Disclaimer: If you give a House a Wilson, they belong to David Shore. If you give a Me a Lawsuit, then my fics shall be no more. After, I credit the artists the songs belong to. You weren't expecting a rhyme, were you?

Okay, I did this thing called "The iPod Challenge" even though I have a Zune. Anyway, what you do is press random/shuffle and pick the first ten songs and base that drabble on either the title, choice lyrics, or the entire song. I based each drabble on select lyrics.

Moments That Take Your Breath Away

There's truth in everything, there's truth in lies

With all this knowledge, well I think I'm gonna be wise

They say I'm mental but I'm just confused

They say I'm mental but I've been abused

They say I'm mental 'cause I'm not amused by it all

--Mental (Eels)

They all wanted to know about Wilson.

In group therapy, in his private sessions, the other nutjobs wandering about the place slobbering all over themselves--it was all they wanted to know about. Sure, they talked about other things--like his Vicodin addiction, his abusive father, his mother that was too afraid to stand up for her son's behalf . . .

They were all valid discussion. He hated talking about it, though. He was never one for self-reflection--didn't want people to know about how his father treated him, because then they'd get all sympathetic and all they'd ever see him as was another abuse victim. He didn't want to discuss his mother, because he knew that they would discuss what he felt about her standing back and letting it happen--as if she hadn't been fit to be his mother; as if it were all her fault, and it wasn't. Really, it wasn't. House wasn't the only person his father had ever struck.

They all treated him like he didn't understand. As if he didn't understand why he would focus on certain words more than others--as if he wasn't the goddamn genius that he was. He'd been using their psychoanalytical tricks on everybody he'd come into contact for years--he knew what they were doing. And he certainly didn't like it.

They all told him that his aversion to touch and intimacy was the result of his mother never showing him affection, in fear that his father would take it out on them. They told him that his desire to be above and beyond anyone else, his competition, and yes, his insistence on never being punctual all had to relate to his father. They all told him that Stacy had only worsened his condition; made it harder for him to get along with others. That he continually pushed everyone away so that he could prove to himself that no one could love unconditionally, because if someone could accept him for who he was, then his father really hadn't loved him. They all told him that he was afraid of hurting people he cared about, so in an attempt to prevent that, he just shoved them away so they wouldn't want to know him--so he couldn't hurt them. Couldn't give them his heart for them to shatter when the inevitably left.

He told them that if someone never got to see the darkest side of him, then it wouldn't matter if they loved him until he died anyway, because they wouldn't have loved him, but some souped-up Disney version of him that was a lie anyway. That he shouldn't have to pretend to be someone he wasn't all in the sake of having a normal relationship.

They all told him he was wrong.

They all thought they knew him better than he knew himself.

They all thought he needed to change . . . That he needed to stop shoving everyone away; stop being acerbic; stop being the bastard he was. They never said it in those words, but House knew that was what they meant. It was all in the subtext of their words; in the inflections of their hums and throat clearing.

They talked to him like he was crazy--which, all right, seeing his best friend's dead girlfriend wasn't exactly sane, but he wasn't stupid. He was a bit of a genius, actually. And they talked to him like he couldn't perform simple mathematics equations.

But he'd rather have all his flaws pointed out to him, all of his past with his father and mother and Stacy, drug out and dissected than hear them talk about Wilson. They wanted to know why it was Amber that had appeared to him. Wanted to know why he had hallucinated her.

They didn't seem to believe that it was because Amber had been just like him, and represented his viciousness. They didn't seem to believe that his guilt over not noticing Kutner's suicidal behaviour brought back the guilt he felt over taking Wilson's beloved from him. They didn't believe any of the one thousand theories he brought to them--the theories that had nothing to do with Wilson.

Because it was Wilson who had dealt with the worst of House. It was Wilson who had taken House back after every fight they'd ever had--Wilson who came back after his father's funeral, admitting that he had been pushing House away in an attempt to prevent losing him. It was Wilson's girlfriend whispering in his ear, Wilson's girlfriend he had nearly killed himself trying to figure out what she'd had . . .

It was Wilson that could lie to him, and could tell when House was lying. It had been Wilson he couldn't function without. It had been Wilson he had forgave for even the worst betrayals when he refused to accept anything less-than-perfect from anyone else.

All of his theories made sense, and probably had a grain of truth in them.

But the psychiatrists weren't stupid, and neither was he.

They wanted to know about Wilson, and he didn't want to share.

Because when it came down to it, everything had always been, and would always be, about Wilson.

'Cause when you say you will, it always means you won't

You're givin' me the chills, baby, please, baby don't,

Every night you still leave me alone

--Mickey (Toni Basil)

Wilson wouldn't necessarily call House a tease, because that implied House knew what he was doing. And, well, maybe he did. But if he knew what he was doing, that meant he knew about Wilson's feelings, and that was something he didn't want to think about. Because he was sure that if House knew that he was in love, then he would take every opportunity to mock him for it, or at least, refuse to be his friend anymore. With House, there was no in-between. He would either mock him mercilessly, or be too disgusted to continue a friendship.

