Spermatocele And A Rubber Nose.


Disclaimer: I own nothing. I make no money. I write for the halibut.

Pairing: Wilson/House

Rating: Mature, NC-17, SLASH

Summary: The long slow burn of friendship and love.


"Did you ever get that cyst removed?"

House looked up from his fish burger and stopped chewing for a moment.

"No, you're still sitting there." He swallowed. "What cyst?"

Wilson smirked at the lame joke and sipped his coffee. "The epididymal."

"My coils are just fine." House said.

"Remember? Fifteen years ago, my office - my old office - at the clinic?"

"You mean Drakes office?"

"Drakes and my office, yes."

"You were such a young eager doctor." House reminisced, his eyes pretending to gaze away to a past he barely remembered. "And cute. Women would just line up to die under your caring hands."

"You had a cyst? In the left one?" Wilson prompted, pointedly ignoring House's attempt at mocking deflection.

"Oh, that." House glanced around the crowded hospital cafeteria. "And by the way, if you're going to publically speak of my balls, talk louder and be sure to use the words "sexy" and "brass" in the sentence."

"It was a common cyst. Lots of men your,...well, that age, get them."

"I'm aware. Then as now. I may not be an oncologist, but I know when my nads aren't hanging right." House tackled his french fries. "But to answer your question, yes, I got it taken care of." He chewed a large, salty mouth full. "Why are you making my Spermatocele a lunch topic? And, weirdly, I no longer have an appetite to eat my cherry tomatoes."

"Because today is our anniversary."

House stopped chewing and slid his tiny basket of tomatoes over to Wilson who looked at them dubiously. "Anniversary? You never bought me a ring. Except for, you know..." House rolled his eyes as though sharing a wicked secret, "that one that's wa-a-y too big for my finger." He threw Wilson an exaggerated wink.

Wilson pushed the tomatoes back, his appetite quashed. "If only eating with you could be bottled as a diet aid." He remarked. "Today's the anniversary of when we met."

"So naturally, you thought about my testicles." House raised his eyebrows. "How sweet."

Wilson sighed. "Hard to forget that day. You were kind of a jerk." Wilson pondered over his words. "Interestingly, all days with you are hard to forget..."


"Please come in. Sit down."

Doctor Gregory House, unruly brown hair crawling about his scalp that no amount of combing could likely tame, entered the office of the young oncologist.

Gregory House and James Wilson exchanged nods.

Looks like he gave up the comb years ago, the younger Doctor Wilson thought, his own thick mop of shiny dark hair falling over his forehead like a horsey fetlock.

That's where the similarity to any four legged creature ended. James Wilson was a young, sharp featured looker with melting pot brown eyes and a smile that turned love-hardened hearts into simpering idiots.

James Wilson's patient for the afternoon was a doctor. A man ten years his senior (Wilson knew from the chart this doctor's doctor had sent over). A tall, fit man with arrogant - but beautiful - eyes who moved with the careless ease of the athletic.

Bluest eyes I've ever seen. Wilson thought, continuing to muse nervously over his patient. He, like most doctors, hated getting other doctors as patients. Arguing over diagnosis almost always came at the end of any exam.

In an attempt to break the ice, "What's your specialty?" Wilson asked as his doctor-patient did his own sizing up of him with much more hubris. Wilson felt the cool blues on his every move and word. The man didn't answer at first. It was...a little creepy.

"Three-somes." Doctor House finally said. "You?" He stared, actually waiting for an answer.

Wilson, always up for a snide remark challenge, quipped, "Lately? None-somes." What the hell? A little humor might help them relax and he had often thought his sense of humor was better than most. "Or one-somes on those especially lonely nights by the dirty magazine racks."

That elicited a small - very small - smile from the older doctor. Then, "So? More X-Rays or something less useless?"

"Your urologist already sent his along." He replaced said X-Ray with one his nurse slash tech' had taken upon House's arrival. "This one is slightly less useless than the other. It show's the cyst has increased in size, maybe fifteen percent since a month ago." He scolded, "You've been neglecting this for a while."

"Couldn't spare the hours. Girlfriends, hookers, your sister, your mom..."

Wilson frowned at that one. House's humor was hitting a bit too close for his taste, but it said something about the man. Seemed House liked to test out the waters. Get a rise, Wilson figured. See what stuff people were made of. It was arrogant alright, but interesting.

Therefor Wilson didn't skip a beat in response. "Umm, yes. Both in shock therapy as we speak." He turned back to House. "I want to do an ultrasound. And I'll be doing a physical exam before-"

"-No need." House said.

Wilson decided: Yup. The man was self-assured as hell, presuming to tell his oncologist his business before the "business" even got started.

House continued, "Just give whatever 'script'll reduce the swelling and I'll get it removed later at Plainsborough."

Wilson looked around from his light-box. "We need to know what is causing the swelling, if that's what it is."

"It's a swelling. A build-up of fluid in the epididmytis, that's all it is. I'm experiencing minimal pain. And no fever, so no infection..."

Wilson tried to politely interrupt. "Doctor House..."

House mimicked Wilson, "Doctor Wilson. What are doing, collecting them? You already have two X-Rays, I don't need an ultrasound. Just give me the 'script-"

"This swelling could be caused by a dead sperm cells. Which might indicate an STD-"

"-I do not have an STD!"

"If you've been doing my sister, I beg to differ."

House rolled his eyes a little and started to explain Doctor Wilson's specialty to Doctor Wilson. "It's not chlamydia. Epididymal blockages can be idiopathic. All I need is a 'script for inflamation-"

Wilson closed his mouth at the other physician's presumption. Then with all seriousness, "-With all due respect, your testicle does not have a sore throat!" Wilson explained as to an idiot. "You have a swelling, possibly a growth. I'm assuming you didn't to come to a cancer specialist because all your ball needed was to be tucked in bed with some Buckley's and a warm blankee. You're a thirty-six year old in a high stress job. Thus, the perfect candidate for text book testicular cancer." Wilson snatched a blue paper gown from a drawer and thrust it at him. "So either strip and put on this unfashionable dress or stop wasting my time and get out."

House's face froze for a few seconds at the young doctor's outburst (he hadn't seemed the type), then fell to an almost contrite - more sullen actually - expression. He grudgingly took the gown and began to remove his clothes. Doctor Wilson excused himself. "The nurse will be by in a few minutes to take you to Ultrasound."


Cold air tickling his backside, House was led by small, pinched faced red head down the tiny hall to Wilson's Ultrasound room. Wilson's practice was clearly just getting off the ground. He had one partner - a fellow oncologist who was on vacation - occupying two cramped offices. The reception room was the size of a telephone booth occupied by a very pretty brunette who's desk used up one half of it. She took care of phones, paperwork and patients. Finally, there was this tiny nurse who did pretty much everything else the doctors or the secretary didn't do.

Yet his urologist had highly recommended James Wilson. Why (other than a sharp sense of humor), House decided, remained to be proved.

After an uncomfortable ultrasound on his swollen teste, (neither cracked a joke while Wilson deftly and quickly got the films he needed. One man medically handling another man's testicle was not grounds for idle humor. It was an unmentionable rule.) House (balls sticky with goo no amount of paper towel could wipe off) was lead back, passed Wilson's office to a small room with a larger examination table. Laid out beside it on a sterile tray House recognized were the instruments for an out-patient procedure. A "snip-snip, now go home and put ice on it" operation. Like a vasectomy or penile extension. Or a painfully swollen testicle.

House declined to sit in the chair or lie on the table. He thought perhaps of slipping back to young Doctor Wilson's office, grabbing his clothes and giving his sore sack a day or two reprieve.

But Doc' Wilson was too fast for him, entering the room with a coffee in one hand and a folder in the other.

"Instructions?" House asked politely regarding the folder. "Pictures and everything?"

"No, no, no." Wilson said, an eager smile on his face. It was quite good, too. Almost convincing. House had to admit it, he was impressed. "Snip by the numbers." Wilson finished his coffee and tossed the Styrofoam cup in the wastebasket, adding, "Remember? I attended medical school for 8 years to become a photographer. Once we're done here, clown suits next. Rubber noses are in the drawer. Big floppy shoes optional."

House was experiencing a very rare delight. Someone was making him laugh, at least on the inside. It was too early to let on that he was beginning to like the younger physician. But House had smiled, (tiny but genuine ones), more in the last hour than he had in the last year. Few people had ever had that effect on him. This James Wilson, he had to admit, was likeable. Friendly in the only good way: not as some social cover for awkwardness but because he actually liked people (though he wouldn't hold it against the fellow). Wilson came across as...real-er than most people House knew. Young, a tad serious, a trifle self-conscious. Never-the-less, unafraid of his own intellect. Comfortable with his wit and brave enough to give as good as he got. It was a mix Gregory House had rarely encountered.

Doctor Wilson was a fresh breeze in human form.

"Please lie down." Wilson was all business now, as he scrubbed his hands at the sparkling clean sink, donned surgical gloves and a paper face mask. But once he sat down at the stool next to the surgery table, something in his eyes changed.

House, his long form lying stiffly on the ice cold table (a thin sheet of paper did nothing to separate his warm flesh from the frigid plastic padding), watched those thoughtful brown orbs as Wilson placed a small amount of topical lidocain on one rubberized finger. As he spread the freezing ointment over the small area, House noted that Doctor's Wilson's eyes betray every emotion the man was feeling. The young physician actually looked at House to check if he was experiencing any discomfort. He was, but he was so fascinated by this new oncologist, he had forgot to flinch. Most physicians, though they might show a clinical interest, rarely displayed such genuine consideration and warmth, particularly when about to poke a needle into another man's scrotum.

"This is just an exploratory." Wilson explained to his patient. He looked directly at House. "The Ultrasound indicated an significant enlargement of the epididymis." Wilson carefully injected a local anesthetic while speaking. It was an effective way to distract the patient from the unpleasant and occasionally painful procedure. "And on the sonograph, it appeared opaque." Wilson knew House knew the possible implications. "It might be a waste-contaminated fluidic mass or just a blockage..."

House felt the tell-tale signs of worry as his heart rate increased and his blood pressure shot up. Wilson noticed the changes also. His voice was soothing and kind. Jello pudding from grandma sort of kind. Soft, even, gentle.

The physical effect on him was incredible.

House suddenly didn't mind that he might have testicular cancer (Wilson's unspoken words), so long as this man agreed to treat him for it. House felt a touch light-headed, but then realized it was probably the anesthetic. Even locals can infiltrate the blood supply in minute quantities. At least his blood pressure was back to normal. A scrotum with blood vessels full to bursting did not an easier exploratory make.

