One Small Consequence
Time-line: Post-season 6
Summary: Once is usually enough when cheating love. Relationship angst and a few other things, too.
Rating: NC-17, Adult, +18, Mature. Language. Sexual situations. SLASH.
Disclaimer: The guy with cane doesn't belong to me, yadda, yadda...
Pain like this didn't come around every other day. Every few years, perhaps - its established pattern. It was that delivery of a hard blow to your gut, deep-seated aching kind of hurt. He remembered it well. Hadn't missed it, but what are ya' gonna' do?
It was an ache that dashed your beliefs to tiny wind-blown bits, along with his apology fit for no one. Clearly not fit for you, and you wonder again why you were stupid enough to finally crumble under his gentle eyes and trust him with everything. Your everything, naturally, was loving him completely and, also naturally, assuming he felt the same way.
He certainly said so often enough. Good with words, that one. The only trust that he followed through on, though, was to drive a stake through your heart and make you doubt everything you had heard from his mouth from the first kiss until the day you walked away.
Two years from your life was no small number when you'd already seen over fifty of them, and when so few of those had been happy.
The snow outside the waiting to board area was piling up. Looks like another delay was in the air, because the planes would certainly not be. House twirled his cane and tried to thrust all images of Wilson from his mind. He also worked very hard on not thinking about his fellowships and his old job and his, if so it could be called, old life.
But the movie of the last two years lopped in his mind, twisting its nostalgic pain deeper, mixing with the profoundly stinging wound he carried around day to day. Hidden and leaking with fresh injury when his lover's face flashed across his thoughts, sent there from a laughing god to mock him. Good memories, when served with awful ones, sucked. When a deity has it out for you, you may as well put your head down and learn to take it.
House bit his lip. He had a scar there, now, too. One on top of another, actually. One from an open-handed retort sent his way by a very angry mother. One from biting his lip every day since Wilson proved he was directly in charge of the relationship - or lack there-of - and had been from the start. That fresh scar came back again and again from worrying it with his teeth, while repeatedly musing over how it got there.
Wilson and his damn ring.
House smiled, two fingers tickling the papers inside his right pocket. His heavy coat today. New Jersey seemed to have skipped the news about global warming. This winter was proving to be an especially cold one. The pocket papers made him feel warm inside, and that's about all the sentiment House allowed himself over it. Don't get all mushy, people will mistake you for Wilson.
House unlocked their apartment door and pushed it open with his cane while struggling with the paper bag of light beer. He wasn't crazy about light beer, but a promise is a promise, and it was better than those lip puckering sweet cooler's Wilson was in to. He really didn't care how girlie Wilson sometimes was, he himself was in a sexy mood and nobody anymore, but Wilson, fit the bill.
"House - hi."
Wilson's Hi was off. There was not much room for it, but House still heard the distinct worry wedged between its two tiny letters.
Wilson tried to disguise his nervous edge by asking about House's day. "How's the case?"
House felt his heart pounding, suddenly and painfully, like it knew something was up even before he did. "Over. Guy's going to make it."
House smelled perfume. They had company. Oh Jesus and his band of merry men. "Aren't you going to introduce me to our visitor." He hoped like hell that's all she was, may she remain nameless, faceless and be gone before he cracked his first beer.
Wilson swallowed. House could see the up and down bob of his prominent Adam's apple. So, not an ordinary visitor. It took particular kinds of attentions to make Wilson swallow that deeply. This swallow wasn't the happy kind that came at the end of a come.
Wilson waved a feeble hand toward a woman sitting on their couch. New butter-soft leather couch with the extra soft pillows Wilson had insisted on. House didn't like the cream shade in the beginning but he had grown used to it. And it was very soft and comfortable.
The woman, a petite brunette with large boobs, was seated on their new, softer couch, holding a baby.
House fished, but he could see the deadly shark in the woman's eyes and her fin splitting the surface of his life not far off shore, swimming closer every minute.
"New patient?" House asked evenly. No chance in hell. A patient wouldn't come to their home.
Wilson took a deep breath and shook his head. "No. Listen-"
House didn't give him a chance to speak yet. His heart was sinking below the surface now. He never could tread water very well. "Cousin and her new- " House peered more closely at the kid - "boy?"
Wilson shook his head, standing as straight as a length of rebar, holding up the shaking walls of his life around him. House could see the bend of the weight of it on Wilson's slim frame. House could feel the cracks in those walls. He could already hear the crumbling thunder. "Long lost sister and your new nephew?"
Wilson looked at the floor. "House-"
House turned away to hang up his coat. The papers inside the pocket didn't crinkle to reveal their hidden presence. "This is my last shot." House announced. "An ex-wife you never told me about, to whom you donated sperm sometime back?" House glanced at the baby again, "twenty-two months or so back, that is?" Just three months into his and Wilson's new, living together intimately, in-love, in-serious sexual relationship.
