Chapter 10

The sound of electronic beeping mixed in with the clattering of packages, chattering of people and the background elevator music of the thrift store overwhelmingly rang throughout Wilson's ears. As the automatic doors slid shut behind him, he nearly leapt out of the way to avoid two children playfully chasing each other down the aisles. He quickly regained his balance, fixing his coat in an attempt to appear nonchalant, simultaneously scanning the store for House. He had quickly hobbled away down aisle nine where, as Wilson began to follow House, he could see a large tub which was filled with miscellaneous umbrella, sticks and canes.

Once Wilson reached the end of the aisle, stopping alongside House, he could not help but laugh. House threw him an annoyed, slightly offended look and then turned his eyes again towards the variety of canes with a look of serious contemplation. Wilson could only continue to smile, looking from the canes to House, and then to the tub once again.

"Whatever happened to that nice smoke shop down the street?"

"Apparently they don't give service to cripples," House said, pulling a metallic cane out from the tub. Once the cane was pulled out all the way, House and Wilson could see that it was supported by four feet. House frowned and quickly shoved the cane back into the tub.

"Shame, really – I was hoping you'd by that one made from a bull. Fits you better than the grandpa cane."

House pulled out a simple, varnished, mahogany cane and twirled it about before offering it to Wilson to hold.

"Where'd you learn to be such a smartass?" House said sardonically as Wilson took the cane in his hands and weighed it. Wilson smiled slightly as he gave back the cane.

"Too heavy," he dismissed.

"You're not carrying it around."

"It'll hurt when you hit me."

House slid the rejected cane into the tub. "Sissy."

"How about that one?" Wilson pointed to cane which resembled the bough of a tree, although varnished and stained with a slightly amber tinge.

House pulled the tree limb out of the bin, setting it down besides him and throwing out his chest.

"Wait, wait, wait," Wilson said, holding up his hands as he stifled a laugh. "You're missing the hat..." he then quickly ran down the corridor between aisles, scanning quickly for a section which sold clothing. He turned left at aisle three, where he found a tub of hats. He then rummaged hurriedly through the tub, finally pulling out a child's safari hat and began to sprint down the aisles once again, stopping at House's feet.

"There," Wilson said triumphantly, panting slightly from his short sprint as he tried to place the hat on House's head. House watched as the childish hat traveled towards his head, and he reflexively held up his hands to thwart Wilson's humiliating attack. The cane in his hand swung wildly as House reflexively warded off Wilson, causing the cane to act as a threatening pendulum before Wilson. Wilson backed off slightly, protecting himself from House's weapon-like cane, breaking into laughter as he stepped away. House felt himself laughing despite himself, secretly embarrassed by the spectacle he and Wilson were creating.

"Put that away," House spluttered, sliding the thick cane back into place, still laughing slightly. Wilson smiled, shrugging as he placed the safari hat on his head and walked off to put it back. He returned to House's side a few minutes later to find House still sorting through the tub of canes.

They sorted through the bin in silence, occasionally pointing out a particularly humorous one, or otherwise one that deserved attention. At last, Wilson pulled out a thin, wooden cane, smiling with excitement as he withdrew it from the pile. As he presented it to his partner, House could see that the handle of the cane was actually a wooden carving of a duck's head, varnished and intricately detailed. House ran his fingers over the top of the cane, feeling the small bumps the carvings of the duck's feathers created.

"Classy," he admitted, tossing the cane up and down in his hand. Wilson lifted his shoulders in a modest shrug, pleased at his finding.

"Fits the Sherlock Holmes in you."

"Then go get me my pipe," House smiled, now twirling the cane between his fingers. Wilson winced slightly as the cane slipped from House's grasp, falling to the floor with a clatter. He shook his head knowingly at House, leaning down to pick up the duck-cane. As he handed it back to House, he felt his stomach rumble.

"So, are you buying it?" Wilson prompted.

House studied the cane from top to bottom, especially looking at the duck's head. After a moment's consideration, he finally began to walk towards the checkout stand, using the cane as he hobbled away.

Wilson raised his eyebrows in a moment's disbelief, but then hurriedly followed after his partner, withdrawing his wallet as he walked. Yet as he reached the check-stand, he noticed House had already withdrawn his wallet and was beginning the transaction for his new cane. Wilson gave a double-take, but did not press the matter for the protection of his pocketbook, sliding his wallet back into his pocket.