Wilson was poking around in there now, with his blunt ended tools and a finger. House could feel movement but no pain. The guy was hell with a needle. He'd hit the perfect spot. Not easy doing a local on the frustratingly twitchy scrotum. Break-through pain - and thus a sudden and violently bucking patient - was common.

A few terrifying seconds of silence screamed in his ear before Wilson spoke again. "It's not cancer."

House let out a breath he had not realized he was holding. Thank you young Doctor Wilson, your kind eyes, nice voice and cheap little office practice.

"But it's infected. It's a burst vessel. It's clotted. An infarction. We"...there's that caring thing again, House thought; Wilson using the word "we" as though they were sharing this swollen moment of dramatic relief... "can't remove it until the infection's cleared up." Doctor Wilson put a quick stitch or two into House's much happier scrotum and removed his gloves and mask. "I'll write you a 'script for amoxacillin and Tylenol three. That should clear up the infection in about ten days and help if there's any pain."

House sat up with that weird feeling everyone has after lying still on a cold table while a doctor probes your most personal space, a little dizzy and tension fatigued. He managed a nod and a quiet thank you.

Wilson smiled and House had a vision of perfectly white but not capped, slightly bucked incisors. It was an endearingly sexy grin. House suddenly blushed to the roots of his hair, but Wilson had his back turned to the counter, updating in his chart.

House left James Wilson's office with a puzzling and therefore annoying stew of emotions bubbling around inside him. He'd never in all his nights with busty bar picks-ups, thought of another man as sexy. He decided to thrust James Wilson from his mind. There were plenty of oncologist's.

Gregory House never returned to James Wilson's office. He took the prescribed drugs but then had one of Princeton Plainsborough's finest go in and repair his clogged plumbing.

Doctor James Wilson never saw Doctor House for another three years. In the interim, that same day after Doctor House had left his office in fact, he'd Googled Gregory House and learned that he, a young, relatively fresh oncologist working out of his embarrassingly tiny practice, had just treated one of North America's finest medical minds.

He knew House would probably not return for the necessary follow-up. And he also doubted he would have occasion to ever meet Doctor Gregory House and his obnoxiously stunning blue eyes again.



House scurried a little faster toward the elevators. Cuddy's voice could round corners, he thought and punched the Up button several times.

She was faster though. "House!" She called again and caught him just before he could slip away. He turned to face her, defeated. "I know, clinic duty. I was just about to consider that I ought to begin thinking of perhaps doing my two hours." He punched the button again. "You know, maybe in the next week or two if nothing better comes up."

The elevator door slid aside. "Hey!" House said. "Something did come up, the elevator's here."

Lisa Cuddy tossed a waterfall of dark hair and twisted one side of her red-lipsticked mouth up. It was her most coyly manipulative smile - her secret weapon - the one that almost always did him in. "No clinic duty today." She said, delighting in his confusion. She held up a key.

"A key to your house?" His eyes widened. "Oh, I knew you'd come around. All women eventually do. And I do mean all women everywhere."

"Right." She nodded her head indulgently. "We have a new doctor starting today. Please show him around, and - God - please will you welcome him with something in the ballpark of friendliness."

House's face fell. Clearly irritated, "Why me?"

"Because he will be working on this floor, where YOU work, and I want him to know firsthand what he's getting himself into."

"You hired a new guy? Where are they holding him down?"

"He's waiting in my office. I have a board meeting. His office key." She placed the key in his palm. "And be nice!"

"Someone somewhere in this hospital may be dying you know." He called as she walked away. "You're wasting a perfectly good Diagnostician!"

House, his heavy running shoes thumping on the hard floor, walked in the direction of Cuddy's office. As he approached he could just see a figure sitting stiffly in her visitors chair. Indistinct dark head, black suit. When House threw open Cuddy's office doors, the doctor stood and turned. "Doctor Cuddy-"

The young, good looking man closed his mouth, recognizing immediately those coral blue eyes. Not amused eyes. Pissed off eyes in fact.

The two physicians stared at each other for a few seconds. The younger decided to speak first. "How are you Doctor House?"

Doctor Wilson I presume? House thought, staring rudely at the young oncologist. To his credit, Wilson did not squirm.

House remembered why he was there. "Apparently I'm your welcome wagon. Let's go." He said flippantly and left the room. Wilson gathered up his briefcase and coat, hurrying to catch up. House had long, muscled legs and was not easy to overtake.

House lead Wilson to an office with a glass outer wall draped with vertical blinds. On one side of a glass partition (where they both were standing), sat a desk and chair, a shelf lined with books and, Wilson noted, a vast collection of music CD's. The other part of the office was larger containing a conference table, several drawer less desks, piles of stackable chairs and other office sundry. Clearly it was currently being used simply as a storage area.

A bit confused, "We're sharing offices?" Wilson asked.

For an answer, House huffed. "This" The taller man said, sweeping his hand around the comfortable space, "is MY office." House did a run down of it, pointing out various items as he did: "My desk, my computer, my CD and record collection." His hand waved at his book shelves, "My medical volumes. Don't touch any of them." House looked at Wilson and paused.

Wilson got the distinct impression he was being sized up again, but a most unique way. As though House were playing a role and Wilson was the sole member of the audience. Would he get upset, be provoked to laughter or politely clap? But instead of actually following House's outstretched hand as the man gestured to his varied and sometimes quirky office accouterments, Wilson studied House.

Three years ago he had, after his one brief appointment with Gregory House, read up on him. Learned a great deal about him in fact. His education, published papers, who he had trained under - some impressive names - years of experience, even success rate (House had lost almost no patient ever sent to him, a practically unheard of statistic).

But none of it had told him anything significant about the man himself. Wilson realized he was about to get first hand experience in that terrain. The question that came to his mind was whether it would be a fairground or a battlefield.

House came to the end of his perambulation. "...my light-box." Lastly, he gestured to a large ball sitting beside a coffee cup on his desk. "My ball."

Wilson raised his eyebrows as House wound down from his bizarre monologue. "Right." Wilson patiently answered, nodding his head very seriously at House as though the weird spectacle he'd just witnessed happened to him frequently - in fact - just yesterday. "You know," Wilson continued, "Doctor Cuddy didn't just bring me home from the orphanage. I'm not your new baby brother. I won't be borrowing your team sweater or sneaking a peek at your dirty magazine collection. If you're a big enough jerk, I might steal the out-dated rubbers from your wallet..."

House caught the backhanded implication that his sex life had been in a holding pattern a good while. With a trifle more respect, House studied the younger doctor closely, his eyes roving about the dark, neatly in place hair, the black suit, the clean fingernails.

"But you are going to be working on the same floor as me," House ventured, "and these walls are as thin as tissue paper. So whatever you'll ever be doing from this day forward - keep it down." House threw himself carelessly into his desk chair, linked his hands behind his head in cock-of-the-flock-arrogance and rocked back and forth a bit before addressing Wilson again. "I'm used to peace and quiet. I need peace and quiet to think, to solve cases, save lives and occasionally get a nap."

"Right. Once I get the trapeze installed, I'll keep the orgies down to a minimum."

House stared for a few seconds and, finally satisfied, nodded once. "Fine. Good."

Wilson thought maybe the man was a tad screwy in the head or at the very least, unstable. However, he couldn't help himself. Thrusting his hands into his pockets, he pursed his lips and asked, "And I really can't play with the ball either?"

House smiled. A tiny sliver. "Especially not the ball."

Wilson nodded. "Gotcha. Nice office. Can I see mine now?"

"Don't know where that is." House remarked and tossed the key Cuddy had given him to her new employee.

Wilson caught it. "She said it was the one beside yours."

"Beside mine?"

Wilson gathered up his briefcase. "Don't bother. I'm sure I can find it."

House all but leaped from his chair and exited his office, throwing Wilson a command on his way out, "Don't leave. Don't move."


Cuddy's meeting had just gotten underway. "Okay, first order of business. We have a new staff member. I'm sure you'll all want to introduce yourselves this week. He came highly recommenced, so make him feel at home-"

The door to the Boardroom burst open. It was House. Cuddy was already on her feet and guiding him out of the room when he went into his tirade. "Why did you put the new guy beside me?"

"Shut up." She said, steering him to a small staff lounge. Closing the door, she spoke before he had another chance to. "Doctor Wilson is our new Oncology Department Head. The Department Head's offices are on that floor. Your floor. That was the only empty office. So in a perfectly reasonable calculation of one plus one equals DUH!, I assigned it to him. So unless you have some other insane, House-ian reason why he should not have that office, that office is now HIS office."

"I need privacy."

"No you don't! You don't care about privacy. What you crave is an audience. Now you've got one."

House set his mouth. "I don't want him there."

Cuddy bit her cheek with sudden comprehension. "Hang on a second." She stepped closer, one finger pointing at his chest as she brought home her points one by one. Her predatory nail in fact dug in a bit, making him flinch. "You never protested when Moore was in that office. Or Coombs, or Richardson or Tooley."

She pushed and he backed away until his legs hit a counter and he was forced to stop. "If memory serves, they're the ones who complained about YOU and transferred out. I haven't been able to keep a doctor in that office since I hired you." Cuddy narrowed her eyes when House blushed. "Now you're specifically requesting Doctor Wilson be evicted on his first day."

She smiled the smile of one in the know. Cuddy took a step back, leaning against the door and considered her hapless employee. "He's the one, isn't he? He's the one you went to see about your little..problem."

House looked away, embarrassed. "My little problem is my little business. And the twins are fine, by the way. Wilson-"

"Wilson came with a medical pedigree almost as impressive as yours and considering he's only been practicing for a few years, that's enough for me."

Cuddy did not divulge that she already knew House had gone to Wilson. Young Doctor Wilson had somehow managed to keep Gregory House in his office. Got him to change into a demeaning paper dress, had smeared goo on his secret fella's - TREATED the self-assured, pig-headed, argumentative Gregory House and, most significantly, House had not told her about it.

That House had kept the appointment at all meant something had been wrong with House.

cuddy had fretted over it for a month but said nothing. Finally, House had gone but not to any physician at Plainsborough. House would have never allowed any doctor with whom he worked look in his pants.

On the other hand, that House had allowed this young oncologist to strip him of all dignity and examine his privates said two crucial things: that House had been genuinely worried and that he had checked out James Wilson's qualifications and found out he was good. Wilson HAD to be good. House would never have gone to him if he had thought otherwise.

Wilson had seen House in a most...vulnerable condition under dignity compromising circumstances. That gave Wilson a bit of a psychological edge. And to work with House, Cuddy had learned the hard way, one needed an edge.

Cuddy said none of this to House as she turned to leave. Only, "Doctor House, meet Doctor Wilson, boy wonder oncologist. Go play nice and don't ever barge into one of my meetings again."


