"So… I'm thinking I didn't exactly start off the right way with the whole Vicodin thing."
House glanced up at Wilson's unexpected statement, a single brow quirked upward speculatively, before he returned his gaze to the television. He was silent as Wilson took his keys and wallet from the end table and put them into his pocket, heading for the coat rack and pulling on his jacket. House finally responded under his breath as he turned off the television and rose to his feet.
Wilson sighed as he opened the door, waiting in the doorway while House put on his coat and got ready to leave.
"I know, I know… I'll admit, I was a little… overzealous, at first. Probably… expected too much," Wilson conceded. "So… we're going to start over on that part of our arrangement, and start more slowly this time."
"Slow is good," House nodded with a careless shrug, trying not to show how intensely interested he really was in the turn the conversation had taken. "The slower the better. Wouldn't want to shock my system too much."
Wilson shot him a dark, knowing look as he unlocked his car door and walked around to the driver's side. He waited until they were both in the car and driving away from the curb before he continued.
"You're used to taking… what? Probably about… one pill every… hour and a half?"
House gave him a startled look, surprised by his accuracy, but did not respond.
"Just during your waking hours, of course," Wilson went on with a half-shrug, eyes focused on the windshield. "I don't think you're quite to the point of getting up in the middle of the night to take an extra Vicodin." He paused, taking in a deep breath before adding, "You probably just take the extra one before you go to bed. And in the morning when you get up, too. Right?"
House let out a sarcastic, scoffing laugh, rolling his eyes as a means to avert his gaze. "Please. You are so far off."
Wilson just cast a skeptical glance in House's direction before looking out the windshield again – waiting.
"Okay, fine. That's… pretty much exactly true," House admitted at last. "I'm going home tonight and searching out all your hidden cameras, though, so your fun is over."
"I don't need hidden cameras," Wilson reminded him with a rueful grin. "I live with you now, remember?" He was quiet for a moment before continuing thoughtfully. "I'll start you off with the amount you're used to, today, and gradually decrease the amount over time. Every few days, we'll cut it back just slightly… so slightly that you probably won't even notice it…"
"Oh, trust me. I'll notice," House informed him dubiously. "And in that case, you missed one this morning already." He held out his hand expectantly. "Gimme."
Wilson hesitated just a moment, before reaching into his pocket and taking out the tiny orange vial containing House's medication. He struggled with it for a few moments, trying to open it one-handed, while keeping his other hand on the steering wheel – without success.
"Here, let me," House suggested impatiently, reaching for the vial.
Wilson irritably held his hand away, out of House's reach – but then froze, a thoughtful frown creasing his brow as he reconsidered. He gave House a wary look as he slowly extended his hand, holding out the bottle to his friend.
House's eyes narrowed in suspicion, wondering at Wilson's sudden change of heart. Cautiously, he took the bottle from Wilson's hand, holding it within Wilson's range of vision as he expertly flipped the cap off with one hand, as Wilson had been unable to do, catching it in the other hand before tapping a single pill out into his palm and tossing it down his throat. Making sure that Wilson saw everything he did during the entire process, he returned the cap to the bottle and held it out to Wilson again.
Wilson's shoulders visibly relaxed as he took it and put it away again, a slight smile of relief and satisfaction forming on his lips – and House instantly understood.
It was a test.
Wilson had been reluctant to hand over the Vicodin, knowing that House could very easily refuse to give it back. However, House's choice of obedience told him that his lesson of the night before had taken, better than he had expected. Despite Wilson's apprehensions, House seemed to be accepting his decision about the Vicodin much more readily than he had anticipated.
The apparent success filled Wilson with a sense of relief and optimism… and overwhelming affection for the man sitting beside him. He waited until he parked the car in the parking lot before turning to face House with a warm smile.
House gave him a wary look, a single brow raised. "What?"
Wilson just shook his head, reaching out a hand to cup the back of House's head and pull him close for a slow, tender kiss. House responded instinctively, but then drew back, pressing a hand against Wilson's chest and holding him away for a moment to meet his gaze with confusion in his searching eyes.
"Someone might see," he reminded Wilson in a hoarse whisper. "Doesn't that bother you?"
Wilson shook his head, still smiling with something resembling adoration in his dark eyes. "Not right now, it doesn't."
He leaned in close to resume the kiss, and this time House surrendered to it fully, pulling Wilson closer to him and deepening their contact, until finally, both had to break away at the same time, breathless and more than a little aroused. House studied Wilson's face out of the corner of his eyes as they sat there, catching their breath.
After a moment, he let out a soft laugh.
"What?" Wilson asked, slightly defensive.
"Nothing." House shook his head. He was silent for a moment before changing his mind and answering with gentle mockery. "You're such a girl."
Wilson smirked, unoffended by House's words, as he reached for the door, ready to go inside.
"Yeah, well. You don't seem to mind."
It took House about two minutes with his team to figure out that something was… off.
All three were strangely quiet, avoiding eye contact with him, while exchanging secretive, knowing looks amongst themselves. Every now and then, House caught one of them, usually Cameron, looking at him when they thought he wasn't looking – only to look away again hurriedly the moment he glanced their way.
