When Wilson awakened the next morning, he was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that House was already gone.
He sighed as he got out of bed, staring at the empty place on the nightstand where he had left two pills for House to take when he woke up. Before he fell asleep the night before, Wilson had felt more than a little guilty about the way things had gone that day, and had wanted to be sure that House didn't spend any time in pain the following morning.
He hadn't really intended to give House the means to make his escape the very first chance he got.
Wilson went to his closet and got dressed in morose silence, trying not to give in to the dark mood that threatened to overcome him. He was deeply frustrated and disappointed, though he wasn't sure what he'd expected, after the mess he'd made of the day before.
And today looks like it's going to be no better.
Wilson's mood was grim when he arrived at the hospital and made his way to his office, fighting the impulse to go by House's office first and see if he was there. Resolutely, he inserted his key in the door with a heavy sigh of resignation.
When he wants to talk to me… if he wants to talk to me… he'll find me.
When the door fell open, however, Wilson froze, stunned by the unexpected sight that met his eyes.
House was kneeling on the floor, his back turned toward the door. The wastebasket from under Wilson's desk was pulled out beside him, and he was tossing coffee-stained papers and ruined notepads into the garbage. As Wilson watched, he picked up a small stack of textbooks and turned to place them on the desk.
House went still when he saw Wilson standing in the doorway, returning his startled gaze for a long moment before he finally spoke.
"Well, hurry up and shut the door before someone else walks in and gets their mind blown by the fact that I'm actually doing something decent," he demanded irritably, nodding toward the open door.
Still a little stunned by the surreal scene before him, Wilson turned and silently closed the door. When he turned back toward House, the older man had already gone back to cleaning up the mess he had made the day before. He gathered an armload of the scattered office supplies he had raked from Wilson's desk, then tried to brace himself against the desk and get to his feet.
Of course, between the awkward load in his arms, and his injured leg, it was impossible.
All traces of his bad mood forgotten, Wilson made his way swiftly to House's side, reaching down to catch his arms and steady him as he gently pulled him to his feet. House looked up at him as he rose, in a brief unguarded moment of vulnerability and uncertainty – and Wilson felt an overwhelming surge of warmth and affection for him.
Ignoring the office supplies in House's arms, he pushed him firmly but gently back against the wall behind the desk, capturing his parted lips in a deep, intense kiss that spoke clearly of his fervent affection for House and approval for his actions. House tensed at first, troubled by his disadvantage due to his arms being occupied – but then, Wilson felt the taut muscles of House's arms relax under his grip, as the older man began to return his kiss.
His desire stirred as much by House's somewhat helpless position as by his response to the kiss, Wilson's hands shifted slowly down House's arms to his sides, stopping at the untucked hem of his shirt and sliding upward again, under the soft, rumpled fabric. A thrill of arousal shot through him when he felt House's slight shudder at the skin-to-skin contact.
After a moment, however, House pulled his mouth away from Wilson's with an effort – the only resistance he could offer at the moment. Wilson backed off a bit, his hands stilling on the warm, soft skin of House's stomach as he gave him a slightly impatient, questioning look.
Breathless, House took a moment to respond. "Thought we were going to keep this quiet at work," he reminded Wilson with a pointed glance toward the door. "Don't you think you should lock the door?"
Wilson let out an almost giddy, reckless laugh, leaning in to steal another brief, forceful kiss before pulling back to shake his head with a shrug. "Right now, House… I really don't care if the entire population of the hospital is watching every second via hidden camera."
House gave him an amused smirk, shrugging slightly. "Well, now that you mention it… there's something I forgot to tell you…"
Wilson's response to House's somewhat awkward joke was nothing more than a soft smile. "I'm just so… proud of you right now, House. So… so glad that you chose to do this… on your own…"
"Yeah, yeah." House rolled his eyes, clearly uncomfortable with the unfamiliar praise. "And now you're making me regret it. Would you just shut up and…?"
Wilson cut off House's protest with another kiss, his tongue pressing past House's lips and smothering his words, changing them into a muffled, appreciative moan. Wilson's right hand slid downward, fingertips running just under House's waistband, while his other hand cupped the swelling bulge in the front of House's jeans. House's back arched slightly as he let out a low groan of desire against Wilson's mouth, making a token effort to hold onto the items in his arms before suddenly giving up and letting them fall to the floor with a clatter as his hands came to rest on Wilson's waist, drawing him closer.
Abruptly, Wilson pulled away, giving House a secretive smile before heading toward the door. House let out a wordless sound of protest, watching in bewildered frustration as Wilson slowly, deliberately locked the door and drew the blinds on the windows, then turned to face him again.
Understanding became mockery in House's eyes as he sneered in a voice that trembled with mingled confusion and desire. "Oh, right. Now you care if someone walks in…"
"Yeah." Wilson's breath quickened as he approached House again, giving him a slow up-and-down look of unmasked hunger. "Because now…" He stopped in front of House, holding his gaze intently as he sank slowly to his knees in front of him. "… I'm about to do something to you that would cost us more than a little embarrassment. This could cost us our jobs."