As House happily left the thrift store, his new cane faithfully standing at his side, he threw Wilson the car keys and prepared for a long night of unpacking. It was amazing that a man who had been living off and on at a hotel could still own so much junk, and House shook his head as he slid into the passenger's seat of the car, checking to make sure that the piles of boxes in the backseat hadn't shifted around earlier.

Once the duo reached 221B Baker St., House leapt out of his car and hurriedly went to open his door. He had heard Wilson's stomach protesting for food earlier, and his own stomach was now complaining about lack of food. As his door swung open, he immediately headed to the kitchen, grabbing the phone from its stand and punching the speed dial for the local pizzeria. Wilson stood dumbfounded in the cold of night outside, his hands on his hips, House's car keys dangling from his index finger. He sighed and opened the back door to House's car, pulling out the closest box with the intention of carrying it inside. He let out a grunt as he embraced the first box of junk and began to slowly carry the package up House's front steps and into his house.

He allowed the box to fall to the floor in House's living room with a loud crash, cringing slightly as he hoped he hadn't shattered his only kitchenware. Wilson then heard the sound of House's phone hitting the receiver as House entered the living room to check on Wilson. Wilson bent down over his box, frantically attempting to open the box as House stopped before him, towering over Wilson with a tantalizing grin on his face. Wilson noticed the kneecaps of House's jeans at eye level, and he felt his fingers fumble with the lid of the box (which was still taped shut) as he looked up at House. The angle at which he was sitting before House gave him the appearance of a giant, and Wilson felt himself craning his neck in order to look at House properly.

"Thanks for helping," he said, still squinting at House.

"Hope you like pepperoni," House replied cheerfully, "or do you still keep kosher?"

Wilson clicked his tongue and sighed, looking away from House as he continued to try ripping open the box. He waited for House's footsteps to recede as he expected him to walk away, but House's jeans remained as close to Wilson as they had been a moment ago. Wilson stopped tackling the box in confusion, looking up at House once again.

Their gazes met, and Wilson felt a strain of sexual tension arise in their looks. House's smirk danced playfully on his face, his eyebrows seemed to be raised slightly from the angle at which Wilson was looking. Wilson felt himself blush and stare at the box, although he didn't waste his time with trying to open the box without scissors. After a moment, he arose from his squatting position, removing his coat as he stood and throwing it onto the couch.

The box remained between the duo, acting as a taunting barrier between them. House's smile turned into a serious stare, piercing Wilson with a newfound determination. Wilson felt as though he were being x-rayed, and blinked rapidly in an attempt to break the tension. He backed away slightly, planning to head outside and grab the next box in House's car. House did not protest, nor did his expression change, and he continued to follow Wilson as he slowly turned around, walked down the steps and headed towards his car. He stood at the doorway while Wilson stuck his head into the backseat, rummaged through the boxes for a moment, then took a minute's pause. He then emerged from the car empty-handed, looking meaningfully at House with his hands resting on his hips in frustration.

"Unloading boxes isn't a spectator's sport," he remarked.

House said nothing, trying with all of his might not to crack a smile.

Upon seeing that House was unmoved by his prompt, Wilson sighed, slamming the car door shut and locking it. He proceeded to walk back up House's front steps, sliding past a grinning House in the doorway. He brushed House's chest as he slid by and felt his breath on his right cheek. He felt his heart flutter slightly as he reentered the living room, standing squarely in the center of the room. House emerged from the main hallway shortly after Wilson heard the front door slam shut, and Wilson's heart rate only continued to increase.

The couple stood awkwardly in the living room for a moment, silent except for the slight creaking of the house and the buzzing in their ears. In a desperate attempt to break this heavy silence, Wilson threw out his hands, ungluing his lips which had been pressed firmly together as he spoke,

"I'm guessing you don't want to help me unpack?"

"Just watching you carry those boxes made me sore."

"Well, I can't leave them out in your car all night--"

"You don't have anything valuable, what're you worrying about?"

"Okay, okay I just want something to do," Wilson admitted. "Happy?"

"No," House said, walking past Wilson towards the couch, snatching up the remote control as he passed by the small coffee table. Wilson spun around, watching House snap on the TV.