It was difficult to maintain their focus on the rather simple case at hand, as they all seemed highly distracted by whatever shared secret lay between them. Once or twice, Cameron or Chase would open their mouths, as if about to ask him a question – but every time, they seemed to lose their nerve before they could bring themselves to speak.
At last irritated, House demanded, "Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on today that I don't know about?"
"Nothing," Chase insisted with feigned innocence. "Nothing at all."
"Fine," House snapped, appearing to give up with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Foreman, go administer the treatment to the patient. Cameron, go check on that second set of test results. Chase…" He hesitated, considering, before giving the young doctor a malicious smirk. "… go check with Cuddy and see how many clinic hours I owe, and how many of those hours you can cut down before the end of the day."
His team began to disperse, Chase cursing quietly under his breath in irritation at House's vindictive orders, which always seemed to be aimed in his direction, for some reason. House made his way toward the doorway between the conference room and his own office, hesitating just as Cameron was stepping out into the hall.
She froze in her tracks, not turning around for a long moment, before reluctantly following him across the room and into his office. Her eyes were large, filled with a trapped expression, as she waited for the inevitable third degree. They both knew perfectly well that, of House's three fellows, she was the one most likely to fold under his questioning, and reveal the information they were all trying to conceal.
"So what's the big secret?" House asked, giving her a speculative look as he sat down slowly behind his desk.
"There's no big secret," Cameron insisted with a nervous laugh that easily betrayed her lie. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about all the pointed looks flying across the room between you and Chase and Foreman during the differential. I'm talking about the awkward silences and evasive remarks every other time I've asked what it was about." House's voice was quiet, calm, and level as he held her gaze, his own piercing and unyielding. "I'm not an idiot, and I'm not oblivious. I know something is going on, and if you don't tell me what, I'll figure out some other way – and you might not care for my methods."
Cameron held his gaze defiantly for a long moment, even as her mind filled with various unpleasant ideas as to how House's attempts at uncovering the secret could interfere with her own privacy – then finally lowered her gaze with a defeated sigh, swallowing hard, unable to meet his eyes as she reluctantly answered.
"Okay. This is… this is… really awkward. I… really shouldn't be the one telling you this…"
"I'll be the judge of that, once you tell me what 'this' is," House informed her sharply, then waited silently for her to go on, a pointed brow raised in her direction.
"Wow. This is… harder than I thought it would be." Cameron drew in a deep, shaky breath, looking everywhere but into House's piercing eyes. "Um… yesterday… Chase was in the men's room, and… he said… well… I don't even believe it's true, but… he said he saw your cane, and… and you weren't alone…"
House looked away, rolling his eyes before covering his face with his hand, as he put the pieces together. Cameron's voice trailed off as she brought herself to look at him long enough to notice his reaction. Her eyes widened, her jaw dropping in stunned disbelief.
"My God," she whispered, shaking her head slowly. "It is true. You and… and Wilson?"
"What was Chase doing looking under the stall doors, anyway?" House muttered irritably, but his attempt at deflection only served to confirm the answer to Cameron's question. "Sounds a little kinky to me."
"He wasn't looking under the door. He happened to notice your cane, way over by the door of the stall, and he wondered if you were okay," Cameron explained hurriedly, defensively. "But then he… he saw that there were… two… sets of… of shoes, and…"
"And naturally, his concern for my wellbeing required him to come back to the conference room and share his concerns with you and Foreman."
House's tone was scathing and bitterly angry, but his expression was distant, his mind racing as he tried to figure out what was the best way of handling the rather awkward revelation of his and Wilson's secret.
"So… it's true, then," Cameron repeated, studying his face closely. "You two are… a couple?"
House looked up to return her gaze, hesitating a moment, considering his options – before deciding that really, he had none.
"Yes. We are."
Cameron blinked as if startled, swallowing hard as she lowered her gaze. She nodded slowly, once, before turning and heading swiftly toward the door – but not before House caught the clear disappointment in her eyes. Any traces of hope she might have still been holding for him had been dashed by the revelation of his relationship with another man.
And I just wonder what Chase might think about that, House mused. His girlfriend still carrying a torch for me, running off to the ladies' room to cry because I'm suddenly taken.
House smiled slightly to himself, imagining how eagerly Chase must have run from the bathroom to the conference room to reveal what he had observed in the men's room – and suddenly, Cameron's reaction to his news was infinitely more satisfying.
"So, what was up with your team today?" Wilson asked in the car on the way home that evening, his tone light and conversational, unconcerned. "They seemed a little… edgy. I tried to say hi to Cameron in the cafeteria, and she could barely even look at me. She mumbled something and hurried off. And a couple of times in the clinic, I caught Chase giving me weird looks." He paused, giving House a speculative smirk. "What nasty prank did you pull on them that they – for some unknown reason – seem to think I had something to do with?"
House was quiet for a long moment. He drew in a long breath, letting it out slowly, weighing his words before he spoke. Finally, he replied in a calm, casual voice.
"Chase saw us making out in the men's room the other night and told Cameron and Foreman. Cameron asked me today if we were a couple, and I told her that we were."