House paused in the hallway outside his office and looked in. The new Doctor Wilson was standing by his window, looking out over the adjacent park.

"Hey." House thrust his head inside and when Wilson looked around, jerked his head for Wilson to follow.

House led him down the short hall, turned a corner and introduced him to the much smaller office next to his. Holding out his hand for the key, Wilson gave it over and House opened the door. Wilson was pleasantly greeted by solid walls (Wilson was glad for that) painted hospital drab. A glass door lead to a nice balcony, though one not as roomy as House's, with a waist-high dividing wall between.

Both doors had locks, for which Wilson was grateful. He hoped House would show as much respect for his need for privacy as much as he demanded his own.

House placed the key in his hand. "Here you go, sir. The kitchen is now closed but the bar's open 'till midnight. And only high class hookers at this hotel, so call if you want," House winked and clucked his tongue, "you know." He held out his hand.

Wilson looked down at it. "You want a tip?"

"Lunch money." At Wilson's lack of handing-it-over, House said "Ten bucks. Standard fee."

Wilson threw him a half indulgent half dismissive look and closed the door on him. But allowed himself a soft chuckle when House said through the door, "I'm not kidding."

Wilson blew out a huge sigh and laid his briefcase on the bare desk. A light coat of dust indicated the space had not been used very recently. The desk was empty except for a pen rolling around in the top drawer and an open box of latex gloves in the bottom. He heard music coming through the wall of House's office, and a baritone piping in for a few words here and there.

Wilson listened for a moment. So House listened to CD's, coordinated new staff, and (he guessed) argued with his boss over where those new recruits were to be set up. But did the man work occasionally too? Ever since meeting House for the second time, Wilson had felt a small...tickle...in his brain that had not been there since...

...well, his first meeting with House.

Fresh neurons fired whenever he tried to twist his head around the weirdness that was House. And it was only his first day - his first hour - on the job.

But Wilson was thrilled to have gotten the position at Plainsborough. His practice with Drakes had been a good start but he wanted to treat cancer patients from the beginning to, he hoped, the good ending; their survival. Some of course, would not have that outcome. But the old adage of physicians applied: Cure sometimes, relieve often, comfort always.

A jazzy piano drifted through the thin wall.

Wilson leaned back and sighed. His career was finally starting in earnest. The place was strange, the company stranger, but he felt...content (also strange). He was now the new kid on the block. Young doctor Wilson. Not a great deal of experience under his belt but he understood his specialty inside-out and backwards. And he knew he was good.

A new position. New boss (a gracious and very pretty new boss). Soon, new patients. And new, very unusual, colleague next door.

Wilson rubbed the little headache that had developed behind his eyes. For the second time, he had met Doctor Gregory House. The genius. Over the last three years, since their first meeting, House'd had his picture in the paper now and then because he had cured a famous client or, in consultation, made a brilliant diagnosis. International papers sometimes.

Wilson yawned and stretched. After the weird little tour of, not the hospital, but House's personal and off limits domain (the man had to be just a little nuts) Wilson felt drained. But from now on, things were going nowhere but uphill.

Leaning back in his chair, he put his feet up on the desk, confidently crossing one polished shoe over the other. Aloud, "There is no medicine like hope." he quoted.



Wilson opened his door in time to hear Doctor House ask the strange question.

Wilson closed and locked his office door behind him. "No," he answered patiently. "No, actually the name is Wilson."

House, dressed in a colorful ensemble of black jeans, green t-shirt and un-tucket pink dress shirt, nodded but didn't laugh at the little joke. "I mean wieners. At the cafeteria."

Unable to shake his eyes off the pink shirt, Wilson chewed it over for a second or two before, "Oh. You mean lunch? You're asking me to lunch." Wilson felt glad that he'd been asked on only his second day at Plainsborough but a little disturbed that it was House doing the asking. So he had apparently made enough of an impression that he had quickly made a friend, but the friend was Gregory House. He wasn't sure exactly what that said about himself.

"Whatever. Sure. If you're buying." House answered.

Wilson didn't mind being maneuvered into buying House lunch. He had to admit, the guy looked hungry. What do they pay Diagnosticians these days?

"Sure. My pleasure." Wilson said and followed the quicker on his feet House three floors down to the hospital cafeteria.

House polished off three loaded hotdogs, a chocolate pudding and a large coca-cola. He had clearly not heard of the evils of refined sugar and fat.

"Had enough?" Wilson asked. His wallet felt significantly lighter. House nodded, looked happy but had not said thank-you. Wilson's mind itched to tell the guy off but restrained himself. His brother had often acted the same way. A pang of regret crossed his heart and disappeared. "Any cases?"

House nodded, slurping his drink. "Yup. Severely retarded male presented this morning with fretfulness and a refusal to eat."

Wilson watched House drink, waiting a few seconds for further information. "That's it?" He asked when House said nothing more.

"Nope. He had a fever. Probably the flu'. Waste of my time."

Wilson was frustrated with and fascinated by House. It was as though House needed him to ask the questions so he would have an excuse to carry on a conversation. Or House was testing him to see if he would ask the correct questions thereby proving his right to be inducted into House's secret Society of Neurotic Brain-iac's, House holding the unenviable position of Grand PooBah.

A trifle irked, "Are we weighing our mutual brain-pans? What was wrong with the guy?" Wilson asked.

House finished his drink. "Don't know yet." He stood and bussed his tray, tossing the drink cup into the trash. "But from the symptoms he's displayed so far, the flu' is the most likely diagnosis."

House didn't like to speculate, Wilson thought. That was interesting. Not an uncommon track where doctors stood. But where House's specialty lay, Wilson figured speculation was part and parcel.

As though having read his mind, House said "No point in guessing. Treat the symptoms. If the patient improves, it's boring and I'm right. If he doesn't..."

It was essentially logical, but it could be dangerous. "-And if he gets worse?" Wilson asked, falling into step beside House on their way to the elevators.

House raised his eyebrows and punched the Up button. "Then it's not so boring, all treatment is stopped and I wait."

"Wait for what?" Wilson was growing more and more intrigued by this man and his little planet if diagnostic medicine.

They entered the elevator together. "Wait for something to change."

"You just sit around and wait?"

"Well I could hit on the nurses while waiting, but then Cuddy might get jealous."

As to that detail, Wilson had serious doubts. "What if the guy dies while you're waiting?"

House seemed to be enjoying the conversation. Wilson was asking the right questions it seemed.

"Then it wasn't the 'flu."

Wilson shook his head and was suddenly thankful that oncology, for all of its hundreds of varieties, was basically one disease with very similar treatment options. He suspected that House, if he would have specialized in cancer, would have been bored to his bone marrow.

It wasn't long before something did change. House entered the private room to find two beefy orderlies and a grey-headed nurse trying to hold his fat thirty-something patient down. The thrashing man was crying out - more of a keening wail - which grated on the nerves of all present.

"Give him a shot of pentobarbital for God's sake!" House barked.

The hypodermic was jostled around a bit before the nurse managed to inject the guy's hip. In a few seconds he slumped back onto the bed.

"What happened?" House asked.

"I was just changing the sheets and he went nuts." The nurse said.

A bit sarcastic, "Very professional medical rundown of his symptoms, thanks!" House said. He and the nurse exchanged evil glances as she huffed from the room.

"Send in another nurse." House ordered at her retreating back, "One who can speak Hospital."

House checked the patient's vitals. None of the wires monitoring his heart and O2 levels or the nose cannula had been dislodged during his outburst. His temperature was still up, his diarrhea, House was loath to smell, was running fast as ever. House bent over the man's face. Despite the dose of sedative, his eyes were open and did not waver from their unblinking stare at the ceiling.

A bell sounded in House's mind, but he couldn't remember where he'd heard it.

A second nurse arrived.

"Stop all treatment." House said. "Except for the Ciprofloxacin. Keep his temperature down - with ice packs if you have to." He sighed uncertainty through grim lips. "Keep him comfortable."


"How's your patient?" Wilson wandered into House's office and sat in the chair opposite his desk. His last patient was gone for the day and House often lingered at work after his regular hours is he had a stubborn case. Cuddy has been making noises about setting aside funds for House to hire a team to help him. House, not surprisingly, kept insisting he didn't need the help.

"Worse. So it's not flu'. But at least I'm not bored anymore."


House set his lips. "But I don't know what's wrong with the guy. Problem is, he can't tell us anything."

"New symptoms?"

"Pneumonia. He's getting clogged."

"Viral or bacteria?"

"Let's hope it's viral, but I've got him on broad-spectrum just in case."

"Where's he from?"

"We haven't had any friendly conversations. The guy doesn't talk. It's a place here in New Jersey, some total care facility. He doesn't speak, doesn't walk. They feed him, bath him, change his pampers."

"Not much of a life."

House sipped from his coffee cup. "Death isn't much of a life either."

Wilson had to concede that. "Well, maybe he likes animals."


"Those places bring in visiting pets, cats, dogs,..."

"Neither of which transmit viral or bacterial pneumonia to humans."

Wilson shrugged. Diagnostics was House's specialty and he himself had no more useful suggestions except, "Allergies?"

"One of the first things I checked."

Wilson stood and stretched. "Maybe you ought to check out the facility."

"We already got his medical history. Nothing there."

"I mean go and talk to the staff."

"But that would entail talking...to people."

Wilson stood. "Yes. Talking to someone who might talk back. Terrible, terrible thing."

"And I might miss General Hospital."

"Or you might get an answer."

House sighed. "I'll pay you fifty bucks to do it for me."

"You already owe me twice that. And no." Wilson didn't think he would ever get used to House's cavalier attitude to work. "Are you sure you don't need a team?"

House threw him annoyed glance and gulped his coffee.

Then he donned his coat and drove himself to Princeton Convalescence Care facility.

The tiny receptionist was very helpful. "Yes, Albert. Mister Waldon's been with us almost his whole life. He causes no trouble-"

Not interested in the man's personality, "-Where does he sleep?"

"His room is here." She opened a door at the end of the main floor ward. "He shares with three others."

House could see nothing unusual in the room. "I'll need to take samples of the blanket, anything that normally touches him; sheets, teddy bears,.."

"The patient's aren't allowed personal items while in bed. And we washed and sterilized everything yesterday."

"Great." He had an idea. "Is he ever taken to a common room?"

"This way." She lead him to a large, depressing room. A few scattered residents sat in wheelchairs staring in various directions, or reclined at tables doing make-work projects with paper and plastic. "Today's Zoo day."

"You mean you bring in monkeys, snakes...?"

