Title: Deciphering It (Third in a triptych. First two were Selling It and Buying It)
Characters: House, Wilson
Genre: Friendship, Hurt/Comfort
Word Count: 850
TimeLine: Sometime prior to the Season Four finale, pre-Amber
Summary: Last time House's pain went over the top, he tried to sell Wilson on a lie. Wilson bought it—for a while, anyway. What happens now, when Wilson decides he's not standing in line this time for one of House's cleverly constructed mink coats?
House removes his reading glasses, sighs, rubs wearily at his face. "I could've sworn I already threw you out of here a few minutes ago," he says.
"And now I'm back," Wilson observes brightly as he settles himself comfortably in the Eames chair. "Sorry it took so long, ran into Debbie from Accounting. She was wearing a new sweater, and… well, you know."
Wilson grins widely at House, who returns a half-hearted smile. House looks more than weary; he's got that bone-tired exhaustion, the fatigued posture of a man who's been battling hard—and losing. He's trying to hide it, and he's been pretty successful so far. He thinks his sharp, cruel tongue has probably set a few room-clearing records in the last couple of days. But this is Wilson, and the only way to hide it from Wilson is to… well, get away from Wilson.
House rises slowly from his chair, stretches his limbs cautiously, takes a deep breath. He can feel Wilson's eyes taking in every move, every facial expression he makes. So he's careful to keep his face, his eyes, blank. And when he speaks, he puts all his strength behind the words. "It's 6:20; I'm outta here. See you Monday."
House tries to ignore Wilson standing and following him out of the office. Following him to the elevator. Following him on the elevator! "Don't you have a lab tech to chase? Or a bedtime story to read? Or something?"
"No; thought I'd give you a ride home, though. You look worn out; best if you leave the bike here, don't you think?"
"I didn't ride the bike. Got a perfectly good bus stop right in front of my place." Damn; now he's gonna make something out of that.
But all Wilson says is, "I happen to be going your way; c'mon."
When the elevator opens, House follows Wilson to his car. He tells himself it's easier than arguing.
"Need you to stop at that Korean place," House says shortly. "Gotta get something for dinner. My dinner."
"Not a problem."
When Wilson pulls up in front of the restaurant, he follows House from the car. At House's dirty look, he responds, "What? I gotta eat too."
When they arrive at the counter, House introduces Wilson. "This is my new puppy. Name's Wilson, and he's taken to following me everywhere. You in the market for some really tender dog meat for your next batch of Suyuk?"
Wilson just rolls his eyes, steps forward, orders—and pays for—two meals, while House shakes his head.
When they arrive at his apartment, House half-heartedly tries a, "Thanks; see you later." He exits the car with as much speed as he can muster, and winces when he hears a second door slam behind him, followed by rapid footsteps.
House stops dead, whirls around so quickly that Wilson bumps into him. "If I told you to just… toddle off, would you?"
"Nope," Wilson says cheerily.
House pulls his cell phone from his pocket. "Wonder how long it'd take for a restraining order," he mumbles, then his eyes widen as Wilson plucks the phone from his hand and stuffs it into his own pocket. He glares at Wilson, who simply grins back at him and resumes walking.
House sighs, then follows behind him at a slower pace. Funny, though; the pain, unremitting for several days, seems to be letting up just a little.
Once they're settled on the couch with their meals, Wilson says casually, "I read an interesting article the other day. Some new study comparing the efficacy of identical doses of pain meds in cancer patients who live alone, and again when they're hospitalized. Seems the meds were much more effective during hospitalization. The researchers concluded that simple solitude magnifies pain. Imagine that."
House feigns boredom. "Fascinating," he says, tossing his plate on the table and lying back on the couch. Wilson scoots to the end without comment.
House has no trouble figuring out the coded message. What he is having trouble with is why Wilson's sending it. I'd almost think he knows what's going on. Must be losing my touch. Or… maybe Wilson's been wearing his decoder ring this week.
The other thing House is having trouble with is the feeling in his chest; gratitude's got a hammer in there, and it's pounding off the sharp edges of fear, resentment… loneliness. It's disconcerting, confusing.
House is distracted from his thoughts when Wilson returns from the kitchen carrying a fresh beer. He watches as Wilson sits carefully in the small space between House's feet and the end of the couch. He opens his mouth to complain that his feet are now scrunched up against Wilson—but he doesn't.
Wilson kicks off his shoes, pops the top on his beer, puts his feet up on the table, and leans back, sighing contentedly. He picks up the remote and locates a Law & Order marathon. "Oh, great," he says happily. "This is scheduled to run all night. Hey—can I get you anything?"
Amazingly, I have every damned thing I need, right here. "No," he mumbles tiredly, and closes his eyes. He's asleep before the opening credits roll.