"Then what do you want?" Wilson sputtered exasperatedly. House ignored him as he plopped himself onto the couch, immediately entering a dazed, hypnotic state as he watched the news blare on the screen. Wilson scoffed, beginning to walk to the couch. As he reached House's side, he moved his coat from the seat and placed it on the armrest opposite House as he sat down. He left a modest space between himself and House, placing his hands awkwardly in his lap as he tried to fix his gaze on the anchormen reciting the news. Yet, he could not help but throw small, sideways glances at House, slowly sinking into the couch as he allowed himself to become more and more relaxed, at last settling into House's shoulder. House had not taken off his leather jacket when he came in, and Wilson smelt the leather as his cheek rested on House's shoulder. Although he was entirely comfortable, the position itself was very uncomfortable, and he continued to shift like an impatient child, trying to get House's attention. At last, House blinked and looked at Wilson, who sat up in order to prompt House to remove his jacket.

House rolled his eyes as he fumbled for his jacket zipper. He then unceremoniously set his jacket on his closest armrest, revealing a simple red t-shirt underneath. Wilson looked down at his own attire, admiring the way his lavender shirt simultaneously clashed and blended in with House's red shirt. He slipped off his loafers, revealing black socks as he propped his feet up on House's coffee table. House, in turn, pulled off his own shoes, throwing the pair of red converse across the room, where they hit the hardwood floor with a series of thuds. His feet rested comfortably alongside Wilson's on the coffee table, wiggling goofily in order to make Wilson laugh.

Wilson bit his lip to hold back his laughter, adjusting his position on the couch so that his head traveled from House's bony shoulder to his welcoming lap, curling himself up into a slight ball in order to fit lengthwise along the couch. He stared blissfully at the TV screen, although he was not entirely taking in the visual and audio information being thrown at him. Instead, he realized he was rather focusing on the comfort of House's leg against his head. After a few moments, he recognized the spine-chilling touch of House's fingertips which were now resting on his arm, sliding calmly from his shoulder to his wrist and back, occasionally creeping down his back, tracing random patterns as he watched the news.

House's fingers continued to venture down his back, running along the crevice formed by his back muscles at his spine, and Wilson sighed happily. As House's caresses slowly ceased, Wilson turned onto his back, sliding his head up against the armrest of the couch so he could engage in conversation with House. He slipped his hands behind his head as he let out a relaxed breath of air, looking at House with a grin playing on his face. House threw him a sideways grin before setting his gaze back on the TV. Wilson frowned slightly, a childish form of jealousy stirring in his chest. He began to protest as the doorbell rang. He jumped as reality seemed to seep in through the door with the sound of the bell, and couldn't help but scowl as he stood up to allow House to answer the door.

House returned about five minutes later holding two boxes of pizza. The smell wafted throughout the room, and Wilson's empty stomach prompted him to take a box from House and carry it into the living room, where he set it down on the coffee table. House copied him, setting down his box beside Wilson's, throwing the top open and snatching two large slices of pepperoni.

The duo ate hungrily as House flipped through the channels on the TV. Wilson realized as the night wore on that the last thing on his mind was the TV, and he often found himself staring with an annoyed look on his face whenever House changed the channel. He often broke the silences between bites as he gossiped about the latest affairs within the hospital, the oddities of certain people such as the famous eleven-fingered intern and other oddities that caused House to spit out his soda, spraying Wilson as he burst out in laughter.

After about an hour, House and Wilson lay on the couch with two empty pizza boxes and several bottles of soda, one of which was still fizzing as a result of being knocked over by Wilson's foot. Wilson had never felt so at home before, and he savored the feeling as much as he savored House's company. It wasn't a feeling of greedy satisfaction that he resided in a home with a TV, stereo and other luxuries, but a feeling of relief and happiness that he shared a home with House. He wasn't a guest watching his every step in case he knocked something over, or risked himself getting thrown out. He belonged here as a second body, a second beating heart within this welcoming place of residence. Of course, no one else besides House could probably ever see this place as "welcoming", but that only added a sense of pride in Wilson's chest – he could see something special within this cavern that no one else would ever even attempt to look for.