"W-what?" Wilson sputtered, and the car swerved slightly as he turned his head to stare at House in disbelief – and something akin to panic. "You – you told her?"
House felt an uncomfortable queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach at the alarm in Wilson's eyes. He swallowed hard, trying to moisten his suddenly dry mouth, as he studied Wilson's expression for a long moment, then stared down at his own hands on his knees.
His voice quiet and carefully level, he replied, "I had no choice. She already knew, anyway. Chase saw us. So… I saw no reason to lie about it." He paused a moment before adding, "No reason to… be ashamed of it."
Wilson blinked, still a bit stunned, but then nodded slowly, trying to focus his attention on the road. "No, no, of course not," he murmured thoughtfully, but his expression, his voice, were distant and preoccupied. "It's just… it'd have been better if… if we could have kept it a secret. For now, anyway."
"Right," House replied with an almost inaudible sigh. "Better not to let anyone know. Who knows what people would say?"
Wilson didn't seem to notice the subtle sarcasm in House's voice. He let out a nervous laugh, shaking his head slightly, but the forced lightness of his response did little to conceal the troubled expression in his dark eyes. House felt his nausea increase with the realization of how much the revelation of their secret really did bother Wilson.
"Well… I guess we're about to find out."
House was quiet for the rest of the evening – but Wilson was too preoccupied to notice.
He made dinner for both of them, and then they sat down in front of the television for a few hours; but both men knew that Wilson wasn't really paying any attention to it. Every now and then, he asked a question about the specifics of what Cameron had said, or made a guess as to what one or another of their colleagues might think or say the next day at work – just often enough to let House know that there was nothing else on his mind.
Finally, Wilson sighed and rose to his feet, stretching his arms before rubbing some of the tension from the back of his neck and heading toward the bedroom door.
"I'm beat," he announced. "You coming to bed?"
"In a little while," House replied without taking his eyes from the television.
Any other time, Wilson would have noticed the taut, icy tone of House's voice; but tonight, his mind was far too busy to pick up on it. He made his way into the bedroom, got undressed, and lay down in the bed, trying to shut out the troublesome thoughts of the hospital rumor mill, and the grand story it would have made of his and House's relationship by the following morning.
He was just barely beginning to drift off to sleep when he heard House enter the room, felt the mattress depress as House climbed into the bed beside him. Wilson smiled as he felt House's mouth against his shoulder, working slowly up toward his neck. He wrapped an arm around House in a slow, sleepy motion, drawing him closer and turning his head slightly to give House better access.
Wilson didn't move, allowing House to do as he pleased, as House's hands trailed slowly down his arms to his wrists, drawing his arms slowly up over his head. Distracted by House's kisses, and by his own slowly stirring arousal, Wilson didn't notice as House drew his left wrist toward the bedpost – didn't notice until it was too late, and his wrist was firmly bound in the leather cuff that was still attached there.
Wilson opened his eyes abruptly, staring up incredulously at his wrist, before turning his disbelieving attention to the other bedpost, where House was deftly fastening his right wrist in place.
"House," he mumbled, his voice slurred with sleep. "House… what are you doing?"
"Surprised, huh?" House muttered, and Wilson was surprised and unsettled by the anger in his voice. "Yeah. Of course you are. After all – this is all about what you want, isn't it? You want to control everything – what I do, what I say, who I say it to – because you want to make sure that I stay your freakin'… dirty little secret…"
"No," Wilson objected, suddenly alert. "House, no, that's not…"
"You don't want anyone thinking that we're actually a couple. No, that'd be too humiliating for you. Might ruin your pretty playboy image. Maybe that's it. Maybe you just want to keep our relationship a secret so that you can still be free to do whatever you want… with whoever you want. You make this huge freakin' deal about the fact that I'm yours – but you, you're still your own man, right? Still free to do whatever the hell you please!"
House's voice was seething with resentful fury, and when he leaned down for another kiss, he practically attacked Wilson's mouth, taking out his anger and hurt, plundering Wilson's mouth with tongue and teeth until he tasted blood. When he withdrew, Wilson was breathless, gasping for air to respond.
"No," he whispered at last, breathing hard. "House… no, you've got it all wrong. I don't want anyone but you… never again, I swear it." He hesitated a moment, trying to catch his breath, before meeting House's eyes intently and adding softly, "House… I swear to you… I am every bit as much yours as you are mine. I'm just… worried about what people will think, how this will effect our jobs, our work environment. I'm not… not ashamed of you – and I don't want anyone else. I am going to be completely faithful to you, House, I promise."
House studied his face for a long moment, a searching expression in his unusually vulnerable blue eyes. He swallowed hard, uncertainty and doubt evident on his face… before his expression slowly hardened again, his jaw setting with stubborn, unyielding determination.
His voice dropped to a low, possessive snarl, as he finally responded to Wilson's heartfelt words.
"You'd better believe you're mine!" His hands locked in a painfully tight grip around Wilson's bound wrists, as he leaned in and claimed Wilson's mouth once more. "Tonight – even if it's only tonight – you're mine."