Title: There Goes The Fear

Rating: T

Disclaimer: Sadly neither House or Wilson belong to me.

Summary: House lets go of his fear and lets Wilson know the truth.

A/N: The title of this fic is from the brilliant song by Doves. I made some changes to this fic after seeing that scene from 97 Seconds and better late than never, I finally got around to completing it.

Spoiler for episode '97 Seconds'.

Also any comments or reviews will be gratefully received. Thanks!

- - -

Close your brown eyes

And lay down next to me

Close your eyes, lay down

'Cos there goes the fear

Let it go

Doves - There Goes The Fear

- - -

"I'll be fine." House says a little too gruffly, sending Wilson away from his living room and out of his apartment. Wilson nods once, understanding that House wants space to be by himself.

"Are you sure?" Wilson asks needlessly one final time even as he is opening the door to leave.

House didn't bother to respond, he doesn't say goodbye or look back at Wilson as the door closes. House feels guilty for letting Wilson drive him home from the hospital, guilty for Wilson having to be at his bedside while he regained consciousness. He hates feeling so useless and that he burdens the one person that cares for him. He also feels guilty for sounding a bit too mean, but Wilson had seemingly ignored it, like he ignored so much when it concerned his behaviour.

House tries to push his remorse aside, but he can only feel restless and agitated. His left foot taps like a metronome against the dark, wooden floor for a while. He then slumps back into the couch and thinks that he should never have let Wilson leave. It should have been the usual way they spent their evenings together. Dinner and talking about trivial, inconsequential things. Comforting and familiar. But it's too late now. He feels the fear gradually building inside him, waiting to punch him in the stomach and leave him fighting for breath. He's not sure he has the courage to go through with it.

After ten minutes of relentless channel surfing, House switches the television off in escalating irritation. He then spends the following five minutes struggling to pace around his couch without his cane, House is now terrified. His hands would be shaking at that moment if he wasn't cradling his left hand in his right. He knows he should tell Wilson that it was the truth when he said he loved him. He should just tell that he needs him more than anyone else. But it scares him to admit it even to himself. He doesn't have the cover of having yet another near-death experience and being doped up on pain medication. If he says it now... House doesn't let himself finish the thought; he doesn't like being vulnerable in front of Wilson. But House knows they have both been through so much and Wilson is still there for him, still cares even though he doesn't always understand why Wilson chooses to stick around.

The memory of the last time he fell in love is forever burned in his mind; the moments exist like sharp, colourful photographs. It was complete and all consuming. And for a time it was fantastic. He was happy because he was loved in return. But then one momentous event changed his life for good and suddenly hate and love became synonymous in his mind. He is scared that it could happen again.

House assumes that it will be a miracle if Wilson tells him his feelings are reciprocated, but he then realises that it isn't the point of saying it to Wilson. He wants to tell Wilson because it's the truth. What Wilson does with the declaration is up to him. All House needs to do is come up with the right words. Give them both an escape route so that they can keep their friendship intact. He finally pulls his cell phone out from the pocket of his jeans and presses the speed-dial button for Wilson's number.

House doesn't have the time to change his mind and cancel the call. The call is already connected. Wilson's phone barely rings once before he answers it. Maybe he is still in his car, House thinks or maybe he just made it back to his hotel room.

"House." Wilson says by way of greeting. House doesn't think he sounds annoyed or worried. More like he was expecting a call from him sometime that evening.

"I'm bored." House simply replies. It is the truth and yet a pretence at the same time. He has had enough of over-thinking and analysing. The truth is that he doesn't want to be alone. He wants Wilson to be there with him.

"Okay." Wilson doesn't bother to say anything else before hanging up. House feels a rush of relief, but it is momentary. The anxiety returns full force.

By the time Wilson knocks on the door of his apartment House has worked himself into such a state that he feels as if his mind has gone blank. He has no idea what he could possibly say that Wilson would want to hear. He opens the door to his apartment and simultaneously feels better and worse for seeing Wilson standing there. Wilson smiles a greeting and walks into the living room. House has seen this happen countless times, but this feels different. His hand remains on the door handle as Wilson takes off his jacket and waits for House to close the door. Wilson finally notices the expression on House's face. He steps forward and looks at House with growing concern.

"What's wrong?" Wilson asks.

"Nothing." House replies a little too quickly. "Sit down. I want to talk to you." He doesn't want to talk to Wilson. He just wants to sit in silence with him and fix everything between them without having to say a single word.

Wilson dutifully complies, the expression of worry not leaving his face. House too makes his way to the couch. It seems to take an eternity to make the short journey to sit next to Wilson. He is tired and both his hand and his leg hurt, but he makes the effort to judge where he should sit in relation to Wilson. Close, but not too close, he thinks.

"House." Wilson says gently, coaxing him to speak. House takes a deep breath, summoning the courage to say the words he has to say.

