PEANUT BUTTER & BLOOD

A/N: Please Read This--It's recently come to my attention that some of my signed reviewers have been receiving critical messages from another registered user at this site. I cannot--I will not--allow this to continue. I'm a big girl; if I receive a critical review I can not only handle it, but if the criticism's valid, I greatly appreciate it! Ironic thing is, the signed reviewers have been leaving positive comments which are, apparently, being misinterpreted by the harrasser. I'd like to ask a favor; if you've ever left me a signed review, and then received a message about that review from anyone other than me, I'd much appreciate it if you'd PM or email me (email address is in my profile) and let me know.

EPILOGUE:

It's 1:28am when House hears the sound of a key in the lock. "What are you doing here?" he mutters irritably.

But Wilson doesn't even glance his way. He's headed straight for the kitchen, an intense, unreadable expression on his face. House sighs and leans his head against the back of the couch. And it doesn't surprise him when Wilson exits the kitchen and heads straight for the bathroom.

In under a minute Wilson is standing in front of him, hands on hips, yelling, "What the hell were you trying to pull?"

House opens his eyes and raises his head. "I wasn't trying to pull anything. I was trying to make a sandwich. That a crime?"

"That isn't what I meant, and you know it." Wilson's still shouting, and House winces.

"Could you keep it down? I've got neighbors, you know."

"Yeah, and I can understand why you wouldn't wanna clue 'em in on your utter stupidity." In one swift move, Wilson's torn the blanket from House's legs; his eyes widen at the sight of the left knee. The pressure bandage has soaked through; there's even a small trickle of drying blood going halfway down House's lower leg.

Wilson drops the two bags he's carrying onto the coffee table and regards House angrily. "Have I mentioned that you're an idiot?"

"Not in the last thirty seconds, no," House says wearily.

Wilson's rummaging through one of the bags; he pulls out a suture kit and opens it. As he snaps on the gloves, he mutters, "I can't believe you'd let it get this bad."

"I didn't let it do anything," House responds irritably. "It thought up the blood all on its own."

"Why didn't you tell me how deep it was?" Wilson kneels by House's side, removes the soiled dressing and begins to probe the wound. He's relieved to see that the bleeding's pretty much stopped, and that House had told the truth about flushing out the glass. And even his diligent probing isn't causing fresh bleeding—House'll be okay.

"Ouch! That cut is attached to my leg, you know! And—if you'll recall—you weren't too interested in details earlier. You couldn't get out of here fast enough."

Wilson goes silent at that; it's true—he'd been relieved that House didn't appear badly hurt, and anxious to try to salvage his date. "I'm sorry," he says quietly.

"What for? Glad that you had your priorities in order." House looks away and says, "Shouldn't have called you anyway."

Wilson's certain he heard wrong. "What?"

"I said I shouldn't have called you in the first place."

House clearly means it; Wilson is stunned, and unsure how to respond. Finally, he says, "So why did you?"

House grins mischievously. "It was a test; you passed. Good thing, too, because I'd bet myself you'd show up, and I needed the money."

Wilson doesn't smile. "This was some twisted test of my friendship? My loyalty?"

When House doesn't respond, Wilson takes a deep breath and lets it go explosively, then stands. He's so angry he doesn't trust himself right now. He tears off his gloves and tosses them at the table. "Be back." He clips off the words and heads to the kitchen.

As he soaks a sponge and begins to clean the blood-smeared floor, Wilson's thinking.

Damn him! I'll bet he's out there getting a real laugh out of this. Got his own private Step'n Fetchit.

Wilson scrubs harder at the blood; it's been a long time since House has made him feel this angry, this put-upon. The determined scrubbing is therapeutic; finally he begins to calm down.

Wait a second. This is House—the man who once broke his own hand so he wouldn't have to admit how bad he was feeling. The man who didn't come to me about his pain until it was so unbearable he was ready to resort to theft to get his meds. Who catheterized himself rather than ask for my help.

Wilson stands thoughtfully as he remembers why he'd come back here—he'd realized that House had let him go too easily. Hadn't reminded Wilson that the NSAIDs with which he supplemented his Vicodin could cause clotting problems. Hadn't mentioned how deep the laceration was. Hadn't pointed out that—with his left leg injured—his mobility was further impaired.

It hadn't taken Wilson long, after he'd left, to think of all these things himself. What hadn't occurred to him, until now, was that House had intentionally refrained from mentioning any of it. Nor had House suggested a trip to the kitchen, or the bathroom. Then Wilson would've known—and he'd never have returned to his date.

I'm the idiot. Let myself get distracted by his antics. I asked the wrong questions, fell for his non-answers. And what test was I passing? He knew I'd show up. Maybe… maybe he wanted to see if I'd put myself first? Wilson smiles and shakes his head; House never fails to surprise him.

Wilson reenters the living room and stands again in front of House. "Next time, just tell me, okay? I don't enjoy puzzles as much as you do." He smiles tentatively as he reaches for a fresh pair of gloves and prepares to suture the wound.

"More fun letting you figure it out on your own," House grins. "Although I was starting to worry you'd made it to second base—in which case I'd have bled to death."

They both laugh as Wilson carefully injects lidocaine around the wound and begins to suture it.

When Wilson's finished, he asks, "That beer-and-porn invitation still open?"

"Always," says House. "But you'll have to get the beer."

"Not a problem." Wilson picks up the second bag and heads toward the kitchen.

"Hope that's more beer," House says, indicating the bag.

Wilson grins. "Nope. Just… an insurance policy, for my next evening out." He reaches into the bag and pulls out a new container of peanut butter—in a plastic jar.