Author's Note: "House" fiction number two! Don't worry; I'm not abandoning CSI. Just waiting for season 8 to come in the mail so I have new and fascinating analyses of the GSR relationship to share with you via angsty and love-ridden fiction. In the meantime, I am watching "House" season two and finding myself irresistibly drawn to the House/Wilson phenomenon. Bella, a slasher? Meh...worse things have happened. The following is a little idea that popped into my head based on House's many nicknames for Wilson, and Wilson's analysis of their meaning. Not really slash, because nobody's doing the horizontal mambo, but it's...slash-lite. Suggestive slash. A little drive-by slashing. I'm going to stop now. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: House and Wilson sitting in a tree...Bella has got no money...David Shore owns our favorite boys...thank god he sometimes shares his toys.


I always know what he's up to based on what he calls me. He would be embarrassed to realize that he has become that predictable. I find it amusing. Greg House, genius doctor, bastard cripple, selfish mooch…has a tell.

When we first met, I introduced myself the way every young, slightly arrogant physician would: as Doctor James Wilson. Of course, I was introducing myself to a slightly older, completely arrogant physician, so he introduced himself as the Eighth Wonder of the World. I should have run away screaming. Instead, I found myself intrigued by what I interpreted at the time to be confidence, self-assurance.

After twelve years, I know better, but I'm still not running.

The next words out of his mouth were a sign of things to come in the friendship I've come to think of as God's way of punishing me for not keeping it in my pants: "So, Jimmy, have you checked out the new nurse in Pedes? Pretty sure they're fake, but I'd be willing to place bets if I get to play judge and jury."

Typical House—though at our first meeting I had no barometer for typical. But the sign that spelled my impending misery was his use of a nickname that no one but my mother had called me since I was in eighth grade. House called me Jimmy, and I fought back the urge to punch him like I had the bully who called me it for the final time at age fourteen. Instead, I told him I preferred James. His response?

"Why the hell would I call you James? Do I look like your third wife?"

Sometimes I wonder if House is a little bit psychic. Sure would explain a lot.

I'm sure I stared at him in hurt and puzzled silence. I remember his eyes falling to the floor, seemingly in embarrassment, probably feigned. "Right. Well, how about we just go with Wilson? Doctor seems redundant, what with the festive and antiseptic hospital theme."

I think I might have agreed. Mostly, I think I just left.

And now, twelve years later, my House barometer has measurements based on moniker. Jimmy means he has done something particularly irritating, or he is desperate to embarrass me. It can also indicate the horror of a pending practical joke. Wilson is more common, less frightening, but its meaning can vary based on tone. Sometimes Wilson means, "You, over there, buy me lunch/talk to Cuddy for me/help me figure out what the hell this patient is dying of before they're successful." Sometimes he's really saying, "Forgive me for fucking with you/please listen to me while I tell you why I don't need you to listen to me/make me dinner tonight because the pain is so bad that if you're not there I'll probably OD on Scotch and pills." I've learned to translate House.

And then there are the other, less common names he uses. Boy Wonder Oncologist and variations thereon mean he's pissed off at me. Not for my skills as a physician, as the names might seem to imply, but for everything, or possibly nothing, and even sometimes something in particular. It often predicates a rise in tone, the use of plentiful curses, and possibly the sharp rap of his cane on something solid nearby. I try to stay out of the way.

Dr. Wilson means he's genuinely upset, or that he's mocking me. Again, tone is the key. If he's introducing me to a patient, he'll use Dr. Wilson, but it's almost always with a little lilt in his voice that says, If you can take him seriously as a doctor, then I'll pretend to, too. But when we're alone, and he uses it, I know something has gone terribly awry. His voice is often cool, but only then is it truly cold. Funny, how he shuts down so quickly when he thinks I've done something unforgiveable, but expects my ongoing affection no matter what he does. Hypocritical irony, thy name is Gregory House.

There are the affectionate nicknames, meant to mock—I rarely even notice them, much less catalogue them. They are all the same, and mean the same thing: he doesn't take me seriously. I get it. I mean, I just find a tumor, prescribe the use of horrifying chemicals and destructive radiation, and try to find nice ways to tell people they're going to die. He marches in and saves the lives of people with leprosy and rare parasites and diseases from countries they won't admit to visiting. All after treating them for everything they don't have, of course. How could I possibly compare?

Yes, Gregory House has a tell. Or a hundred.

I'll never tell.


Tonight, I'm sitting alone in my office, with only my desk lamp and the faint light of a sliver of moon illuminating the dark space. I can see out onto the balcony, see into House's office well enough to know that it's probably empty. He and the dynamic trio solved a case yesterday, so they've probably all gone home for some much needed rest. Hopefully, this includes House.

I bend my head to my paperwork, because unlike my friend, I believe it is a necessary evil. The sharp rap of wood against wood on my door makes me sigh; I can't help it. If I had more than a rare pleasant encounter with House, it would be a miracle.