Unless he felt the same way, in which case, why couldn't he make a proper move already?

Wilson tried not to focus too much on the way House's hand would linger just a second too long on his waist when he pushed him in the direction he wanted to go. He tried not to think about how when they walked, not only did their arms brush up against each other, but their hands as well. He wanted to shove all the times they locked eyes into the back of his mind, but he couldn't. Each time those blue eyes caught his, it seemed to last an eternity.

It was like flirting, only without that actual flirting part . . . Or was it? It was hard to tell, and Wilson wasn't ready to gamble everything on the slight bumping of their knees when they sat too closely, or the fact that for two grown, (supposedly) straight men, they stood awfully close to one another and constantly broke into each other's personal space.

The diner was quiet--then again, it always was when they ate. It was open twenty-four hours, but they seemed to be the only ones who liked to eat there past midnight. They only ate there when they both worked late, or (as was the case tonight) when House got a hankering for eating out at one in the morning, woke Wilson up with an insistent phone call and demanded Wilson drive him there immediately.

He didn't mind being woken up at the wee hours of just-past-midnight as much as he said he did. And he really couldn't care less about House stealing his food, even though he dryly nagged.

He did, however, mind when House leaned over the table and wiped some mayo off of the side of his mouth when he was in mid-sentence, so that his tongue barely touched the pad of his best friend's thumb. He minded when House smirked at him, gently smacked the side of his face, and told him that in civilized countries, people didn't inhale their food like starving Ethiopians.

His heart leapt into his throat when House asked; "So, my place or yours?" with a saucy wink. He lost his breath when, on their way to his car, House came up behind him, grabbed his love-handles, and made some joke or another about gaining weight. It wasn't the comment, but the touch, that forced shivers up his spine.

He didn't care about the cracks made about his panty-peeling tendencies on the way to House's apartment, but he couldn't stop thinking of the way House had touched his knee briefly before pointing out of the window to show Wilson a hooker he'd once slept with. The comment rankled him, but the touch soothed him. When his palm was gone, his leg still burned.

When he pulled his car up to the curb in front of the apartment, House turned to him and said; "Coming up?"

Wilson knew he was asking him to watch movies with him until he ambled off to bed, giving Wilson the couch. He knew that they would sit obscenely close to each other, arms and legs pressed against one another, Wilson's heart thudding violently in his chest while he entertained thoughts of randomly grabbing House and kissing him senseless.

"I'm actually tired, so . . ." he evaded, knowing that he'd been avoiding hanging out with House more than he ought to have. His friend probably assumed it was out of anger or distaste, when really, he couldn't be further from the truth.

The look in House's eyes was brief, but it nearly made Wilson change his mind. Nearly, but not quite.

They looked at each other, the silence awkward and heavy around them. Wilson knew that feeling well--it was the same one he got whenever he walked a girl up to her door after the first date and said goodbye, wondering if he should kiss her or not.

House nodded and left the car abruptly, limping his way to the door. Wilson, as he was taught by his mother, waited to make sure House made it in all right, and then drove back to his dead girlfriend's apartment.


I don't care what you put in my way

Not nearly

Not ever since I met you

Now I'm like a heat seeking missile, baby

For what I need

What I need

Is you baby

--For What I Need (James Marsters)

House needed Wilson like he needed his Vicodin.

Actually, no, that wasn't true. Because if he gave up his addiction to Vicodin, he would be able to detox. It would be hell, but eventually, he'd get over it. He'd be able to take the prescribed amount. It wouldn't be about getting high. He wouldn't ever actually go through with it, of course, because in a way, he liked being an addict. Maybe he wanted to need the drugs. Point was, he could drop the Vicodin, go a few days sweating and in pain and feverish and hating life--but he would get over it.

He couldn't get over losing Wilson.

It was pathetic, really. He'd always been the kind of guy who watched young couples in the park, stealing kisses and being affectionate, and remarking to himself that they weren't really in love. He had always been the kind to scoff and laugh during romantic comedies, only to be chastised by someone (usually Wilson) when he made jokes about the horrible over-flowery monologues. He'd even been the one to roll his eyes and make snide remarks whenever some singer crooned about climbing mountains and selling souls and dying and killing and needing some lover like air.

And what was he doing? Driving through the streets of Princeton, in the rain, to Wilson's because dammit, he needed him.

Sure, he could live without him, like people in third world countries could live without shelter and proper food and water. But that didn't mean he wanted to. And it sure as hell didn't mean he was going to let it happen.

He imagined that, were his life a movie, an inspirational power ballad would've been blaring in the back while he turned each corner, splashing up water as he went. But his life wasn't a movie, so all he heard was the thrumming of his bike and the splattering of the rain against his helmet. It was freezing, summer finally having faded into fall, but he knew that had it been snowing, he would've been driving to Wilson's still. Perhaps in a car with a heater and some tunes playing, but still, going to his (ex) best friend nonetheless.

