Coming to Terms with a Facade

Rating: PG- PG13 for language

Pairings and Characters: Amber/Wilson, House

Warnings: Spoilers for 4x12 Don't Ever Change, pre-slash/House/Wilson friendship

Disclaimer: House and all other related characters are owned by Fox. This story borrows them simply for amusement and for a chance to write. No profits, no commercials. I promise.

Summary: Although House seems to have let go of Wilson and accepted the woman he's dating, Houses' insecurities about himself and his friendship with Wilson continue to drive him to push Wilson till he breaks. The ultimate question remains: will he break because of Amber or because of House?

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Chapter 4

For the second time that day, Wilson found himself chasing after House in the bitter cold. But this time, it was not because of House's manipulations or attempts to jerk him around. No, this time, it was House who had been dragged along, even mocked, by these emotions which Wilson knew House had been struggling to come to terms with earlier that day. He didn't know why he was so deeply affected by what he had done to House, but he knew that he had to set things right. Perhaps it was his desire to correct the neediness of those around him...

Suddenly, Wilson stopped in his tracks, the irony of his situation closing in on him. During all of those years of chasing women who "needed" him, who longed for a source of happiness in their world of apparent despair and loneliness, Wilson had been completely blind to the neediness of his best friend. Or maybe.. was it that his neediness beforehand had never possessed a romantic appeal as it seemed to do now?

On top of it all, Wilson realized he had always needed someone to cleanse the feeling of emptiness that lingered in his heart. Amber had only cured that barren feeling for a short while, eclipsing his emptiness. Now that spectacular eclipse was gone, leaving Wilson bathed in the moon's true light. He now stood with everything he had before Amber, plus something essential: the truth.

Why hadn't he seen it before? House had always been equally pathetic and needy, yet he had always turned to Wilson as a fallback and source of support when his relationships turned sour. But Wilson was guilty of that, too. House had always been his comfort, never his source of happiness. But now, in this moment, it was clear to Wilson that they needed each other. As the other's equal, they could maintain a relationship with realistic checks and balances; they knew each other's faults, quirks, and most importantly, their most unique qualities – the characteristics which made them ideal as the best friend.

Images swam through Wilson's hurried mind of nearly every day he had shared with House. He thought of when they had first met, which then jumped to House's break-up with Stacy, which then flowed into many carefree nights at the hospital, from poker night to Christmas a few months previous. At last, Wilson found himself arriving at the image of House's utterly desperate gaze that he had given Wilson just minutes before. Those eyes... they seemed to echo with longing that House was obviously struggling to repress. But Wilson knew that neediness had always been there. It was just now that both he and Wilson had allowed it to float to their level of consciousness.

Wilson suddenly felt a sense of entrapment, almost as though he had been running from himself for all of these years. He had trapped himself in those years of delusions – each of those wives had been an attempt to cover up what was always there, both physically and mentally. Overwhelmed by the clichéd irony of it all, Wilson groaned, running his hands through his hair and spinning in a circle on the spot. How could he have been so blind?

A car sped past, causing a wave of water and snow to flow onto the pavement, forcing Wilson to gather his senses. He stood for a moment, and then glanced around, taking in his environment. The street was completely empty, save for himself and a barely noticeable figure which continued to shrink in size as it moved further and further away from the place to which Wilson had rooted himself. As Wilson scrutinized the figure, he noticed that it seemed to move with a limp.

"House," he whispered to himself. Taking a deep breath, he began to sprint after House. As his feet thudded against the pavement, he breathed rhythmically, thinking about nothing except catching up with the one man who could set everything right. With another pang, Wilson realized he was, in a very twisted way, running after himself. At last, he was not only confronting House for his problems, but setting things right for himself. "There's no way this can be a wrong decision," he announced triumphantly, and he felt himself break into a smile.

He ran on for several minutes, missing a speeding car by inches as he continued to run through a red light. The figure of House loomed ever closer, until at last, Wilson was within shouting distance of his friend.

"House!" he called out between panting breaths, "House! HOUSE!" On the third call, House stopped in his tracks. Exhausted, Wilson gave his body one last push towards the finish line. As he was within a few yards of House, Wilson stopped running, bending double and clutching at his sides, entirely out of breath. House continued to stand, carefully observing his best friend with scrutinized eyes as he choked and gasped for breath.

"What do you want?" House finally asked, a scowl beginning to crawl across his face.

Wilson couldn't answer, as he continued to gasp for air. He frantically looked around for a place to sit, and to his luck, saw a bench a short ways off. He slowly rose from his position of recovery and walked to the bench. As he sat down, he let out a cough mingled with a sigh of relief, and was surprised to find that House had followed him and now stood over him, continuing to gaze intently at his wheezing friend.

"I want..." Wilson panted, "to talk to you."

