Wilson was dancing with a beautiful woman, Cuddy with a handsomely beautiful man. During the night, Wilson would dance with Cuddy, and the beautiful strangers would dance with each other as everyone shuffled partners now and then. This charity ball was a perfect illustration of the fickleness of strangers. Through this fanciful (ridiculous) evening of dance and drink, House would be condemned to sitting, watching, and general immobility, for hours. He was glad that the liquor came in a constant flow and blurred the noise and shapes around him. He grimaced at the bitter taste and frowned at the laughs that came in at least an octave too high then what should be permitted to assault the human ear. The glass in front of him distorted the table, and provided a small distraction when he moved it around, the amber liquid constantly threatening to spill over. He wanted to go home.

He wondered how they could dance in those outfits, with bow ties choking their throats and the constant threat of being floored by an over exuberant chump who danced like a fool or overwrought waiter. He took on a smug countenance as he watched for of the many of the young woman glided across the floor, there were older women who seemed to share his sentiments. They struggled to feel comfortable in dresses that were designed to be tight, in make-up that failed to make them appear younger and with smiles that were toothy and false and pleaded that all they really wanted was to take off their heels and stab the nearest person with them to prove how unfit they were for fashion and dance and much for suited for war.

This charity benefit seemed intentionally pitted against him. There wasn't any gambling that forced Cuddy and Wilson to a table with him. The music was atrocious as it jerked about between classic ballroom and campy tunes from past decades. If they broke out into the dance from "Thriller" he was going to have to call in a bomb threat. He was glad that he didn't catch either Wilson or Cuddy dancing to said songs, but rather moving with a mature felicity that only allowed them to smile broadly and watch either the more boozed or the less restrained who claimed to be intoxicated. He expected Wilson to break down at any moment.

Tedious hours, a tedious night; he wanted to go home. How Cuddy and Wilson convinced him to make an appearance at all was pitifully devastating. Somehow, he'd been coerced (bribed) into this. And of course they would dance instead of bicker with him. Given the option, he would have danced too. He would have been dancing with them. He and Wilson would have kept a running commentary in between dances with their shuffling partners (and themselves?).

He fingered inside his pocket for his video game, giving up on waiting for the conversation at the table to interest him. The screen lit up and a high pitched "ding" went unnoticed, a technological incandescence that juxtaposed against the fragrant candles in their dishes. It cheapened the candlelit dinner effect, as long as you didn't remind yourself that the candles were probably purchased for under three dollars. His finger smoothed out the dial to its highest setting, hoping to instigate an argument with sounds that were as cheap as those who were around him, but failed to allure even a glance. Fine. He had cars to crash.

In his peripheral vision, he could see that the crowd was thinning as the hours and feet dragged on, but his tunnel vision, caused by his focus on the game boy screen, was enough to keep him occupied. It looked like a new high score was coming up. He could hardly contain his excitement. As he passed over the score, his willingness to continue waned and he shut off the screen before he slipped the game back into his pocket. The number- 362,548- gauged the event at the dull tone of a flat lining zero on a one to ten scale for entertainment. Wilson was flirting with a blonde at the bar (did he ever stop?). Cuddy was scouting sperm donors by a velvet brocaded window, as she laughed and flipped her hair. If she didn't get impregnated soon he wasn't sure he wanted to see that desperate charade anymore. On the other hand, the injections had been of great delight.

Wilson, however, didn't have a saving grace to deter House's wrath. Though it had felt like ages, it was still early and there was ample opportunity to make a nuisance of himself. For once though, he was embittered by the thought. How much fun was that going to be, really? The notion drained out of him, back into the static noise of the room. He watched the blonde laugh in that way a woman would laugh that pegs her as not overly intelligent. Wilson wasn't looking for a wife anymore, that was for sure. Julie, despite her nuances, had been an intelligent woman. Of course, she had been exactly Wilson's type; needy, pretty, doomed from the start. But it didn't matter what he thought of this woman, or the countless others of the evening; it still came down to a veiled feeling of inadequacy, a feeling that became more obvious as his spite grew towards the healthy bodies who could dance while he was still constrained to the table with his cane at close hand.

He watched his friend take the blonde up for a dance, her hair moving in flowed curls with a delicate step in dangerously thin, high heels. If that's all it took to catch Wilson's attention, House figured that he should have stolen the shoes the woman beside him had cast aside. Look at me! Look, I can do it to!

He pushed aside his drink; it was making him unreasonable.

He took up his drink; it was making him unreasonable.

