TITLE: Inanimate Objects: Five times House asked Wilson to marry him (and one time he didn't)
AUTHOR: hwshipper
DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to Heel and Toe Films, Shore Z Productions and Bad Hat Harry Productions in association with Universal Media Studios.
House, Wilson, five proposals (of sorts). Includes characters from season 4. Also guest starring Hector, Steve McQueen, Coma Guy and Donald Duck.
Written when I realized that no way would a proposal from House be as straightforward as pictured in my icon.
BETA: excellent advice from triedunture

Inanimate objects: Five times House asked Wilson to marry him (and one time he didn't)

The first time, Wilson had just returned to his desk after a hard morning in the wards. He took off his white coat, sat down, and saw straight away that the small ceramic Donald Duck on his desk (a recent gift from a young patient) now had a piece of paper in its bill which hadn't been there before.

Wilson took the paper, and read: 'QUACK. Will you marry me? QUACK.'

The handwriting was House's. Wilson sat for a moment, smiling and wondering what to do. Then he picked up the paper and Donald, and headed to House's office.

He found House at his desk playing with a yo-yo. Wilson sat down opposite, and put Donald down on House's desk, the note stuck back in his beak. House didn't immediately say anything, and Wilson could see an undercurrent of nerves that he didn't often see in House.

"Looks like Donald wants to make an honest man out of you," House said eventually, his tone light.

"Well, we've known each other a very long time, and been living together for a while now," Wilson said, deadpan. It had been a year and a half since he'd finally taken the plunge, moved out of his hotel, and back in with House. It had gone well. Surprisingly well. They hadn't driven each other mad yet, and the sex was better than ever.

"I guess Donald thinks this is the next logical step," House said, and raised an eyebrow of inquiry.

Wilson reflected that they'd never had even a hypothetical discussion about civil unions before. Trust House to start such a discussion like this.

"I think," Wilson said deliberately, "that if Donald really wants to marry me, he'd better find some other way of asking me than via an inanimate object."

House's eyes gleamed, encouraged, and he said, "You don't seriously expect him to get down on one knee and propose."

"No, I don't," Wilson agreed. "He's just not that kind of… duck. It would be far too conventional. But there's got to be some better way of asking. Via some more animate object, perhaps."

Wilson didn't really know what he was saying apart from for fuck's sake, be more romantic about this, House. But he saw he had gotten the message through. House started to look contemplative, and Wilson knew he'd sparked off some flurry of creativity somewhere.

Wilson stood up, took Donald back to his office and waited for future developments.

The second time, Wilson got a page summoning him to one of the operating theaters. It was very late in the day, and the page was from House, so he wasn't surprised to arrive and find the theater apparently empty. It was the robotic microsurgery room, and as Wilson stood looking around the room, the robot whirred into life.

The robot arm was holding a pen instead of a knife. There was a piece of paper on the operating table. Wilson watched as the robot wrote carefully and swiftly, "Will you marry me? Quack."

"House," Wilson said loudly, and House appeared from behind the control panel, looking wide-eyed and innocent.

"Well, how about that," House said, looking at the note.

"House, this is another inanimate object," Wilson said, waving an arm at the robotic device.

"It can write much more neatly than Donald," House protested. "Not to mention you."

"Yeah," Wilson said dryly, and smiled. "I guess it's a step forward. But how about something with an actual heartbeat next time?"

He touched House lightly on the arm and walked away.

The third time, Wilson had a call from House asking if he was free for lunch with Coma Guy in twenty minutes time. Wilson agreed, armed himself with enough lunch for himself and House (knowing he'd be lucky if House even brought chips), and headed up to Coma Guy's room.

Wilson found Coma Guy in his usual position, but with a pen stuck between the fingers of one hand, and a piece of paper resting underneath. The paper read Marry me? in extremely bad handwriting.

Wilson shook his head with a mixture of amusement and disbelief, and sat down to wait for House. House appeared five minutes later; Wilson handed him a sandwich without saying anything.

House sat down on the other side of the bed, bit into the sandwich, and said in an amazed tone, "Hey Wilson, Coma Guy wants you to marry him."