"Nothing dangerous. Cats, a dog. We had a Barry once. He's a burrow"

"Only one of those would be in a Zoo."

A horn sounded from the parking lot. "Here they are." The receptionist announced loudly enough for all in the room to hear. A few patrons perked up at the horn. They already knew what it meant. "Today it's Peter."

"I'm guessing...pig." House remarked.

She shook her head. "Peter rabbit. He was Albert's favorite."


House steered his car into Plainsborough's parking lot and into his assigned spot. He dialed and got a line to intensive. "Double the antibiotics. It's bacterial. Tularemia. No I don't have a culture yet. By the time we get that back, he'll be dead anyway."

With a court order, Peter was turned over to Plainsborough and its blood and tissue cultured.

House entered Wilson's office without knocking, something Wilson had forced himself to tolerate.

"Tularemia." House said and plopped in Wilson's patient chair.

"Your guy?"

"Yup. He's going to die."

"That's too bad. Any family?"

"Don't know. But I solved it. Dinner?"

"Are you asking me out to dinner and buying it too? Or should I stop at a bank machine?"

"I'll buy."

Wilson closed his files and set them aside. House watched as his new friend tidied up his desk and hung his doctor's coat up for the night. He checked his tie in a small hand mirror and glanced at his shoes to make certain of their shine.

"They have a word for fussiness, you know." House remarked.

"You mean style?"

Wilson locked up his office. "You need a team, House." He said.

"You need to stop at a bank machine."

Wilsons stopped. "You just said..."

"We'll need beer too."

They left together.


14 months later.



On his way to the clinic, Cuddy ambushed him. "Ah, you're finally on your way to do the clinic hours you owe me. Share with me how far behind are you now? Fifty, sixty hours?"

"God, no. Who do you think I am? Seventy-five at least."

"We have a flu' going on."

"See? We share."

"An epidemic."

"One school gets five cases of flu' and someone hits the panic button. I have an idea. Five kids got the sick at that same school because they breath the same air eight hours a day."

"This is only going to get worse."

"Thank god. If everyone everywhere got better, I'd be out of a job."

"I meant your clinic hours. You're way behind."

"Well, with you taking up my time,...hanging around me...flirting all the time..."

Cuddy hooked her arm through his. She knew he would tolerate it for a while before the Administrator heebee-jeebies set in. "I heard you've been having lunch with our new oncologist." She observed. "Regularly talking with another human."

"Wrong. The martre di keeps mixing up the assigned seating. I'm always supposed to be paired with Sondra Bullock."

Pleased, Cuddy smiled. "If I didn't think I was seeing things, I'd swear you've actually made a friend."

"You are hallucinating. At this minute you and I are really in bed."

"Right." She stopped, forcing him to stop with her by the clinic entrance. She looked him in the eye. "You like him, don't you?"

Cuddy, only Cuddy, would recognize the telltale buckling of House's immutable exterior. He shrugged. "What's not to like?"

She released his arm. "Even if it is just a mirage, I'm delighted."

House rolled his eyes. "Gotta go now. Need a shot of promethazine - I'm suddenly nauseous."


"Good morning." House said with false cheerfulness to his first patient.

"What's good about it?"

House stared for a few seconds at the overweight, middle-aged man dressed in over-all's and covered in concrete dust. "Apparently nothing." House answered. "Particularly in this room."

He noted the man's appearance. "You working on the new convention center?"


"Long days?"

"Yeah. My employer is an ass."

House read the man's chart. "You're coughing. A lot."



"Which one of us is the doctor?"

House exhaled. Tried again. "Well, I'm not the jerk-face patient, so I'll leave the rest up to you. Have you had any congestion, joints aches, headache or dizziness lately?"


"Any nausea or vomiting?"

He shook his head.

House closed the chart and leaned against the wall. "See there. Now the intelligent thing to say would have been : "Yes, Doctor, I'm been experiencing all of those symptoms." 'Cause that's the only way I would have been able to recommend a week's rest off work for which your employer would have to pay."

"I am sick!"

"You haven't coughed once since I entered the room. My guess is you're looking for a vacation at your boss's expense. Next time, hit yourself with hammer or eat some shrimp that's been sitting out for a few days. Works like a charm."

He looked happier. "Thanks."

In the next exam room, "What can I do for you?" House stared the twenty-something fellow. Almost every part of his exposed skin was tattooed, and he sported multiple piercings in his face and ears. Off hand House counted twenty-four ear and face rings. "I mean besides gape."

"I want to get the skin between my fingers pierced."

House's eyebrows climbed his forehead. "Uh, huh."

"I like to be different." The kid offered as an explanation.

Nodding, "On the other hand, some of us have no choice." House replied. "I know this seven story building with all the nurses and doctors running around in it really looks like a tatoo parlor, but this is a actually hospital..."

The young man scratched his ear. "They girl's at Zola's won't do it until a doctor signs off on it. They're worried about infection."

"Zola's,...right. They're idiots. Someone making ten dollars and hour poking multiple holes in another person's body poses no health risks what-so-ever. At least to them."

"Cool. So you'll sign off for me?"


"Why not?"

"Because it's stupid."

"Aw, come on..."

"You just got another ring in your ear very recently."

"How'd you know?"

"I noticed you scratching at it. On closer inspection you appear to have an subdermal abscess. Which at first manifest themselves by itching and redness. If you don't get it treated and by treated I mean get the ring removed and STOP having unsanitary metal things stuck into your body, it'll split and eventually slough off."

"God, really?"

"Yup. Remember, this is a hospital not a tattoo parlor, and I'm a doctor, not an idiot, so I know about stuff like that." He scribbled on his subscription pad. "Get this filled."

"My ear could really fall off?"

"Look at the bright side, you'd be even different-er."


"Where's House?" Cuddy asked the Clinic station nurse, a sour faced woman with her black hair drawn back from her face in a severe bun.

"Not here."

"Obviously. Where can I find him?"

"He went home. Said he was sick."

"Oh, god, that's another one. I'm four doctors and five nurses short already. How sick?"

"Well, he was throwing up after lunch, which I don't think he actually ate."

"Dammit." Cuddy noticed Wilson passing by. "Doctor Wilson. I need you."

"What's up?"

That's what Cuddy adored about her newest oncologist. He had worked for her for just over a year. He was helpful without the need to complain or bargain. He wasn't like House at all. "We're short of doctors. I need you to cover the afternoon shift."

Wilson looked around. "Wasn't House assigned..?"

"He went home."

"Did his T.V. break?"

Cuddy smiled at that. Wilson and House had been friends for about a year and, as far as she'd heard via the hospital gossip, good friends. To manage that, Wilson had to be a warlock. "He has the flu'. How's your case load, can you cover?"

"Sure. Only one appointment, I can cancel or move it back. Give me half an hour."


Ten hours later, Wilson splashed cold water on his face in the clinic's public washroom. Walking back down the hall to the larger, less public washrooms just for that felt like too much effort.

It was just about fourteen months since he'd been hired on at Plainsborough. His practice was growing. He liked the work, the people, even the long hours. And when they could find the mutual time, he spent time with House. they'd shoot pool, baskets, even play the occasional game of golf - House's long game was better than his short. Wilson was opposite. It was the company and the fun he liked.

House was probably the most uncommon man he had ever known. Singularly unconventional. Bright though. That sort of intelligence that races ahead to the finish line before you've left the mark. The sort of smart that makes you squint your eyes and shake your head. He was a genius who knew he was a genius. He flaunted it sometimes, but never assumed he was right about anything until he had enough reasonable proof.

Of course, most times he was right. And then there was his other side, that loved music and art. But they often went together, didn't they? What was genius but the ability to be extraordinarily creative?

How was House anyway? He called with no answer, then drove over to his apartment building.

Wilson knocked on House's door. After a few minutes he heard shuffling feet. The door opened.

House had himself cocooned in a soft blanket. He looked terrible.

"You look terrible." Wilson said.

House stepped back to let him in. "You must be a doctor." He replied with as much sarcasm as he could muster. It fell short of his usual measure. "What are you doing here?"

"Just checking up on you. Cuddy was worried."

House clearly didn't believe him. "Right. Cuddy always sends a department head to check on me when I have a sniffle." House sat down on his couch.

Wilson sat in the easy chair. "Fine, I was worried."

"Thanks, Mom."

Wilson was still found himself occasionally at odds with House's near aversion to anything personal. If it smelled like nice, House plugged his nose. "Nothing wrong with caring about a friend." Wilson ended his lecture there. "It was an epidemic by the way. Fourteen kids. One almost died, but she was six."

"Dying sounds very restful."

"Can I get you anything?"

House, still that disbelief in his face at Wilson's helpfulness but mixed with...Wilson wasn't sure, - hope? - gestured to the kitchen. "I've got some crappy lemon drink and Tylenol on the counter. You can put the kettle on."

Wilson saw to the small task. Listened as House sighed and shuffled his way back to his bedroom. Brought him the steaming beverage and watched him drink some of it and pop a pill. His work there was done. "Call me if you need anything."

House just nodded and lay back bonelessly.

On impulse, Wilson leaned over and laid his finger against House's throat, making the older man jump a little. Concerned, "You're hearts a little fast." He said. Rested the back of his hand against House's forehead. "Have you taken your temperature?"


"Well, it's probably over a hundred."

"Mmm hmm." House was already dozing off.

On his way out the door, suddenly Wilson heard the bed springs, bare feet scrambling across the floor and violent vomiting in what Wilson hoped was the toilet. He took his coat and jacket off again and walked quietly back down the hall to the bathroom.

House, his head over the toilet, had lost the blanket half way between the his bed and the john and was wearing only striped pajama bottoms. Wilson watched him. "Need a hand?" He asked, though there was nothing for him to do really.

"Can you take this flu'?" House rasped out, his throat burning from a double whammy of regurgitated stomach acid mixed with citrus juice. "Thanks, you can turn on the tub. I need a bath."

Wilson filled the tub with hot water and gave House his privacy.


House rolled over.

The illness had overtaken him and his guts churned like butter. Little tremors of raging nausea made the circuit in his guts from moment to moment, unceasingly. That and a howling wind outside, because of its ever-changing intensity and voice, made sleep impossible.

Wilson had been good enough to visit again, bringing him cold glasses of water whenever the fever spiked. And when from the other direction bone shaking chills arrived, piled extra blankets on him. House shook and sweated his way through three nights, unable to rest through most of it.

Wilson, god bless his decent, naive soul, even sat by him and talked when he (House wasn't sure how the man knew when it was precisely the right time for it), saw House needed a few words to distract him from the need to vomit up what little nutrients remained in his body.

House gave Wilson a spare key to his apartment.

"Why?" Wilson asked.

