A/N: Written for Story_lottery on LJ, for the prompt: dominoes. Saying that, it's not so obviously tied in to the prompt, so it may be best just to disregard it. I'll leave it up to you. Enjoy. To Make Two Ends Meet
To Make Two Ends Meet
In a simple game of Dominoes, the objective is to join two matching pieces together; effectively making two ends meet.
The elevator opens just as Thirteen's making her way down the hall. House steps out, Wilson at his side. She can't hear them, but from a distance she sees Wilson say something, smirk and then split in the direction of his office. House shakes his head, lips turning up into a grin. He tries to hide it by dipping his head to his chest to compose himself again. Thirteen sidles into the differential room, taking her seat next to Foreman. Taub is immediately alerted to her expression.
"You're smiling," he states.
Foreman looks up from his newspaper and sighs when he recognises the look on her face. "Okay, spill."
She leans in. "You've worked with them for the longest…what do you think about House and Wilso –"
"Good morning my minions!" House bellows.
They all jump, and in return, he gawps at them. "Oh my God, my boss has come into the room where he does his job. How shocking! Talking about little old me again, I hear." House drops his bag onto the floor and slumps down into a chair. "What's the gossip in the playground?"
Noticing the darting glances between the team, House sings, "Daddy's waiting," and leans back on his chair, tapping a biro between his teeth. Sticking together – Judas style – Taub and Foreman both turn their attention to Thirteen, who's furious at their betrayal. When no one speaks, House decides to add to the tapping by drumming his fingers on the desk, annoyingly out of time.
Irritated beyond belief, Thirteen finally speaks. "I've seen you arriving with Wilson all week –" she says, nonchalantly, "You've been…well…I was just saying how it's…" She thinks about saying 'it's nice,' but that's just asking for it,"…different."
"You got me," House says, feigning defeat, "Wilson and I have been dating on and off for the past twenty years." Three pairs of eyes widen to the size of dinner plates. "He's carrying my baby. We kept it quiet – didn't want you to fight over who'd get to be the god parents." He makes a point to look directly at Taub and send him an exaggerated wink.
Foreman shakes rolls his eyes and shakes his head.
At the sound of his pager, House purses his lips and reads the page. "The old lady wants me in the clinic...so naturally I'll be in hiding," he says cheerily before heading out into the corridor.
"There's something going on. I can feel it," Thirteen says. Taub and Foreman aren't convinced.
House casually bursts into Wilson's office and stretches himself out on the couch. Wilson keeps his eyes to his paperwork, toying with the idea of ignoring the man lying in his office, but feeling House's eyes on him, he crumbles.
"Good…" Wilson checks his watch, "…morning House. I'm impressed."
House kicks his feet up onto the arm of the couch, making himself comfortable. When he shows no intention to speak, Wilson flicks his hand out in a gesture that says, so…what are you doing here? House catches on immediately.
"Playing a little game of hide from the wicked witch."
"And by the wicked witch, I assume you mean Cuddy?"
"No, Professor McGonagol. She ratted me out to Dumbledore. Woman thinks I'm Voldemort." House shrugs, the mock-serious expression on his face prompting Wilson to roll his eyes.
"Well, kudos to you. She'll never think to look on my couch," Wilson deadpans, and against his better judgement, decides to indulge him. "But you already know that, of course you do, which means you want something."
"My team think you and I are doing it."
For a moment, Wilson is stunned into silence. His mouth opens and closes like a fish, but no words escape.
Amused by Wilson's slack jaw, House smirks and swings his legs off the couch. Pointing to the door, he says, "Well, if that's all, then I'll just, y'know, head out…"
Finally able to choke out a sound, Wilson manages to speak. "W-w-h…why?"
"Apparently, Thirteen's been watching us arrive together and thinks I've been having my wicked way with you."
"Re-runs of The L Word and sleeping on your couch hardly constitutes as your wicked way."
"I think I need to teach them a lesson about keeping out of my business, but for that, Jim-Jimminy Jim-Jimminy Jim-Jim Jeroo, I'll need your full co-operation."
"No, no more games, Hou –"
"You should probably just say yes now. I can do this without you, but I'm pretty sure you won't appreciate my methods."
Wilson leans back in his chair, sighing and rubbing his hands across his eyes and over his cheekbones.
"What do I have to do?" Wilson says, easily defeated.
To this, House simply grins and proceeds to explain his plan.
