Wilson took a deep breath as he entered the hospital, glancing automatically around for House, though it was fairly unlikely that he would find him in the clinic. Wilson wasn't used to the queasy, unsettled feeling in the pit of his stomach, at the thought of the confrontation he knew was to come, and the uncertainty of how it would go.

He paused outside the door to his own office, his hand resting on the handle, as he glanced anxiously toward the office next door. He let out a long, shaky breath, making up his mind, as he let go of the handle and started down the hall toward House's office.

House's team was in the conference room, just settling in for the morning, not even having begun working on the new case Cuddy had given House when he had arrived. Foreman was pouring a cup of coffee, while Cameron and Chase sat at the table, talking quietly, and trying not to glance in House's direction.

House was seated at his own desk, the door between the two rooms closed. His eyes focused on something in front of him, he didn't seem to notice at first when Wilson walked in.

Wilson hesitated, suddenly utterly at a loss as to what to say. So, in place of words, he simply cleared his throat to alert House to his presence, though he could barely bring himself even to meet the other man's eyes.

House looked up at him, eyes widening slightly in surprise when he saw Wilson standing in front of him. He swallowed hard, a flash of something -- dismay, or fear, or confusion -- in his eyes as he rose to his feet, grasping his cane and taking a step toward the conference room door.

"We'll have to chat later," he informed Wilson curtly, looking away from him as he spoke. "I have a patient. My team is waiting." He paused, glancing up at Wilson with a cool, bitter smile. "Wouldn't want them to get the right idea."

Wilson hesitated, not wanting to let it go so easily. "House... we have to talk."

"Not now, we don't. Now, we have to work," House corrected, brushing past him impatiently and walking into the conference room, leaving Wilson standing alone in his office.

Wilson just stood there a moment, stung by House's dismissal. He lowered his head, his face flushing with embarrassment, before turning and walking out the door, heading back toward his own office.

He hadn't quite reached it when his jaw set with sudden resolve, and he raised his head, squaring his shoulders and turning back toward the conference room.

He pushed the door open and stalked inside, only vaguely aware as the hum of voices gradually died away with his entrance.

House's team didn't matter to Wilson.

All that mattered right now was that House knew the truth, once and for all -- that House mattered more to him than anyone's opinions, anyone's approval or disapproval, or any rumors that would most assuredly make their way through the hospital when he was finished carrying out the insanely impulsive idea that had just formed in his mind.

He ignored the curious stares as he walked up to House with purposeful confidence, closing the distance between them in a matter of seconds, drawing so near, in fact, that House took an unconscious step backward, watching him with wary uncertainty.

Without hesitation, Wilson reached out a hand to thread through the hair at the back of House's neck, pulling him close to kiss him soundly, thoroughly, his tongue pressing gently but firmly against the barrier of House's barely parted lips. Encouraged and relieved when House's mouth opened to grant him entrance, Wilson continued the kiss for a few seconds longer, his free hand resting at House's hip to steady him.

When he finally drew back, both men were breathless -- and House's team was wide-eyed and speechless, staring in amazement.

Wilson turned to face them, the hand that had rested at House's hip sliding casually around his waist in a subtly possessive gesture.

"The rumors are true," he stated calmly, meeting each of the younger doctors' eyes in turn. "House and I are together. We're a couple. If any of you, or anyone else in this hospital, has a problem with that, well... I don't care. It's nobody's business but our own, and no one else's opinion matters."

Wilson turned to meet House's astonished gaze, his voice and expression softening. "Except yours," he amended quietly. "If you have a problem with it -- then I care. Because... I want you to be happy."

He edged closer to House, who was studying his face with a vulnerable wonder in his searching blue eyes, unaware that he was biting his lower lip, his brow creased in an uncertain frown. Wilson turned his back on House's team, lowering his voice so that his next words were known only to House.

"I want you to want this. I'm aware I've already screwed it up -- more than once. But... there's nothing I can do to fix it, unless you'll let me."

Without another word, Wilson allowed his arm to trail along House's waist as he took a slow step backward, holding House's gaze for a moment that felt longer than it was, before finally turning and striding out of the conference room, as abruptly as he had entered it.