It wasn't that he hated Lucas so much as he just didn't like him because House didn't like anybody. Not really. He tolerated them. And Lucas was kind of annoying, anyway. He didn't know if it was his general personality that irked him, or that he was constantly being reminded of how he wasn't Wilson. House was always thinking of how Wilson would've rose to the occasion a bit more, or that he wouldn't have said that, or how they wouldn't have needed to fill each moment with pointless chatter, or how Wilson wouldn't have been so completely idiotic. It was like Lucas was trying to shove Wilson out of the picture and step in instead, which was ridiculous considering House was paying him to hang out, anyway.

Kind of like a hooker, in that respect.

And that had been the straw that broke the camel's back--he'd seen Lucas sitting in Wilson's spot and he knew that he wasn't just detoxing. He knew that no matter who he tried to befriend, it would always feel like a violation, and it wouldn't be right. So he'd kicked Lucas out of his house, hopped on the bike, and was determined to get Wilson to take him back, even if he had to get down on his knees and beg.

Well, maybe just one knee. He was a cripple, after all.

He wouldn't make up stories about needing him to diagnose cancer, or an excuse for an epiphany. No, he was going to be honest. Because from the moment he'd seen the young, depressed, and not boring James Wilson in Louisiana, he'd needed him. Perhaps not as much as he needed him now--back then, he had only needed him to prevent extreme boredom--but it didn't make it untrue.

He parked his bike out front and took his helmet off, trudging through the rain. He kept his cane clipped to the motorcycle, only because canes and rain didn't mix well, and slipping on the sidewalk and bashing his head open wasn't exactly on the top of his to-do list.

He knocked on the door, wondering if the fact the sky was gushing buckets would appeal to Wilson's softer side. Wilson may have hated him, but maybe he wouldn't be able to lock a cripple out in a storm.

He heard some shuffling on the other side and he bounced on his heels, the cold air already numbing his skin. His leg was starting to protest. Wilson would have to let him in--he wasn't a soulless bastard, unlike some people in their former relationship (which House hoped would no longer be former.)

"Go away, House," came Wilson's muffled voice.

"I have to talk to you," House shouted back, squinting his eyes against the rain.

"It isn't cancer, it will never be cancer, and even if it was cancer, you have other people you can talk to. Now get off my porch."

House pursed his lips and stared at the peephole, lip quivering (but he would refuse it was shaking because of something other than the weather.) "It's practically storming! You're not going to make a cripple stay out here all night, are you?"

"It appears that I am!" Wilson shouted back.

"I'm not going to leave until you let me in!" House shouted back, and at the moment, he really meant it. Not only because he knew Wilson well enough to know that eventually he'd open the door, but because he really was that desperate. "And you know I mean it! I'm a stubborn jackass!"

He stood there, freezing and wet, mentally counting in his head. Wilson couldn't stand on the other side of the door for too long; not during a storm, anyway. So he stood there, teeth chattering, body shivering, and waited.

About a minute later, he slammed his fist against the door repeatedly. "Come on! I have to talk to you! I can hear you caring in there, Wilson! Don't pretend that you don't!" He pounded a few more times, noting the fact that his tears were hot compared the cold rain, but refusing to admit he was actually crying. "If I have to curl up and die on your porch I will!"

He pounded a few more times, clenching his teeth together to prevent actual sobs from breaking forth.

Letting out a growl, he leaned forward and pressed his forehead against the slick door, slapping his palm against the wood. He felt the rain crashing down around him, and wondered if perhaps Wilson had been around House too much, and had actually transformed into a massive ass. Perhaps he really had stopped caring about him. Perhaps he really had pushed his friend away to the point he would allow him to freeze in the rain rather than come inside to talk things through.

Or maybe he just didn't believe House would really wait there all night.

He closed his eyes and wished that he could somehow push himself through the door. He wished he could go back in time and stop Wilson from leaving. He wished a thousand things all at once, then told himself that wishing was pointless and to stop being an idiot.

When he heard the clicking of Wilson unlocking the door, he stepped back and stared into the living room. Wilson's hair was a mess and his lips were in a tight line. His brown eyes were narrowed and fierce. "You really are incapable of change, aren't you?" he muttered.

House didn't wait for an invitation. He pushed past Wilson and into the warm house. He was soaking and cold and miserable, and maybe he was only allowed in the house to prevent a death, but it was something.

He turned back around to see Wilson shutting the door, his pyjamas wrinkled, and the ache in his chest felt more like coming home after a long, horrid vacation than it should've. After all, letting him in meant nothing. Not really.

"Speak your piece so we can get this over with," Wilson spat, throwing his arms up into the air in frustration.

"I need you," House blurted, before he could change his mind, and he briefly registered the confusion etched on Wilson's face before he smashed his mouth to his. He was warm and dry, and he knew it couldn't have been comfortable for Wilson to have his freezing cold, wet, former friend shoving up against him, but he couldn't really think properly at the moment.