Wilson gave a quick hug to the woman and she made an exit. House found himself intrigued- that should have gone on much longer. House waited, it looked as though he was about to get some attention. A miscellaneous pompous philanthropist interrupted Wilson as he made his way across the floor. Damn. House began to stand to go and steal Wilson away for himself. This was becoming unbearable.

He hadn't threatened to crush the feet of more then several people before Cuddy cut in front of him, glowering.

"Leave him be, House," she warned. So it was a pompous philanthropist. He'd been assuming.

"Aw, mom, I'm bored. Can't I go out and play with the other kids?" he whined.

She continued to stare down at him, establishing her position; he commented on the record-breaking quality of her newest plunging neckline and how perky her breasts looked tonight.

"Oh, and how's the sperm hunting going? Looks like slim picking tonight", House added.

She pressed her lips thin and gave a withering expression.

"Do you want to know how much that man has given to the oncology department? It's more then you'll see in a lifetime," Cuddy said, but House was already resigning himself again to the table.

Cuddy monitored him for the duration of what looked like a one sided conversation for Wilson, but House was just pleased that he'd made enough of a problem of himself to keep her by his side. It wasn't Wilson, but she would withstand his lewd comments and wholehearted analysis of her and other topics of hospital gossip.

The philanthropist, Heath, was the type to go on for hours. Wilson eventually spotted them and flung begging glances for salvation. This, of course, meant that House couldn't possibly save him, not unless he wanted to sacrifice the chance to inflict distress out of spite with minimal effort for having to mind the table of other hospital patrons. Cuddy, assured that House would now not compromise funding for the oncology department, resumed the stalking of sperm prey. Or whatever it was that her job entitled.

It wasn't until the cleaning had begun that Wilson could escape from the monotone of Heath (they'd passed by at some point and the man sounded like something between the hum of electricity and the static of the city) and be able to accompany House.

"You could have said something. Or pulled a fire alarm. I wouldn't have said no to either," Wilson said, pulling a chair beside him.

"And jeopardize the cancer kids play pens? Never."

Wilson sighed wearily and refused to acknowledge the wicked smile House had adopted.

"Who was the blonde?" House asked, bemused.

"That was a cousin of mine."

"A cousin...what's wrong with this one?"

"Nothing. She's actually my cousin. Mother's sister's daughter: a cousin."

House studied Wilson for a moment and descried that he was telling the truth. Didn't stop him from flirting though, he said aloud, as he followed his comment with a hillbilly twang of the banjo.

Wilson struggled to look offended, but gave way to a short laugh in spite of himself.

"You stayed here all night?"

"Well, I can't exactly dance, can I?" House answered, his voice suddenly turned sour. His inhibition was showing, Wilson noted. He wasn't guarding himself well. He couldn't determine how many drinks House had had.

"I think you could have managed," he said mildly, deciding to bite his tongue on his opinion of mixing Vicodin and alcohol together. They'd been down that road, and it hadn't led anywhere.

They were quiet, watching as people began to move tables, sweep floors, remove decorations. Cajoling House into attending this event had been poor judgment, Wilson thought as he realized that he'd only seen House speak to Cuddy throughout the entire evening. She had wanted him there just to be seen; his name meant something in the community. He shouldn't have gone along with her in convincing House to attend the event.

Wilson had hoped that maybe House would loosen up, converse, at least attempt to be social...what a poor notion. Did anything get through to the man? Even though he knew that it was exactly how one could assume House to behave, Wilson couldn't help but a feel disappointed in him. This man would never deter from his course of complete isolation. Except with him but that only made him feel like a pit stop on the side of a highway; a restroom, for whatever that was worth.

The music still played on, though turned down.

He had an idea.

"Dance with me," he offered.

House didn't openly react. His eyes weren't clear, but Wilson knew that his mind was still keen: he was evaluating. Wilson stood and offered House his hand to make it certain that he was serious, though he knew that House had already deduced that. Had House been more sober, he'd already be mocking him. But Wilson was determined to take advantage of this. It was enjoyable too, putting House on the spot like this.

Wilson waited, patient, not closing his offer (he did after all have some humanity in said offer). The music was slow. He was certain that House could manage something, should he want to. His arm felt heavy suddenly, but he was sure that he was only imagining it.

It could have been an eternity there had the song not changed and sent House's face into a spasm of disgust.

"'Stand by Me!" he cried, "that's about all you'd get from me."

Wilson sighed. Nodding, he waited for House to stand and they proceeded to exit with their usual unison.