Title: Enough of the déjà vu - Part 3: Return
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Heel and Toe Films, Shore Z Productions and Bad Hat Harry Productions in association with Universal Media Studios.
Beta: the truly awesome triedunture
Summary: House returns home, although not without causing some havoc beforehand. Wilson's been busy in his absence.
Enough of the déjà vu - Part 3: Return
House was, of course, the house guest from hell. Chris had known this would be the case, but this didn't actually help. It took House all of two hours on the Sunday afternoon to borrow the Harley without asking. Afterwards he was glowing from the ride and gabbling enthusiastically about the bike, and the torrent of fury that Chris threw at him was water off a duck's back.
Chris overheard House negotiate a week's vacation leave from Cuddy; he could hardly not hear it, as House had her on speakerphone in the kitchen while Chris was making breakfast on the Monday morning. Cuddy was obviously pissed at House for calling only on the day, and ended up saying, "And who I am I going to get to cover your clinic duty at this short notice?"
"Oh, Wilson's quite happy to do that," House said without a beat.
Auditors were combing accounts at the club, so Chris had to work and House was left to his own devices. Chris reluctantly let House borrow the Harley because it seemed easier than arguing about it (and he suspected that House would find a way to take it anyway, unless Chris actually chained himself to it). House stuck his cane in his backpack and drove off triumphantly.
As far as Chris could make out, House spent the next few days alternating between flying around the coastal roads on the Harley, sleeping on the beach, and eating his way through the contents of Chris's kitchen cupboards. When House started whining about a shortage of food on the Wednesday, Chris told him in no uncertain terms that if he wanted gourmet cooking he should hurry up and make up with Wilson. That actually served to shut House up for a bit, although did not unfortunately lead to him going out and buying any food himself.
Chris dropped Wilson a brief e-mail each day to assure him that House was still around and hadn't done himself any harm. Wilson sent back equally brief and grateful replies.
On Thursday afternoon, Chris got a call from the local ER to say a Dr. Gregory House had been admitted after a motorcycle accident. Chris's first thought was Wilson's gonna kill me! He ground his teeth and drove up to the ER, to find House was apparently fine, although he had a graze on his forehead and the most enormous bandage on his shoulder.
"What the hell happened?" Chris demanded, without a greeting.
"Came off on a corner. Nobody else anywhere near. Fucking busybody passer-by called 911, no need." House sounded righteously indignant. "It's just a bruise."
"Never mind you," Chris said brutally. "What about the bike?"
"Ah, well." House avoided his eye. "The front wheel got a bit bent."
The cane and the bandage combined made House look so bloody and battered that even Chris couldn't quite bring himself to hit him. Though he was sorely tempted. "You are so paying for this."
"I thought you liked things bent," House snapped. "Send the bill to Wilson. I'll only borrow the money off him and not pay him back."
Chris wondered for the umpteenth time why on earth Wilson put up with House.
Chris steeled himself that evening to call Wilson and tell him about the accident. Wilson listened in silence, then demanded, "He's definitely not hurt?"
"No. He's got this big bandage on his shoulder which kind of restricts movement, but he's fine."
Wilson's voice rose. "Why did you let him on that bike anyway? You of all people know how lethal it can be!"
That hurt, but Chris was more upset than angry. He remembered that Wilson too had lost someone he'd loved in a road accident. "Like anyone can stop him doing whatever the hell he wants to do, all the time."
"I should have been there. I should have stayed, I shouldn't have come back to work--"
This was ridiculous. "You can't always be there for him. Especially when he's pushed you away himself."
"No. You're wrong. When he's pushed me away is exactly when I should be there. It means he's about to hit the self-destruct button."
Chris breathed an exasperated sigh. "Wilson, I am doing my best but I am not you and I am not going to react like you do. He's fine. Whereas the Harley needs thousands of dollars worth of repair! Alright?"
"Fine," Wilson snapped. Apparently realizing he'd sounded very short, Wilson went on in a more pacifying tone, "So what's he up to now?"
"Not much. But we're going to have a fun time tonight." Chris's tone was deeply ironic. "Matt's coming to dinner. He expressed an interest in meeting my old Princeton buddy and I couldn't put it off any longer. I thought House would refuse and that would get me off the hook, but instead he seems surprisingly keen."
"Really." Wilson sounded amused now. "Then watch out. He's up to something. I guarantee it!"
By the time Matt arrived for dinner that evening, Chris was a nervous wreck, and would have definitely started smoking again for the first time in several years had there been even an ounce of tobacco in the house. He settled for a shot of whiskey surreptitiously in the kitchen beforehand instead. House meanwhile was humming and relaxed.
Chris did brief introductions, and the three of them sat in the living room with beer. Chris found himself drinking his rather too quickly from the start.
