A/N: There is one naughty word in this chapter!
House looked down at his desk. His gaze fell on the piece of paper with Wilson's flight details on it. He hoped that if he stared at it for long enough, inspiration would strike and he would know the right words to say to Wilson.
Wilson had in fact returned the previous day and House had been tempted to go to the airport to meet Wilson after he landed. But his impetuousness had lost out to his good sense. He realised that trying to talk to Wilson after he had spent several hours cooped up on a plane wasn't a brilliant idea. He couldn't afford to mess up such an important conversation and he didn't need to give Wilson a reason to like him even less than he already did.
House sighed as he looked at Wilson's untidy left-handed scrawl under the printed flights details. Wilson had written down his friend's home telephone number as well as what looked to be a cell and a work number. If there had been an emergency or if he had done something stupid, Wilson could have been easily reached and on the next flight back. Wilson obviously still cared for him. But House had not spoken to Wilson while he had been away, knowing that he would've ended up feeling even worse for being such a selfish, secretive bastard.
Instead House had imagined Wilson spending his days in California on the beach, counting his blessings for having a lucky escape from a highly destructive relationship. House had spent those two weeks thinking about how much he missed Wilson and that he had made a dreadful mistake in making him leave. He wondered how he could now apologise without having to give Wilson an expensive gift or making some other idiotic romantic gesture. His right hand ghosted over his damaged thigh as he realised that maybe he would have to tell Wilson the truth, be open and vulnerable. If that's what it takes, House thought as he took a Vicodin. He then grabbed his cane and made his way out of his office. He walked down the hallway to where he knew Wilson had been for most of the day, in his office catching up with paperwork.
House stopped outside the door to Wilson's office, checking that he wasn't with a patient or another member of staff. When he was sure he couldn't hear anything, he took a deep breath and opened the door. House walked in, turning briefly to close the door shut. Perhaps Wilson had been expecting him or maybe he was still in the midst of dealing with the administration backlog. Whatever the reason, Wilson didn't look up; he just continued to write his signature on a pile of different coloured forms.
"Wait just one minute. Nearly done." Wilson said as the stack of paper steadily got smaller.
House took the opportunity to openly stare at the change in Wilson's appearance. Wilson looked so much younger, his skin was positively glowing. He had obviously spent his time away enjoying the Californian sunshine. House had a crack about Wilson the Oncologist forgetting to use sunblock on the tip of his tongue, but he became speechless when Wilson finally looked up and smiled at him.
Wilson's face had lit up when he saw House standing in front of him. House smiled back, feeling like Wilson had been away for two years rather than only two weeks. Wilson's smile suddenly disappeared as if he had remembered that he was still meant to be mad at House. But he had given House all the encouragement he needed to forge ahead and put things right between them.
"So I have a solution to our problem." House began as he sat down on the grey couch. Wilson simply shook his head in confusion.
"Which particular problem? You'll have to be more specific." Wilson retorted as he turned his chair to face him. House was pleased to see that Wilson had completely abandoned his paperwork in favour of giving House his undivided attention.
"We spent too much time together. At work and at home." House explained before he set his cane down on the floor.
"That's what happens when you live with someone who is both your best friend and colleague." Wilson interrupted, rolling his eyes. They had both known what living and working together would entail and House had not voiced any objections at the time.
"And then you went to LA and we didn't spend any time together. We need to find a balance between the two." House continued, ignoring Wilson's comment.
Wilson sat in silence for a few minutes as he stopped to consider what House had said. They had been living together for four months and in that time they had only spent one night apart. Wilson had not gone to any conferences and had only been paged once in the evening. But he had only stayed with his patient for an hour before she had passed away. House had spent one night at work, claiming that he had to monitor his patient's condition even though he had made the correct diagnosis and the patient had been slowly responding to treatment.
It suddenly clicked in Wilson's mind, why House had been so difficult to live with in those last few weeks as their arguments had escalated. House's drinking had also increased during that time. He knew that House occasionally had days when the pain in his leg was overwhelmingly unbearable, but Wilson had been so caught up in their new exciting relationship that he had not noticed the way House often managed to hide how much pain he was in. The fact that House had spent the night in his office rather than actually reveal the truth made Wilson feel ashamed.
Wilson's first instinct was to tell House how sorry he was for missing the obvious clues and then berate House for not being honest with him. But he knew House hated showing any weakness. It meant a lot to Wilson that House had allowed him to work out the real reason for pushing him away. Wilson stood up and joined House on the couch.
"So I move out and then what?" Wilson asked.
"We spend a couple of weeknights together or the weekend, whatever you want." House suggested nervously. He wasn't sure if Wilson really would accept taking a step back in their relationship.
"And at work?" Wilson had visions of them deliberately avoiding each other even though they had neighbouring offices and he wondered how that could possibly work.
"Consults are okay, I guess. And lunch of course." House relaxed a little when he saw that Wilson agreed with him.
"Of course." Wilson said dryly before he smiled at House. "It'd be like we're dating." Wilson added as the thought occurred to him. They had jumped straight from friendship to the intensity and exhilaration of living together. Going out on dates together would definitely be an interesting development in their relationship.
"You are not dragging me to museums or any plays." House said firmly even as he moved closer to Wilson. "No musicals either."
Wilson's response was muffled as House kissed him on the lips. House sighed with relief as he felt Wilson kissing him back and wrapping his arms around his waist. House couldn't help wondering how long it would take for Wilson to run out of patience and to want to move back in with him. House broke off the kiss, his anxiety returning as the idea of having to push Wilson away again entered his mind. He couldn't keep making the same mistake over and over, hurting Wilson in the process.
"I'm not going the other side of the country every time we have a fight." Wilson stated, sensing the quick change in House's mood.
"The other side of Princeton is far enough." House replied in agreement as he ran his fingers over the golden skin on Wilson's face. House silently promised himself to tell Wilson whenever the pain in his leg was really bad. Wilson briefly kissed House before he stood up and returned to his desk.
"I need to finish my mountain of paperwork." Wilson said apologetically.
"Okay." House took the hint and picked up his cane.
"You could do me a favour and help me search for an apartment." Wilson called out as House was leaving the office. House stuck his head back around the door to glare sternly at Wilson. He then walked back into the room and stretched out on the couch, trying to make himself as comfortable as possible.
"So what did you do in LA?" House asked as he closed his eyes and folded his arms behind his head. "Your friend must have some good stories about his patients."
Wilson continued signing forms and organising his paperwork as he spoke about his trip. House felt more at ease than he had for weeks as the sound of Wilson's voice lulled him into a peaceful sleep.