The nurse at the front desk reported the traffic accident on the other side of the city. So here it was. The reason for the non-arrival, the thing that had sent his staff to wander the corridors, pacing like caged animals. The adrenalin of the transplant team still soaked the air like a stink of sweat and fear. In the silence House could hear the hum of the air conditioners, the ducted sounds of autoclaves finishing their sterilization cycles, a baby's cry, molars grinding. Perhaps his own.
That heart and lungs, useless now, just meat melting on the side of the road with broken glass and blood, dry ice sizzling curlicues of steam into an unforgiving sky.
Well, these things didn't bear thinking of. People died everyday, and for each bed vacated, ten more clamoured for admittance.
But there had been something about the patient, this sin nombre, this no-name. He'd had that preppy look that suggested a good family, but none had come to see him in all the week the team had kept him alive. Then a stranger had come in a couple of days ago. A man. Hard to work out their relationship. He was nearly ten years older, but it was not easy to tell under the scruff of despair and sleepless nights.
The nurse couldn't let the visitor in to see the patient. House had been gimping past when he picked up the conversation, like a ghost television transmission on a hot still night.
"You're not family?"
"No, I'm just a friend but..."
"I'm sorry, his family have requested that he not have visitors."
But the visitor had stayed. He had waited while hospital business had ebbed and flowed around him. He had waited while friends came--and blocked by the unseen family's wishes--went. He had been here tonight, seeing the transplant team waiting, waiting.
House walked past, his three-legged gait ringing out in the silence. Even this guy knew he was a doctor now.
"James? Where's James?"
James. House winced, and not just from unwashed skin and sour coffee-breath. They would all have to have common names, wouldn't they?
He thought of James - the one at his place he was avoiding, Best Friend James, who three nights before had leant in for a drunken kiss and sent House fleeing. Stupid James for thinking he was falling in love. Stupid House for allowing himself to drop his guard and flirt with a desperately lonely man on the rebound. Stupid world for making puzzles so complex that the only way to solve them was to break them.
And now this James was dead, of two broken hearts.
"Dead. I'm sorry. Go home."
House left the man there in the corridor, as if he were running from himself. He escaped from the floodlit halls and into the car park, where darkness encased him like a cocoon. The dash had pulled pain from his ruined leg, his nerves throbbed purple with a white core and magenta edges. He wanted to be anywhere else but here, anywhere else but home, maybe he would tell Wilson to move out now, cooking and company be damned. No more of those sad glances, snatched away, that unspoken you're hurting me, no memory of soft lips pressed hesitantly against his own, no recalling a sigh of surrender, defeat, vulnerability.
And most of all forget the look Wilson gave him when House had pushed him away.
That kiss was part of the James Wilson puzzle that had no business being there, like a jigsaw piece of a map of the world finding its way into a 2000-piece landscape. Namibia in clear blue sky.
House rode recklessly through city streets, tipping his visor up so that the wind could scald his face. The sky was clear on one half, yet thunderheads loomed on the edges, lightning illuminating the billows in stark, random staccato. Traffic still growled. Sirens wailed in the distance.
The bike thrummed between his legs, loosening the knot of tension in his belly. Wilson would be asleep by now. He could sneak in to his own bed, and by the time he woke, Wilson would have gone to work. Yes, he'd leave Wilson a note, tell him that he'd worn out his welcome.
Open door slowly, sneak in. There were not so subtle differences about the place, clues that maybe it was not all his. He waited for that familiar feeling, like one of the Three Bears coming home after Goldilocks had done her damage. Who's been eating my food? Who's been sitting on my chair? But it didn't come. The couch was bare. No jumble of quilts and pillows, or Wilson's pale slender limbs peeking out from under House's t-shirts.
Now anxiety welled up like an infection. What if Wilson wasn't here? What if he'd left in the days House hadn't been home?
James? Where's James?
House shoved his jacket off and kicked his boots and trousers away. Didn't want to think about Wilson gone, that man back at the hospital with his devastated expression, the relationship that he'd shared with the other James.
But hadn't he wanted this?
Yes, but not suddenly, not taken from him in the middle of the night.
He paused at the dim frame of the bedroom. Could not name the tightening of his chest, the sparkles in his limbs. Call it relief then. Baby Bear says: Someone's been sleeping in my bed, and there he is...
A change in the quality of darkness made Wilson stir, "Oh God," came the mumble from the blankets. I'm sorry, I didn't think you'd be back 'til morning."
Wilson sat up, head tousled. Lighting flared in the window's frame, diffused through the thin curtains, bled into the room and lingered like an afterburn. Wilson looked so very young in this light, fragile almost.
"I just got sick of sleeping on the couch."
"I told you it was lumpy," House gruffed.
Wilson made to rise, House caught his wrist. Felt Wilson's pulse there, beating strong and alive. The beat quickened with Wilson's breath.
"Big enough for two."
Confused, still sleep-drunk, Wilson sank back into the bed. House didn't waste time. He pounced on Wilson's warm body, yanked the T-shirt off, grazed his mouth over Wilson's lips, stubble sanding off a layer of skin. House caught the tang of peppermint toothpaste on Wilson's tongue.
Wilson gasped and writhed under House's tender assault, clutched him close, strained his hips up, found affirmation in the hardness under the cloth. House began to press in return, an ancient rhythm finding purchase in him, an old buried hunger rising like storm clouds on the horizon, terrible and wonderful at the same time. Wilson's shoulders gleamed, soon he was limned in sweat and the saliva trails from House's covetous mouth.
"Want you all to myself...don't wanna share you with anyone..." House grunted between deep breaths, his cock already sore from dry-humping Wilson into the mattress.
They were on dangerous ground now. Property Of Greg House - Don't Touch
Wilson dipped a hand down to a waistband. House grabbed the offending limb, pinned both wrists above Wilson's head. He was not ready yet for the last shreds of control to be taken from him, and Wilson had the capacity to damage him, worse even that Stacy had damaged him.
House thumbed Wilson's nipples, tongued away the line of sweat at his jaw. Wilson's expression became faraway, the look of saints in their raptures. His body trembled. His climax cry was little more than the drawing of a breath. House finally spent to thoughts of sin and punishment, imagined Wilson on his knees before him in prayer and penance, his come wet and hot against his skin.
The rain started up, pelted against the glass. Rivulets reflected against the walls. House stared up at the ceiling.
Always with the questions, James Wilson. House only shrugged.
"Go to sleep," he said, sharply. "And don't forget to pick up some condoms tomorrow. I'm all out."
A pause. Wilson knew better than to listen to House's words alone.
It's not what people say...it's what they do.
"Yes Doctor House," Wilson said, mock obedient.
House waited until Wilson was asleep before letting his mind wander. This could possibly be the biggest mistake of his life. Possibly. But unless he made them how would he ever know?
Goldilocks, that chair sitting, food stealing hussy, had made similar mistakes. To hot, Too cold, too hard too soft. But even after all her trials she had come to find something that was...
House took one last look at Wilson's familiar, beloved face. In the half-dark he gave the kind of private smile he would let no living thing ever see...
Something that was just right.