Title: Knowing
By: Robin
Rating: PG
Pairings: House/Wilson friendship; Wilson/Cuddy friendship; House/Cuddy friendship++
Category: Drama, Episode Tag
Spoilers: Takes place after "Joy", but ignores the timing of "The Itch." Might technically have spoilers for later episodes, but this was planned before those episodes aired.
Disclaimers: Neither House, M.D. nor any of its characters belongs to me.
Summary: Post-"Joy", Wilson sets out to do a favor for Cuddy, and House invites himself along.
Notes: Beta by Rose Wilde Irish and Kyrdwyn. 3 However, all mistakes are my own.

Ever since House had discovered Wilson's dirty secret - not as dirty as House had hoped, nor as crushing as he ever could have imagined - it seemed he was always on the look-out for the next big betrayal. And betrayal it was, at least in House's world. What made it worse was that it hadn't just been Wilson who had backstabbed him, but Cuddy as well.

Hadn't House kept Cuddy's whole irrational baby-wanting thing a secret, even from Wilson? It was House who gave her the IVF injections; it was House who helped her pick sperm donors for her would-be-spawn. It was only fair that she come running to him as her character reference in her new little adoption scheme - even though he knew, and she knew, and Wilson knew what a disastrous idea that would have been. Still, it was the principle.

With House's super vigilance activated, it was no surprise that Wilson hadn't been able to get away with the second secret.

Wilson hadn't seen House all day. That, in itself, was rare, but this was a special day, because it was a day that Cuddy had taken off. And that, of course, should have caused House to burst into Wilson's office at 10:10 am, exactly ten minutes after House usually entered the hospital, and exactly five minutes after he'd have attempted to pester Cuddy, such pestering being foiled because of her absence. Anticipating Hurricane House, Wilson had perfected his best confused, concerned look.

But not a peep from House. Not even a peep from House's peeps. The silence was, in hindsight, a smoking gun, an omen of bad things to come, and many other tired clich├ęs. But Wilson was distracted, busy with several patients, and a distracted Wilson was not a suspicious Wilson. He lowered his guard. His mistake.

At two p.m., Wilson signed out of the hospital, four hours earlier than he normally did, and headed toward the parking lot. Standing outside his car, he searched for his keys in his jacket, then his pants, then his briefcase. Nothing. Had he left them in his office?

"Looking for these?"

Wilson turned to see House, who was dangling the stolen car keys in his hand. Knowing he was caught, Wilson made a half-hearted attempt to take them, but as expected, House snatched them away.

"I call driver's seat," House said.

"House." Wilson's tone was a warning.

"Either I drive, or you walk." No one said that Wilson's warning voice was particularly scary.

"Now's really not a good time to go joyriding," Wilson said. "My dentist appointment's at two-thirty-"

"Nice try, except you know that I know exactly where you keep your schedule book, and your last dentist appointment was two months ago."

"Have I mentioned lately how creepy your stalking is?"

"Seriously, get in." House opened the door, ducking into the driver's side.

For half a second, Wilson honestly debated walking, but he needed the car to carry out his mission. Realizing the futility of resistance, he sighed and went around the car to the passenger's side. House started up the car, and soon they were driving out of the parking lot and off campus.

"I'd ask, 'Where to?', but I'm almost positive I know where we're going," said House.

"Cuddy's going to kill me," Wilson muttered, half to himself. Then he added, "How'd you know?"

"Cuddy decides to take her first vacation in two years the day after she loses her crack baby? Yeah, nothing at all suspicious about that. Of course she's going to call someone about her absence, and who else but her new bestest secret-keeper?"

"You're not still holding that against me?" Wilson queried, though this was House, who had spent twenty-some years in wait to get back at his arch-nemesis from med school.

"Stop deflecting."

"Says the master of deflection."

"Still deflecting."

"Yes, we're going to her house."