Wilson barely had time to seat himself at his desk -- his pulse racing, damp palms running through his hair as he tried to catch his breath -- when his office door opened again, and House walked in, slamming the door forcefully behind him.

"What the hell was that?" House demanded, stopping directly in front of Wilson's desk, looming angrily over him, so close that his legs brushed the front of the desk.

"Hopefully," Wilson calmly replied, raising his head to meet House's eyes, "that was you, getting the message that I am committed to you. This isn't a joke or a game to me, and I'm not in any way ashamed to call you my own."

Uncertainty and fear to believe it became anger and frustration in House's voice. His blue eyes blazed with indignant accusation as he raised his cane in a wild, waving gesture to emphasize his words.

"You can't just walk into my office and perform this grand dramatic gesture and expect it to make me forget about the last few days you've spent treating me like your own personal sex toy. One impressively romantic act doesn't make everything right again, Wilson. I've seen three marriages' worth of your romantic gestures, and I know they come about as easily to you as the fake sympathy you give your patients -- and mean about as much."

Wilson winced at the double insult House had cast his way, shaking his head as he rose to his feet behind the desk, then walked slowly around it to move closer to House. House instinctively backed away, a wary look in his eyes, but Wilson kept advancing, not allowing House to avoid him.

"It wasn't just a meaningless romantic gesture, House. It was, hopefully, romantic -- but to me, it meant a lot." He was quiet for a moment, eyes searching as he looked up at House and asked gently, "Isn't that what you wanted? To know that I'm not ashamed of you, House? To know that I'm willing to claim you publicly? Isn't that what you said?"

House swallowed hard, visibly unnerved by Wilson's closeness, continuing to back away until his back was to the wall next to the sofa. He realized too late that he had backed himself into a corner, trapped between the desk and the sofa, with Wilson blocking any possible escape.

Wilson's dark eyes shone with affection, amusement, and something darker -- something frightening and exciting at once -- as he sidled yet nearer to House, reaching out his hands to rest at House's waist.

"Stop it," House muttered, his gaze self-consciously averted. "Wilson... this isn't going to work. You aren't going to just smooth this over with an... admittedly... really good blow job again. Not – not this time."

Wilson's smile widened slightly as he remembered the incident House was referring to, and the memory stirred his desire for the other man. Wilson persisted, gripping House's hips and pushing him back against the wall, shifting in closer until there was no space at all between them. House made a token resistance, half-heartedly pushing at Wilson's hands -- and then giving up, allowing his hands to drop to his sides and leaning back against the wall, as Wilson began to run his hands slowly, possessively, up and down House's sides.

"This isn't some ploy to evade the issue and get you to forget about the problems we've been having," Wilson assured him softly. "I made a commitment to you. Signed and everything, remember? You agreed to it, too, if I recall." The mildly teasing note left Wilson's voice, his smile fading as he added firmly, "You're mine, House, and I'm not going to let you go without a fight..."

House's breath had quickened with mingled apprehension and arousal, but he still managed to roll his eyes, letting out an impatient but unsteady sigh.

"Right. You're the one who calls all the..."

"And I'm yours, too, House."

House's scathing words fell away, silenced by the weight of the sincerity in Wilson's voice, and his eyes widened as he stared at Wilson in stunned disbelief. His head tilted slightly, his eyes narrowed skeptically as he studied his friend's expression, looking for any trace of falsehood or manipulation.

He found none.

"House... this isn't just about you giving up everything, and me getting all the benefits. The whole reason I initiated this arrangement in the first place is because of you -- for your own good. And you need to know that... that as much as you are mine... I'm yours, too. I promise."

House swallowed hard, lowering his gaze, the intensity of the intimacy in Wilson's eyes suddenly too much for him. Wilson was unwilling to let him pull away, however, and leaned in closer, grabbing the back of House's head and tilting it up again to capture his slightly trembling lips in a fervent kiss, intended to emphasize how fully he meant his words.

When he finally drew back, Wilson was as breathless as House, as he struggled to continue.

"I... want to be with you, House," he whispered intently, eyes closed as he rested his forehead against House's. "And only you. And I'm not ashamed for anyone to know it. I'll tell anyone you want me to tell. I'll post a memo to the entire hospital if that's what you want."