House stared down through wide, wondering eyes, as Wilson's hands came to rest at his hips, gliding unhurriedly down his thighs before rising again to slowly, deliberately unfasten House's jeans.
"Somehow," House gasped, breathless again. "That just makes it hotter."
And a moment later, he was beyond conscious thought, as the searing heat of Wilson's mouth drew him into a world where there was only pleasurable sensation.
Once House recovered from Wilson's considerably talented ministrations, Wilson helped him clean up the rest of the mess, and they proceeded with their day as usual. His patient successfully cured, House showed up in Wilson's office ten minutes before the end of the day.
"Hungry?" he asked with a smile to which Wilson was completely unaccustomed.
Wilson returned it, feeling far more optimistic about his plan than he had felt at the beginning of the day. "Yeah." He nodded, then hesitated before continuing, "But, um… after we eat… we need to sit down and talk."
House rolled his eyes with a weary sigh. "Do we have to?" he whined. "You're so much better at not talking."
Missing the double entendre at first, thinking only of his multiple lectures toward House during the course of their friendship, Wilson raised a dubious eyebrow. "Really?"
With a knowing, lecherous grin, House confirmed, "Really."
Finally catching House's meaning, Wilson tried and failed to suppress a smug grin. After a moment he relented with a shrug. "Okay, yeah. I guess I am." As House let out a low, dark chuckle at his words, Wilson's smile faded into something more serious. "But seriously, House… we need to talk. I've… come up with a plan – a more specific plan – I think we should go over. It should keep things from… well, from getting so out of hand, like they did yesterday." At House's wary, apprehensive look, he hurried to add, "It's not… carved in stone. It's just an idea. Only if you agree to it. Okay?"
After a moment's hesitation, House replied in an exasperated, put-upon voice. "Fine. Okay. But I'm not wearing a dog collar, and under no circumstances will I call you 'Master'. That's where I draw the line."
"Only there?" Wilson glanced over his shoulder with a wicked wink as he led the way out of his office. "Oh, goody."
House paused for a moment, watching Wilson walk ahead of him before finally following again, shaking his head dubiously.
"Okay, now you're freaking me out."
"All right. So, I've printed this up into a… a contract of sorts. Anything you don't like, we can scratch out and change, whatever. I don't mind. We both have to like the finished product." Wilson's voice was higher than usual and a little shaky as he picked up the single-spaced page from the coffee table and prepared to read it. "I'll just… go over it first, and we can talk about it, and then if you want, you can read through it yourself and make sure you approve. Okay?"
House just smirked at Wilson's obvious nervousness, waving a vaguely imperious hand in a gesture for him to continue – and secretly congratulating himself on so successfully concealing his own apprehensions.
With a deep, shaky breath, Wilson began. "Okay. Rule number one…"
"Of course this thing is all about the rules. God forbid you give up any of your control," House muttered with a mocking roll of his eyes.
Wilson looked up at him, dark eyes solemn and certain as he held his gaze. "These rules are for me," he clarified quietly. "We'll get to your rules in a minute."
A bit taken aback by the realization that Wilson had willingly placed limitations on his own authority, House was silent, waiting curiously for Wilson to go on.
"Rule number one," Wilson repeated, returning his eyes to the paper in his hands. "I am under no circumstances ever to cause you any permanent physical harm. I'm not allowed to ever strike out at you in anger, or force any violence on you that you don't choose to accept. If physical punishment is necessary, it's to be meted out calmly, reasonably, and with restraint."
"So, you wanna tie me down and spank me, then…"
"House…" Wilson's tone was clearly meant to be stern, but rather came out shaky and pleading.
"Go on," House sighed.
"Rule number two: Any decisions I make for you, any orders I give you, any discipline I mete out – it's always to be in your best interest. The motive must always be to help you, not ever to cause you harm, not because it's the most convenient thing for me, or just because I happen to be angry at the moment."
Wilson glanced at House for a moment to confirm his acceptance of the fairly obvious, simple rule, before biting his lip nervously with a convulsive swallow. When he went on, his voice was weaker and noticeably trembling, and House listened closely with some apprehension, wondering what about the next rule had Wilson so unsettled.
"Rule number three is about… our… our sexual relationship," Wilson explained, and House immediately understood, compounding Wilson's embarrassment with a mocking leer, which Wilson did his best to ignore. "Despite the fact that you're the submissive party in this relationship, I can never require you to do anything… anything sexual… with which you're uncomfortable."
House raised a single brow in an accusing look, though there was mocking amusement in his eyes. "So… you're not allowed to rape me," he concluded. "Do we really need a rule for that? That should go without saying, shouldn't it? You've got a dirty mind, Wilson. You're really getting off on this whole power kick thing, aren't you?"
Defensive and embarrassed, Wilson immediately objected. "N-no, it's not about that! I just… didn't want there to be any questions. You're supposed to submit yourself, so… so I didn't want you to have to wonder about… how… far…" Wilson gave up, resting his head in his hands for a moment with a weary sigh. "… and… you're just messing with me, aren't you?"