"So, you two lovebirds been going out long?" House swilled beer around in his glass, taking it slow.
"Couple of years now, nearly. I keep on telling him we should get one of those civil union things, make it all legal," Matt said jovially. "Perhaps you can help me persuade him."
Chris smiled, faintly embarrassed.
House's eyes narrowed so far they became mere slits of blue. He didn't reply, but asked instead, "And what do you do for a living, Matt?"
He put a faint humorous stress on Matt. Chris started to get an inkling that House really was planning on some serious baiting.
"I'm a boat engineer." Matt downed half his beer in a gulp.
"Yeah?" House raised an eyebrow. "Messing about on the river all day?"
"I fix boats when they're broken, maintain them, rent them out." Matt spread out his hands. "That's how we met. Summer before last, I got a job in the boatyard just up the coast."
"You have a boat, of course," House nodded at Chris.
"A share in one," Chris clarified.
"And what about you, House?" Matt asked. "What do you do?"
"House is a doctor," Chris said, before House could claim to be a magician or a weightlifter or window cleaner. House cast Chris a slightly reproachful look.
"A doctor?" Matt snorted in amusement. "Fucking great advertisement for the medical profession you are, with a crippled leg and a whacking great bandage on your shoulder."
Matt had always been something of a straight talker. Chris shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
House's eyes gleamed. "What an interesting idea. Only people with no disabilities should be allowed to become doctors. And quite right too. You could stand for Congress on a platform like that, actually. I can see the placards now: Cripples Out! Disabled Doctors, no thanks! You can form a party--"
"You think you're smart, huh?" Matt said, hostile now, and Chris really winced. "How come you two know each other?"
"House is a friend of Wilson's," Chris said hastily, fearing House was about to invent something outrageous. Chris had told Matt a bit about Wilson, his last serious relationship.
"Doctor pals, eh?" Matt drank the other half of his beer.
"That's right. You know he's an oncologist? Well, I specialize in diagnostics." House leaned back in his chair and stared at Matt. "But it doesn't take any special skills or training to diagnose you as a grade A gold digging bastard."
Chris spluttered into his drink.
Matt put his empty glass down, leaned forward and glared at House. "What the fuck are you talking about?"
"I mean, you're obviously a tinpot navvy on the lookout to screw a rich boat-owning lonely idiot in search of some male company," House stated. "That's a flashy car you drove up in; you don't buy that on a boat mechanic's salary. And you live in one of these fancy beachfront apartment blocks, don't you? I drove down to take a look the other day. No way can you afford the rent on that unless it comes out of someone else's bank account. You're nothing but a freeloading bloodsucking son-of-a-bitch-- "
Matt jumped to his feet while House was talking and pulled back a fist to take a swing.
Chris had a sudden vision of Wilson's reaction if he found out House had not only had an accident on Chris's motorcycle, but also been beaten up by Chris's boyfriend. He leaped up just in time to grab Matt's arm.
Matt shook him off, shouted, "I didn't come here to be fucking insulted!" and stormed out.
Chris hesitated, wondering whether to go after him. He hesitated a little too long, though; there came the slam of a car door and the sound of an engine starting, then the car roared away. Chris turned to House, who was sitting looking stern and resolutely unrepentant.
"House--" Chris began, furious.
"He's a gold digger. He's only after your money." House spoke in no uncertain terms. "He's with you for the sports car and the swanky apartment he's conned out of you. He wants the nice meals he can eat for free in your restaurants and the complimentary drinks at your club. And the sex he probably gets from other men behind your back, in return for access to your private bar, I wouldn't wonder."
"House, you're talking absolute shit!"
"Am I?" House fixed Chris with a penetrating eye. "He tried to talk you into putting him into your will last year, didn't he? I found the papers in your desk drawer--"
"--but you changed your mind at the last moment. Thank fuck for that, or you might have vanished off the side of your boat next time the two of you were out at sea."
Chris was stunned into silence.
"Now he's trying to guilt you into a civil union," House hammered on remorselessly. "You do that, you'll end up in a sticky divorce in six months time where he will screw you for every last cent he can get." He paused, looked carefully at Chris's face, and drove the final nail into the coffin. "You used to have a photograph of Edward in a frame in here, didn't you?" House waved an arm towards a bookcase. "What happened to it?"
Chris knew exactly what photograph House was talking about. It was the best picture Chris had of Edward, showing him clutching a newspaper to his chest and smiling self-consciously, his glasses slid a little way down his nose. "I took it down. Matt didn't like seeing it--"
"It's facedown at the back of your closet." House's voice cut through the air like a knife through butter.