He pulled away, grasping onto Wilson arms, and staring at the wet mark he'd made on the front of his tee. Wilson blinked at him, as if he still hadn't realized what had just happened, then rolled his eyes with a sigh. "Don't make me regret this," he murmured, then kissed him again, allowing him to leech his warmth.

I ain't got a fever; got a permanent disease.

And it'll take more than a doctor to prescribe a remedy.

I got lots of money, but it isn't what I need.

Gonna take more than a shot to get this poison outta me.

And I got all the symptoms.

Count 'em 1 2 3.

--Bad Medicine (Bon Jovi)

"You are in love," House stated the moment Wilson plopped down on the couch beside him.

Without even glancing at him, he handed over a beer. "Am I? You'd think I'd be the first to know in such matters. Do enlighten me."

House took a sip of his beer and shook his head. When Wilson was in love, it was always obvious. All right, perhaps not to everybody, but House wasn't just anybody, was he? He noticed the little things. And what kind of friend would he be if he didn't notice something as obvious as Wilson falling madly, completely, head-over-heels in love? Because House was absolutely positive that was what it was.

"It's obvious. You wore the green tie. The one that Julie hated."

"Ah. Well, that make sense. God forbid I run out of ties, or perhaps wear one I've worn before."

"And yesterday, you wore the lavender shirt."

"Did I? I must have forgotten. Perhaps I will start writing down everything I wear."

House rolled his eyes. He knew he was right, because Wilson was refusing to look at him. He was keeping his eyes resolutely on the television, calmly drinking his beer--but House noticed how he pursed his lips and how he fidgeted ever so slightly when the subject had been brought up. Even though Wilson had long since removed his tie, he was still wearing the neatly pressed light green shirt--so light it couldn't been mistaken for off-white.

He was pressing his knee firmly against Wilson's as he turned slightly so he could look at his friend, the TV only visible through his peripherals now. Wilson didn't pull away--in fact, he pushed his knee back, almost imperceptibly. Perhaps someone else wouldn't have noticed it; but he did.

"Whenever you two touch, you don't shy away. In fact, you touch back," he pointed out reasonably. "You notice the slightest--and I mean slightest--touch on the hip or the wrist or whatever. And I know that you notice, because you blush, or start, or close you eyes briefly and get this nearly orgasmic relaxed expression on your face."

Wilson, damn him, remained completely still--entirely nonchalant. Too nonchalant, in fact. He sipped his beer casually, but House knew he was right--because being wrong could cost him everything.

"You walk slower with the person, you're always in each other's personal space--not to mention, you've shared more food with each other than you have shared with all of your wives combined."

"I wouldn't use the term sharing, House," he said baldly, as if he hadn't just flat-out admitted that he knew damn well who House was suggesting he was in love with.

"Bold move, dear sir," House muttered, narrowing his eyes. He wondered mildly if it would be as fun with Wilson playing along--actually, it would probably be more fun. "You know I like the colour green."

"I do?"

"You wrapped my present in green."

"It was the only wrapping paper I had left from last year," he brushed off, the smallest smile the only tell-tale sign that he was being sarcastic.

"You blush when I touch you," he pointed out, and to prove it, he laid his hand across Wilson's thigh and squeezed.

His cheeks burned pink, but other than that, his expression was impassive. "I'm feverish."

House put his beer on the coffee table, then leaned forward some more and pressed the back of his hand against Wilson's forehead. Wilson cleared his throat and shifted slightly, but his eyes remained fixed on the television. "It is my medical opinion that you do not have a fever. And I should know; I'm a doctor."

"The hand on the forehead--is that a medical test? Perhaps I should throw all my thermometers away and just use my palms from now on. It's genius, really."

"You hum love songs under your breath," House pressed, removing his hand from his forehead and thigh, staring at him pointedly.

He shrugged. "I like the melodies."

"You laugh at my jokes."

"You're a comedian."

"You stare at my ass when I walk away."

Wilson raised a bushy, but cute, eyebrow. "How can you tell if you're walking away?"

"Oh, I can tell, buster. Trust me. Not to mention how you stare at my hands when I play the piano or do anything, really, and when it comes to my hypnotic, sexy blue eyes--"

"You are such a humble man," Wilson interrupted, smiling thinly, as if trying to prevent himself from laughing.

"--you gaze lovingly into them."

"You gaze back," Wilson stated, taking another sip of his beer. "You always touch me first, steal my food, laugh at my jokes, get in my face, wear those attractive rock tees and have all the sub-textual-bordering-on-flirtatious comments. Perhaps I'm not the one in love here?"

"Hey," House began, dropping his mouth open in shock, "I'm not the one we're dissecting, here."