"I love you." House can hear that his voice is shaky and he silently curses. He wanted Wilson to hear his sincerity above all else, but his heart is pounding as the adrenaline kicks up a notch in his body.

"I know." Wilson replies. A quick smile passes across his face. It's meant to reassure House, but he knows better.

"No, you don't." House counters. "If you did, you'd be mad at me. You'd be asking me how I could possibly be that selfish if I care about you." If House was being completely honest he would tell Wilson that his reaction or rather the lack of it, had been bothering him. House secretly relied on the fact that he could see that Wilson still cared by his admonishing lectures.

"I was mad, but I'm past that now." Wilson replies. "I didn't think you'd want to talk about it." House shakes his head once, refusing to digress from what he was planning to say.

"I don't want to talk about it. It's done, over." House truly believes that, even though his hand is still throbbing painfully. "You think I said it for the pain meds. I didn't. I meant it then, I mean it now." House sighs in relief despite his disappointment when he sees Wilson move back to create distance between them on the couch. House can see that Wilson finally gets the message.

"So...why now?" Wilson eventually replies. House glances across at him. He knows that Wilson is trying to buy himself some more time to process it all and to give some justification for House's actions. "Why say it then? When you were lying in a hospital bed, in pain?" Wilson seems keen to press the issue, but House knows that he is freaking out in his own quiet, restrained way.

"Better late than never." House shrugs his shoulders. He can see that Wilson is even more alarmed. "It's fine Wilson. Put the TV on. Or make me a sandwich." He suggests as he sinks back in the couch. He could carry on talking and mess everything up between them for good or he can let Wilson pretend that it wasn't significant. House nods to himself as he looks down to his injured hand.

Wilson slowly gets up from the couch and heads to the kitchen. House can't help being hurt by Wilson's response, but at least this way they can carry on being friends, maybe with enough effort from the both of them, they can go back to the relaxed, easy conversations they used to have.

Suddenly Wilson returns to stand in front of House. His eyes are now blazing with anger. For once, House is willing to take the blame, let Wilson get it out of his system, seek forgiveness even, just so that they can return to their familiar established roles in their relationship.

"You...you can't just say that and..expect me to..." Wilson's voice trails off, unable to find the words to convey his swirling, conflicting emotions.

"I said it was fine. I don't expect anything from you." House sees that Wilson has taken the statement the wrong way and is working hard to hide how upset he is. Wilson takes a deep breath as he keeps his eyes fixed on House.

"I don't want to keep playing these stupid games." Wilson finally says. He sounds and looks defeated as if he doesn't have the energy to work out what House really wants from him anymore. House shakes his head before he struggles to get up on his feet. Wilson instinctively holds his left hand out to help House up. But he stops himself from reaching out, as if he expects House to slap his hand away in irritation and wounded pride. House feels his chest tighten for a moment as he realises it is not enough to tell Wilson that he loves him. It might be easy to say the words, but it is even easier to doubt them. The final thread that had kept the fear in him, snaps and it suddenly floats away. He has to show him, prove that his love for him is greater than his desire to solve the greatest puzzle.

"I'm sorry." House whispers after he takes Wilson's hand. He uses Wilson to support his weight and leans on him while he gets his footing. House can't remember the last time they had stood together like that. He thinks that perhaps he has never allowed Wilson to help him in that way. It is difficult and awkward, but House manages to pull Wilson closer to him. He then wraps his arms around Wilson's waist, inhaling the smell of Wilson's aftershave mixed with the faint detergent fragrance from Wilson's shirt. He feels Wilson slowly relax into the embrace and he holds onto him, his hands resting gently on Wilson's back. House can feel the warmth radiating between them as he gradually relaxes as well.

"I'm sorry too." Wilson eventually replies, his voice muffled against House's shoulder. House pulls away in surprise. As far as he is concerned, Wilson has nothing to apologise for or feel guilty about. House looks at him questioningly, but Wilson doesn't explain himself. He simply looks directly at House, trying to discover the truth without asking the question. His gaze softens when he seems to find the answer he wants. House realises that Wilson had been as scared as he was, but the fear had gone for him too.

House leans in and presses his lips against Wilson's. The kiss is slow, gentle even, but not hesitant. Neither expects the other to pull away and say it was a mistake so they continue to explore each others mouths with their lips and tongues without reservation. House somehow manages to lose his balance when he tries to shift most of his weight to his left leg. Wilson tightens his grip on House's arms in time and eases him back towards the couch. Wilson joins him, sitting near House, but not touching him.

House briefly wonders if he's feeling relief or happiness or a mixture of both that Wilson is there next to him. They both look at each other at the same time and smile. House is pleased to find it's not uncomfortable or strange between them now. Evidently Wilson agrees with him because this time he initiates the kiss as he moves towards House and rakes his fingertips over House's scalp bringing them closer together.

House thinks that the kiss is the latest in the long line of unspoken conversations that they have shared over the years. He didn't need to say the words because this particular conversation has just as much meaning and importance as any other they've ever had.

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The End