"House," Wilson said in a long-suffering voice. "Coma Guy is not an animate object."

"Of course he is! He's got a heartbeat!" House said with indignation, and pointed up at the monitors.

"Yeah, and that's all!" Wilson rolled his eyes. "Next time, how about a heartbeat and the ability to speak? And House, were you actually holding that pen in his hand when you wrote that?"

House merely grinned in reply, and Wilson decided he didn't actually want to know.

The fourth time Wilson was working peacefully at his desk when in came Thirteen, Taub and Kutner. They came and stood in a row in front of him. He looked inquiringly at them.

"Uh, Dr. Wilson, House said we should come show you these scans and see if it's cancer," Taub said, and put a set of scans down on Wilson's desk.

"Sure." Wilson picked up the scans and looked at them. As the three continued to stand there looking awkward, Wilson asked cautiously, "Was there anything else?"

Thirteen and Kutner both looked at Taub, who was standing in the middle. Thirteen nudged him and said, "We drew straws!"

Taub's ears turned red as he muttered, "House also said we were to ask you if you'd uh, marry him."

It was so incongruous, and Taub looked so humiliated, Wilson couldn't help but laugh out loud. Thirteen looked away in embarrassment, and Kutner stared at Wilson with great interest.

"You can tell House that you might be able to speak, but I don't consider the three of you to be animate objects," Wilson said smoothly. "Especially if any of you actually think that these scans might show cancer; I can assure you that House doesn't." He handed back the scans. Thirteen took them and peered at them, looking annoyed with herself. Taub stared up at the ceiling.

Kutner still looked avid. Wilson looked at Kutner and asked, "Why'd you all draw straws when you look so keen to ask?"

"Oh, not keen to ask," Kutner said, now also looking embarrassed. "Just…keen to know what the answer would be."

Wilson laughed incredulously, and as the three of them filed out of his office Wilson reflected that House was right; Kutner really didn't know when the hell to keep his mouth shut.

The fifth time, Wilson was in his office when he heard a noise outside his door. He looked up and saw the door was ajar. Wilson vaguely thought House had left it open earlier.

And then a small white dog came walking in.

Wilson nearly jumped out of his skin. For a second he thought Bonnie must have unexpectedly come to visit. Then he saw Hector had one foot off the ground.

"House been maiming you again?" Wilson said to the dog. Hector came up to his chair, panting, his little tail wagging, apparently delighted to see his master again, but limping carefully in an exaggerated way. Wilson realized that Hector wasn't hurt, but was imitating House. This was a habit Hector had picked up that time he'd stayed with House. That, and a taste for Vicodin. Bonnie had been most annoyed.

So Hector was here with House. Wilson shook his head, and bent down to pick up the dog. Hector settled in his lap and started to lick his hands ecstatically. This was not an inanimate object, Wilson reflected wryly, he had to give House credit for that. Wilson patted Hector on the head, and looked for a note or something stuck under his collar.

There was no note. But there was a small box, knotted up with string and hanging off Hector's collar along with his name tag.

Wilson undid the knot and opened the box, a trifle apprehensive. What he found took his breath away.

Inside was a large solid gold ring, slightly battered and a little tarnished.

Wilson recognized it immediately; it was House's grandfather's wedding ring. House's mother's father, who'd died many years ago. Wilson remembered Blythe showing the ring to him once, as a treasured family possession; her father had given it to her when her parents had gotten divorced.

House must have visited his parents to get hold of this. Wilson recalled House hadn't been around much the previous weekend; Wilson had been busy and preoccupied with a couple of patients in remission, and hadn't inquired what House had been up to. House might even have explained to his mother why he wanted it—no, Wilson rejected that thought immediately. House could have come up with a dozen excuses, or probably just took it without asking. But he would still have to have visited to get it, might even have had to have had a civil conversation with his father.

Still holding Hector, Wilson stood up and went out of his office. There was no sign of House in the corridor. He went down to House's office; House wasn't there, or in the conference room.

Over the next half hour Wilson walked the hospital, looking in all House's hiding places, but didn't find him.

Very late that evening, House staggered out of the bar and decided it was time to go home.

