"The apology… you didn't need to do that to make this work

"The apology… you didn't need to do that to make this work."

"Believe what you want."

House's flippant, vaguely mocking words echoed in Wilson's mind as he made his way up the sidewalk toward House's apartment. He had gone over the conversation in his head over and over, all afternoon, analyzing and re-analyzing every word, trying to figure out the motivations and underlying meanings behind House's words and actions of the last few weeks.

It would be so much easier to do as House had suggested and believe what he wanted to believe about the apology. However, when it came to House, the problem with believing only what he wanted to believe was that none of the things he wanted to believe were actually true.

He wanted to believe that House was truly sorry for all the trouble he'd caused Wilson in the past few months. He wanted to believe that on some level, House really had wanted to try to break his addiction to the Vicodin, and actually give rehab a try.

But then – he'd wanted to believe that House would consider the possible consequences for his best friend before stealing his prescription pad and forging his signature – and he knew too well how that had turned out.

He paused a moment outside House's apartment, inexplicably hesitating before knocking on the door. He was really in no mood to hang out and celebrate House's victory over the criminal justice system. He was genuinely relieved that House had escaped a prison sentence. Yet, at the same time, there was a certain amount of resentment when he thought of how House had managed to play them all.

And a certain amount of anger that House had gone so far as to play him, along with everyone else.

"It's open," House called from inside the apartment.

Wilson opened the door and stepped inside – and froze at the sight that met his eyes.

House stood in the kitchen doorway, leaning against the doorjamb – grinning at him around the lit cigarette he held between his fingers. He seemed quite pleased with himself, blue eyes sparkling with wicked mirth as he removed the cigarette and blew out a long, slow cloud of smoke. As he did, he held Wilson's gaze, and Wilson slowly became aware of something else in those expressive eyes.


The cigarette was a deliberate jab at Wilson, the oncologist, throwing House's unrepentant indiscretions in his face without remorse.

Wilson's mind went back to a week earlier, when he had visited House in the rehab center to find him smoking a cigarette. It had startled him, as he had never known House to smoke before; but he had decided that for all the effort House was putting into quitting his drug habit, he deserved a little bit of leeway.

If smoking cigarettes helped keep his mind off the Vicodin, Wilson supposed it was worth it – as long as House was trying. After all, he could always quit later. After beating an addiction to one highly addictive narcotic he'd been taking for ten years, quitting the cigarettes he'd only been smoking for a short time should be easy enough.

But now, everything had changed.

Now, Wilson knew that House hadn't been trying at all.

It was all a lie – an act. Rehab, the apology – all of it. And the cigarette – the cigarette was a secret joke for only House to get. A subtle slap in my face while he stood there and lied to me. The apology wasn't necessary – and neither was the smoking. No, those two things, in particular, were just to screw with me.

And with that realization – something inside Wilson just… snapped.

His eyes narrowed, and he started across the room toward House. His feet seemed to carry him of their own accord, without any conscious thought of what he was going to do when he got there.

House raised his eyebrows speculatively, giving Wilson an appraising up-and-down look as he lifted the cigarette to his lips again. Wilson stopped a bare foot in front of him, disgust in his eyes as he glanced at the cigarette, then glared at House accusingly.

House smirked around his cigarette, wide eyes feigning innocent bewilderment. He removed the cigarette to blow an obnoxious stream of smoke directly into Wilson's face, before giving him a shrug of false confusion.

"Got a problem?" he demanded.

Wilson suppressed a wince at the smoke that wafted into his face, but kept his expression calm, neutral, as he replied, "No. Apparently you do."

"Me?" House let out a harsh bark of laughter as he raised the cigarette toward his mouth again. "Never been better. All this just proves once and for all that my 'problem' isn't really a problem at all…"

His words broke off in surprise when Wilson abruptly grabbed him by the collar and yanked him out of the kitchen doorway, slamming him into the wall beside it instead. While House was still trying to process what had happened, Wilson plucked the cigarette from between House's fingers, then grabbed his right wrist and jerked him forward, off balance.

"Shut up," Wilson hissed, furious, leaning into House's face, eyes blazing with anger. "You are the problem, House! You don't care about anyone or anything but yourself! All you care about is doing what you want, when you want to do it, and screw anybody who actually cares about you enough to try to help you!"

House instinctively tried to pull away, pressing his back against the wall in an attempt to steady himself and regain his balance. His defiant eyes were filled with silent laughter, daring Wilson to give full vent to the fury on his face – the fury he had just barely begun to express.