House clearly thought the question needless. "In case anything happens."

Wilson wasn't certain what sort of things House defined as "anything". "Like a fire or if you lock yourself out?"

House nodded his head, satisfied enough with those choices. "Yeah."

Wilson pocketed the key.

On the fourth night, Wilson dropped in again, using the spare key. It was nearing three thirty AM and from the cornucopia of pills or ice, the thick blankets or the kind company, House was managing an hour or two of sleep.

Wilson made some drip coffee for himself and sat on House's couch. It was only his fourth or fifth time to his new friend's apartment. A lot can be learned about someone from what they keep in their home.

Wilson wandered quietly around the mutely lighted living room.

As far as he could see, there were no family pictures on display anywhere. House did have hanging on the walls one acoustic and two (very expensive looking) electric guitars. He had an impressive library of books, both medical and literary. A vast record collection. No CD's within eye-shot but then he'd noticed House's office littered with them.

Wilson smiled as he recalled the day, just a year ago, when House had introduced him to his personal, off limits work space. The weird little corners life takes...how differently would this past year have turned out if he had shrugged off the obviously brilliant but anomolistic physician? Or if he had said no to House's "offer" to let Wilson buy him lunch?

He would have missed out on knowing one of the most fascinating people he ever had the pleasure to.

Wilson stopped his late hour wanderings by the black, baby grand piano. It was the centerpiece of House's apartment. Wilson had been as surprised by House's love and talent for music as he had by the man's utter disdain for people. Most people. Wilson wasn't sure why he made the grade.

A collection of music was scattered across the piano's dusty surface along with an assortment of dirty drinking glasses. A medical journal was opened to a page on Hereditary Adrenocortical Masses - McCune Albright Syndrome. Pages of nearly incomprehensible, at least to a layman, Specialist-speak followed.

Wilson heard the shower start. House must be up and feeling well enough to know he was dirty and sweaty - enough for it to feel unpleasant.

After ten minutes or so, "Hey."

Wilson turned to see House standing by his brown couch wrapped, not in a towel, but a dark flannel blanket.

"Get any sleep?" Wilson asked.

House threw himself onto the couch. "Oh, yeah. All ten, fifteen minutes of it."

"Feel better?"

House threw him a grateful glance. Wilson was amused that House had tried but failed to make it a look of indifference. "Yeah. Almost normal."

Wilson nodded. "Good."

Despite the lack of any reasonable amount sleep, House looked better. In the soft lighting of the room, House's eyes glowed blue like tiny kerosene lanterns and, Wilson would swear, lit from within. Obscenely attractive.

Wilson wondered at himself. He'd never, not once in his life ever, looked at another man and considered whether he was good looking or not. Men were just men. There was nothing overtly sexual or soft about them. They didn't smell as nice a women or, he assumed, felt as nice.

Yet his mind kept wandering back over to the other playground, where the boys laughed and tumbled. But a specific square of property...where House sat in the dirt and studied a bug. Wilson shook his head to dispel the ridiculous image. But his mind or his hormones kept asking the question: What would House be like?


In bed?

Under him?

Beneath him in bed?

Was this idle speculation?

The hormones almost always answered those queries with a sudden warmth that started in his hips, entered his spine and traveled up to his brain, where its demon hand would clutch at his mind and not let go.

Maybe not. Maybe he was just tired himself. House's bed looked awfully comfortable and-

-House suddenly slid sideways on the couch. Wilson hurried to his side. "Do you need the bowl?" Referring to the plastic bowl House had kept within vomit range of his bed the last few days.

House shook his head. "No. Not nauseous, just dizzy."

"Lay down."

House obeyed, looking up at Wilson with a mix of shy gratitude and puzzlement.

Wilson could almost read his mind. Funny, that he could already do that so early on in their friendship. "I'm here because I want to be." Wilson offered to House's unspoken question.

Wilson could see the next query in House's eyes. Those unbelievable (and unbelieving) eyes. But WHY do you want to be, they asked.

Wilson wasn't sure he had an answer. "I don't know why you always find it weird that I'd want to help a friend. Specifically you." He said.

Right away House got that wary, uh-oh-here-come-the-feelings look, but he just shrugged.

Wilson felt his heart thud, whether out of pity for House's obvious unfamiliarity with the state of friendship or his own trepidation over what his mind poked him to do next.

Impulsiveness was one of his failings. After all, it said, you know you want to. May as well get it done.

And impulse, as usual, did not fail him. Wilson, without a breath of warning, suddenly leaned over and kissed House on the mouth.

For just a few seconds. Then he stopped and leaned back enough to look at House. Fear coursed through him. Had he just blown the whole friendship? Would House jump up, call him a homo' and tell him to get the hell out?

House, not privy to Wilson's terror, just stared up at him with those brilliant eyes. Trapped inside were a hundred emotions. And his eyes questioned the small space between them: What just happened? Why? Was it good or bad? Gross or pleasant? Did I like it or did I hate it?

Wilson relaxed a bit when House didn't actually move at all. Just kept his eyes staring into Wilson's with...Wilson could only describe the look as astonished perplexity.

Then he kissed him again.

House kissed back and Wilson was pleased to discover that it seemed as new, and bewitching, for House as it was for him.

Wilson deepened the kiss, placing his hands on either side of House's head, coaxing him to slide down until he was lying flat on the couch. Wilson wedged himself onto the spongy cushions beside him, draping one leg over House's still slightly fevered body.

He kissed more urgently, then suddenly backed off, worried he might be hurting him, or hurrying him too much, or maybe scaring him or a hundred other possibilities that might cause this exquisitely thrilling sensation to abruptly end.

But House was doing none of those things. He just kept staring up at Wilson with intense curiosity and unbridled fascination.

More than that. House was distinctly interested.

It wasn't long before Wilson loosened his tie and shed his neatly pressed work shirt, tossing both to the floor.

That was enough for now.

Wilson was still worried that pushing this brilliant, unusual and sexy, - yes sexy - male friend, too far might spook him. Wilson let his hands play over whatever of House's skin was exposed. Soon, Wilson had, with fingers feeling their way, teased the blanket aside and House lay naked beneath him.

Wilson drew back and looked down at House. Wilson's breath came urgently, hungrily as he studied House's face and took in as much of his nude flesh as was visible. House looked back, eyes lidded with pleasure and dilated with want. Wilson never thought he'd ever seen anything so outrightly erotic in his whole life.

Wilson kissed him more. Deeper, longer, more ungently, slipping his tongue inside House's mouth, his groin responding when House returned the favor. Wilson pressed his body hard against House's, deepening the kiss even more. Wilson didn't think he would ever find the bottom of that delicious mouth. He sucked at and bit his chest, just enough to cause House to jump with pleasure at the tantalizing pain.

Wilson's heart hammered. After several more minutes of this, Wilson felt that deep seated burning between his hips that told him it was time to either Go or Stop, but either way make the damn choice right now!

Animal Desire had her invisible line, and he had crossed it. There was no goddamn way he could stop himself now. He was in this to the end. He was committed to making love to - and thoroughly fucking - this gorgeous man, no matter what it cost them both.

They had taken the step from reserved friendship to the urgent flesh swapping of the baser brained. It was hot, needful, lustful, fulfilling sexual consumption. No different than a living cell's craving for oxygen or the body's need for blood. It was all natural, all powerful and instinctive. It had to be answered!

Wilson could feel his own hardening penis rubbing up against House's obvious hard on. Wilson stopped kissing House and put his lips to his ear. "Don't move." He whispered harshly. "Don't you dare."

Wilson scrambled up, hurried to House's bedroom, made an efficient search of House's beside table drawers, quickly finding what was needed.

Wilson speedily returned to where House lay, unmoving, waiting for him to complete what he'd started. Wilson was only too happy to oblige, shed his slacks and underwear as fast as possible and slid the condom over his hard cock. He kissed House long and deep, wanting to keep the fires going while, pacing his hands under House's athletic thighs, pushed his legs up as far as they would go. House was plenty supple enough to manage it. Wilson spread a generous portion of the KY on House's tight, inviting little hole.

Wilson paused for a second to take in the body beneath him. House's older, still in shape body was definitely to be desired. Wilson almost fainted at the sight of his round, nearly hairless balls and his beautifully hard cock, long and delicious looking. Gods, how could he have thought this man would be anything other than perfectly gorgeous. Totally sexy. Unarguably hot.

"Oh, Jesus..." He whispered and after enough manipulation of House's welcoming anus, drove himself inside it.

Wilson stopped for a few seconds. No doubt that had hurt House. But House seemed to disagree and moved a little beneath him, making Wilson nearly cry out with pleasure. "Don't you move." He ordered him again. "Be still." He kissed him. "Be perfectly still."

Wilson started to thrust and pump, gently and then faster and faster. House tried to do as he'd been told but began to move in tandem. Wilson would have prolonged the burning heat of it had House not started to moan and gasp with every thrust of Wilson's cock against his prostate. Wilson, knowing just what was needed at that second, grabbed House's cock in his slickened fist and stroked House furiously as he pumped. The fire was stoked. Everything between them, flesh and minds, exploded and scattered into an unbelievable mutually physical scream. Wilson moaned with insane lust as he came.

It was the most unexpectedly orgasmic and mind-bending moment of his entire life. Up until that new mark on the clock, all previous minutes, hours, days had been rendered dull and colorless. Still-life's.

Screwing Gregory House had caused a cataclysmic alteration of his world. What had been upright was now sideways. What had been balanced was staggering around like an inebriated fool. One ordinary night had transformed his life into something unsolicited and surreall. Sexual in the perfect sense. Something as acceptable as breathing. House's willing sex was his god. His mind was love-raped. His soul shredded and put back together all new.

This thing that happened between them had reshaped him into someone almost unrecognizable in his own eyes.

It had changed everything.


The aftermath of a collision.

One second after an unexpected event, things settle instantly into momentary mindlessness. Action is impoverished.

Dazed and sometimes bleeding, victims stagger from the wreckage and assess themselves: whether they have the where-with-all to go on as before.

Wilson, after having excused himself to the shower without a word, now stood at one end of the couch where they'd turned a corner, hit the terrible black ice neither of them had seen, and slid sideways out of control.

House stood at the other, once more flesh-gathered in his covering blanket. He was the first to find his voice when the awful racket of awkwardness settled a bit. "Now what?"

Wilson felt embarrassed, confused, desperate and deeply ashamed that he did not immediately walk over to House, wrap himself around him and tell him that he loved him. His legs would not move and his mind could formulate no other useful action. "I'm...not sure." Wilson picked up his shirt and shrugged into it, slowly, deliberately, to fill up as many minutes as possible in the horrible space of sad uncertainty.

