his throat, either a protest or a gasp of need, House isn't sure. He doesn't want Wilson to pull away, so he lifts a hand quickly to the back of Wilson's head and grips it. Keeps Wilson pinned against him.

Mouth against mouth, tongues touching, he can taste Wilson's breath. Toothpaste and something vaguely spicy. He can still feel Wilson resisting. Damn it. He tilts his head to the side so his nose is no longer squashed against Wilson's, and starts demanding and Wilson has no choice but to surrender until House feels him suddenly deepening the kiss. Almost needy, desperate.

Wilson's hands grab at his arms, fingers digging in as Wilson presses up closer against him, until there's no air between them. Just body heat, stifling as the summer air outside, chests heaving. A renewed rush of adrenalin sweeps through House, causing his aching muscles to buzz like electricity. Right down to his calves, down his arms, his back. He pulls away from the kiss, only for Wilson's mouth to chase his hungrily and suddenly Wilson is kissing him again, his hands fumbling about around Wilson's, wrestling, tugging.

House finds himself starting to smile against Wilson's mouth. Out of relief, or adrenalin, or the fact that his body feels so alive, he's not sure. He starts pushing Wilson back towards the bed just as Wilson snags House's bottom lip between his teeth. He sucks on Wilson's upper lip. Loud, wet noises. He closes his eyes as he runs a hand down to Wilson's ass and when he pulls Wilson in closer he feels the firm press of Wilson's erection by his groin. House pushes back against it, hard, aching. Wilson groans.

House breaks away again and shoves Wilson back from him so Wilson can't trap them both into another kiss. He struggles with Wilson until he manages to get him facing the other way. Instead of shoving him towards the bed, though, he yanks Wilson back against him. Chest to back, Wilson's head falling back against his shoulder. He snakes his arms around Wilson's middle possessively and presses his dick against Wilson's ass. He starts exploring with his hands, bunching up the material of Wilson's shirt, groping Wilson's penis, pulling Wilson back so tight House can imagine what it would be like to have Wilson underneath him, hard, sweaty, gasping.

Oh god... He drops his face in to the side of Wilson's neck, one hand digging up under Wilson's shirt to his belly. Hot skin, muscles twitching under his touch. He sucks on Wilson's neck, tasting salt, a faint scent of soap, until he's almost biting. Wilson lets out a long, sharp hiss. House nudges him forward, shuffles with him to the end of the bed. When he pulls away just enough to rumple Wilson's shirt up, Wilson obediently raises his arms above his head.

House peels the shirt off and tosses it aside, and he moves straight back in. Skin flush against skin. He runs his fingers over Wilson's nipples, over his small tufts of chest hair, and he lets Wilson turn in his arms to face him again.

He meets Wilson's lips halfway. Wilson tugs at House's towel until it comes loose and drops to the floor and House groans into Wilson's mouth when he feels Wilson's palm press against his penis. He instantly moves his hands to Wilson's boxers, all uncoordinated stroking, grabbing, tugging, interrupted kisses as he shoves them down. House wraps an arm around the back of Wilson's neck in a lock, pinning him close, foreheads pressed against each other as they start jerking each other off. Hard, rough, fast, oh god.

It's not enough, though, because House wants to feel Wilson's body underneath him. House tries to shove Wilson away to make him get on the bed. Wilson fights against him, and for a long moment it's another struggle for dominance until House finally pushes Wilson back firmly with his elbow.

The moment Wilson hits the mattress, he starts scrambling backwards, the heels of his feet digging into the bed covers. It's almost comical the way Wilson accidentally bashes his head on the headboard when he reaches it, though he doesn't appear to notice; he's too busy bunching the bed covers out from underneath him awkwardly as House crawls onto the bed. Crawls. On his hands and knees. Because he can.

He breaks out into a triumphant smile for a brief moment. He still can't believe that he is fully able-bodied again. It's like some kind of dream he expects to wake up from any moment from now. He feels proud, masculine, strong. Predatory. Like nothing can get in his way.

He prowls towards Wilson, crushing their mouths together again when he reaches him. He breaks away to let Wilson squirm into a lying position and then resumes kissing him hungrily when Wilson yanks his head down back down. House shifts his knees either side of Wilson's hips until he's straddling him - straddling him - and he sits back on his haunches.

House starts thrusting slowly, rubbing his dick against Wilson's, and when he feels Wilson's hands grabbing his ass, pulling him down firmly, it suddenly strikes House how odd this position is. Foreign. Vulnerable, in a way. A contrast to how he felt a moment ago. He stops moving his hips and his kisses taper off as he grows wary again. This is... This is weird. This isn't the usual. Usually, he's the one with Wilson on top of him, or Wilson beneath him. In fact, he'd wanted to feel Wilson beneath him just a moment ago. And now he's...