Wilson looked back at him miserably. "No."
House nodded. An ex-bang, then.
House couldn't help it, he flushed with shame and embarrassment, for himself, for the woman; even for Wilson and his pathetically weak penis. Shame also, because he'd just been lumped into the pile of Wilson's other "serious" relationships; the kind that had in almost every case, ended with Wilson dropping his pants for a one, sometimes two, night stand. It took considerable effort not to let his watering eyes spill over so both of the cheaters could see how much it hurt.
Just as he was about to voice his opinion of Wilson's two-timing dick, House took another look at the kid. Deep set, brown eyes, a shock of thick dark hair. Baby nose trying to morph its way into the world to become more like his daddy's sharp ski-jump of a schnoz.
House couldn't even articulate the pain he felt now. This wasn't just a one-night stand, this was a one-night stand with consequences. He took a deep breath to calm his nerves and get his shattering feelings under control. "Yours?" Was all he could manage. A whisper so soft, Wilson winced. The pair of cheaters heard the sorrow in it.
The woman on the couch, shark-lady, already gnawing on his flesh, finally opened her mouth and spoke. "He was the only one."
House huffed, his disbelief made crystal clear. "Right."
House limped to the other side of the room, well away from Wilson and his new consequences seated on their new comfortable couch with the downy soft cushions. "I s'pose DNA's already done?"
Wilson nodded. That meant for weeks Wilson had kept this guilty knowledge from him. For over a year, actually, when the guilty knowledge had groaned and come inside the shark, planting another tiny shark to take hold and rip apart his world.
House looked around at his little world. Furniture and art. Books and music. Laughing and arguing. Wilson and him. Kissing and sex. Happy, all of it.
Incredible how a couple of minutes can turn it all sideways and sour. The memories were bitter in his mouth now. Along-side a year of Wilson's words of love, hands of caresses, and body of sexual pleasures, lay a year of lying.
The apartment belonged to a stranger.
Fishing was over, and it was too late to pull in his rod. Wilson had known it intimately. House had once loved that he did.
House suddenly couldn't bear to be in the same room with anyone, least of all, the cheater and his thirteen month old consequence. He gathered up his coat and walked to the door. "When your little surprise guest has gone home, call me. I'll be at the hospital."
A new case. He needed a distraction. A big one. Something new and really weird so he could keep himself occupied for days and days and delay the implosion threatening at the very edges of his control. Already he could see and smell the bleach stink of packed cardboard boxes and the masking tape. Already his heart was betraying him with an ache he could hardly get his head around, and only the promise of more.
House stayed at the office, working his fellowships to the bone and himself to a pile of oily rags. He ate there, slept in his chair, and showered there. He showered twice, sometimes three times a day, recognizing it as a sub-conscious and ultimately fruitless attempt to rid himself of the stink of rejection. He still felt dirty. Second-hand. Worthless. Even the one who said he loved him the most didn't think enough of him to keep his fly zipped.
It was worse than the Stacey years. Stacey had never cheated. Or if she had, he didn't know about it. He wished he didn't know about this either. Wished Wilson would have just met the woman somewhere and paid her off, then he'd be showering and eating at home, and Wilson would still be in their bed every night. Useless wishes.
Cuddy had cajoled and begged him to go home and talk to Wilson, or go to his office and talk to him.
"Nothing to say." He had answered. "A baby can't be un-born, a nine-month gestation can't be un-gestated, and Wilson's cheating dick can't un-cheat." Not even once, it seemed. Not even for him.
Cuddy had given up the argument for reconciliation or forgiveness.
"No forgiveness required." House said. "It's in his nature to cheat. I should have remembered that." I should have stayed clear.
Cuddy stared at one of her longest friends and her employee of twelve years. "How are you, though? Really?"
"I'm-" He was about to say fine, but then Cuddy wouldn't believe him and would stay and keep at him. So "I'm coping. I'm thinking. I just don't know what I want to do yet."
Cuddy touched his upper arm. Intimate enough that it was more than an office touch, but respectful enough that it wasn't improperly intimate. Cuddy knew the exact amount of touch or no-touch when-ever things had been bad for him. She had always managed a fine balance between intimacy and love, and she knew they went together. He should have lived with her.
"If you need me, I'm here." Was her final word for the day.
House nodded, managing a very small, polite smile of gratitude. They both knew he wouldn't come to her. Not for this.
At the end of day five of living at the hospital, coming home once to get a few changes of clothes, in the middle of the day when Wilson was in his office, the cheater in question walked into his office one evening un-announced and uninvited.