"Yeah?" he sneered softly. "And I suppose you're referring to yourself, then? Funny how no one else seemed to think I needed your variety of 'help'. Screw anyone who tried to help me, huh? It was kind of hard to think of it that way while I was sitting in the jail cell you put me in." He pretended to consider Wilson's words for a moment with a pensive frown, before his face broke into a challenging smirk and he added, "So yeah, Wilson, I guess, you're right. That is how I feel about it. Screw. You."

Wilson didn't even know he was going to do it until it was already done.

Still holding House's right wrist, Wilson took the confiscated cigarette and pressed it hard against the soft palm of House's hand. House let out a yelp of surprised pain, struggling to pull his hand away, but Wilson just forced his hand into a fist around the smoldering embers and held it, refusing to allow him the relief he sought.

"You've said a lot worse to me before, House." Wilson shrugged with a cold smile. "But smoking in front of me – knowing how I feel about that – that's what's really insulting."

House struggled to pull his hand away, but was unable to regain his balance enough to escape, as Wilson moved in closer, using his body to effectively pin him against the wall. When House tried to use his free hand to pry Wilson's hand off of his captured, tortured fist, Wilson just caught his wrist and slammed his hand back against the wall beside his head.

House let out a guttural groan of pain, closing his eyes and letting his head fall back against the wall, gasping for breath, but no longer struggling. "Wilson," he moaned, breathless with pain. "What the hell? Wilson, are you crazy? Stop…"

But Wilson wasn't finished yet. He maintained his grip on House, holding him in place, as he continued in a low, calm voice that held a dangerous note of quiet warning.

"I try the only thing I can think of to save you from destroying your entire life – and you repay me not only by keeping the dangerous habit you've already got, even after it almost got you imprisoned for ten years… but also, taking up a second dangerous habit as well. One that happens to be particularly personal to me and my profession. Are you trying to kill yourself faster, House? Is that what this is?"

As Wilson spoke, the embers of the cigarette in House's hand smothered and went out. Though he could still feel the searing burns they'd left on his hand, House found that his breath returned as the pain gradually faded to a dull, manageable level.

He looked up at Wilson with a defiant smirk as he retorted, "So what if I am? It's none of your business."

Wilson blinked, strangely startled – and House suddenly had the feeling that his words had been very poorly chosen. In the next instant, Wilson's eyes narrowed dangerously, and he raised House's burned hand, shoving both of his wrists, hard, against the wall at the level of his head and moving in so close that there wasn't an inch of space between them.

"None of my business." Wilson barely breathed the disbelieving words, and House felt them as much as heard them, Wilson's warm breath against his ear sending a shiver of mingled fear and anticipation down his spine. "None of my business. No, of course not. All I did was put everything on the line for you by lying to the cops… risk my career, my freedom… everything to try to save you. Clearly, it's no concern of mine whether you live or die."

"Yeah," House scoffed, though there was the slightest note of uncertainty in his trembling, breathless voice. "You risked everything – just to turn around and stab me in the back…"

"Shut up," Wilson hissed, yanking him forward just to throw him back against the wall again.

And in that moment – Wilson made a decision.

If things were ever going to be right again between him and House… things were going to have to change. House was going to have to give up some things, change some reckless, dangerous behaviors – and Wilson was going to have to start being honest with his friend about the way he really felt.

And he knew just where to start.

House opened his mouth to protest, but before he could speak, Wilson's mouth was covering his, his tongue slipping past House's parted lips in a forceful, demanding kiss. House froze for a moment, stunned by the unexpected – but not entirely unpleasant – invasion. It was a blatantly possessive gesture from Wilson, who was more aggressive than House had ever seen him, and just a little bit scary.

And also hotter than hell.

House found himself responding, yielding to the kiss, and then returning it.

The instant he started to kiss back, however, Wilson abruptly pulled away. House instinctively tried to follow him, but found his progress impeded by Wilson's unyielding grip on his wrists, pinning him to the wall and not allowing him to move. Despite his frustration, the feeling of being restrained – having control stripped from him by the one person he might ever allow to take it – was incredibly arousing, and House felt his body beginning to react. He was unable to suppress a faint whine in the back of his throat as he opened his eyes.

"Why'd… why'd you… stop…?"

House's voice trailed off as he noticed that Wilson's features were twisted into an expression of contempt and revulsion. House couldn't help leaning toward him as much as possible, as Wilson edged closer to him again. As he took in House's unconscious reaction of confusion and breathless need, a slow, knowing smile spread across Wilson's lips. He didn't stop his advance until his body brushed House's again.

His voice was soft but cold as he replied with slow, deliberate emphasis. "Because the taste of your nicotine-coated mouth disgusts me."

