A/N: For a standard disclaimer see my profile. Norman is mine, hope you like him, he will make another appearance in the next chapter. For which you will have to wait a while, school starts tomorrow...
House was right, the damned know-it-all. As usual. The ice cream really did taste exactly like the tuna - or rather they both didn't taste at all. Wilson promised himself that if his taste buds didn't start working like they should by Monday, he would do something extremely nasty and probably illegal to House.
House approached Wilson's predicament in a predictable manner. First he spent five minutes watching the eating oncologist with a smug smirk on his face, then he suggested mixing the ice cream with the salad, since it wouldn't make any difference anyway.
Wilson sent him an irritated glare and swallowed another spoonful of awfully bland caramel.
"House, I'm gonna give you a piece of friendly advice. Don't say anything. Seriously, for your own good, for once stay quiet."
"I can't, I have to save my bestest buddy from the depression induced by the poor innocent curry."
"First of all - that curry was about as innocent as a retired hooker. Second of all - I'm not depressed, I'm pissed off. Third of all - I'm pissed off at you, so if you had wanted me to be in a good mood, you should have skipped feeding that crap to me, then my mood would not need improving."
House played some idiotic little tune and smiled even wider. "You should look on the bright side."
Wilson knew that for the sake of his own mental health he should leave House's suggestion without comment, but he couldn't help himself. "What bright side?" he asked.
"You can go to a bar and bet everyone that you can eat a pickle with peanut butter, olives and French mustard, then drink some banana liqueur with Tabasco and still keep smiling."
Wilson's stomach tied itself into a tiny, horrified knot at the idea, even if the vile mixture would fail to make an impression at the moment. "And that's supposed to be a bright side?"
"Do you know how much money we could make this way?"
Wilson raised an eyebrow. "We?"
"Twenty per cent for me, it was my idea after all."
"You know, I don't think I'm interested."
House's hands danced over the piano keys and another absurdly chipper melody gnawed at Wilson's brain, which only just started to feel okay and didn't appreciate the treatment at all.
"Could you not do that?" grumbled Wilson, massaging his temples.
House sighed and smoothly switched to some gloomy blues piece. "And people say I'm the unpleasant, cranky pessimist."
"No, I'm not, I always say the glass is half full!" protested House with mock outrage.
"That's because when yours is empty you steal mine."
"Look - I'm trying to lighten the mood with pleasant conversation, sincere words of comfort and easy, uplifting music. And what do you say? 'My head hurts, ice cream is yucky, I don't wanna go to a bar, stop making noise'."
"House, this is not a pleasant conversation, this is round 347 of Making Fun of Jimmy. Those weren't sincere words of comfort, only a nasty scheme to use my problem - which you caused, by the way - to con some poor sap out of some cash. And that easy, uplifting music was an awfully annoying tune from the cereal commercial."
House looked down and started playing something even more depressing. "And I tried so hard..." he said, pretending to be hurt. "You don't appreciate me at all."
"I do, I do, don't worry" said Wilson and got up from the couch. He gathered dirty dishes from his second lunch and went towards the kitchen. "I will get you a beer if you switch to something less gloomy" he threw over his shoulder and smiled, when a mournful, slow melody was replaced by much more lively, jazzy improvisation.
Rest of the afternoon and the evening passed quietly. House didn't look like he was up to something (or at least nothing big; Wilson had learned long ago that House was always up to something), so Wilson allowed himself to relax. If he read his friend's mood and intentions right - and after a decade he was really good at it - then House, by finally acting like a normal, mostly sane adult, was trying to say something along the lines of 'I was just kidding Jimmy, don't get mad, I didn't mean anything bad'. That is - in classic, insane Houseian style - let him know that, if he were in the habit of apologizing for his actions, he would do something that, while not exactly a real apology, should be interpreted as 'I'm sorry'.
Wilson examined that thought carefully and decided it was so completely twisted and idiotic that it should rather worry, not amuse him. He quickly wiped the part resigned, part blissful smile off his face, before House had a chance to notice and comment, and went back to watching "The Hunt for Red October".
Half an hour later House, in yet another uncharacteristic gesture of good will, let him choose the next movie. Wilson, for the first time since last night, felt that everything was right in the world.
The universe always settles the score, as House says when he allows himself a tiny, microscopic bit of idealism, so around 1 AM the delicious feeling of peace and lazy satisfaction, which filled Wilson when he was falling asleep, shattered to pieces.
Soft knocking at the door woke him up. That alone was strange. When someone decides to knock at a door in the middle of the night, they usually knock loud enough to make sure that somebody inside will wake up. Even more surprising was the fact that someone was knocking on House's door at one in the morning. Still not fully awake, Wilson tried to figure out who would want and, more importantly, be brave enough to do something like this. Unfortunately the only suspect Wilson could think of was Wilson himself, who, being an oncologist and not a dead cat, couldn't be in two places at once.
Wilson rubbed his sleepy eyes and, tripping over his own shoes, walked to the door.
After Scotty's visit yesterday he was sure that none of House's acquaintances could possibly surprise him. He was wrong.
"Gregory, my dear boy, you have to see this!" the graying gentleman on the other side of the door spoke in a stage whisper, franticly looking for something in a stack of papers, dog-eared and covered with illegible notes.
"Yyy" replied intelligently Wilson, not able to tear his gaze from the flowery silk dressing gown the stranger was wearing. And at the same time realizing that for the second time in the last twelve hours he opened the door to House's apartment while wearing his boxers and with hair sticking on end.
"One moment, where was it..."
Wilson pinched his arm to make sure he wasn't dreaming and cleared his throat. "Excuse me, I'm not..."
The man stopped his chaotic search, looked at Wilson with eyes red-rimmed from lack of sleep, and froze.
"Oh. Yes. I'm sorry. You are not Gregory."
"No, I'm not" agreed Wilson.
"Ah." The man took a step back. "This is the first floor, right? I'm on the first floor?" he asked worriedly and glanced at the golden letter 'B' on the door.
"Yes. House is asleep, I can wake him up if it's something urgent..."
The man let out a nervous chuckle. "No, there's no need, I'm very sorry, I didn't want to wake you up, Mister..."
Wilson's impeccable manners woke up and told him to offer a polite smile and extend his hand in greeting. "Wilson, James Wilson. I work with House."
The man put the stack of papers under his arm and firmly shook Wilson's hand, eying him up and down. "Norman. Pleased to meet you, Mr Wilson. Once again, I apologize, I will come to talk to Gregory in... the... morning..."
Norman stopped in the middle of a word, staring at Wilson's boxers. Wilson froze, blushed and, just in case, looked down to make sure there was nothing he should worry about. There wasn't. Except maybe the fact that a strange man, who was apparently House's neighbor, was staring at his crotch with astonishment and a hint of outrage.
The man blinked several times, pressed his lips in a thin line, glowered at Wilson, threw him a curt "Good night" and disappeared on the stairs.
Wilson stood in the open door for a moment, completely confused, then he shrugged and returned to his couch. Before he went back to sleep, he turned on the light and examined the boxers he got an hour later from House. Black, cotton, white letters running down each leg. Feeling extremely stupid, Wilson leaned down to read the text.
"Vescere... bracis meis" he deciphered. Latin? For a moment he struggled to dig out the dusty memories and translate the words, but he soon gave up. He was way too tired to think about something as complicated as Latin grammar. I will ask House in the morning, he thought, falling asleep.
A/N: A cookie for anyone who can translate Wilson's boxers. Hm, that sounds much more naughty than it should. Oh, and I meant – translate without using Google. 'Kay?