House shrugged. A gesture Wilson would intimately come to understand carried many meanings. At this time, it seemed to mean: "Nothing new, but it was fun while it lasted."

"We can talk about it Monday." Wilson suggested, knowing what a terrible lie it was, and even worse, knowing House knew it as well.

They would probably never discuss it at work. They might never talk about it at all.

House nodded and walked to the bedroom, closing the door behind him.

Wilson let himself out.


Did he love him?

Honesty forced him to concede to a...wobbling uncertainty. Wilson returned to his apartment feeling pretty much like a pile of dog shit littering a freshly hosed sidewalk. What the hell had just happened?

Heaven had. Or hell. Considering the fiery nature of House's personality and his own immobile feelings - that seemed to have appeared out of the ether - maybe something in between. Wilson poured himself a stiff whiskey and drank almost all of it immediately, wanting to feel the burn in his stomach. Punishment. Comfort. The liquid of fragile memories.

"Oh boy..."


House showered, dressed and got himself to work on time. He didn't want to spend any extra hours at home.

He had a new case and Cuddy had left a reminder on his messages that clinic duty called today. He didn't mind.


Useful things.

Until he ran into Wilson outside his office. Neither useful nor a distraction.

"I was just on my way to talk to you." Wilson said.

Without saying a word House went back inside and sat at his desk. Wilson followed, sitting down in the chair opposite after only a brief hesitation. "I shouldn't have just left last night."

"Why not?"

That caused a short circuit in his head. Wilson wasn't sure he understood the question. "What do you mean, "why not"?"

"It was fun. But it wasn't love." House stated simply.

Wilson wondered if House believed that. His voice said yes, his eyes said he believed...in no one and nothing.

"It meant something." Wilson said. He swore he could see sadness in those carefully polished blue's. "I just don't know...what." He added.

"You were embarrassed. You left. Maybe all it meant was...you needed a lay."

The words were all the more stark for their cold simplicity. Perhaps this is what House's face had meant last night. That tiny nod of resigned "whatever". He was used to this. Having nothing. Then something. Then that something walking out. Wilson could find nothing to offer but, "I'm sorry."

House seemed to think the conversation was over. "So, lunch? Talks? Beers? Or are we done as friends too?"

The situation was hard to swallow and House's words even harder to digest. "Uh, is that what you want?" Wilson knew immediately it was the worst thing he could have said. If there had been any chance to salvage the previous night and turn into more than it was, he had just quashed it.

House, in his almost not there way, was stricken. "No. We're fine. Good." When it was so obviously neither.

Wilson may as well have said: It sucked because it was you.

Wilson felt as empty as House's expression. He didn't stay and try to repair the damage because he didn't have a clue as to how. He just stood and walked to the door, turning around at the last second. "So, we're really okay..?" He asked lamely. He wanted, at least, to salvage what had been before. He wanted the friendship. Needed it. House had been everything that had been missing in his life. Almost everything.

House sat and turned on his computer. "Yeah, we're good."

Wilson tried to see what was behind those eyes that did not look away. House sounded sincere. He looked...tired.

Wilson exhaled a stifled, stale lung full. It was almost time to breath normally again. Just get out the door without saying anything else stupid. "Okay. See you at lunch...tomorrow?" His voice hitched on the last word. Best to give them at least a day apart to put it behind them.

Because what had happened between them should not have happened. Probably would never happen again.

But the wonder of it. The highest of the highs. A powerful, rocket to the moon kind of thing leaving both of them, in every possible way, sexually satiated and soul-spent.

Unfortunately, now broken too.

And then there was the questions. Like: if it had not happened, what direction would the friendship have gone? Or if what had happened had been embraced and carried on, what things will then have come to be? They would never know the answer to either question now.

House answered, "Tomorrow."

Another corner turned.


Two years later...


"Engaged?" House repeated Wilson's sudden news.

Wilson rocked on his heels. "Yep. You've met her."

"Twenty-six year old divorcee? Back in college part time to take,...what was it?...business management? Likes pottery."

House really had a knack for summing people up.

"Amanda. I asked her Friday. I mean, to marry me. She said yes."

"I figured. The being engaged part was a clue."

Wilson shifted his feet restlessly. "I'd like...you to be my best man."

House seemed genuinely surprised. "Yeah." He answered, nodding in only the way House nodded. A tilt of the head that stated: I guess that settles it. "Sure. Glad to."


A weeks honeymoon and Wilson returned to work all smiles and husbandly glow.

He spent more and more time with House when the smiles began to fade.


"New case?" Wilson asked House one day over cappuccinos's at a local coffee house.

"Anything to keep me from clinic duty." Had House said the words "prison life", his inflection would have been the same.

House had his own question of the day. "You and Amanda still going to the mountains?"

Wilson cleared his throat uncomfortably. "No. We're...I'm...she's going to a divorce lawyer."

House swallowed his mouthful of coffee and put his cup carefully down. "Sorry." Even he knew when not to joke.

"It's fine. Marry in haste, regret at leisure as they say."

House looked into his coffee. Little water mists floated a few molecules above it's steaming surface. Clouds on a lake. "You wanna grab a beer after work?"

"Not tonight. I've got to find my own lawyer."

Perhaps it was not the right time...House pursed his lips...but, "Speaking of lawyers,...I met someone.."


Just about when life with Wilson-wife number two got off the ground and House and Stacey were entering their fifth year together, House was admitted to the hospital screaming in pain. Stacey the lawyer was crying and Wilson was pacing back and forth in the hall outside emergency, waiting.

They gave House a shot of morphine - or, rather - he gave himself the shot. The doctors labeled him Drug Seeker, carelessly told him to put heat on his throbbing leg and sent him home with a diagnosis of sever muscle strain. "Probably some frayed ligaments. Stay off the courts for a while."

Four days later House returned to Plainsborough Emergency. His screaming never stopped until a morphine drip was administered and an MRI taken of his swollen thigh. His agony could be heard through every room on the floor.

"Jesus Christ, why don't they do something for him?" A frightened Stacey asked a pale and worried Wilson.

He felt like beating his fist into the plaster work but patiently explained, "They are. But they can only give him so much morphine. Too much could stop his heart."

She nodded but was unconvinced. "They said he might lose his leg...they might have to amputate."

Wilson knew House might not live if they didn't. He knew absolutely House wouldn't if they did. House loved running, and sports, and shooting baskets - when was the last time they had done that - ? House walked faster than anyone he knew. He had a long, lean developed physique. Powerful arms, beautiful legs...Wilson felt his throat close up at the thought of his friend maimed and hobbling around on crutches or a titanium stump. It was so foreign as to be barbaric. It would be an abasement. An indignity undeserved and unjust.

An ass House might be, but he was THEIR ass!

House refused the amputation, and asked for a by-pass. Post operative pain was beyond the ten scale. He screamed for three days.

Cuddy offered Stacey a sedative and then an alternative.

Stacey snatched up that trump card like it was a sure bet. It meant House was to live, but only under her terms.

House didn't live under anyone's terms but his own. Wilson understood that and anyone who didn't would never master the long haul.

After they undercut House's wishes and sliced a third of his thigh muscles away, House fought like a wildcat. It was a battle for the preservation of his relationship, his sanity, his mobility, his ability to keep working. The two victories were his sanity and his job. Wilson was proud that House tried to keep Stacey around (or tried to try), but he was too broken up at going from athlete to cripple. Too devastated at the curtailing of his physical freedom for any effort to have succeeded. And, as soon became undeniable, in appalling chronic pain. Too much to give a shit.

The Stacey/Happy years were wrecked. She was shattered at what she'd done and what he'd become because of it to try and stretch them out any further.

In the end, each had left the other long before the actual separation.

Soon, Wilson and House were two bachelors again, sharing beers (though not the oxycodone upon which House quickly came to depend to reduce the daily agony of his leg), and studiously not talking about their mutual loneliness.


Present Day...


"Thanks for lunch."

Wilson nodded. His money,...House's thank-you. It was a fair exchange.

"Oh, beers Friday? I have a new video."

Wilson bit his lip. "I've got something to do. How about Saturday?"


"See you Monday then?"

"'Night Wilson."

"'Goodnight House."

What Wilson had planned, that trumped House's invitation, was a date. A very nice woman had asked him out. The lady who ran the local coffee place. Great coffee. Dry sandwiches. Pretty redhead who'd had her eye on him for a while. Who squinted and avoided their table whenever he was there with House.


The pretty red head placed his coffee down in front of him.

"How's business?"

The guy had never really said anything to her before beyond "Hi" when once introduced to her by James.

"Just fine."

The man whom she knew as Greg House, James best friend (though she was hard pressed to understand why), sipped his coffee and looked at her. "Things seem slow."

She got the distinct impression she had just been called a liar. "Well, they're slow all over." Which was a lie, sort of. Table-talk lie. Meaningless. She returned to her counter to serve her other less disagreeable customers.


Wilson saw him coming out of the corner of his eye, that telling chop-chop-limp that told him House wanted to yell about something. Wilson walked faster, trying to reach the solitude of his car and the drive home.

House caught him just as he reached it. God damn! The man could hump along like a one-legged kangaroo.

"Another damsel in distress?" House had his confrontational dial set to High.

Wilson stuck his key into his car door. "Oh, boy, here we go."

"You sop them up like a...dish sponge." House accused. "So, when's the divorce? I may as well fluff up my couch cushions right now."

Wilson sighed heavily and opened his door. "Why can't you just be happy for me?"

"If I thought it would make you happy, I would be. This is just another break-up waiting for the right time. And another alimony. You're already paying three!"

Wilson stuck his head out the window. "Four! I've been handing it over to you since the day we met." He stuck it way out. "And you're the most expensive! You're the neediest person I've ever known."

"That's impossible."

Wilson frowned. "What? Why impossible?"

"Because you would have married me!"

"I'm getting married, House, next Saturday if you're at all curious. Civil ceremony, so you don't have to worry about getting us a gift. Or even showing up if it's all the same to you."

Wilsons started his car. It was the only thing in the vicinity that purred quietly.

House took his last shot. A bit of a dirty one. "She's losing her business."

Wilson turned the engine off. "What are you talking about?"

House shrugged, a little sheepish but not enough to stop him. "I found out."

"How?" Wilson exited the car, talked to House eye to eye. "How did you find out?"

"I did some digging."

Wilson knew. "Digging? You bribed someone."

"The evening girl. She's looking for a new job because your new fiance lied to you about her business closing down in two months. She's about to lose her shirt AND skirt."

"You're miserable." Wilson observed. "Anything to keep me at your beck and call. You'll say, do, anything to control people, to use them...hurt them...if it meets your need."