Wilson lifts his head from the pillow and buries his face into the side of House's neck, grunting as he thrusts harder. House starts trying to pull away because this is a change he isn't sure if he likes. And yet, it feels so good to be able to bend his legs like this, to be without any pain. To feel strong, powerful, to move freely. Control over his own body.

But are you really in control? a voice sounds at the back of his mind. The memory of his leg seizing up in pain when he was in the bathroom flashes through his head and his stomach curls with a small spark of fear. He squeezes his eyes shut and lowers his head to press the side of his face against Wilson's and he suddenly starts thrusting hard again. He hunches his back, bracing a hand on the mattress for leverage as he starts rolling his hips to meet Wilson's. His mouth finds Wilson's, greedy and frantic, though as they kiss House becomes increasingly aware of Wilson slowing down.

House pulls back to look down at Wilson and notices a cautious expression on his face. They meet eyes. He doesn't know what's going through Wilson's mind, doesn't want to know, so he keeps pushing, thrusting, determined to keep the pace going and to his relief, Wilson quickly falls back into rhythm.

Everything seems to speed up. Like watching the world go by in a blur when he's running and running, wanting to run faster than he's ever run before. His legs are trembling as he attempts to take his weight on them, his back is aching, his stomach muscles cramping, so much pain, it's beautiful. Makes him feel so fucking alive.

He's kissing Wilson, kissing and kissing, his sweaty skin sliding against Wilson's, all heat and gasps and mouths everywhere, everywhere. Down Wilson's throat, his chest, on his nipples, biting and sucking, listening to Wilson's gasps. He rolls with Wilson until he's on his back, groaning and gripping Wilson's head in his hands when he feels Wilson's hot, wet mouth down on his dick, his balls. He's about to come, so close, right there - and suddenly Wilson's mouth is gone.

House feels like he can't move because every nerve ending in his body is on fire, tingling, buzzing, reverberating. He feels Wilson trail hungry kisses up his belly, over his ribs, to his nipples again, and House opens his mouth wide, inviting, when Wilson finally kisses him again. He grips Wilson's ass and pulls him down hard against him, their dicks rubbing, thrusting against each other, friction, so much friction.

House rolls with Wilson again and finds himself back on top of Wilson, thrusting and grunting and gasping, no longer caring if Wilson is above him or beneath him. The way Wilson is handling him roughly, the fact that his body can take it, that he can meet Wilson strength for strength, fills him with adrenalin.

He moves with Wilson once more, finding himself on his hands and knees as Wilson fetches lube. His arms are trembling, his legs weak, joints aching. Riding back against Wilson's fingers when they enter him, stroking inside him, rubbing right there, that very spot that makes his spine feel like it's melting.

He fists his hands into the sheets and lets out a muffled cry into the pillows when he feels Wilson entering him from behind. It hurts, everything hurts, it feels euphoric and House pushes back when Wilson finally bottoms out. Pushes back again and again, gritting his teeth, completely losing focus of everything around him when Wilson starts thrusting hard and fast. Deep. Deeper.

He vaguely registers the bed creaking and the headboard hitting the wall rhythmically, feels Wilson's fingers digging into his hips to pull him back against Wilson's dick harder, oh god, faster. His face twists into expressions of disbelief at how good this feels, sweat all over his body, soaking his hair, white hot pleasure mounting at the very base of his spine. He hears Wilson calling out wordless noises when he comes, and House makes a clumsy grab at his penis and attempts to jerk himself off in time with Wilson's thrusts. He can't establish a pace without his arm muscles seizing up but it doesn't matter because Wilson is slowing down now, slowing right down.

He feels Wilson slump over his back, hot breath blowing against his sweaty skin in sharp, fast bursts. House's arms are shaking to the point where they're about to collapse as he holds his weight up with one arm and jerks himself off with his other hand. He grunts in frustration, clenching his teeth, his arm burning, burning as he pumps his hand up and down fast. His body starts to curl up as pleasure mounts, his legs tensing to the point of cramping, his back seizing up, and suddenly he's coming over the sheets, muffling any sound he makes into the pillow.

He collapses, Wilson still on top of him. Just lies there. Blank. Gasping. Unable to move, too tired to even try, so completely swept up in adrenalin and endorphins that he feels like he's on another drug high.

It's the best fucking feeling in the world.