Wilson's sat his beer down beside House's and shook his head, sighing in exasperation. "Face it, House. Your ego has gotten so out of control you are assuming everyone is in love with you, despite the lack of proper evidence. Next you'll be telling me Foreman and Chase are secretly vying to get you into their beds." He settled back against the couch, still refusing to even glance at his friend, who was sitting sideways so he could catch every flicker of emotion and each and every uncomfortable shift of weight.

House was used to discovering symptoms and figuring out what was wrong in the matter of seconds. And the symptoms of love were as plain as day as another other sickness. And Wilson had had them oozing out of every orifice for years now. The only problem was, there had always been a female House assumed was involved. But now, there wasn't a girl, and so that meant only one thing--what was the most constant thing in Wilson's life? What was the one thing, when all the other girls, all the other possible onsets, were gone, that was still there beside him? Really, it was simple, when he got down to it.

"You wanna know how else I know you're in love?" he inquired, having every intention of answering no matter what Wilson said.

"I have a feeling you're going to tell me," he rightly predicted.

"'Cause you're gonna use tongue."

Wilson finally removed his dark brown eyes form the television and looked at House, face scrunched up in confusion. "Wha--"

House promptly swallowed the rest of Wilson's question. The oncologist remained still for a second, before his tongue brushed against House's lips, asking for entrance. Seeing as House was such a nice guy, he told the tongue, why yes, why don't you come on it? While you're at it, make yourself at home, swirl around my mouth a bit, count my taste buds, trace the roof of my mouth . . .

He groaned when Wilson grabbed the back of House's neck and forced him even closer, gasping and nipping and sucking on his tongue. He hadn't expected Wilson to be so demanding, but he liked it. The needy whimpers he made, if anyone were to ask, were actually issuing from Wilson, because House certainly didn't do it.

Kissing Wilson had been something he'd fantasized about quite a lot over the past few years, but it had never been like this. It had always been more pornographic and cheesy (sometimes involving cheesy doctor-patient dialogue) but it hadn't ever made his heart jump to his throat, or his mind whirl with lust, or drag needy, consistent whimpers from his mouth he would deny making the rest of his life.

Finally, they pulled away, both of them breathing heavily, pressing their foreheads together and sneaking tiny pecks here and there, a flash of tongue or a slight nip accompanying.

"Why'd you do that?" Wilson asked breathily.

House shrugged. "You're contagious."

Can I burn the mazes I grow

Can I, I don't think so

Where can I run to, where can I hide

Who will I turn to now I'm in a virgin state of mind

--Virgin State of Mind (K's Choice)

He knows where this marriage is going; he knows it like he knows the colour of the sky. It's there, looming above it, available to glance at, but not something he constantly reminds himself of. But one look up, and he's reminded that, yes, the sky is blue, and yes, his marriage is failing.

He knows that he's partly to blame, if not fully. He hasn't cheated--not this time, anyway. He has cheated before, with his first two wives, but not with Julie. It's as if he is trying to convince himself it was the women that had destroyed his relationship with Bonnie, but he knows damn well what it was. He was through trying to convince himself that it was the dinners with women and the slip-ups with nurses that Bonnie had hated him for, but he knew what it really was.

"It's nine o' clock," House reminds, as if Wilson isn't aware of the time.

"And you're losing," he points out, then slams the ball home, for once ahead of House at foosball--even if by only one point.

"Not for long, buddy," he retorts as he replaces the ball and smirks evilly before twisting the pole and whacking the ball expertly.

He knows he should be home with his wife. He knows he should be eating her dinner, and watching television with her, and possibly even making love with her. But he has no desire to--he hasn't for awhile now. Julie has been distant lately, but he doesn't blame her. A few nights coming home late from her friend's place is nothing compared to all the times he's spent the night with House. Who is he to get angry when she decides she would rather have girl talk than wait for him at home?

It's not as if he's anymore interested in her conversation than she is with talking to him.

After all, he's not quite so sure she's the one who's been distant. Maybe it really is just him.

"Have you called Julie?" House asks, trying to sound uninterested but failing.

"Told her I was staying the night at the hospital. She's been . . . distant, lately."

"Well there's a surprise. Don't know why she'd be distant around a husband who's never home," he responds dully, acting like he doesn't care, but Wilson knows differently.

Wilson shrugs and twists his little players a bit, knocking the ball back, beginning a flurry of frantic twists and knocks and offensive moves. Foosball always manages to calm him down--he could take his frustrations out without having to actually physically touch anyone or anything. It had the feel and result of a contact sport, but without the actually contact. Besides, it's always fun to hang with House . . . Even if he knows that it's causing the rift in his marriage.

His marriage had been doomed before it began.

He knows it's his fault--he knows that all the twists and turns and bumps and arguments all start because of him. He knows how dangerous it is to sit beside his friend, spend the night, go and drink with him, because he knows what it causes.

He knows that, when having a bad day, his first instinct should be to call his wife and talk to her. He knows that the first thing he should want to do after work is go home and curl up next to Julie. That he should want to go to her, but how can he?