Wilson stretched and yawned wildly, throwing out his arms as he took in air. He then rubbed his eyes slowly, glancing down at his watch in curiosity. His eyes widened slightly as he read the time: 11:30. How was it that time had gone by so quickly? He slowly got up from the couch, still rubbing his eyes and scratching his head as he walked, grudgingly heading towards House's bedroom. As he arrived at House's bedside, he realized his clothes were still in boxes in his car. He groaned, dismissing the idea of going outside to retrieve his belongings, promptly poking his head through the doorway to yell to House down the hall.

"House," he yelled sleepily.

"What?" a groaning voice from the living room responded. Wilson then heard the sound of feet hitting the floor as House rose from the couch to follow Wilson into the bedroom. The couple stood sleepily in the doorway, blinking heavily.

"Can I borrow your clothes for the night?"

"Go get your stuff."

"I'm not going outside to dig through boxes at 11:30 at night."


"Still not going. Can I borrow your clothes?"

House sighed, rubbing his eyes in order to stay awake. "Fine," he agreed, "if it makes you happy."

Wilson smiled sleepily and headed for House's drawers. After rummaging through them for several minutes, he found a care-worn undershirt and pajama pants and disappeared into the bathroom. He emerged a few minutes later to find House already changed, wearing sweats and a t-shirt. Despite their mutual exhaustion, a sense of excitement mingled in the air; before now, this present moment was something which occasionally appeared in a dream, if either of them were lucky.

Wilson shifted uncomfortably where he stood, scratching his head sleepily as he felt himself yawn once again. As he opened his eyes, he found House's face inches from his, giving him a sly, yet deeply meaningful look. Wilson blushed slightly as he smiled back, all weariness temporarily vanishing as his heart began to race. He felt House's hand sliding gently along his face, traveling to his neck, chin and back again, causing him to shiver slightly in euphoria. As House leaned in to kiss him, Wilson felt himself falling backwards onto the bed, landing with the squealing of bedsprings.

House sat down on the bed, chuckling slightly. Wilson glared at him as he lay on his back, still bouncing slightly from the impact with the mattress. House leaned over him, gradually twisting himself so that he lay on top of Wilson, smothering him with kisses. Wilson felt slightly overwhelmed at first – House had never been this passionate before, albeit the chance had never truly provided itself. But for the first time, Wilson was entirely at ease with the whole concept; there was no fear in his heart that someone would walk in on them, nor did it really matter anymore if someone did. He could share House's excitement freely, and certainly allowed himself the indulgence.

House's scratchy face rubbed against his own as Wilson traced his face in kisses, occasionally traveling down his neck. He could smell House's mustiness, and his large hands felt calm and relaxing against his own skin, although obviously unlike anyone's hand he'd felt before. His hand sank into the back of House's neck, and his fingers fumbled with his wiry grey hair, bringing back memories of that wonderful scene in his office only a few days ago. It felt so right to be there with House, basking in their bliss as House's clock ticked 12:00 in the morning.

As House continued to kiss Wilson, Wilson couldn't help but let out another yawn mid-kiss, which at first, House embraced as a bizarre kiss, but then faltered from, groaning from the amount of released carbon dioxide. Wilson couldn't help but laugh as he muttered, "Sorry."

House completely ignored him, providing the opportunity to attack Wilson's open mouth as Wilson's hand traveled down House's back, barely grazing his upper leg. House twitched slightly, and it took Wilson to realize his hand had been venturing towards House's infarction. He felt guilty as he returned his hand to House's back, tracing circles there in order to relax House again. Eventually, the duo lay there, panting slightly as sleepiness finally began to overtake them. They lay atop of the bedcovers, adjusting themselves as a single entity so that they lay on their sides, Wilson embracing House. Wilson's fingers slid gently from House's shoulder down to his fingertips as they sighed happily.

"Thanks House," Wilson finally spoke at last, his voice echoing in House's ear.

"Hm?" House grunted, his eyes half open.

"For waiting for me," Wilson prompted.

House breathed deeply through his nostrils, causing his chest to heave and his shoulders to raise as he sank himself deeper into Wilson's chest.

"It was worth it," he responded at last.

With that, Wilson lightly kissed the back of House's head as they closed their eyes, and entered a dreamless sleep. A new life awaited them in the morning, full of new opportunities, whether for better or worse and at last, they were ready for it.