Apparently satisfied, House ceased his needling for the moment. But since he had the patience, temperament, and attitude of a five-year-old (if that, Wilson thought), the silence did not last for more than a few minutes.

"I gotta hand it to you, Wilson," House commented, "I thought you'd wait at least 48 hours before swooping in for the kill."

"It's not like that," Wilson said, sensing the beginning of an irritatingly familiar, and just plain irritating, conversation.

"Please. This has 'For James Wilson' written all over it, with the super hot packaging and neatly tied bow. You don't just like neediness, you need neediness."

"Oh, here we go," Wilson said. "Do we really need to have this conversation every single time I want to help someone out?"

"No, just the leggy someones with perky breasts - unless you've started digging dudes now. Can't imagine what your type would be then. Pretty, like Chase, or ruggedly handsome and masculine, like me?"

Wilson ignored him. "This is Cuddy. She's a friend. Yes, she needed me. But contrary to what that twisted brain of yours thinks, I'm not scheming to bed and wed her."

"So you say now," House said. "This is Cuddy - you've already had three dates, two more than the one you usually put out on."

"None of those were dates," Wilson protested, not very strongly.

"Cuddy may be needy for the moment, but once she gets over this baby-loss thing, she'll revert to her true demonic form and tear you apart, devouring your innards before you can even scream." House gave him a sidelong look. "But maybe since Amber, you're into that sort of thing."

"Oh, good. I was wondering when the potshot at my dead girlfriend would come."

"I aim to please."

Wilson made a scoffing sound. At least House had used Amber's name. That was, sadly, progress. "I'm not trying to score with Cuddy, points or otherwise. It's alien to you, I know, the concept of having a friend of the opposite sex. Heck, the concept of having multiple friends."

"Keep talking like that, and Dan in the ER might replace you as my BFF."

"Which Dan? There are two."

"Oh, look, we're here," House said, neatly avoiding an answer by swerving sharply to the side of the street and parking.

Wilson smirked as they got out of the car. He headed toward the entrance of Cuddy's house, where, to House's surprise and annoyance, he fished out a key from his wallet and unlocked the front door.

"She gave you a key?" House demanded in a tone that, if House had been any other person, Wilson would have called jealousy. House followed Wilson into the foyer, yelling, "Cuddy, I can't believe you-"

"She's not here," Wilson interrupted.

House gave him a look of disgust. "Then why are we here?"

"You're here because you followed me," Wilson pointed out. "And before you ask, Cuddy didn't tell me where she was going."

"Liar." But House was not really interested in where Cuddy was, only why she was not home. Privately, he was slightly relieved by her absence - he'd happily take another day to delay the inevitable awkward conversation she'd force them to have.

There was a closed door at the end of the hallway, a green post-it note stuck above the handle. Wilson took the note off (it simply said "Wilson" in Cuddy's handwriting) and opened the door.

"So this is what hell looks like," House said, looking around at the baby nursery. He hadn't seen it last night, having been too preoccupied with other things - things better not thought about. (He still hadn't told Wilson about the kiss.) It was an all right room, if you could ignore the sickening suffocating sweetness. Too yellow for his tastes - not that a screaming newborn would care what color the room was - with cute pictures and stuffed animals everywhere. Grudgingly he admitted (not aloud) that the room was more than adequate for a baby; he supposed it could have been worse.

"Cuddy painted and decorated it herself," Wilson defended, not privy to House's thoughts.

"Shocking that she hasn't boarded this place up," House said, picking up a stuffed squirrel sitting in the crib. He shook it around, and it started to play an irksome melody meant to soothe babies to sleep.

"She said she couldn't stand looking at it anymore," Wilson said.

No doubt. But in House's mind, he could see her sitting in the room all night, even sleeping there as some sort of self-flagellation, torturing herself for hours with 'what-ifs' and regrets and dead possibilities. He dropped the squirrel and turned to Wilson expectantly.

