Holy mother of god. I'm writing slash. Congratulations, writers. All that innuendo from those last two episodes hit me like a sack of bricks.
It's late in the evening when she finally re-enters her office, dark, deserted, and cool. Her head is throbbing from a headache she forgot to take Tylenol for earlier, her feet are killing her, and she's exhausted.
But not enough to yelp and jump a foot straight up in the air when she flicks on the lights behind her and sees him leaning forward in the chair behind her desk, fingers steepled, chin resting on his fingers, a deeply pensive expression on his face.
"Shit," she hisses, letting the air out between her teeth. She rests her head against the now closed office door.
"Sorry," he says absently. "I was wondering when you'd finally get back in here. Do you have any idea how late it is?"
"I do." She glances at her watch for good measure. "And I'd ask if you do, but the fact that it's dark outside answers that question quite nicely."
He nods without meeting her gaze. Informs her, "it's eleven thirty."
A long pause follows, in which she dumps (carefully) a stack of files on the couch, and approaches him, slipping off her death-shoes on the way. "Are you going to tell me what's going on, House?" She perches on the one corner of the desk that's not covered in paper, a frown drawing her eyebrows into a 'v'. Dozens of subjects come to mind as she decides to let him speak first, but none prepare her for the next words that come out of his mouth.
"I think I'm in love." He still doesn't look at her; just stares blankly into space.
She's fairly sure her jaw just hit the ground, so she snaps her mouth shut against the urge to do one of two things- scream in frustration and yell at him to quit screwing around with her, or lean in close and pester him with "What? Who? Since when?" until he spills. Then a quiet voice in her head reminds her that this is House she's talking about and she's not going to get anything out of him unless he wants her to.
So a stupid sounding "oh" is all that escapes her lips. She desperately grasps at her memory for this sort of conversation females are supposed to be so perfect at having and comes up with nothing. This never had been her strong point. Then again, she never thought she'd be in this situation with a member of the opposite sex, let alone Greg House, of all people.
Finally she swallows back the indecision and opens her mouth. "For how long?"
"A while." He pauses, then amends, "Coupla months."
"Does she know?"
She can see his shoulders tense immediately. He doesn't answer. She purses her lips. Tries again.
"Is anyone aware of this?"
Her ass is starting to hurt, so she moves to another chair and pulls it close to him; touches his shoulder. "Greg." She can feel the tension in his muscles. "Do you want to talk about it or go get some coffee?" She phrases it so that he has two options, one or the other. Vaguely her head, feet, and brain protest against the idea, but she pushes it away. She doesn't know what's up with her friend, but this subject isn't going to get shoved aside for any reason.
"I don't need coffee," he mutters into his hands.
After another minute of silence, she realizes that the timid approach is definitely not going to work tonight, even with the delicate topic of conversation. She exhales slowly. "Why are you telling me this?"
"I can't help you if you don't give me any information, House."
He lifts his head and turns it to face her. "I know that," he growls, and she can't help but smile at his aggravation.
She can't make out his next words, (he's dropped his face back down), but she's pretty sure he grumbles "Fuck" into his palms, followed by a rushed, "Umlufifwishun." Or something.
Huh? She starts to tell him she doesn't understand a word he just said, but then he tags "goddamnit" to the end, and she grins. "Slurring it isn't going to help this process go any faster, you know."
If looks could kill, she thinks amusedly when he glares at her, she'd undeniably be toast. Suddenly she knows he's going to tell her sooner or later, so having fun with it was, as of now, required, not optional. "Cameron? Is it Cameron?"
Somehow he knows her plan is to name names, one by one, so he swears vehemently and face-plants again.
"Wilson. It's Wilson."
Her mouth swings open again. She clamps her lips together tightly, refusing to let out any sound at all. Jesus, whatever would come out of her mouth would land her in a hole she'd never be able to dig herself out of. So yeah. She'd stick with silence.
Five solid minutes pass with no sign of movement from House.
A surprisingly calm feeling creeps through her. She squeezes his shoulder, waiting for him to acknowledge it.
"What." Muffled by his hands.
Her lips twist into a wry smile. "Come on. I know you're not a big enough coward to not look at me forever."
He looks at her.
"Have you told him?"
The expression he gives her is so incredulous, so disbelieving, it sends her into a fit of laughter. "I'm sorry," she says a minute later after managing to compose herself. "It's not funny, I know."
"No," he says unexpectedly, "It's so hysterically cliché, it's a wonder no one got it sooner." He gives her a quick grin, one that dies as swiftly as it appeared.
She blinks at the sudden onslaught of words, the most he'd spoken since she first entered her office, and smiles at him. "What are you going to do?" She's less afraid now, she thinks, that he's at least seen some humor in the situation. "Admitting it was the first step."
"This isn't AA, Cuddy."
"I know that," she says brightly. "Answer the question."
"If I knew that, do you think I'd be here?" he shoots back in a patronizing tone. She listens closely to him, picking up a layer of… something underneath it. An idea flits through her, and she snatches it and expands on it.
"Where are you supposed to be, House?"
"Poker," he confesses after a beat.
She shakes her head. "So you're going to avoid him forever."
"That's the plan."
"You can't do that! You're his friend!" She exclaims, wincing at the inadvertent pause before her last word. He catches it, too, and gives her a dark look that morphs into a disgusted one, and curses.
"I never said it," she apologizes sympathetically.
He shuts his eyes. "The word is stricken from my vocabulary."