House let out a soft, nervous snort of laughter at that idea, and Wilson laughed softly with him, shaking his head against House's.

"That's how badly I need you to know that I'm telling you the truth, House. I promise. You can trust me. I'm committed to you, completely -- for as long as you want me to be."

Finally, reluctantly, Wilson drew back slightly to search House's face, dark eyes anxious and uncertain as he tried to gauge the older man's reaction. House's eyes were wide, wondering, his slightly parted lips still betraying his sheer surprise at Wilson's unexpectedly fervent declaration of devotion.

Wilson bit his lip in a moment of hesitation, drew in a deep breath and squared his shoulders as if steeling himself for some challenge -- and then let out his words in a barely audible breath.

"I... I love you."

Terrified to wait for House's reaction, Wilson closed his eyes, moving in for another intense kiss that gradually became slow and tender. One hand rested on House's shoulder, the other playing affectionately through his hair, as Wilson allowed the kiss to linger as long as possible, only reluctantly pulling away when he absolutely had to, or risk passing out from lack of oxygen.

Hesitantly, Wilson made himself meet House's eyes -- and was stunned and touched to see that they were suspiciously glistening. House swallowed hard, with a visible effort closing his mouth, struggling to maintain his composure in the face of Wilson's momentous declaration.

In a rare moment that Wilson wasn't sure he'd ever seen before -- House appeared to be speechless.

Wilson licked his lips nervously, feeling suddenly self-conscious and uncertain in the wake of his impulsive but heartfelt words. Without taking much thought for the consequences, for anything but making House understand how much he genuinely cared about him, Wilson had made himself fully vulnerable to the older man, exposing the depth of his feelings at a time when he did not at all expect to have such sentiments returned.

He took a slightly awkward step back, eyes lowered as he gave House space to move again. "I – I'll let you think about this, House. What I said… what you want… if you… if you still want this, at all. I'd understand if you don't." He ventured a glance up again, meeting House's eyes for just a moment before looking down again. "If you do – come find me at the end of the day. I'll drive you home. If you… if you don't show up…" Wilson's voice lowered to a soft, hesitant near-whisper as he concluded, "I'll… just assume you went home yourself, and… and I'll find another place to stay tonight."

House said nothing, did not raise his head or nod or give any indication as to his reaction to Wilson's words.

Wilson continued, his voice a little stronger now that the worst was already out. "This isn't an… all or nothing sort of deal, either, House," he clarified quietly. "I'm not saying, 'forgive me now, no question asked, or this is over'. Any concerns you still have, we can discuss tonight… if you decide you want to. It's just… probably not a good idea to get into it here." He paused a moment, swallowing hard in a vain attempt to dampen his dry mouth. "Just… just let me know what you want to do."

House remained quiet, not answering at all – and then, still without a word, slowly made his way toward the door. Wilson watched him with troubled, uncertain eyes, as House walked out of his office, quietly closing the door behind him.


They didn't speak again for the rest of the day, and the cold knot of uncertainty in Wilson's stomach grew progressively larger and tighter, as he replayed every detail of their encounter in his mind, over and over again.

It was too much, too soon. I shouldn't have told him I loved him. Shouldn't have pushed so hard, come on so strong. I should have given him his space right now, waited for him to come to me.

Throughout the course of the day, Wilson thought of a dozen different mistakes he had made during the few minutes he had spent with House that morning, and even more things he could have done better, said better.

I wasted my chance. I messed it all up, and scared him off, and now he doesn't want anything to do with me anymore.

As Wilson returned to his office after making his final rounds for the evening, he let out a heavy sigh of resignation, trying to decide which hotel he would check into that night.

Not the one I just checked out of, that's for sure. Wouldn't that be embarrassing...

His rueful thoughts trailed off, and a frown of confusion formed on Wilson's face as he neared his office, and noticed that the small lamp on his desk was on, though when he had last been in his office, it had been midday, and none of his lights had been on.

Wilson barely dared allow himself to hope as he opened the door to his office and stepped inside -- to find House sprawled on his sofa, looking up at him with a soft, thoughtful smile.

"So. You ready to go, or what?"