"Thanks for the obvious, Sherlock," House said, rolling his eyes and then returning his gaze to Wilson.

"Shut up, House," Wilson said, straightening up to look his friend in the face. Their eyes met, just as they had so many times before, but now Wilson felt the tension sitting there. There was a weight to the gaze that he had never been able to notice. Here and now, however, the tension was enough to cause both of them to look away uncomfortably, shifting in their positions as they scrambled to find something – anything – to say.

'Look," Wilson tried again, "I just wanted to... apologize."

For a split second, House's eyes widened in genuine interest, but his reaction was quickly smothered as his eyes narrowed once more and he responded.

"For... what?"

"For being... a..." Wilson struggled to find the right word, "for being an ass. To you. And although it may sound strange, for being an ass to myself."

House only continued to stare at Wilson.

"I realize that we've both been jerking each other around. Ever since we met, I think, we've just... screwed with each other's heads. Who knows how long we've been dragging each other around?"

"You're saying we've been using each other?"

"Yes! House! You've always known we've have a stupid, screwed up friendship. That's all we've ever had! But somehow, through it all, it's always meant something."

"Yeah, free lunch for 4 years."

"House," Wilson started, in a dangerous tone, "don't try to keep beating about the bush. I saw how you looked at me earlier. It means something to you, too."

House flashed a sardonic smile, rolling his eyes once again, "You're making this into more than it really is---"

"And you're trying to cover up what you know is really there!" Wilson snapped back, raising a pointed finger at House.

"Nothing is there!" House defended, "stop trying to look for something more between us. It doesn't make any..." House trailed off, pausing in a moment of realization. He refused to believe that he had just, out loud, tried to push Wilson's romantic pursuits away. Wilson chuckled from his bench seat.

"There, you realize what you're saying!" he said excitedly. "It does make sense! Because it's true! You know that! We have more than a screwed up friendship, we have a perfect relationship!"

"Oh, I see," House said, still maintaining his protective cover of sarcasm, "casual marriages between our lunch dates makes for a perfect relationship."

"We have the same needs: each other!" Wilson said, ignoring House's comment as he jumped up from the bus seat. He began to laugh in disbelief once again.

"I can't believe you're suddenly trying to push me away again! I'm laying everything out for you," he said, continuing to laugh. "I know what you're feeling; I know you, House! Don't keep running away from what you know will make you happy," his voice suddenly turned quiet and serious, "it's what I've been doing these past 4 years."

At last, Wilson fell silent; his panting of excitement mixed with remnants of his exhaustion remained as the only noise between them besides the whispering of the winter wind. As Wilson looked bewilderedly at House, he saw that his blue eyes seemed to sparkle, and they were wide with emotion.

"You can't seriously be thinking," House began, a tone of caution in his voice, "that the solution to all of my – what do you call it – 'pathetic-ness' is... you?"

Wilson spread his arms out in an small, welcoming gesture. "Yes," he said, simply. "Me."

"You?" House said, taking a step closer to Wilson. Their noses were now several inches from each other, and their gazes seemed to intensify. Wilson felt the weight of everything riding on this moment. The air seemed to stand still, hanging with impatience and tension, and Wilson felt his heart begin to race. They could see each other's breath turn to fog as they exhaled, and the mist of their breaths lingered together before disappearing into the atmosphere.

There was one more moment's pause in which the two friends scanned each other's faces, reading every detail they could each absorb in that moment of utter suspense before, at last, House felt himself embracing Wilson's face in his hands as he pressed his lips firmly and passionately onto Wilson's half-opened mouth.

There was a slight moment where Wilson seemed in a state of shock, unsure what to do with himself. But as House continued to kiss, Wilson felt his body enter a state of wholesome bliss. This was the feeling he had been searching for throughout those years past. He felt complete at last, as his arms slowly moved from their static state at his sides to House's neck and his lips returned the fierce passion that had finally exploded from House. The two of them stood there, locked in an embrace as the wind whistled around them and snow began to fall like celebratory confetti.

When they broke apart, House lowered his hands from Wilson's face, as he placed his forehead against Wilson's. Their eyes locked, and at last, a smile spread across House's face as he took in Wilson's brown eyes.

"Huh," he chuckled, "for once, you're right."

Wilson felt a smile spread across his face, and for the first time in years, he let out a genuine laugh. He leaned into House once again, lightly kissing his bristled lips. As the snow began to fall harder, Wilson shivered, breaking apart from House. He nodded his head towards the hospital, beckoning for House to follow him back to work.

Giving Wilson a look of understanding, House picked up his cane from the snow-covered sidewalk and began to walk alongside his partner. As they drew nearer the hospital, House threw a glance at Wilson. As Wilson looked over at him questioningly, House only had to give him a knowing smile for Wilson to understand, "Thank you."

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The End