"Along with Wilson? You cannot just cut him out of your life like that."
"As opposed to what?" He glares fiercely at her. "Professing my undying love to my best, longest, and oh, not to mention straight friend? I don't think so."
Her voice is soft, eyes clear as she says steadily, "How can you be so sure?"
"Alright, I give. What the hell is going on?"
So much for hiding out, House thinks ruefully. It's the middle of the afternoon; he's spent the majority of his time in the clinic avoiding Wilson because of course, Wilson is never going to think to look for him in there. Lucky for him, he didn't. And as payment, Cuddy let him use her office as a hideout— where he could do the paperwork for the clinic hours he completed. So here he sits, regularly clicking off his document screen to an online game of Solitaire.
"Why are you hiding in Cuddy's office?" Is Wilson's next demand.
House makes a face at what he has recently deemed Wilson's 'interrogative pose'— hands resting on his hips, standing right in front of the desk, facial features arranged into a deceptively innocent expression. He clicks off his Solitaire game. Shit, why couldn't Wilson just knock? That would have given him time to dive under the desk for cover, at least. Bought him a couple more hours. Only that wouldn't have helped any, seeing as the only thing he had come up with last night had been "run away!" It was doubtful he'd abruptly develop the genius for another idea. Besides Cuddy's.
"I'm not hiding," he says defensively, grabbing his cane and pulling to him. As if it would protect him, he scoffs to himself. A disturbing image of Wilson rushing at him pops up, and he grips the cane so tightly his knuckles turn white.
Wilson, obviously, notices this, but before has the chance to say anything, House adds, "I'm doing… paperwork."
"Willingly?" Wilson asks, unmistakable incredulity in his tone.
"No," House draws the word out, lying boldly because he doesn't want to play into whatever trap Wilson is laying out for him for telling the truth.
Wilson glares at him. "Where were you last night?"
"I had to do something. What's with the third degree?"
"Third degree? Are you out of your mind? This isn't a third degree. You're awfully jittery today, House." Wilson's tone changes from frustrated to overly patronizing in one breath.
"…shutup." I hate it when Cuddy's right. House grimaces. Resorts to using Wilson's own words against him. "Go away."
Wilson doesn't move.
House fidgets behind the desk and picks up the phone. "Cuddy, Wilson's harassing me. Make him leave."
Her amused laughter floats through the receiver. "Tell him, House, or I will. Quit dangling him on a string."
House shushes her loudly, but Wilson has already overheard. "Tell me what?" He pins House with an expectant stare.
He hears a click in his ear and curses. One of those face-plants sounds pretty good right now. Or death. Anything to escape this terrible, horrible, impending-doom situation. House glowers at her pager, willing it to go off for once in his life. Ring, dammit. Ring! Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. And more shit. He needed to find an excuse. Or a distraction. Right now.
His head jerks up at the sound of the door opening. "Cuddy! So glad you could join us." He projects as much enthusiasm as he can muster into his greeting.
She arches one eyebrow at him. "Are you, now? Too bad. I'm leaving. Do I need to lock the door from the outside, Greg?"
"What?" Wilson looks from her to House and back again, confused. Cuddy takes two steps to his side, whispers something in his ear rather secretively, and with a wicked grin, backs out the door, wiggling her fingers at House as she does so.
Wilson waits all of two seconds before turning back to him, fairly gaping. "You are? Since when?"
House's stomach lurches nauseatingly. He's dead. So very completely totally dead. His eyes widen far beyond their normal capacity as his mind races to comprehend the fact that Cuddy actually told Wilson first. Oh god. Oh god, oh god, oh god. "Uh… January," he says, very, very reluctantly. And waits, cringing.
House doesn't say anything. Just hides behind the desk as much as he can.
"Six months? And you haven't said a word about it?"
"What was I supposed to say?" He finally snaps at Wilson, patience disintegrated, along with all cautiousness and inhibition. Might as well be out with it, then. Go down swinging. "That wow, guess what? It took three wives, Cutthroat Bitch, and an all-out bad day for me to admit that I was fucking in love with my best friend?" He scoffs derisively and hauls himself to his feet. "Surprise! I'm saying it now. And leaving. 'Scuse me." He hobbles as fast as he possibly can past Wilson toward the door. Freedom. Dear god, freedom.
Except that his hand is outstretched to grasp the doorknob when the oncologist snags the end of his cane, stopping him with a jerk. House ducks his head, pulls a little, lowers his voice when he says, "Let go."
Wilson doesn't. Replies in a stunned tone.
"Good god, House, she just told me you were in love. She didn't tell me who you were in love with."
And House is pretty sure his heart has stopped. All he can do is stand, frozen, leaning slightly forward, stuck on the odd tone in those words. Half wonder, half bewilderment, half hesitation, half something he doesn't recognize. Even so, he almost has the crazy urge to smile when he realizes that's way more halves than is physically feasible.
Then his throat starts to cooperate again. "Well, never mind then. I said nothing. Haha, joke's on you." He tries again to pull the cane back, but Wilson's fingers are gripping it tightly. "Wilson, damn it, let go already." He risks looking back, and up, at his friend. Eyes the color of melted chocolate meet his own and hold. House narrows his eyes. "What do you want from me?"
"I just got it." Wilson admits. He moves closer, and House smiles.
Kay, so this is what I came up with. I'd really, really appreciate whatever feedback you give me; it'll determine whether I write anything H/W again. Let me know what you thought of it.