"You've been poking around in my closet?" Chris spluttered, but by now he was past being angry or surprised at anything, as House's words struck chords deep in his soul. "Look, it's perfectly reasonable of Matt not to want to have to look at it all the time."
"Did Wilson ever ask you to do anything like that?" House asked shrewdly, and Chris knew House was right. House went on, a trifle melodramatic, "Matt the master manipulator made you take down the only reminder you had of the love of your life, who died so tragically. And as if to strain the metaphor, had him stuck him in a closet."
Chris breathed heavily. "Get the fuck out of my house."
House regarded Chris through speculative eyes and said, "I'll leave right now if you tell me I'm wrong."
Instead, Chris turned blindly and walked out of the house himself.
A while later, House came out and joined Chris outside on the beach. Chris had taken the deckchair; House perched on the rock nearby, and sat there silently for a few minutes.
"It wasn't just the photo," Chris said presently.
House raised an eyebrow and waited.
"He wanted me to stop going out to the tree. The memorial tree I planted with Edward's ashes... I don't even go out there that much any more, but there are some days I just do, anniversaries, that kind of thing. He's always kicked up a fuss." Chris heard his voice shake slightly.
"He's a bastard," House said simply.
"Linus has never liked him either." Chris ran a hand over his face. "It was Linus who stopped me changing my will at the last minute a year ago."
House nodded in comprehension. "He's one of your executors."
"Yeah. What else did you read in my desk drawers?" Chris was fast realizing that House hadn't just spent the last few days driving around, eating, and sleeping after all.
"Well, I wasn't guessing about the car and the apartment," House admitted.
Chris sighed. "So you come stay with me, eat all my food, wreck my bike, put yourself in hospital making Wilson furious with me, poke your nose into my affairs and then break up my relationship of the last two years. And I guess I'm supposed to thank you."
"No thanks required," House said magnanimously, but his attention had been caught. "Wilson's furious with you?"
"I fell down on the House baby-sitting front," Chris said tightly. "He thinks you're being self-destructive."
"He's just in mother hen mode." House was dismissive.
Somehow this served to anger Chris. "House, you need to get your head out of your ass and realize that Wilson really cares about you, and he's fucking petrified you're going to stick your fingers in an electric socket or something right now."
"He'd find comfort soon enough elsewhere if I did," House struck back.
And Chris stared in surprise, that House could see Chris's own life and personal problems so readily, and yet fail so completely to understand his own. Chris didn't want to do it, but felt he had to try and explain, however awkward it was. "House, he--he loves you. He always has."
"He's got a funny fucking way of showing it then, hasn't he?" House's voice was harsh, but Chris thought he could hear an ever so slight quiver in House's voice.
And then, the miracle: House asked for an opinion. "You know what he's like. Do you think--do you really think--that he can stop fucking other people if he tries?"
"If it's that or lose you, then yes. Yes, I think he can. I think he will." Chris hesitated, and added pointedly, "You've never actually asked him to before."
House stood up, wheeled around and headed back towards the house.
Chris stayed in the deckchair looking out to sea for quite a long time after nightfall. He supposed he should have been more upset, but actually, he was more relieved than anything.
House traveled home the following day, leaving early in the morning before Chris got up. House didn't feel the need to leave a note of thanks: after all, he'd saved Chris from an expensive divorce down the line. And that would more than cover the Harley repair, too, so basically they were even.
On Monday he arrived back at Princeton Plainsboro to spy Wilson in a ward from afar, doing his rounds while looking as exhausted and haggard as House had ever seen him. And that was saying something. He found that Taub, Thirteen and Kutner had been helping out in oncology while he'd been away (Foreman seemed to have gone AWOL), and he told them in an off-handed way that they might as well stay there until they got a case.
He spent the morning catching up on spam e-mails in his office, before taking a deep breath and heading next door. Wilson was at his desk, writing painstakingly in a file with his crabby left-handed scrawl. House strolled in and plumped himself down opposite.
"Hey," Wilson said, tentative, but sounding genuinely pleased to see him. "Did you have a nice week off?"
"Chris has been reporting back to you," House rebuked. "You probably know what happened even better than I do."
Wilson shrugged a little. "Yes, I heard he broke up with Matt thanks to you. Amazingly, he seems to think you did him a favor." He looked closely at House, and his brown eyes shone with sudden concern. "The bike accident. Your shoulder looks stiff--"
"It's nothing," House said automatically. "Just a bruise."
Wilson was on his feet and round the side of the desk. "Let me see."
House pulled a face, but Wilson had on his I'm your doctor too expression and it didn't seem worth actually fighting over. Reluctantly House unbuttoned the heavy cotton shirt he was wearing, and shrugged it off his shoulder. He knew it was just a bruise, albeit a huge one which was currently turning a cavernous shade of purple-black.