He knows what it means when his heart skips a beat when House looks at him, but he never calls attention to it. He knows what it means that he's most eager to go home and have sex with Julie after he takes a drunk and somewhat flirtatious House home, thinking of the way his friend's warm breath had felt on his neck while he draped his arm over his shoulder, using Wilson as a cane.

He knows, but he doesn't call attention to it, because calling attention to it means he's deeper than he wants to be.

He ignores the flirtatious barbs he flings his friend's way, and he knows the twists and turns of their relationship will always be more exciting and fulfilling than anything he'll ever have with any woman.

He's never felt this way about a man before, but House isn't the first guy he's looked at and thought of. Those were mere crushes though--this is something else.

He knows that, eventually, House will find out. He knows that it will tumble out into the open, due to a small slip of the tongue, or a hand that stayed too long on his friend's shoulder. But until then, he is going to ignore it.

"She probably thinks you're having an affair," House states after, with just a flick of the wrist, he makes a goal. They are now tied.

Wilson rolls his eyes at House's smug smirk, but momentarily gets lost in the labyrinthine blue gaze that's fixed on him. He swallows the knot in his throat and retrieves the ball. "I'm not," he insists, figuring that House is trying to segue into yet another which-nurse-are-you-boinking-now conversation.

"She probably thinks you're having it with me," House says when Wilson puts the ball on the field.

That's a dangerous subject and he knows it, but he decides to play along anyway. It's what he always does, and it's what he always will do. He's far too deep into the game now to back out. "Yeah, she probably does," he agrees, getting into position and holding onto the knobs.

"You wanna?" House inquires, a serious look in his eyes that's almost frightening. Wilson realizes he's asking him to take their relationship further--he knows he's asking to actually go through with the affair idea.

He doesn't know what to say. He isn't sure if House is kidding or if he's serious.

Then with a smirk, House twists his arm and the ball flies through the field and sinks into the hole, earning himself another goal. He realizes too late that this is what House wanted--to confuse Wilson, to distract him, so he could gain a point and win the game.

They both chuckle and they begin to walk towards the door. "Thai or pizza?" House asks as Wilson opens the door for him, letting House walk by first. "You're buying," he adds, as if Wilson hasn't already figured out.

"I had assumed," he reveals, falling into step beside him.

They don't talk about House's joke the rest of the night, and Wilson knows they won't mention it again. He's far too gone in the maze of jokes and subtexts and unspoken emotions between them that it's not a surprise. He's never had a relationship like the one he has with House--it's all brand new, and maybe, for once, it's something he needs to talk about. Maybe he wants to explain himself, get these feelings out in the open, but how can he, when this new, indefinable thing he's experiencing is with the one person he goes to with everything, and the one person he can never talk about it with?

And how many lovers would stay

Just to put up with this shit day after day?

How did we wind up this way?

Watching our mouths for the words that we say.

--Story of a Girl (Nine Days)

House could write a book about all the things he and Wilson don't talk about. He had no idea how they had gotten into the habit of just knowing what had to remain quiet, or why they did it. It was just a part of who they were, and even if it did bother him, who wouldn't ever admit to it.

They didn't talk about the time they'd gotten drunk and Wilson had kissed House sloppily on the mouth, much to the amusement of House who laughed about it for five minutes after. They didn't talk about the time House had sobbed hysterically onto Wilson's shoulder the day Stacy left him. They didn't talk about all the flirtatious glances and jokes they sent each other's way, because then maybe they'd have to admit it might be more than joking.

They didn't talk about the time Wilson had been under the kitchen table, picking up a fork he'd dropped, and when he'd stood up he'd cracked his head on the edge, blood rushing down the side of his face and he'd fallen to the floor, momentarily knocked out. They didn't talk about it, because then that meant they'd have to acknowledge that House had sprinted across the living room and knelt beside his friend, shaking him, demanding he answer, tears streaming down his face. He had panicked when he'd seen the blood, and being in the profession he was in, his mind had thought of all the worst case scenarios before he realized head wounds bled a lot.

Neither ever mentioned the comfortable silence that stretched between them as they sat on the couch, watching television, nor the fact that if Wilson was going to go home after walking House to his door, that the silence would be less comfortable, and for a moment they would both hesitate, as if getting ready for a kiss.

Sometimes when House stole some of Wilson's fries, their hands would brush, but neither called attention to it. And if they sat too close to one another, or if they continually bumped arms while walking, they didn't mention that, either. He didn't recount all the many times Wilson had smoothed out his shirt for him, his palms warm through the fabric, and how his hands would remain longer than necessary on his chest.

Wilson had to have noticed how they were constantly meeting each other's eyes and locking gazes for an obscene amount of time, but he never admitted to it if he did. Just like he never admitted to the fact he had once waxed poetic about House's blue eyes because House never brought it up again, mostly because he, in turn, had complimented Wilson on his "swirly chocolate copper-flecked orbs." Not only was it embarrassing to have used the word orbs to describe eyes, but the fact it had been his male's best friend's eyes made it worse. Luckily for them, they'd both been drunk at the time, so they could pretend to have forgotten.