"Of course," House replied without hesitation, a self-satisfied smile on his lips.
Looking up again, Wilson gave House a severe, warning look as he continued. "Physical punishment…" He left a pointed pause after the words, before going on finally, "… will be reserved only for the worst offenses. Deception… physical violence against me or others… extreme, blatant disrespect… or, worst of all…" He met House's eyes again, and there was a solemn concern in his dark gaze that drove the teasing smirk from House's face and made him actually pay attention.
"… hurting yourself, or placing yourself in physical danger." Wilson paused a moment, still holding House's gaze as he added, "And… if physical discipline is in order… you will be the one to choose what… what implement is used."
House swallowed hard, feeling a strange lump forming in his throat at the realization not only that Wilson was willing to give him that much control, but also that, to Wilson, the worst possible crime he could commit would be to cause himself harm.
"Okay," Wilson continued softly, his quiet words echoing in the sudden stillness that seemed to have filled the room. "Now… on to your rules. Number one: assuming that I'm abiding by all of my rules… you must always submit to my orders…"
House let out a rude, scoffing sound – and Wilson immediately rose to his feet, heading toward the trash can and beginning to crumple the paper in his hand.
"Oh, for God's sake, Wilson," House objected in exasperation, "get back here! I've got to submit to you. That kind of goes without saying. It's the point of the whole thing, isn't it?"
Wilson slowly, warily sat back down, giving House a reproachful look. "This is serious, House," he reminded him. "If you're not going to take it seriously…"
"I am," House relented with a sigh of defeat. "All right? I am."
"In all your jackassery," Wilson muttered, "I think you just missed something very important. You have an out on rule number one." He met House's eyes briefly as he repeated, "If I'm failing to hold up my end of the bargain, then you don't have to obey my commands. Did you get that?"
Actually, House had missed it, in the midst of his defensive attempts at humorous deflection. He nodded slowly, taking it in with some surprise as Wilson continued.
"Rule number two: you must always be honest with me. You can't be lying to me, or trying to sneak things by me. If you do, it completely defeats the purpose. Rule number three: no physical violence, against me or anyone else. That particular one would be considered a very serious infraction."
"Oh, so it's perfectly okay for you to get violent with me – excuse me, 'with my consent'," House interrupted sarcastically, "but I can't do the same to you?"
Wilson's expression was calm and solemn as he answered simply.
"No. You can't."
House was quiet for a moment, caught off guard by the simplicity of the answer. Finally he replied in a quiet, grudgingly subdued tone of voice.
"All right then. Just wanted to be clear on that."
Wilson tried to suppress a slight smile – and then suddenly found the effort much easier when he read the last rule. His voice was solemn, gentle, as he went on. "Rule number four – you have to try your best to trust me. And… that will get easier with time, I promise. But… none of this is worth anything if you can't trust me. You have to try to believe that I'm going to make the right choices for you. All right?"
The pleading in Wilson's eyes caused House to grant him a slight nod, though he couldn't quite bring himself to actually promise what Wilson was asking.
He honestly wasn't sure it was even possible – but he would try.
Wilson mirrored his nod as he returned his eyes to the paper in front of him. "There's… a clause at the bottom. It says, basically, that if either of us breaks the rules, the other has the right to null the contract and end the arrangement without consequence. That means…" He looked at House, his expression softening at the hesitant question he read in House's eyes. "… that means… I'm not going to turn my back on you if you void the arrangement because I've broken the rules."
House nodded slowly, his shoulders relaxing with relief at that news.
"Any changes or amendments to this contract would have to be agreed upon by both of us," Wilson concluded, holding out the paper for House's perusal. "Go ahead. Look it over. Tell me what you want changed."
House studied the piece of paper in his hands for a few minutes, not looking at Wilson as he spoke in a quiet, questioning voice, "Any time either one of us wants to end this… we can."
Wilson nodded. "Yeah. Of course… if there's no official cause to end it, like my breaking the rules, or something like that…" He hesitated a moment before finishing. "… then, it could… change things, between us. I've already told you…"
"Yeah, yeah," House cut him off softly, eyes still fastened onto the contract to disguise his emotional response to what Wilson had said. "I remember."
As House finished reading, Wilson braced himself for House to verbally tear the contract to shreds – but, to his amazement, House simply shook his head, setting the paper back down on the coffee table between them.
"It's fine," he said softly. "Looks good."
Barely daring to believe that House was actually agreeing so easily, Wilson tried to suppress his eager grin, as he picked up the pen from beside the paper and hurriedly signed his own name to the bottom with a trembling hand. When he was finished, he held out the pen to House, breathless with anticipation – still partially certain that House was going to change his mind at the last moment and refuse to sign.
To his immense relief and amazement, House simply took the pen from his hand, and signed his name in his familiar, illegible scrawl at the bottom of the page.
"There. It's done," he said softly as he set the pen down again and looked up at Wilson through piercing, deep blue eyes. "Don't make me regret this."