When Wilson finally rolls off him, and House isn't actually sure how much time has passed, he's left feeling utterly exposed. The air wafting over his sweaty skin makes him feel even more naked. It's more than a little disconcerting.

He turns his head on the pillow, huffing out a breath and he cracks his eyes open to peer at Wilson, who is sprawled out on his back. Eyes closed, arm flung up over his face, still breathing heavily as though he's just run a mile.

House closes his eyes. A long stretch of silence falls over the room, House's breathing evening out in time with Wilson's. Calm. Still. Like they're the only people in the whole world. It's unsettling. It shouldn't be. But it is.

"Why did you come here, House?"

House jumps slightly at the sound of Wilson's voice. He licks his lips. Swallows. No way is he going to reveal anything. "Didn't think you had a problem with me coming here. New comforter?"

"You know what I mean," Wilson replies warningly.

Of course he knows what Wilson means. It's just easier to remain deliberately oblique. "That depends. Are we talking about the same thing here?"

"I'm not playing your stupid games, House."

House can't resist. "You just did, didn't you?"

"I mean it this time," Wilson snaps.

House looks across at Wilson again. "That's what you said last time," he says sarcastically. "It never changes."

Wilson starts shifting onto his side, away from him, and House hears him stifling a yawn. "Neither do you."

"I've changed," House argues.

"Believe what you want, House."

House stares at Wilson's back. He has a million ways he could respond to Wilson's ironic response but he chooses not to say anything. He just keeps watching Wilson's back until Wilson's breathing deepens and evens out. Asleep.

He turns his head the other way on the pillow, still on his stomach, and peers across at the window. He wants to believe he's changed. Because he's whole again. He's a changed man. Renewed. Restored. But deep down, he knows he hasn't changed a bit. He fears he's going to lose this freedom, become a prisoner to pain again. To pills.

If he's honest with himself, he already has.

He closes his eyes again. He gulps, his mouth dry like cotton, though he's too tired and his muscles still trembling too much to get up for a glass of water. He doesn't mean to because he has every intention of going home, but he rapidly sinks into sleep.

He dreams unsettling dreams of running, trying to escape something that's pursuing him. Something he's done. Something he knows he shouldn't have done. And Wilson is watching him run.

Running, running, running...

House slaps the scrip down onto the counter. "One prescription of Vicodin to go."

The pharmacy guy looks up from the stockpile of pill bottles that he's stacking on the shelf. Marco, or Pablo, or something-o. House can't remember his name; it's not important, never has been, never will be - just so long as he keeps filling the scrips, that's all that matters. House looks away, drumming his fingers on top of the scrip as he scans the clinic waiting area. Secluded, except for the janitor over by the pot plant, mopping the floor. Empty, quiet, peaceful. If only clinic was always like this.

He turns his attention back to Pharmacy Guy, and notices the guy is still standing by the shelf, pill bottle poised mid-air, watching House suspiciously. Like he knows House is up to something.

House chooses to disregard it. He picks the scrip up and waves it impatiently at Speedy Gonzales. "I know you're terribly busy," he says mock apologetically, "but can I get a little service over here?"

Marco-or-Pablo spends another moment looking at him before he places the pill bottle on the shelf. He then approaches the counter and when House hands him the scrip, House tries to ignore the way Pharmacy Guy is still looking at him. He focuses on Pharmacy Guy's name pin instead. Marco.

"No repeat?" Marco asks.

House looks up and sees Marco studying the scrip. House hopes to whatever powers-that-be which control the universe that Marco doesn't study it too hard. Just in case he notices that it's not Wilson's handwriting. Or Wilson's signature.

"No, just the one tonight," House replies easily.

Marco glances up at him, still annoyingly suspicious. House waits for the questions, waits for some kind of dry comment that the handwriting looks familiar. Marco turns away instead, and House breaths a quiet sigh of relief.

"Vicodin," Marco announces when he returns a few minutes later. He places the pill bottle on the counter and House snatches it up. Thumbs the lid open. Glances up and realises Marco has that suspicious look on his face again. "You need to sign for those," Marco says in a tone that matches the look he's giving.

House presses the lid shut with a quiet pop and smiles insincerely. He picks up the pen and scrawls his name on the scrip release book, aware that Marco is watching him the whole time. He drops the pen to the book and doesn't bother giving Marco another look as he pushes away from the counter and starts to walk away. He's got the pills now. No need to worry.

"'Night, Marco," House calls over his shoulder, pill bottle already open again.

"Good night, Dr. House."

When House steps out into the sweltering summer night, he swallows a Vicodin, sucking his mouth in at the familiar, bitter taste, and decides he'll go for a run.