A/N: Well, here's a story I've been working on since the middle of last summer. Call me a procrastinator, call me lazy. Actually I'm just scared to death to post these things in public. Hope you enjoy and feel free to leave any comments on where you would like the story to go. I've already gotten the first 4 chapters written but feel free to leave constructive criticism and suggestions. Thanks for reading!
This takes place immediately following the end of Season 3.
Wilson carefully approached House's door, catching the muffled sounds of a complicated Spanish composition coming from a guitar on the other side. He was glad to know House was home and hadn't done anything stupid...yet.
He stood outside the door, listening to the notes resonate through the wood. It always amazed Wilson how House could express himself through music. It almost served as some sort of outlet for his emotions. This seemed to be one of those moments where House was trying to lose himself somewhere other than in the present. If House could put just half the emotional energy he put into his music into the people around him that cared about him, he might manage to have more than just one friend.
House's little breakdown with Foreman just hours earlier told Wilson that House losing his staff was affecting him more than he was willing to let on. Fearing the worst, he drove to House's place, knowing what kind of destructive streak his friend possessed when faced with anything difficult in his life. He stood in the hallway listening for a moment, before knocking firmly on the door.
No answer. The music continued to play. House was ignoring him. How typical.
He knocked again, harder this time, and added, "House, I know you're in there, I can hear you playing!" He respected House's privacy, his manners preventing him from pushing the door open and strutting into the living room. The fact that House had taken his key back during the Tritter fiasco and hadn't yet returned it might've had something to do with it too.
"What took you so long!" came the gruff voice from behind the closed door as the music continued.
He hesitated before turning the knob, wondering if House was going to actually get up and answer the door.
As he heard the music stop, an annoyed voice bellowed, "You plan on holding a conversation through the door all night?"
Maybe it would be smarter to just turn and walk away, letting House play with his guitar, sulk in front of the TV, or partake in some other form of mind numbing entertainment.
Cautiously, he turned the doorknob, afraid of what he might find. Opening the door, he relaxed a bit when he saw his friend still holding the guitar, skilled fingers adjusting each string with precision, head cocked to the side, eyes closed as he concentrated on fine tuning the instrument.
House glanced up, catching Wilson's eye for an instant before trailing down the oncologist's neatly pressed dress shirt and the partially rolled up sleeves to where a six-pack of beer dangled from his fingertips.
"Judging by the overly concerned caring puppy dog eyes, your ridiculously rigid posture and the six pack in your hand, I take it you've heard about my sudden lack of lackeys." House suspected.
"Uh...just thought maybe we could catch the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Flyers are playing..."
"Oh, please." House interrupted, continuing to pick away at the guitar, "You're here to check up on me. Make sure I don't do something stupid. Did Cuddy send you or is this your own overbearing concern for my well-being?"
Wilson finally succumbed. "I overheard the nurses at the front desk talking about it. You should be proud. They were amazed your team lasted as long as they did."
"New personal record." House paused for a moment. "I'm fine, really. Besides, it's not like I was placed on waivers by the Jets. My job's safe. Pays to be the manager. I get to run the team."
"Which is now nonexistent and may be tossed out of the league for inability to field a team." Wilson retorted.
"Well let's see..." House squeezed his right eye shut, his lip curling up slightly as he glanced up at the ceiling in mock thought, "I've got me, myself and I. That makes three, right?" House replied, looking back at Wilson. "Sounds like a full team to me."
"And who'll be doing all the legwork?" He had a hard time picturing the caustic doctor surviving more than one day actually dealing directly with his patients.
"Me...or maybe I would do it. I'd be keeping Myself busy." House answered, continuing to run with his smartass answer.
"Yeah, and I can just picture you actually visiting your patients. They'd all be running for the exits." Wilson strolled across the room then casually leaned his right hand gently on the edge of the piano, watching House tinker with his guitar.
"As long as they run out the front door and not the back." House replied. "Don't wanna mess with my stats." Glancing up, he spotted Wilson's hand resting on the immaculate surface of the baby grand. "Hey, watch the fingerprints."
"Sorry," he replied, using the sleeve of his shirt to wipe the greasy smear left by his palm. It always amazed him how the man who could care less about appearance and neatness always kept his instruments spotless and perfectly in tune.
"So, what are…" Wilson started as House's hands came into view, Wilson noticed the new guitar being cradled in his lap. A slight smirk crossed his features as he realized maybe House did actually listen to him once in a while.
"New guitar?" Wilson asked, unable to hide the patronizing tone in his voice.
Looking down at the smooth wood finish, House answered, "No, I jumped the guy on the corner and stole it from him. Took the case too. Figured I could use the loose change. I'm set with the vending machines at work for at least a year."
"Should last forever." Wilson quipped, "especially since you never actually put your own money in those machines."
House stopped playing, pushed himself up and leaned over the top of the piano to place the new instrument back in its case. Immediately his right hand shot to his thigh as he started massaging the damaged muscle, lowering himself gently back on the piano bench. Wilson wondered how long House had been sitting there, knowing it had probably been quite a while to allow his leg to stiffen up that much.
Wilson looked away, trying to ebb his concern as he watched his friend squeeze his eyes shut for a split second as he tried to hide the discomfort pushing its way to the surface. Reaching into his jeans pocket, he pulled out his trusty amber vial, popped the lid and threw his head back as he flung the oblong white pill into his mouth and swallowed.