"We," Wilson began, before looking at House and amending, "I am going to be taking everything out of this room. That's why I blocked off my whole afternoon and evening. Cuddy said she doesn't have any use for these things, doesn't want them in her house anymore, so I'm just going to donate it all to Goodwill for her-"

"She's giving up?" Yes, she'd said as much, but he hadn't really believed her.

Wilson was momentarily taken aback by the unexpected, unwarranted outrage in House's voice. "Can you blame her?"

"This is Cuddy," House said in his 'duh' voice. "She never gives up. Sure, she's feeling crappy right now, but in a few days, she'll be back to trying to adopt another screaming poop-machine. It's pretty dumb to get rid of all this junk just because she's feeling hormonal and emotional."

"She sounded very convinced," Wilson said, thinking back to his telephone conversation with Cuddy last night. She had sounded emotional, certainly, and from her raw voice, he was pretty sure she had been crying all evening; however, her tone had been relatively collected, though strained (especially toward the end) and insistent. Wilson had, obviously, tried to console her, to reason with her, just as she had attempted to do with him after Amber's death, but in the end, he had acquiesced. He could not give Cuddy back the child she had lost. This, however, he could do for her.

"She's being stupid," House declared.

"Why do you care?" Wilson said. "You didn't even want her to adopt."

"I don't want to suffer just because she can't deal with her baby angst," House said with typical House-ian logic. "There are other ways for her to get a kid. You can pick them up off the streets in some places."

A useless anger struck Wilson before flying away almost as soon as it had landed. And yet... Wilson said, "She tried in-vitro last year."

"I know," House said absently.

"So you know that the first two failed to take, and she lost the third?"

House hadn't, but he lied anyway. "Yes."

"She thinks this was her last chance," Wilson said.

"I'm sure she does now," House said flatly. "Emotional, hormonal, and stupid, remember?"

Frustrated, Wilson began, "House, can't you consider her feelings for once-"

"I know Cuddy. Despite what she says, despite what you say, I know her. I know that, deep in her obsessive, perfectionist little heart, she can't give up - it's a physical impossibility for her. So it's only a matter of time before she tries again, and it's idiotic to throw this all away or return it or donate it, when she's going to end up needing it again anyway. Or do you really want her dragging you around for days trying to find 'that one perfect crib' again?"

Wilson stared. House sounded so genuinely offended, as though he were almost (dare Wilson even think it?) hurt by Cuddy and Wilson's lack of faith in him. The shock of that possibility, House with wounded feelings, rendered Wilson temporarily speechless.

Realizing he'd said too much, after a moment, House said, more calmly, "Just stick this in storage for a few months. You don't need to tell her. Let her think it's been trashed, then you can swoop in, all knight-in-shining-white-lab-coat style, when she changes her mind."

Wilson cleared his throat, coughed. Finding his voice, he said, "You know, you're actually making sense."

Annoyed, House said, "Don't try to psychoanalyze me. I'm just being practical."

"Right. Of course. It was silly of me to think that maybe you really care about Cuddy, and the thought of her giving up on something that she wants so bad scares the hell out of you."

"Didn't I just say not to psychoanalyze me?"

"Sorry." Wilson tried, not very hard, to hide his smirk. "I mean, if she gave up on this, who's to say she wouldn't give up on you? Or maybe it's not just you thinking about yourself, for once, maybe you honestly think that she'd be a great mother, and it'd be a shame to-"

House deliberately wandered out of the room.

"Just admit that you like her!"

No reply.

"You're seriously not going to help me move this stuff?" Wilson called, poking his head out the doorway.

The blaring of the TV from the living room was Wilson's answer. Wilson sighed. Well, he'd planned on doing this all by himself anyway. At least House's presence had provided Wilson with a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of his best friend's psyche. And, Wilson mused, maybe his heart, too, as scarred and perplexing as it was. Wilson wasn't a matchmaker by nature, but the idea of House and Cuddy together... Well, it wasn't the most insane idea he'd ever had.