They never talked about how great of a chef Wilson was, because then House would have to admit those macadamia pancakes were practically an orgasm for his tongue. He never pointed out the fact that he noticed Wilson stared at him in a way men shouldn't stare at other dudes when he licked his lollipops, because then he'd have to tell him that he purpose sucked those lollipops as if he were performing oral sex on them just to see that look.

They didn't talk about the time Wilson walked in on House lying beside his own vomit, empty bottle of stolen pills beside him. House never told him that he'd seen him walk out of the door, and that was why he'd gone to Tritter to take the agreement, despite how fruitless that had been. In fact, they just didn't talk about Tritter, or anything that had happened during those few months the bastard cop had made his life hell.

They avoided discussions of loving and caring about one another altogether, so House never had to worry about his L-Bomb drop after electrocuting himself.

Mentions of Amber were rare, mainly because House just didn't want to talk about how guilty he felt over something he had no control over, and if she was mentioned, it was always Wilson who brought her up. Neither of them mentioned how much she was like House anymore; they never even said anything to remind them of what a bitch she had been, either.

House never even neared the subject of how lost and alone and miserable he'd been when Wilson had left him, because he wasn't a sentimental guy. Wilson never talked about those months, either, so he could only assume he'd felt the same . . . But that didn't mean they had to talk about it.

Why talk about stuff that they both knew was there? It wasn't as if either of them didn't know about what was going unsaid between them. The first rule was not to talk about Fight Club, and yet, somehow, a member could spot another one from a mile away. They didn't need to ramble on about the blood-stained cement or the raucous yelling--with one look at each other, they knew who Tyler Durden was, even if Tyler didn't.

But what they most certainly didn't talk about was The Argument. Oh, yeah, that little heated discussion had fucking capitals.

It had been a year after Stacy left, which meant that Wilson was no longer wary about using her name around him, afraid he'd hurt House, but not quite long enough for him to have gotten over the sting of everything. Sure, he could think about her without getting angry and upset and somewhat teary over how much he had screwed that relationship up with his cold attitude and scathing insults, and how much it had hurt that she had betrayed him, and then had not even been able to stick with him during a time when he needed someone with him.

Bonnie had just divorced Wilson, but House hadn't cared about the ferrety little bitch enough to care if mentioning her name would hurt Wilson or not. Wilson had felt like a failure because he had not one, but two, divorces under his belt, and was currently living with a man that his mother was under the impression was his secret lover anyway.

When House thought back on The Argument, he really couldn't even remember what had started it. He did remember how it had only begun as a few harshly snapped words back and forth, and had escalated and escalated until they were storming through his apartment, screaming their heads off. Wilson had been throwing his hands into the air and rolling his eyes and pointing, and House had been thwacking his cane against anything and everything he came across, making quite a mess.

They both yelled out harsh, hurtful insults that had been used before, and had definitely been used since then, too. Threats of violence issued from both mouths, which in itself hadn't been new, either. It hadn't been the first or last time they had picked at each other's every flaw, or got into each other's faces, spittle flying forward and eyes blazing and breath skirting across flesh. They had both told each other they hated the other, which although rare, had happened before and again.

That wasn't what had made The Argument worthy of capitals.

"God, it's no wonder Stacy left you!" Wilson had shouted, nose three inches from House's, brown eyes burning with fire. But the moment the words had left his mouth, Wilson had realized he had crossed some invisible line and took a step back, face falling and losing colour. "House, no, I didn't mean--I'm sorry, I was just--" he'd stammered, eyes wide and watery.

"Get out, then. Leave. Don't come back if you hate me so much," he'd spat, more hurt that he'd wanted to let on, but beyond the point of keeping it hidden.

"I don't want to leave," Wilson had insisted, even though House hadn't believed it at the time.

"I said GET OUT!" he'd shouted, using his cane to point at the door and stomping his foot. It had been a stupid, habitual gesture, one that had caused his thigh muscle to clench and sear in pain, and he'd stumbled, the intensity of his threat gone in one instant of crumpling forward.

Wilson had grabbed House and stood him upright, brown eyes filled with concern. "You all right?" he'd asked, tone still clipped from the adrenaline still pumping through them from the argument. And then they were kissing--hard. It was violent and rough and everything a first (sober) kiss shouldn't be, but it was. He'd nipped at Wilson's lip hard enough to draw blood, but hadn't minded the coppery taste of his tongue afterward.

They had attacked each other's mouth feverishly, gasping and grunting obscenely loud, until House had grabbed a fistful of Wilson shirt's and slammed him against the nearest wall, grinding their pelvises together to find they were both hard.