He hadn't intended to go out drinking on his own, but the moment he'd put Hector down on the floor and pushed him in the direction of Wilson's office door, House had simply lost his nerve. He'd walked straight out of the hospital and gone home; and on remembering that this was Wilson's home now too, he'd then left the apartment and gone out to a bar before Wilson could come home and find him.

He'd put his all into this one, and at the possibility of Wilson brushing it off, of claiming Hector wasn't an animate object—or just being amused by it, not taking it seriously—House felt a tight sensation like a fist clutching deep inside his chest. It wasn't the trouble he'd taken (borrowing Hector hadn't been easy, and he could only hope Mom didn't check the back of her dressing table drawer very often)—he'd gone to a lot more trouble for far more meaningless practical jokes and investigative pranks in the past. It was the reason behind it. But House would have cut his own throat before admitting to Wilson how much he cared about what happened next.

House figured that by now Wilson would be in bed asleep, or at least in bed, and House could stagger in and collapse next to him, playing even more drunk than he actually was, and put off all serious conversation until tomorrow. By which time he would hopefully have regained his nerve, or more importantly his ability to bluff his way forward as necessary.

The apartment was dark when he got back. House went in without turning on any lights, not wanting to wake Wilson up if he was asleep.

House then nearly had a heart attack when a small furry animate object jumped off a nearby bookcase, flew through the air, and landed on his shoulder.

"Fuck! Steve!" House recognized Steve McQueen with relief. He put his hand up to stroke the rat, still surprised. "What're you doing out of your cage? Wilson let you out?"

Wilson and Steve co-existed happily enough in House's apartment, but Wilson wouldn't normally think of letting Steve out for a run in House's absence. It was House's private opinion that Wilson wasn't really very good with animals, and Hector's remarkable longevity must be due to Bonnie's tender loving care.

House looked towards Steve's cage and froze. Sitting on top of the cage was a small box.

For a second House thought the ring must have gone down badly, really badly, and Wilson was just giving it right back to him. But it wasn't the same box, it was a different color. House approached the cage warily and picked it up. He opened it.

Inside was another large solid gold ring, this one slightly smaller but even more battered looking and far more tarnished than the one he'd given to Wilson. House stared at it, amazed, not fully understanding.

Steve McQueen twitched on his shoulder. House looked up, and saw Wilson standing leaning against the kitchen doorway. In the dim light, House could just see that Wilson was still wearing his work clothes, though his shirt sleeves were rolled up and he'd taken off his tie.

"It's my grandfather's wedding ring," Wilson said quietly. "My mother's father."

"Your grandfather who—" died in Belsen. House couldn't finish the sentence. Wilson nodded.

Then this wasn't just any old Wilson family heirloom, this was the most precious object they owned. House knew that Wilson's grandfather had given it to his wife just before he'd been sent off to the camp; it had been passed down to Wilson's mother, who had kept it safe all these years since. And House realized Wilson must have gone back to Trenton that very afternoon to get it—and Wilson wouldn't have just taken such a thing. Wilson would have explained to his mother why he wanted it. House's mind boggled.

Wilson followed House's train of thought without difficulty. "I told her everything." Wilson grinned ruefully. "She was a little shocked at first."

"Wilson…" House was speechless.

Wilson walked up to House, and House saw Wilson was wearing his ring. Wilson saw the direction of House's eyes and smiled. "Sorry, I guess I shouldn't have put it on. I wanted to see how it fit."

House picked up the ring from Steve McQueen's cage and slid it onto his own finger. "Like a glove," he rasped, hearing his own voice hoarse and thick with emotion.

Wilson reached out towards House, and the rat leapt nimbly off House's shoulder and down into the darkness of the floor. Then Wilson leaned in to kiss House, wrapping his arms around him and holding him tight. House felt his fears and apprehension lift and float away, and a tightening in his groin as Wilson pressed his body up against his own. This was what he'd been working towards—a future with the person who understood him better than anyone else in the world, and who he also understood as far as anyone could. Who also happened to have the sweetest, tightest ass House had ever seen, and give the most amazing blowjobs.

All House had to do now was explain to Mom where her father's ring had gone.