House was surprised by his friends gullibility. "You're not upset that she lied to you?"

"She told me. Okay, she told me last week."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because it's none of your business." Wilson got back in his car and started the engine. "You're seriously messed up, House. I want to be happy. I have no idea anymore what it is you want."

Before Wilson could close his door, House stuck his cane in it. "So she told you one week before the wedding. I've known about her deception for two weeks. Which of us cares about your happiness more?"

Wilson sighed. He'd gone from feeling hopeful to a black depression. "I,..you know,...I honestly don't know. I used to think you cared." Wilson's eyes leaked hurt. "Except you only told me about it just now." He drove away faster than he needed to.

House limped sluggishly back through the doors of Plainsborough and to his office.


House had his mind on Wilson so deeply, he almost tripped over his own cane on the way to the whiteboard.

His case was a fifty-five year old woman who was not only sick, but had attempted suicide two days previous.

"Differential people." He said and waited. His new team, Never-Shuts-Up, Interesting Guy and Thirteen, had proved themselves over the last two and a half months. In hiring them he'd made the correct choices, which was a good thing because his own mind was splitting apart.

As his team discussed possible diagnosis of the woman's odd symptoms and treatment options, House watched Wilson walk by his office on his way from his own. Usually he nodded at House as he passed.

Not today.

"Doctor House?" It was Thirteen. He called her that by habit and she responded to it. She had told him her real name...what was it now? Where was Wilson going?

"Doctor House?!"

House looked at her.

"We have a patient, remember?"

He forced his mind away from Wilson and back on his case. "Sure I remember. Don't you know there's a great trick to memory?"

The Guy Who Never Shut Up said, "What trick?"

House screwed up his face, "Mm, can't remember right now." He looked at the whiteboard. "Okay. Patient, female. Killed her dog with an axe. Stepped off a two story building while carrying groceries. And has multiple bruising from walking into walls. First Attending diagnosed schizophrenia. No family history, no sign of developmental stages, no evidence of disordered synaptic's. She suffers headaches. And, finally, she screams a lot."

"It's got be neurological - she walks into walls." Interesting Guy said.

House nodded. "Or maybe she's just distracted because she's got a lot on her mind." He went back to his speech. "Schizophrenia med's made her psychotic. She tried to throw herself under a bus. Her vision checked out."

Thirteen, "Her chart says she was on dextromethorphan. That can cause psychosis. How long was she on the drugs?"

"A day." Never-Shuts-Up Guy answered.

Interesting Guy, "Epilepsy could cause black-outs. It would account for the walking into walls.."

House countered, "But not for the screams. Unless it IS epilepsy and she is having black-outs that are really, really scaring her. So, work-ups?"

Thirteen, "CT scan and chem' panel. Check for infections."

Never-Shuts-Up-Guy added, "Blood differential. Check white count."

House turned his mind back to Wilson. "Go." He said.

Thirteen paused at the door, "Aren't you coming?"

"Nope." At her disapproving frown, "I tell you to do things and you go do them. That's why I'm the boss. It wouldn't work the other way around."


Wilson's apartment was as neat and tidy as his office desk. Bright sunshine shone through his kitchen window. Even his toaster was bright and shiny. A sure sign of neurosis, House thought as he walked through the kitchen on his way to Wilson's bedroom. He wasn't sure what he was looking for. Actually he was.

And if he didn't find it, he was right.


A furious Wilson threw open House's apartment door and stormed in.

House was seated on his couch watching wrestling. He didn't get up.

"You,..." Wilson was so angry for a moment he couldn't find the words. "you...searched my apartment."

House linked his hands togther behind his head. "True,.." He was as limpid as melted butter. "...I did."

"WHY?!" Wilson was fuming. House was sure if he looked close enough, he could see the tiny clouds of steam.

As tranquil as the growing grass, "Because you're lying." House answered.

Wilson paced back and forth in front of House, repeatedly rubbing at his eyes and shaking his head.

House observed, "You might want to get that tick looked at."

"Of course I have a tick. You're the tick...source! You're the contrivance. The original, proverbial mother load!"

House stood. Leaning on his cane, he raised his voice back. "You're a liar. You're every bit as miserable as me."

Wilson nodded vigorously. "Thanks for clearing that up. Indeed, I was in darkness." He quipped.

House didn't stop, "You're miserable but you're getting married. Who's miserable when they're about to get hitched? Besides Federline?"

Wilson planted his feet and rubbed his head with both hands. "Oh my god,...I must have become insane by osmosis."

House threw his hand at him. "Now you're about to marry some dame you don't give a damn about just to prove me wrong."

"Some "dame"?" Wilson took a deep breath and let it out. "House-"

"-Tell me I'm wrong."

"Why did you go to my apartment? Just tell me that."

"You know what I found?"

Wilson groaned, "No-o-o-o."

"I found your stuff."

"Well that truly is shocking. Remind me to do some House cleaning. Pun intended!"

"Just your stuff. You're engaged, but she's not keeping even a toothbrush at your place."

Wilson squinted his eyes at the insanity swirling around him, "How could you possibly know which toothbrush would or wouldn't be her's??"

"I felt them."

Wilson cringed. "You ...felt them!? And you don't think that's at all creepy?"

House clearly didn't, "A toothbrush will keep it's dampness for up to twenty-four hours if left in the cupboard. I only found one damp one. There were two others, in a drawer, as dry and new as the day you brought them home from the drugstore. No women's clothes in your closet, no perfume, underwear,... no unmentionables for those heavy days..." House trailed off.

Wilson's muscles felt like rubber that had been laying out in the sun too long. He plopped down into House's easy chair. Leaned back and closed his eyes. "House..."

He didn't have the energy to complete it.

After a moment he opened his eyes and House had sat back on his couch, his cane between his legs, staring at the coffee table. Wilson fought the urge to feel sorry for him, but House looked about as morose as he'd ever seen him.

"House..." Wilson said again.

"Yeah?" He didn't raise his eyes.

Wilson admitted it. To House, Steve, the silent room and his own woebegone conscience. "So I'm miserable." He sighed and stood up, near House, right next to him, so House had to look way up to meet his eyes. Wilson in fact waited until House did so before he finished. "So what? Was all this somehow suppose to make me feel better?"

Wilson slammed the door on his way out.


The next day Cuddy intercepted House on his way into work. She pulled him aside. "How's your patient?"

"Sick. She's in a hospital. That was my first clue."

"Her father is a very rich benefactor of various charities and I'm trying to get him to fork over for some new equipment in pediatrics. How is she really? And can you give me an answer without resorting to sexual metaphor."

House dropped his pack on the floor and eased his weight off his leg. "She's stable. But we still don't know what's wrong."

Cuddy stared at him for a second. "Fine. Now tell me what's happening between you and Wilson. I normally don't interfere with my employees relationships, whatever they are, but when rumors start..."

"Is Wilson worried about his performance again? I told him I'm okay with the strap-on..."


"He's "in love", and that's in quotes. I told him he's nuts."

"Remind me to appreciate why I hide my love-life from you. So he's getting married, so what?"

"He marries and divorces wives like," he popped a Vicodin, "one of those awful drug addicts."

"Come on. Wilson is not addicted to marriage."

"Yes he is, it's as plain as.. the boobs on your chest."

"Can't you have a medical conversation without thinking about my breasts?"

"I'm good a multitasking. Two things at once. Well - three."

Cuddy took his hand. "House. You need Wilson and you're worried about losing him. That's as obvious as the stains on your shirt. And stop staring at my ass." She said as she walked away.

"But now I'm thinking of four things at once." He answered loudly, "I've just doubled my productivity."

Cuddy pretended she didn't hear. She worried instead. But as much as she'd like to, but there was nothing she could do to change a thing between them.


Wilson had not talked to House for two days. He wanted to but didn't. He wanted to be happier about his upcoming nuptials, but wasn't.

A knock at the door.

"Come." He said absentmindedly, keeping his eyes on the work before him.

It was House. Surprising enough in itself but, "You knocked."

House. "Yeah. Knuckles on wood,..makes a sound."

"You never knock. Never. Not once since the first day. ONLY that first day, when you invited me to lunch and so kindly let me pay."

"Old habits die."

Wilson decided not to try and interpret that last. "What's up? You here to tell me all the mistakes I'm making? That I'm an idiot for trying to find happiness; a pathetic neediness sponge who has no idea when to quit?"

"You just saved me the trouble." House sat on Wilson's couch. Wilson had noticed, over the years, little things even House didn't know he did. For example, when things were good between them he sat on the chair on the other side of his desk. When House suspected he wasn't completely welcome, he sat on the couch. Like now.

House looked at his cane. Tapped it on the carpet. Sighed.

Wilson cut the pea-soup heavy air with, "I'm not trying to rescue her."

"Then what are you trying to do?"

What indeed? Wilson was overcome with sadness. He suddenly knew. Probably had known for a while, that he wasn't in love with her. Not really. Not enough. But, "I'm tired of being alone."

He loathed the idea of failing her, now that the arrangements had been made, the words had been said, the laughter shared, the sex given and received. Good sex. Not bad, really. Not great.

Shit! Wilson hated the way House could upset his world by limping into his apartment or his office and sitting like a conscience judge. Evidence presented and sentence passed and the jerk hadn't spoken a single goddamn unkind word. Or an untruthful one for that matter. Shit! Goddamn shit!

His brain itched.

Wilson dropped his head in his hands, rubbed his face , wanting to peel off the skin. House was lonely too. They were both needy. Both screwed up. Both pathetic.

"I'm..." Wilson began, "I'm...going to...talk to her tonight." With a heavy heart, "Maybe this is a mistake." Wilson threw angry eyes at House before the man could gloat. "I'm not doing it for you, by the way. I've been having doubts for a few days." To gather up some of his dignity, "She's,we're just moving too fast."

House nodded. Stood. "Beers later?"

Wilson felt a terrible loss. All things were returning to the still, featureless equilibrium of the Usual. Rewound to the ever-revisited, unchanging, unhappy norm. He felt...dammed up.

"Sure." When it appeared House was going to linger, "Don't you have a case?"

"Funny you should ask." He moved to the chair. "Her CT was normal. Blood and chem' panel negative. It might be a hidden abscess throwing clots, choking arteries maybe, causing mini-strokes-"

Wilson's door opened and a very cross Cuddy entered. She didn't even glance at Wilson. "House. Why did you order exploratory surgery on your patient?"

"Because if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to look inside and see the blood, guts and other icky stuff."

"I'm canceling it. You are not going to start cutting into a patient every time you hit a wall. Have you no conscience?"