As the elevator opens the next morning, Wilson steps out first, eyeing the area suspiciously before nodding subtly at House, grinning and walking off to his office. Seconds later, House emerges from the elevator, spying Thirteen skulking back into the differential room, from under his eyelids. Smiling to himself, he limps down the corridor to his office, happy in the knowledge that the first part of the plan was executed perfectly.
Let the games begin, he thinks.
As soon as the word cancer crops up as a possible diagnosis for their patient, House's brain clicks into action and comes up with a new way to screw with his team. This one isn't planned, but it's too good an opportunity to waste, so House goes for it –trusting Wilson to play along.
"What is it?" Wilson asks, moving into the room.
House takes the scans from Foreman and hands them to Wilson, simply replying, "Cancer."
After studying the scans, Wilson nods. "Do you need me to do the biopsy?"
House nods back. "Sure."
"I'll page you when I'm done," Wilson says, before waving to the team with the scans and leaving.
"Wilson," House shouts, stopping him in his tracks in the corridor. The team watch as House reaches up to Wilson's tie. For a moment Wilson goes rigid as House's fingers loop around the knot, tugging it gently. Catching House's gaze, Wilson relaxes when he sees the mischief in his eyes. Hooking his cane on his arm, House uses his free hand to pat the tie down, smoothing it in between his fingers. "There," he says, "you were crooked." Wilson finds himself smiling back, and it occurs to him just how long it's been since someone straightened his tie for him.
With that, House turns on his heels and bounds back into his office, ignoring the quizzical looks his team are sharing between themselves.
Having diagnosed the patient, House lounges back in his recliner with his eyes closed – but he's not sleeping; his mind is too busy firing ideas from ear to ear, to relax. His team were all sat around the table in the differential room, huddled over various journals. Over Cuddy's lunch-break, House had successfully carried out the next part of his plan. Using Wilson to distract Brenda – a quick flutter of his lashes and they all came running – he'd managed to swap a few names on the clinic rotor, ensuring his team would have literally nothing to do for the rest of the day.
House's cell phone rings, as planned, at midday. Wilson doesn't know why he's calling; House didn't give him the ins and outs, and quite frankly, he's happier not knowing. Having purposely set the ringer volume to ten, even House is a little startled when it bursts into song.
Sittin' here, eatin' my heart out waitin'. Waitin' for some lover to call…
Thirteen is the first to react – she doesn't look up, but her brow furrows just enough to know that she's noticed.
Dialed about a thousand numbers lately, almost rang the phone off the wall…
Squinting his eyes, House watches his team through slits as they exchange slight surreptitious glances. House struggles to stifle a smirk when he sees how they're all trying, but failing to hide their suspicious little faces behind their books.
Lookin' for some hot stuff baby this evenin'. I need some hot stuff baby tonight…
The phone rattles around on his desk – he will pick it up, but the moment has to be just right.
I want some hot stuff baby this evenin'. Gotta have some hot stuff. Gotta have some lovin' tonight…
They're listening in, House can tell. Their crinkled foreheads and narrowed eyes are a dead giveaway. They may as well have their ears pressed to the glass walls of his office. Rookies, House laughs to himself.
I need hot stuff…
When it's apparent that the team are all sufficiently intrigued and subtly (or so they think) peering up from their journals, he opens his eyes, reaches out for his phone and answers it.
Taub's jaw drops and subtlety flies out the window. They each drop their journals and gawp in the direction of House.
"Hold on a sec," he says down the phone, "Huey, Dewey and Louie are eavesdropping!" He shoots them a glare and takes the call on the balcony instead. They miss the grin on his face as he leaves.
"Huh," Foreman says, breaking Thirteen and Taub out of their dazed state.
"I told you. We're never wrong," Thirteen says, pointing to herself with her thumb, looking suitably smug.
"Who, bisexuals?" Taub asks, confused.
"No, girls!" she retorts with a glare that quickly shuts him up.
Shaking his head, Foreman chimes in. "Come on. This is House we're talking about; the guy who makes no secret of hiring hookers or pointing out Cuddy's breasts every time she's in the room."
"Just because he's into women doesn't mean he can't be into Wilson too. I should know. Who knows? Maybe the hookers are just a ruse."
That thought in mind, the room descends into silence.
The next day, they have another patient. Coming back from lunch with Wilson – yet another cancer consult followed by a tasty pick of Wilson's fries – House limps into his office, noticeably leaning his weight on his left leg.
"What did Wilson say?" Foreman's standing in the doorway.
"Damn." House's hand rubs up and down his thigh and Foreman spots it straight away.
"What?" he asks.
"Left the patient file in Wilson's office," House replies, hissing through clenched teeth as he turns back towards the door.