"You were lucky," Wilson said, unable to keep a scolding tone out of his voice as he ran a hand carefully over House's shoulder. "You could've killed yourself..."
And suddenly Wilson wasn't a physician with a patient any more, but a lover tracing the lines along House's bicep. The change in Wilson's touch from light to tender was barely detectable, but House felt it as a shudder down his spine. He pulled away angrily, and said, "When you've quite finished feeling me up, Doctor Wilson..."
"House..." Wilson said, and his tone was strangled. "There's something I want to tell you."
"Fuck off." House pulled on his shirt and buttoned it up swiftly, standing up.
"I told my brother," Wilson said, suddenly loud and clear. "About us, I mean."
House stopped absolutely dead on the spot, pausing right in the middle of fastening a cuff button. "Told him what?"
"That... we've been in a relationship, a physical relationship, for years. As long as we've known each other. On and off." Wilson shuffled his feet uncomfortably. "I told him we fuck, alright? "
"We're talking about Jonathan? Your fucked up homophobic alcoholic bad-tempered brother?" House demanded.
"Well, I've only got the one, haven't I?" Wilson said, with a sad ghost of a smile. House knew that with every year that passed with no news of David, Wilson resigned himself increasingly to the idea that he must be dead. "I went up to Trenton to see him over the weekend. Didn't want to do it over the phone."
"What did he say?" House asked, incredulous.
"He blustered a lot. Refused to believe me at first. Then called me a faggot and told me I was out of my fucking mind. Cried a few tears of rage and tried to convince himself, and me, that it was just a phase. 'A twenty year phase', I said, 'and it's not stopping now...' I hope." Wilson met House's eye: House held the gaze. Wilson continued, "Then he got angry and started saying it made a lot of sense, he'd always suspected... eventually he tossed me out of the house, and said if I ever wanted to see my nieces again, I'd better not tell Mom or Dad or anyone else in the family."
"Christ." House was stunned.
Wilson shrugged. "Actually, I think it could have been worse. And I will tell Mom, and Dad. I just want to give Jon a bit of time to get used to the idea first."
"He hit you," House said, suddenly noticing that Wilson was also moving rather awkwardly, holding his left shoulder stiffly. He couldn't believe he hadn't noticed it before.
"Just a bruise," Wilson echoed House. "No harm done. He'd had a few drinks."
"Always with the excuses for him!" House said, with a sudden flare of anger at Jonathan for hitting Wilson, and at himself for not spotting it the minute he'd walked in the room.
Wilson sighed and moved around to sit down again at his desk. "Look, I did it, okay? And I also told him I was happy when I'm with you, and committed to you, and proud of it, even. And it was not fucking easy. And you don't have any difficult intolerant family members to tell since your dad died, so just give me a break." He rubbed a hand over his eyes.
House left Wilson's office silently, and didn't realize he hadn't done up his cuffs for a good half hour afterwards.
That evening House took a deep breath and went to Wilson's apartment. He didn't often go there: it had been Amber's apartment before, and House never felt entirely comfortable there. Wilson let him in, looking pleased and surprised.
House waited for the door to close, then said, "Jimmy Wilson, still able to surprise me, after all this time. That took balls."
Wilson blushed faintly and dipped his eyes. "One thing I forgot to mention before. Jon blames you for everything, of course, and is definitely going to kill you."
"I can't wait." They headed into the living room. House took off his jacket, shrugging it off his bad shoulder, and slung it on the back of the couch.
"Show me your shoulder," House directed. "I never got to see it earlier."
"Think I'm hiding some terrible wound?" Wilson said wryly. House watched through sharpening blue eyes as Wilson slipped off his tie and unbuttoned his shirt. House's own doctoral instincts then took over and he ran a professional hand over Wilson's shoulder, across a bruise remarkably similar in size and shape to his own, although newer and redder. More sensitive too; Wilson sucked in his breath a little as House's fingertips probed, even though the touch was feather light.
"How's your shoulder?" Wilson asked tentatively.
House grinned a little. "Wanna see?" he asked, and pulled his T-shirt off, over his head.
This time there was no ambiguity. House turned his bare shoulder towards Wilson and arched his neck; Wilson stroked House's shoulderblade, then moved his hand gently across to touch House's neck. House sighed a little, Wilson leaned forward and House closed the gap.
It was a long, sweet kiss; gentle on both sides and rich with years of remembered passion. Then House pulled back to say, "New ground rules."
"Uh?" Wilson opened his eyes. House fixed him in a steely glare.
"No fucking other men. Or women. And that's a deal breaker."
"I promise," Wilson said sincerely.
And this time, House believed not only that Wilson meant it, but that he might actually be able to manage it.