House winced slightly at the words, opening his mouth to respond – but whatever he would have said vanished as Wilson's right hand lowered to find the evidence of his desire and seize it in a rough grasp that was not quite painful. House drew in a sharp gasp of alarm and arousal, his head falling back against the wall again, eyes closed as his newly freed hand blindly covered Wilson's.

He wasn't sure if he wanted to pull it away – or help it along.

Wilson made the decision for him.

His voice was low, dark, and a little frightening as he ordered warningly, "Don't."

House wasn't really sure why he obeyed, but he did, returning his arched, trembling hand to the wall beside his head. Wilson's smile widened with satisfaction at House's response, and he tightened his hold slightly, leaning in to speak very softly against House's ear.

"That was your last cigarette, House," he stated in a subtly commanding tone that left no room for argument. "The next time I catch you smoking… not only will what just happened never happen again… but I'll find a much more interesting place to put it out."

House bit back a groan, and Wilson let out a low, wicked laugh when House's covered erection twitched within his grasp. Apparently, the idea of surrendering control to someone else was not exactly an unpleasant one for House. Deciding to use that new-found knowledge to his advantage, Wilson allowed his grip to gentle slightly, stroking House slowly through the rough denim of his jeans as he continuing issuing his calm, quiet demands.

"Your days of recklessly endangering your life at every turn are over, House," he declared softly. "It is completely my business. Everything you do is my business. You're done with the cigarettes… and you're done with the Vicodin." At House's wordless whimper of protest, he amended, "At least at the levels you're taking it at now."

"T-tried rehab," House gasped out, desperation in his voice as he arched helplessly into Wilson's hand. "Didn't work."

"No, you didn't 'try' rehab," Wilson scoffed. "But you're about to."

He smiled, rubbing his thumb across the bulge in the front of House's jeans in a way that made the older man squirm desperately, trying to achieve a level of contact that was made impossible by his fully clothed state.

"I think I can come up with a rehab program that might work for you."

"Okay," House gasped, nodding eagerly. "Okay… whatever… please…"

Wilson smirked as House's hands flexed before closing into fists, and he unconsciously thrust forward against Wilson's nimbly moving fingers. Wilson had gradually driven him to a point of almost frenzied need, and he was fairly certain that he could get House to agree to just about anything at that moment.

Wilson kept up his steady, rhythmic stroking as he continued to speak softly, firmly, into House's ear. "You are my business, House," he stated in a subtly possessive tone, his grip tightening again as he added in a fierce whisper, "because you… are mine."

As he spoke, he pressed his thumb in slow, insistent circles, leaving House panting, frantic, desperate with need. The combination of his touch and his words drove House over the edge, and Wilson smirked when he felt hot moisture seeping through the front of House's jeans. His smile faded to something more serious, as he released House's wrist, allowing his arms to fall.

House crossed his arms over his chest, gasping for breath as he leaned on the wall for support and struggled to recover. Wilson raised a hand to cup his cheek, leaning in to press a soft, chaste kiss to the corner of House's mouth. His expression softened with affection as House turned his mouth toward Wilson in an effort to return the kiss – but he drew back, refusing the attempt.

"You're mine," Wilson repeated softly, waiting until House met his eyes to continue. "And I care too much to let you keep slowly destroying yourself."

House stared at him through stunned, slightly awed eyes, still silent… breathless.

"Give me the cigarettes."

Wilson's voice was stern but affectionate as he expectantly held out his hand.

House hesitated just a moment before nodding his acceptance and taking the packet from his pocket. His fingertips lingered on Wilson's as he pressed it into his hand. Wilson smiled, pleased, as he raised House's burned palm to his lips and kissed it gently, holding his gaze the entire time.

House took a step toward him, and Wilson could see the hunger in his eyes, knew that he intended to kiss him again – but knew that he couldn't allow it… not now.

If this was going to stick, he was going to have to hold his ground.

"Good night, House," he said firmly, taking a step backward. "I'll see you tomorrow. After you've brushed your teeth."

He forced himself not to look back as he walked to the door, then outside, closing it behind him. A feeling of wonder and exhilarated expectation overwhelmed him as he made his way to his car, and he felt positively giddy with his success.

House wanted him, now.


He probably always had… but now, he knew it.

For once, Wilson knew that he was the one holding all the good cards – and if he played them right, he could win whatever he wanted.

Oh, the possibilities…

Remembering the feel of House's soft, pliant lips under his… the pleading, desperate sounds he made as Wilson lavished his attention on his needy body… Wilson almost wanted to turn around and go back; but he knew he couldn't. If he did, he'd risk losing everything he'd just gained – and he had gained too much this night to ever give it up.

He smiled to himself as he started his car and drove away. He didn't have to look back to know that, through the window, House was watching him go.

Tomorrow is going to be a very good day…