"Take your Vicodin. I'll get it."
"He's in surgery now. Balcony door should be unlocked."
Watching Foreman hop over the dividing wall, House straightens his posture and chuckles to himself as Foreman skulks into Wilson's office. Twirling his cane between his fingers, he pops a couple of Vicodin anyway.
The file is sat on top of a neat stack of paperwork; the rest of Wilson's desk is bare, bar a few stray pencils and pens. Foreman grabs the file, checks the name and goes to leave, but something stops him. It's tiny and yellow, but as soon as it catches his eye, he can't help himself. The post-it sticks out against the polished wood of the desk like a fluorescent light bulb. Twisting his head to read it, he struggles to believe what's right in front of his eyes.
We've got a problem.
Need to talk.
He thinks about taking it to show the others, but knows in his head that House never has any problem putting two and two together – he'd know it was me, he thinks. He reads it one more time before heading back to the dividing the wall.
"Damn," he mutters to himself, returning to Wilson's office – he's forgotten the file.
"What are you laughing at?" House asks as they stop at his bike. Wilson makes a point of flicking a stray strand of House's hair.
"Do you look in the mirror at any point during the day?"
House playfully swats his hand away. "By the girly, whining tone in your voice, I assume you already know the answer to that."
"You may think you're Einstein, but you don't have to look like him too."
House isn't sure why Wilson cares what he looks like, but what's even more puzzling is the feeling that he actually gives a damn what Wilson thinks.
Brushing it off, House scoffs. "What's relativity when you can save lives?"
Wilson ignores him, knowing it infuriates him when he doesn't react to his witty one-liners. "Do you even use shampoo?"
"There's barely anything there to wash let alone shampoo. I like to save the pennies." House says, clipping his cane onto his bike. "We're not all gender-confused like you, Wilson."
"Yes, House, I'm a girl, I get it. Why don't you just use mine? God knows there's probably some hidden in your apartment somewhere. You use everything else of mine."
Swinging his legs onto his bike, House revs up the engine.
"G'night, Wilson," he says, pulling his helmet over his head – code for this conversation is over.
Wilson watches as House leans into the handle bars. One more rev and he's away.
"Night, House," Wilson says to nobody. He smiles to himself and makes his way to his own car, swinging his bag lightly in his hand.
This time, it's purely by accident that Taub is sitting in the car parked opposite to House's empty parking spot – window and jaw rolled down.
"It's all a game. It's got to be," Foreman says handing Thirteen a coffee.
"So, you don't believe me, is that what you're saying?"
He takes a sip from his morning coffee and carefully chooses his words. "No, what I'm saying is he's obviously putting on an act and Wilson's playing along as usual."
"I know what I saw," Thirteen sharply retorts.
Before Foreman can speak, Taub comes in, throwing his bag haphazardly on the floor. "And I know what I heard," he says, "they're not screwing with us. They didn't even know I was there and it still felt like there was something…going on. "
Later that day, the team are discussing the results of their patient's CT, but not one of them can concentrate. Foreman tries to be professional, chanting, "Can we focus on the patient?" every now and again to Taub and Thirteen, but in all honesty, he's struggling as much as them. House and Wilson are out on the balcony. From where he's sitting, Taub can see them perfectly. Thirteen occasionally cranes her neck over Taub's head to see what's going on. Foreman pretends he's uninterested, but subtly shimmies his chair around the desk so he's not missing out.
Out on the balcony, House and Wilson are leaning into the sun. Their shoulders would be touching if it wasn't for the wall in between them.
"Are they looking?" House asks, out of no where.
"MTV," House deadpans. "My team, are they looking?"
Wilson turns his head slightly and whips it back when he sees Taub looking his way. "Taub is. Thirteen's just looking at Foreman."
Pushing himself up off the wall, House picks up his cane and "Right, time to sucker-punch death again. See you at lunch." Turning to Wilson, he leans across the wall and plants a quick peck on Wilson's cheek before casually wandering back into his office.
Moments later, after the shock subsides, Wilson replies with a belated, "…yeah. Lunch."
After a short discussion in the differential room, House tells the team to do an LP and an MRI. Filing out, Taub sheepishly sidles past House, smiling awkwardly at him and then regretting it.
Out in the corridor, he finally gets the chance to speak. "Did you just see…was I the only one that…" he stammers.
"See what?" Foreman and Thirteen say in unison.
