House ignored the white snowflakes falling outside his window covering the world in a blanket of powder. It wouldn't matter if he watched the transformation from dull and ordinary into the proverbial winter wonderland as it was only a mask, and he was a man well acquainted with masks and the reality underneath.

His fingers danced well-known steps across the piano keys, the music washing over him and allowing him a moment's escape where the only demands were his own. A harsh knock on the door interrupted his peaceful meditation and he stopped, the last notes fading away as he reached for the glass of scotch.

"I'm not getting up," he shouted, swallowing the last bit of liquid and setting the glass back onto the medical journal he'd turned into a makeshift coaster. His eyes were focused on the keys, hands resting on his thighs as Wilson entered.

"Brought take out," commented Wilson as the door shut behind him, Shrugging out of his overcoat while juggling three large bags, he hung it on the wooden rack then bent to retrieve House's jacket lying in a heap on the floor only feet from the stand.

"Chinese," stated House sounding bored. Wilson couldn't help but notice that House was rubbing his thigh before turning towards the kitchen with the bags of food.

"Picked up a few of those eggrolls you like," Wilson offered, expecting and receiving no answer.

House could hear the rummaging of paper as Wilson pulled out the cardboard boxes, then the cupboard opening as plates were pulled out and finally the clink of bottles from the refrigerator.

Grabbing his cane he limped his way slowly the few feet to the sofa and gingerly settled onto the leather cushion. Leaning the cane against the short table he lifted his right leg onto the magazine cluttered top before leaning back and closing his eyes. House appeared to be concentrating on his breathing and Wilson tapped his shoulder lightly with one of the beer bottles.

As House took a long pull from the bottle, Wilson walked into the bedroom then reappeared with a small amber pill bottle. Shaking it for emphasis he regarded his friend solemnly. "When did you last take anything?" he asked quietly.

"Couple hours, maybe more," House grunted as Wilson tossed the empty bottle into the trash receptacle in the bathroom. House heard the medicine cabinet opening. "Nothing there," he assured Wilson, who was now standing in the short hallway, hands on his hips and looking concerned.

"Where's the stash?" House watched the oncologist look around the apartment seeking the usual hiding places and chuckled.

"Whatever do you mean, Jimmy?" House threw back innocently.

Wilson's brown eyes settled on House once more causing the older doctor to squirm under the scrutiny, knowing the other saw the uncontrollable twitching of his thigh. Unable to ignore the spasms any longer, House clenched his teeth and began rubbing his hand over the jean covered scarring, causing him to grimace at the rough friction yet continuing doggedly hoping for some small relief from the pain.

"House," Wilson implored.

Great, here comes the lecture thought House doggedly ignoring Wilson and taking another swig of beer. "Figured you wouldn't be back until after New Year's," House accused him angrily.

"I told you I'd be back after Christmas."

"Only three hundred and sixty five until the next one," shot back House.

"You're the one that didn't want to visit my family, and then I had the seminar to attend, the one you could have gone too," Wilson argued.

"Didn't have anything to say, and most of the panel are idiots," he said, the fight beginning to ebb out of him, and not knowing how to tell Wilson he'd really missed him.

"How long have you been out?" asked Wilson who was now sitting beside House one hand slowly massaging the thigh and the other kneading tense shoulder and neck muscles. House swallowed hard closing his eyes as he fought the sting of tears, his hand dropping to rest on Wilson's knee and tried willing himself to relax under the firm but steady touch.

"Two days," House managed to force out. "Cuddy was called out on a family emergency," he added before Wilson was able to pose the question.

"So you sat here for two days in complete misery?" House was unable to keep his gaze from drifting to the bookshelf and Wilson sighed in the knowledge of that look. "You could have asked Foreman." House shook his head.

"He'd have wanted something in return," House admitted, finding it easier to breathe normally again under Wilson's ministrations. Removing his hand from House's shoulder, Wilson grabbed the back of the sofa to pull himself up and was stopped by the increasing pressure of House's hand on his knee.

House hated admitting weakness, yet he feared the loss of Wilson's touch even more. Wilson patted him reassuringly on the shoulder while grabbing House's hand in his other and giving it a quick squeeze as he placed it on the cushion between them. Like a child House stared confusedly at the back of his hand. "Relax House, I'll just be a moment," Wilson told him as he stood then turned and headed for front door.

"Jimmy?" House's voice trembled slightly as he craned his neck to keep the younger man in site. Wilson reached into one of the pockets of his overcoat and threw a familiar object towards the seated man. House fumbled momentarily with the cap before popping two of the white pills into his mouth the bitter taste welcome as he anticipated the reprieve to follow shortly.

He jerked, startled by Wilson's weight dropping onto the sofa next to him and took the proffered plate. "Thanks," he mumbled, hastily attacking the food before him, aware of the steady gaze watching him. Pointing the wooden chopsticks towards Wilson's plate he stated between mouthfuls. "Fair game when I'm finished here." House's spoken threat successfully prompting the oncologist to begin eating, and averting his attention as they let the celebration on television keep the conversation to a minimum.

Two hours later House's head was resting on Wilson's shoulder, the older man snoring softly as Wilson ran his fingers through the graying hair. House shifted slightly as Wilson planted a kiss on top of his head and reached around wrapping House in a gentle hug, his eyes on the screen. As the oversized silver ball dropped Wilson whispered quietly. "Happy New Year's, Greg, I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

Wilson didn't see the smile that played across House's features.

fin