"Of course I have a conscience. I just don't let it get in the way of curing my patient." He suddenly stopped and narrowed his eyes. "How'd you know I was here?"

Cuddy shook her head at the oblivious question. "You mind rephrasing that in a language other than Stupid?"

House effected a tiny pout at the insult.

She explained, "You two are always together somewhere."

Wilson went from dammed to offended, "Don't jump to conclusions just 'cause we're in the same room!"

Both Cuddy and House looked at him.

At their puzzlement, "What??" Wilson exclaimed. "Look, just because something looks like one thing doesn't make it that." He pointed at House with his pen. "For example, just because he LOOKS sane..."

Cutting off Wilson, Cuddy plunged in again, "I'm stopping the exploratory." she told House.

House, however, wasn't listening. He had stood up and was poised as still as marble. Wilson knew the look, "Bye house. Don't trip on your way out."

House rushed passed Cuddy as fast as his gimpy leg would allow.

Cuddy, now offended too, "What was all that about?"

Wilson was emotionally drained. "Remind me again why the other doctors transferred out?"

Cuddy turned to him, "What's wrong with you?"

At her sharp tone, Wilson was momentarily tongue-tied. "Um,..." He was about to condense the whole awful mess into a sentence, but there was too much. "I have a blister."

Cuddy followed House out the door.


She found House in the small animal research lab. He was extracting a tiny brown mouse from its cage.

"Where are you going with that?"

"I'm taking...Brownie here," House answered, "To run a little experiment."


"Brownie is going to scare my patient until she pee's."


Little Brownie tucked away in his jacket pocket, House entered the room of his current patient. An attractive brunette with all the symptoms of schizophrenia but none of the physical criteria. House turned up the room's lights to their brightest.

"I'm Doctor House." He said when she looked over at him. "And you, Alice, are my patient."

"You must have the wrong room. My name's Patricia."

House perched himself on a stool by her bed.

"Wow, you're not very tall." She said.

He nodded in mock agreement. "Right. I'm the doctor who's overseeing your case. And you have a headache."

"How did you know that?"

"Because when I turned up the lights, you squinted. It means you're experience phobophobia. A symptom of a migraine, and believe me, that's one thing I know about."


"Yes. I know even more about micropsia, which is what I suspect you are afflicted with. Problem is, because the headaches come and go, the micropsia, which is very rare, does too."

"And what's...microp...?"

"Micropsia, otherwise known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, causes people to see things not as they are. Large things as tiny usually; a plane might appear the size of a telephone, a boat the size of a cup. Which explains why you weren't worried when you walked in front of that bus, or walked off that building. You probably perceive it as no higher than a sidewalk."

"Are you sure I have..?"

"No, I'm not." House reached into his pocket. "Sometimes, micropsia sufferers see small things as very large. So I'd like you to meet my friend here-"

Patricia threw her head back and screamed bloody murder when she saw the distorted enormous brown monster perched on tiny Doctor's House's lap.

"It's okay! It's fine! It's all good." House waved the two nurses away who came running into the room at the terrible din. He returned Brownie to the warm, dark confines of his pocket and stood up. "Yup. Micropsia." He turned to go.

"Doctor House?"


"Am I going to be all right? Everybody thinks I'm crazy."

He reassured her, not with sentiment but truth. "You're not crazy. Just afflicted."

"Is there a cure?"

"No. But there is a treatment."


Wilson showed up with a six pack of beer and Chinese take-out. Before even stepping foot inside House's apartment, "I ended it."

House stared at his friend, then stepped aside so he could enter. "So is this a celebration or a wake?"

"It's dinner." Wilson handed him the beer. House limped to the kitchen and stuffed it into his fridge.

Wilson, dressed casually for once in jeans and a cotton button down (though still neatly tucked), spread his angular form out on House's couch. He reached into his pocket. "Oh, yeah. I brought you something." He tossed House a small white box with a green ribbon tied around it.

House untied the string and opened it. Inside was a small red, rubber nose. He looked at Wilson with misgivings. "Uh, thanks."

"Because I never got you anything for our fifteenth. Remember?"

"My spermatocele thank you." House paused. "This isn't a hint that you want me to dress up in big shoes and a goofy outfit, does it?"

Wilson smiled. "Believe what you want."

House took the easy chair. "So," He said after a minute of quiet that Wilson seemed uninterested in ending, "You want to talk about it?"

Shaking his head, "No."

Surprised, House said, "Okay. Want to watch a game?"


"Listen to some tunes?"

"Uh um."

House drummed his fingers on his armchair. "Is this evening going to suck?"

Wilson smiled, looked at him, then laughed a little. It ended quickly but it felt good to enjoy even that much. "Sorry. The last few months have sucked. Why should the suckage feel the need to stop now?" Wilson looked around, as though he expected to find them on the coffee table. "Any plates?"

House retrieved the needed dishware and cutlery for their food.

Wilson reached for the spoon, "I'll dish it up." He said.

House yanked it out of reach. "You always spill. I'll do it."

"I do not always spill. I'm coordinated as hell, I'm a qualified cutter."

"A cutter at what? Farts?"

Wilson said, "Nads." His grin was markedly evil. "I'm hell at nads."

House couldn't help a smile back. "Well, tonight you only get chicken nads."

House turned on a show and they ate for a while.

"She wasn't right for you anyway." House said once their plates were clean.

"You think so?"

"I know so."

"No you don't."

"I know she wanted to save her business. She saw dollar signs."

"Thanks. I was worried it might have something to do with liking me." Wilson tossed back. "That reminds me, you still owe me fifteen thousand dollars."

"I've been thinking ab out that. Cancel the debt."

Wilson waited for the rest but it didn't come. "An-n-d..??"

"Oh! You want something in exchange." House thought about it. "Well, you missed out on your favorite hobby, the wedding night, so cancel the debt and you can have sex with me."

Wilson scratched his chin, "Let's see, fifteen thousand dollars or sex with an insane man..."

House stretched. He was suddenly somber. Almost gentle in his words. "You'll meet the right person someday."

Wilson sounded unconvinced. "Yeah, sure."

"Of course you will, you attract women like flies to week old hamburger-"

"-that isn't very flattering, House."

"I mean, you've got the face and the job and the simpering smile.."

"I feel better already."

"My point is, you've got what women seem to like,... mustang mane, wiener dog eyes, monkey buns, those little bunny teeth,...you're a friggin' petting zoo."

Wilson stared. Shook his head. "Excuse me..."monkey buns"?"

"You know what I mean." House crossed his arms. "Women trip all over you. You may as well be a carpet with a rip in it."

Wilson stared at House for a minute before he spoke again. "You seem to have made a few observations about me."

Suddenly House sat up straighter, crossing his arms. He put his legs up on the coffee table, making himself into a little fortress. "I always make observations about people. Nothing strange about it. These just aren't as rude as usual."

Wilson sat forward. "There's nothing strange that you've made them, just that suddenly they're so...complimentary."

"I can point out all your lousy qualities if you want. There's even more of those."

Wilson considered for a moment, watching House carefully. "House, you never say anything nice without an agenda. So either you don't have an agenda or you're not the real House but his previously unknown long lost nice twin. And I'm not sure which is the more ridiculous."

House tried to sneer. "Settle down. It was a slip. It won't happen again. You can tuck your sentimental side back in your pants."

"Why did you really search my apartment?"

House avoided looking at Wilson, uncomfortable under his scrutiny.

"You didn't want to find out whether we or she was that serious. You wanted to make sure I wasn't."

House shifted, "You're imagining things."

"And you're nervous."

House stood up and started to the kitchen, carrying the plates.

When he turned around, Wilson was standing right behind him in the kitchen. He'd followed. "You're nervous, House. In fact," Wilson looked into his eyes, seeing them for the first time, in a very long time, as they used to be. "you're scared. Of me."

"Oh, please. Scared? You're a walking, talking sloppy kiss." House tried to get passed but Wilson was having none of it.

"Yes, you are."

Wilson was a human barometer. That was the only thing House could never circumvent in all his years of trying to manipulate the man. Wilson knew precisely when House was lying, when he was well, ill, sad, glad, or any emotion in his repertoire, no matter how hard he tried to hide them.

"You don't know any part of what I feel." House said, half attack/half defense.

"I remember exactly how well you...feel."

House blushed crimson.

Wilson felt a fool. "All these years, you, we...could have...I remember every single second of that night. But I didn't want to lose you."

House swallowed hard. "I wasn't the one who rushed out the door."

Wilson felt the shame anew. Fifteen years ago and it was a fresh razor across his heart. "I was confused."

House looked reluctant to say it but did, "I was happy." He shrugged.

"So you wanted it? Then why didn't you-?"

"-I needed the friend more."

Wilson touched House's rough cheek. Laid his palm against it. He smiled. Laughed, a small self-depreciating huff. "Jesus, House. Why didn't you say anyth...?" Wilson paused. What the hell did it matter?

It didn't.

"What the fuck..." He said and kissed House on the mouth.


They woke up entwined like an old telephone cord.

Wilson woke first and felt his one arm around House's back, the other underneath his hip. How delicious. He loved that back and that hip and all the parts in between.

Last night, he'd been soundly reminded how deeply the love and desire still went. House had held nothing back. And Wilson showed him just how much he wanted him in return. Their mouths and bodies had kissed and sucked, writhed, released and then had come togther again and again. Until the meteoric physical was spent.

It would return.

Everything else continued unabated.

How they had both aged, Wilson thought sleepily, studying House's lined but handsome face. How time had changed them. Anger, divorce, break-ups, injuries, physical pain, near-deaths,... all the things that, ironically, are often a part of living. Which agonies had shipped he and House in across a fifteen year sea, tossing them thoroughly.

Then made them love each other even more deeply than had they taken this course from the beginning.

We might never have reached this moment otherwise, Wilson thought. He was both relieved and heartened by that.

God, he loved Greg House. It had just never been made clear to him how deeply.

And how this, the physical, the sexual, the soul-soothing, the mind-flipping parts; their bodies together, and together and again. None of that had changed at all. Or ever would. All the loving stuff still stood. Unmoved by time, tragedy, chance or error. Nothing that had come against them.

It had survived despite them. And maybe because of them.

House was awake now and looking at him but Wilson could not gather the meaning in his blue, blue eyes.

Until House spoke. "Now what?"

Wilson felt a rush of sadness wash over him. The words took him back to that perfect and awful night.

But he was swiftly cleansed by the certainty in him now. He loved him. And he would never let that escape.

Fifteen years ago, House had barged into his life and filled in the gaping holes.

Only one had been left. Now it was satisfied.

Everything was complete.

Wilson touched his face. Kissed him.

"Now..." He kissed his friend and lover deeply. "...I'm happy."