"I thought I saw…" But his head starts buzzing. Worst case scenario, he'll fire me. No, worst case scenario, he'll kill me. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe I just saw what I wanted to see. Well, not wanted to see… I'm getting obsessed. He decides to keep his mouth shut for now."…someone I knew. I thought I saw someone I knew, but it wasn't."
While the tests are being done, House slides down comfortably in his recliner and closes his eyes, surprised at how normal it feels to still have the taste of Wilson on his lips.
"When they come in, you break it off, put on one of your guilty faces and spend the rest of the afternoon hiding in your office. I'll tell them one of your cancer kiddies died."
"They finish my clinic hours soon," House says looking at his watch. All of a sudden, the air in the room seems to thicken; both of them feel it. Waiting for time to tick by, House bounces his cane off the ground, keeping his eyes on his feet. Without warning, he feels a hand clasp his own, fingers tessellating comfortably. Wilson's hands are a little clammy, but it's not unpleasant. The touch reminds him of just how little physical contact he's had with anyone over the years.
"You do realise they're not here yet?" House says, not looking directly at Wilson.
"They will be. Figured we should…y'know… b-be prepared," Wilson stutters before quickly adding, "But-if-you-don't-want-to-it's-okay."
House says nothing, but he doesn't let go.
After successfully confusing his team, House knows he should be reeling in satisfaction, but instead his mind is far from the game.
I didn't let go. He didn't let go. I must've thought it was…okay…good…to actually want to…I held his hand. I actually held his hand. I think I liked holding his hand. It's this game, he thinks. I liked the thrill of the game. I didn't like…did I?
When there's a question, there has to be an answer. His own mind betraying him, House decides there's only one way to find his answer.
At the end of the day, he catches Wilson locking up his offices.
"You done for the day?" Wilson asks.
"Yeah, patient cured, world balance restored. All in a days work."
Wilson scoffs and strides with House to the elevator. When they step in, they're alone.
Wilson goes to say something, but is immediately cut off by the sound of House's bike helmet hitting the floor and a hand grabbing his.
"House, what are you –"
"It's a test."
"O-kay," Wilson says slowly. "You haven't paged everyone to congregate outside the elevator doors, right?"
"Would I?" House says, sarcastic as ever.
"Do you really want me to answer that?"
After a few seconds of listening to the loud whir of the descending car, Wilson breaks the silence.
"So, what are we testing?" This earns him a glare.
"It's odd," is all House can say.
"Care to elaborate?"
"This isn't weird." He's uncomfortable, Wilson can tell; House's voice carries barely any colour at all. Voice low, he continues. "It should be weird, but it's not."
Quickly, Wilson reaches out, flips back a panel and presses the emergency stop button. As the elevator comes to a shuddering halt, their wide and apprehensive eyes finally meet.
"I-if you're screwing with me now –" Wilson begins.
House simply shakes his head.
Wilson looks down at their hands, still clutching one another. "It's like…it feels…right. Better than right actually."
"So, what are you saying?" Wilson asks, eyeing House fondly and biting down on his bottom lip.
"I'm around you more than I'm around anyone else and I don't want to kill you yet. That's got to mean something," House says, though it's less like he's speaking to Wilson and more like he's arguing the odds with himself.
"D-do-do you want this?"
"My team think I'm different around you. Good, different."
"House, this makes sense." For a minute, House gets the impression that Wilson's wanted this for a lot longer than he's letting on. "I always chose you over all of my wives – like it didn't matter who they were. You always came first." Wilson lightly squeezes House's hand before adding, "Still do." For a moment, House looks startled – not by Wilson's words, but because he'd almost forgotten they were even holding hands.
When House squeezes back, Wilson's heart almost leaps out of his mouth.
"Huh." House shakes his head, snorting to himself. "Thirteen knew before we did."
Wilson laughs and smiles back. House lets go of Wilson's hand and presses the button to start up the elevator.
As the doors open, they stride into the reception and head out to the parking lot. When they reach House's bike, Wilson runs his hand over the seat as House tucks his cane onto the clip. Wilson steps back as House mounts his bike and pulls the helmet on. After revving his engine once, House turns to Wilson and lifts his visor.
"Bring some take-out. I've got the beer."
He revs the engine again, but before he can pull down his visor, Wilson leans in and kisses his cheek. "See you in a couple of hours." With that, Wilson turns round and walks to his car – his cheeks matching the red of his tie.
Unable to stifle the tiny grin forming on his face, House quickly pulls the visor down and makes his way home.
This time, it's no coincidence that Thirteen, Taub and Foreman are sitting huddled in the car parked opposite to House's bike – window down, all thinking the same thing – I knew it.