"Come in."

He pushes open the door but stands there, silhouetted in the doorway, backlit by fluorescent lights in a way that almost completely shadows his face. I can tell by the way his chin is lowered that his eyes should be on the floor, but I know by the tingling in my spine that they are actually locked onto my face.

"Do you mean it?"

I rack my brain. No cryptic comments today. He must actually be referring to my invitation to come in. If he's hesitant before I've gotten pissed, whatever he's done must be pretty awful. I steel myself. "Of course I mean it. Come in; you're letting out all the dark air." I force a smile at my own pathetic attempt at a joke.

He lets the door drift shut behind him and sinks onto my couch, his cane planted between his legs and bouncing from hand to hand. His eyes are on my floor. "We should probably talk."

Oh, shit. "What did you do?"

Bright blue eyes flit up to mine. "What makes you think I did something?"

I eye him warily. "You were hesitant about even coming in here, and now you're uttering the three words you hate almost as much as I love youWe should talk. Did you kill Cuddy?"

A ghost of a smile wafts over his lips. "No, I didn't kill Cuddy."

He is too serious, and it is starting to frighten me. "Look, House, whatever it is, you should probably just come clean. I might hate you for a few days, but you know I'm just pathetic enough to forgive you. Probably."

"I haven't done anything." He sounds a little petulant.

"Then what is there to talk about?" I lean back, folding my arms over my chest.

"How about that incredibly ugly tie?" he tosses back, but I am undeterred.

"Seriously, House. Spit it out."

"There's nothing," he says, and suddenly he sounds angry, or maybe frustrated, or possibly impatient. It's hard to tell; he hasn't used any variation on my name yet. "I just felt like talking."

"What are you on?" I can't help my incredulity. "You never just want to talk."

"Do you think you have me all figured out?" he demands. I eye him carefully. I need to him call me something. I need a clue here. When he just stares back at me, I lift my hands in frustration.

"Fine. You want to talk, talk." I close the folder I have been working on and gaze at him expectantly. The cane bounces from hand to hand faster, and his eyes are on the floor again.

"You're not going back to her."

I narrow my eyes. "No. She served me with papers last week. You know that."

"And there's no pretty blonde nurse waiting in the wings that was the real reason you couldn't make it all work out."

I sigh. "I know I've made a lot of mistakes. I'm not saying I made none of them during my marriage to Julie. But what's happening now has nothing to do with an affair."

"Okay."

I narrow my eyes. "There's no way you actually believe me. You never believe me."

"I want to believe you." His voice is too low, and I am frightened again.

"All right, fine," I say easily, too lightly. His eyes dart up to mine suspiciously.

"You're giving in too easily."

"You're being far too trusting," I fire back. He lets his cane drop to the floor and sighs.

"You're not wrong."

"What do you want, House?"

He presses down hard, too hard, on the arm of the couch and hauls himself upward, limping over to my desk without his cane. I watch him moving, swivel my chair a little bit to face him when he pauses beside me, his right hand clutching the edge of my desk. He leans over until I can almost feel his warm breath on my face.

"Stay with me."

I wrinkle my brow in confusion. House is often weird, but this is downright freaky. "I'm already staying with you. As evidenced by my suitcase next to your couch and my food in your kitchen."

"I mean, don't leave."

"I'd rather not stay in a hotel until I find an apartment, so I wasn't planning on it." Something is screaming at me in the back of my head, but I'm choosing to ignore it.

"Don't find an apartment."

Oh, there it is. Back of the head screaming can no longer be ignored. "What do you mean, don't find an apartment?" In case I'm wrong, I'm going to play it safe and be really dense. Because I have to be wrong. "Your rent isn't that high. You don't need a roommate."

"Don't want a roommate."

My temper is finally lost. "Then what, House? What the hell are you trying to say?"

He straightens, scrubbing a hand over his stubbly chin. "Just—you don't have to leave. I'd rather you didn't leave."

"I had no idea you were that lonely." It's a little harsh, but I'm at a loss.

And then everything changes.

"James..."

Oh god, oh god, oh god…

I stand. I stare at him. The name echoes in my head.

"Yes?" I respond, aware that my voice is a little breathless, that my eyes are probably wide and a little terrified.

"Stay."

I nod, slowly. "Okay. I'll stay."

His eyes narrow a little bit. "Why?"

I decide to risk the truth—usually a bad idea. "You called me James."

"So?"

"So." I just stare at him defiantly. He dips his head in acknowledgement.

"Good to know." He hobbles over and swipes up his cane, limping from the room without a second glance. At the door, he pauses, once again silhouetted by the bright lights of the hallway. "See you at home."

I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding. "See you."

He's gone, and I sink into my chair.

James.

Oh, yeah. That'll do it every time.


FIN