"Get out." House said succinctly.
Wilson shook his head. He looked awful. Awful for Wilson. Hair still as neat as a pin, clothes fresh and pressed. Only the bags under his eyes betray that anything morose had happened during the past few days. "No. We have to talk about this."
"About what?" House asked. He tried to not say any more. Clamped his mouth shut but it opened anyway. "Your wandering penis? Your new little consequence that's going to drain you financially dry - I hope she gets all of it." She got everything else.
This was the worst thing Wilson could have done to him. Breaking his Flying V, selling his piano, wrapping his corvette around a tree; inanimate objects that can't take their clothes off - anything would have been easier than this. Selling his piano out from underneath him would have made him furious, but not feel worthless. A piano had no stock in his self-worth, it being gone wouldn't have made him feel like he was flawed at his base-line. Or made his heart ache so badly that, whenever he let himself think about it too much, breathing became difficult.
"I fucked up." Wilson said. "Really, really fucked up."
"We're in agreement."
"And I'm so very sorry."
"I know." But it didn't undo the framework beneath. The structure that existed in Wilson's mind and heart that served to make him value House in words only, but not in act. Just like all his ex-'s. House was now, for all intents and purposes, Wilson's ex'. He was now one of Wilson's former bang's, and none in particular.
House pulled out a small orange vial of pills and shook two into his hand.
Wilson followed his movements in shock. "Is that Vicodin?"
Defiant to the last stand, "Who wants to know?" House popped the pills in his mouth.
Wilson realized that he had no right to bring it up. Not now. "Can't we discuss this?"
House saw Foreman and Taub from the corner of his eye. They were doing paper work late into the night. House didn't care what kind of show he and Wilson were about to give them. Besides, they probably wouldn't care either.
"Say what you're going to say." House said. He was numb. Emotions congealed into a film over boiling anger and grief.
Wilson sat in the chair opposite House's desk. House didn't look at him much. Wilson stared without a pause. "We were arguing at the time. You were going through detox..."
House had agreed to get off the Vicodin once and for all, and had gone to pain therapy and began taking two other medications with less potential for toxic side-effects. All-in-all, the combination worked almost as well as the Vicodin.
"And you fell off the wagon."
"Looks like you were never on it. Three months, Wilson. You cheated three months into our relationship. How does a grown-up do that?"
"We had lived together for three months. We had been seeing each other for six months prior to that."
"Are you trying to strengthen your case? 'Cause you're doing a lousy job."
"We were only exclusive for three months. We had agreed on that."
House laughed ruefully. His chest hurt, his eyes hurt from holding back tears, his emotions were tossing him around like a cork on the ocean. "Let me ask you this: Did you sleep with anyone else during that six months?"
Wilson stood straighter. "No. I wanted to be with you." Then realized how pathetic that sounded. Faithful when there was no commitment, cheater when there was.
House did not miss Wilson's contrite look. "And then you cheated. Brilliant. Here's how exclusivity is born - by not cheating. Soon not cheating becomes commitment. You really can't have one without the other."
Wilson stared back. "It was a mistake, House. A bad one." He had left the apartment and gotten shit-faced drunk that night, after seeing House back on the Vicodin and screaming about his right to it. The woman had come onto him. He almost fell onto her bed as though not only drunk but in hopeless agony over House. Everything had gone sluggish and dreamy around him. Like a fantasy. He couldn't even remember the sex. And the hang-over had done little to quell his stinging conscience once he stumbled home.
House sorted through stacked up paper-work. "So we were fighting. So what? It comes with the territory."
"Does you slowly killing yourself on Vicodin come with the territory?" Wilson was desperate to establish some kind of solid ground underlying his actions. It was quicksand.
"You cheated three months in, and then concealed it for almost two years. That's not a mistake, that's just . . you."
Wilson stood up. He was whirling in the cesspool his life had suddenly become. House hating him, a new baby to financially provide for, a woman whom he barely knew making noises of wanting to move in. No chance in hell of that last one. And most of all, not only was his romantic relationship with House over, the friendship appeared to be, too.
"I'll pack my things." He would let House keep their new, more spacious apartment. House needed the ground floor arrangement. It was a panacea, Wilson understood, that he was attempting. It wasn't nearly enough.
House stared after him. "Call me when you're gone." He felt a dark, bottomless hole open in his chest, watching Wilson walk away. "Leave a message."
Wilson stopped at a local liquor store to filch boxes from its rear entrance, then drove home and began packing.
House rode his motorcycle at a foolhardy speed, then stopped for a rest-break, popping Vicodin for his burning thigh, and failing to prevent the sobbing that erupted from his throat. He spent the night in a hotel miles from Princeton.
Part II asap