House's blue eyes opened once again, focusing back on the aluminum cans still hanging from Wilson's left hand.
"Want one?" he asked, pulling a can off the plastic ring, handing it to House across the piano, using his sleeve once again to wipe up a drop of condensation that had fallen on the shining black surface. "They're still cold." He wiped his hand on his pants, removing additional moisture from his fingers.
"Old Style?" House asked, scrutinizing the blue and white can. "My dad drank Old Style."
"Then send it to your dad." Wilson replied as he made his way around the piano and collapsed onto his designated left side of the couch. "He might actually appreciate my common courtesy instead of bitching about what brand I bought."
"You sure you're not from Wisconsin or Illinois?" House asked, holding the can in his left hand as he continued working on his thigh. "Because I think they're the only people who actually drink that stuff without puking."
House pushed himself back to his feet, gingerly testing his right leg. His cane nowhere in sight, he placed his left hand on the piano and took a faltering step forward. A grimace crossed his features as he slowly made his way toward the couch.
"Where's your cane?" Wilson asked nonchalantly, trying to hide any sign of concern in his voice as he searched for the remote.
"Left it..." House gave a halfhearted look around the room, "somewhere around here." He continued his slow journey across the ten feet or so towards Wilson who was doing his best to focus on anything but watching his friend struggle towards him. Finding the remote wedged between the cushion and the armrest, he flipped on the TV and placed his feet on the coffee table House was currently working his way around.
Returning back to the original subject, Wilson asked, "So, Cameron too, huh?
"Yep," House replied as he set his beer down on the coffee table and unceremoniously collapsed backward onto the couch. "Maybe she felt the need to sacrifice herself in the name of Chase. Makes her feel noble."
House took a drink, scrunching his face like a three year old eating asparagus. "How do they get away with calling this beer?" He added then changed the subject, "Can we talk about something else? I thought you came over here to make me forget about work."
"That's what the beer's for." Wilson answered. "This is a dumb question but do you have anything edible around here?"
"No, but I have about three bucks in loose change. Could get you a candy bar and a Dr. Pepper out of the machine at the hospital." House took a swig and almost choked. "God. You couldn't pick any other brand? I think I may just send this to my dad, let him suffer a bit. How much do you think it would cost to Fed Ex it?"
Wilson was ignoring him as he got up to look in House's fridge. Some grape jelly, a few slices of dried out American cheese and something in the drawer that must've once been in the meat group.
"You have no food here, you never buy your own lunch, your car is a piece of crap and you never go on vacation. So how is it you never have any money?"
"Saving for a rainy day," House answered, reaching down and lifting his right leg onto the coffee table, followed closely by his left.
"We could have a flood of biblical proportions and you still wouldn't part with your money." Giving up on his search for food, he plunked back down next to House, the hiss of air escaping from the leather cushions.
"That hurts, you know. I distinctly remember paying for dinner right before my parents came to town." Pointing his finger at Wilson's chest.
"That was like a year and a half ago!" Wilson replied, "And you only paid because I loaned you five thousand dollars!"
"I paid you back."
Wilson just shook his head, returning his attention back to the two players beating the crap out of each other on the ice.
They sat quietly for a few moments, each man staring intently at the television, waiting for the other to break the uncomfortable silence.
House made the first move, pushing himself off the couch, looking around confusedly, eyebrows furrowed. "Where the hell's my damn cane?" He grumbled, glancing around the room.
Wilson took this as a subtle hint meaning House wasn't in the mood for a jaunt around the apartment so he joined in the search and quickly spotted it against the wall by the front door.
"Got it." He quickly stood up and jogged the few steps to the entryway and snagged the piece of black painted wood with the orange flames, handing it to House.
Wrapping his right hand around the handle, House pushed himself off the couch, placed the cane by his right foot and headed towards the front door, brushing past Wilson who was still standing at the end of the couch with eyebrows furrowed, trying to figure out what the hell is friend was doing. He reached down to pick up his jacket from the closet doorknob.
"Let's go." he demanded, shrugging on his leather jacket.
"Where?" Wilson was slightly confused by House's sudden interest in venturing out somewhere.
"Out." House grabbed his helmet off the computer desk and tossed it Wilson's direction. "I'm buying."
"Wait. Did I just hear you... mmph!" More out of self-preservation, Wilson's hands immediately shot up, catching the helmet against his chest.
"No. No way." Wilson answered abruptly with a hint of worry in his voice. "I am NOT riding on the back of that thing." He had seen the way House drove that death machine. There was no way he was getting on the back with a cripple who had a drug problem even if said cripple was his best friend. "Come on, I'll drive."
"Wuss." House continued out the door without hesitation. Wilson followed quickly, trying to dissuade his friend from doing something stupid with a ridiculously fast two-wheeled vehicle.
"Well, I'm not riding in that," House stated bluntly, pointing towards the conservative sedan parked across the street. "Ruins my rep."
"Yeah, because I know how important that is to you," Wilson deadpanned.
They were at a standoff, neither man relenting.
Wilson waved the white flag, or in this case, his keys. "Fine. I'll follow you." At least maybe he could keep an eye on him on the way to wherever the hell they were going.
A/N: I started this story about eight months ago, worked on it throughout the summer then stopped for some reason. Maybe because life got a little hectic. I finally decided to just post it, that way I'll actually get back to work on finishing it. I'm also still working on Monster Truck Mayhem. Chapter 4 to be coming soon...