House stormed through the door into Wilson's office, deliberately causing the door to hit the wall with a deafening bang as he strode swiftly to the front of Wilson's desk, glaring down at his friend with accusing eyes.
"You selfish, two-faced idiot."
Wilson didn't even look up.
"I could have died."
Still not looking up, Wilson raised his eyebrows, his tone and expression deceptively mild. "That's not what you wanted?"
"What I…?" House echoed, taking a step back to regard his friend in disbelief. "Of course that's not what I wanted! And since when does what I want even matter to you? You've spent the last day and a half showing me just how little what I want matters to you! I already knew you didn't care about my pain; at least a little part of me thought you still cared whether I lived or died!"
His tone was seething with fury, hurt, and resentment, as he stood there, one white-knuckled fist trembling on the handle of his cane, the other at his side as he waited for Wilson's explanation.
Wilson was quiet and strangely reasonable as he finally raised his eyes to meet House's accusing gaze. "You weren't dying, House. Obviously." He gestured toward House, clearly standing before him alive and well, with a softly derisive chuckle, before returning his gaze to the papers on his desk. "I knew you were going to be fine. You'd already vomited most of it up on yourself."
The subtle disgust in Wilson's voice made House want to cringe with shame, and to lunge across the desk and throttle him at the same time. It sickened him to think of what Wilson must have thought, when he'd found House lying there on the floor of his apartment, in a congealing puddle of his own vomit, due to his own reckless, foolish actions.
Still, House didn't think the shock to Wilson's emotions was worth the hurt and betrayal he'd felt when he realized that Wilson knew he'd overdosed… and had simply walked away.
And Wilson's excuses now did nothing to ease the sting of that realization.
"You had no way of knowing how much I'd thrown back up, because you had no idea how much I'd taken," House pointed out in a scathing voice of quiet outrage. "You just didn't want to take the time to make sure I was all right. You were being selfish, just like you've been through this whole thing! You don't give a damn what I'm going through. All you care about is your car and your license and your bank account!"
Frustrated, Wilson slammed his hand down on his desk, glaring up at House as he cut him off incredulously. "Are you even listening to yourself? Do you have any idea how much I have sacrificed for you – how much I've willingly gone through these past few months, just to make sure that you somehow come out of this okay?"
As he spoke, Wilson rose to his feet, moving slowly around his desk until he was face to face with his equally livid friend. "You're the one who's been selfish, House – unbelievably so! You don't care about the effect your addiction is having on this hospital, Cuddy, your staff – or me, for that matter. I would have thought when you saw how much it was hurting everyone around you, you might have gotten a clue that maybe you should try to change something about your life – but no. You just keep on doing things the way you've always done them, regardless of the consequences to the people who care about you!"
House's lips twisted into a cold sneer as he retorted, "How long have you known me? I'd think you'd know what to expect by now."
His forced composure was suddenly shaken, when Wilson abruptly stepped forward, grabbing his collar in both hands and shoving him against the wall beside his desk. House felt his breath quicken with alarm and anticipation at the sudden, in response as much to the unaccustomed closeness as to the violence of Wilson's actions. Wilson was less than a foot away from him, and edging nearer with every furious, nearly whispered word.
"You're right," he hissed. "I should have known better than to think that you might actually care. Fifteen years of friendship… or something that passes for it… and I ought to know by now that it means absolutely nothing to you."
He shook House slightly, moving in so close that House could feel the heat of Wilson's body pressed against his. House's mouth went dry, and he was stunned to find his body responding to Wilson's rough treatment and furious words with a sudden shock of unexpected arousal. His eyes went wide as he stared down at Wilson, whose dark eyes were intense, locked onto his in a silent challenge.
House felt his face flush with embarrassment when he saw recognition form in Wilson's eyes. The younger man shifted in slightly closer to House, watching closely through narrowed eyes as the close proximity clearly revealed the physical reaction House couldn't conceal, still speaking, though his voice was distracted, his words coming more slowly than usual.
"You just… take and take, without ever… stopping to think about… what you might be able to give back… and one of these days… one of the people you keep draining dry is going to get tired of giving… at least the kind of giving you enjoy."
For just an instant, House thought he felt a slight increased pressure against his hip, thought that maybe, the tense, fiercely intimate situation was having the same effect on Wilson as it was having on him. But before he could be sure, Wilson abruptly released him, taking a step back almost as if burned by the contact.
Wilson's lips twisted into a smirk as he gave House a derisive up and down look, his eyes lingering a moment longer than necessary on House's visible erection, before meeting his eyes with clear mockery. His voice was softly brutal, tearing House's pride to shreds with three simple words.
"Pathetic… isn't it?"
The words stung, coming from Wilson, who even in the worst of their verbal sparring matches, usually steered clear of the places he knew were most sensitive for House. Wilson seemed to understand on some level that House's façade of arrogance was a mask for a severe lack of confidence in most areas of his life, and usually tried not to dig too deeply at House's fragile ego.
The words hurt – and they hurt worse, because Wilson didn't seem to care that they hurt.
With a disgusted hiss of breath through his teeth, Wilson shook his head and turned away from House, as if he couldn't even stand to look at him any longer. Wilson waved a dismissive hand in House's direction as he walked out of his office, leaving House standing there alone, at a loss, trying to recover from the strange and disconcerting encounter.
House couldn't remember a time when he'd seen such cold dismissal in Wilson's eyes. An icy fist of sick uncertainty slowly tightened in his chest, as he allowed himself to wonder if this might be the beginning of the end – if he might be one more bad choice away from losing Wilson for good.
Or if maybe… he had already lost him.
When his team asked him the next day about his decision to go to rehab, he told them that it was a last ditch effort to get Tritter to withdraw the charges. Really, he read people well enough to know that at that point, Tritter wasn't going to change his mind, no matter what House did to convince him.
No. Rehab was for Wilson's benefit.
The fact that House couldn't cut it for more than a few hours, and ended up getting a staff member to sneak him Vicodin, was irrelevant. The decision to go to rehab was nothing more than an attempt to show Wilson that he could make an effort – he could change.
He only ended up proving to both of them that he couldn't.
After rehab, throughout the trial and afterwards, Wilson still spoke to him, still remained his friend, at least on a surface level. However, there was an unsettling coolness to his behavior that left House feeling on edge, nervous and uneasy about their friendship, and where it may or may not have been heading. The cigarettes he had smoked in rehab simply as a means of making his ruse more convincing, now became a means of settling his nerves, momentarily calming his fears that he was losing Wilson for good.
Wilson catching him smoking in his apartment, a few days after the end of the trial, was nothing more than an unfortunate accident.
Of course, rather than allowing himself to look guilty and regretful – and therefore vulnerable – House chose to put on an air of defiance, letting Wilson draw his own conclusions as to the reason for the cigarette.
The fire of outraged fury in Wilson's eyes was actually a relief to House – a welcome change from the cold indifference to which he had been treated over the past few days.
House had no idea what to expect as Wilson strode swiftly and purposefully toward him, but any apprehension he felt was at least matched by a thrill of expectation. He remembered the incident in his office weeks earlier, remembered the reaction he'd thought he'd felt on Wilson's part – and braced himself for impact with whatever Wilson had in mind now.
It might be scary and painful, or cold and empty, or sexy as hell.
Regardless, House knew that it would at least be interesting… and that was all that mattered.