They were both alone and upset and had adrenaline thumping through them like acid, which made the decision incredibly stupid, and he was sure Wilson had known it as much as he had, but the next thing he knew, he was whipping off Wilson's belt and shoving his hand down his pants, needing to feel how hard his friend was. Needing to know that he could still get someone off. Wilson had had a similarly-tracked mind, and had unzipped and unbuttoned House's jeans and began jerking him as furiously as House was.

They'd continued kissing, muttering swear words and mentioning certain deities that House didn't believe in into each other's mouths, gasping and biting and grunting and thrusting, the feel of another man's penis foreign, yet not as disturbing as it should've been.

House had come first, pulling away from Wilson's mouth to bite down on his shoulder, crying out an unintelligible word that may or may not have been "Wilson!"

But a few seconds later, when House had felt Wilson's sticky warmth splash onto his wrists and his own cock, he had heard his name loud and clear.

They had both stood there, necking and kissing roughly, for a few more minutes, until they had finally pulled away and did up their pants. They hadn't been able to meet each other's eyes, and House had still been angry, so he'd gone to bed, leaving Wilson to his couch.

He hadn't slept until hours later though, wondering if it had been the first time he'd thought of Wilson like that, or if wanting to fuck his best friend was such an old feeling he didn't even realize he'd had it.

They certainly never talked about that, but they didn't need to, because even though Stacy had left, and all of Wilson's wives had left him, they still went back to one another. They dealt with all sorts of crap from one another--crap that no one else would have dealt with. He took comfort in that, knowing that nobody would deal with his constant arguing and taunts and pranks day after day, but that Wilson did.

And he planned on never telling Wilson that sometimes he purposely started arguments, hoping they'd end just as that one had. It hadn't happened yet, but House kept his fingers crossed.

But the next time, he wouldn't stay quiet.

Scotty doesn't know,

Scotty doesn't know,

Scotty doesn't know,

Scotty doesn't know,

Don't tell Scotty

Scotty doesn't knoooooow . . .

Scotty will know,

Scotty has to know,

Scotty's gotta know,

Gonna tell Scotty,

Gonna tell him myself.

--Scotty Doesn't Know (Lustra)

I don't even feel guilty anymore when I call Julie to tell her that I'm going to stay the night at House's--that I've had a few too many beers, and it wouldn't be wise to drive home. I don't even care that she sighs sadly and hangs up without saying goodbye. It doesn't bother me that it's been months since either of us have said we loved the other. I wasn't even sure she loved me anymore, and even if she didn't, I really didn't care.

It had never felt like this before, and I wonder if I'm a bad person for doing it. Actually, no, scratch that--I know I'm a bad person.

What was interesting to me, however, was the fact that if House saw me with Julie, I felt a surge of pain in my chest area, like I'd realized I'd missed a step going down stairs a moment before I started to fall, possibly breaking bones and causing a concussion. It was like I was cheating on House, even though I was actually married to someone else.

It had started out innocently enough, I suppose. As innocent as anything could be with House. When I thought back on it, the whole thing seemed somewhat inevitable. As if the moment we'd met in Louisiana has started our trek to this--as if it had been fate, and there was nothing we could do to escape it.

It wasn't like the other affairs I'd had. They had all been quick, meaningless flings. I'd gotten into a fight with one of my wives, and had gone to a bar, got drunk, and woke up next to a girl, naked. Or perhaps a new nurse in the hospital had set her eyes on me, and my marriage had already been failing, so I figured since it wouldn't have lasted another year anyway, a quick dinner with a girl wouldn't mean anything. And of course, the meaningless dinner would turn into meaningless sex, for which I would hate myself for the next morning.

This was something else.

It had been unexpected, but I suppose if Id' asked anyone else, they probably wouldn't have believed me.

We didn't kiss in the middle of a heated argument, and stumble to the beds, tearing off our clothes in a frenzy. We didn't get completely plastered and drunkenly make out and dry hump on the couch. No, it wasn't anything so epic as that.

We'd kissed. It had been sweet, chaste, and in an empty elevator after the doors had closed.

After that, things had progressed from brief kisses to making out, to necking, to hand-jobs and blowjobs, and finally (months later) to sex.

You wouldn't know it looking at him, but he could be quite the romantic. He would never admit it, of course--and perhaps he wasn't conventionally so, but he was.

When he slid into me, I stared up at his face, watching his eyes darken and roll upwards in pleasure while he thrusted, face contorting into an erotic, but somewhat ridiculous, expression. I moved my waist to meet his thrusts, my hands sliding down his chest and across his abdomen, whimpering when he bent down and bit my neck.

I no longer had to force thoughts of infidelity out of my head.

When I tongued his throat, his chest, his collarbone, I tasted salt and skin and something else that could just be described as Gregory House, and I loved how he grunted when I scraped my teeth across his shoulder. The rhythm was steadily going faster, but was still calm, as if we had all the time in the world, forever, just as we were.

I had stopped going into the bathroom afterwards to cry silently months ago.

When he kissed me, it was slow and wet, his tongue sliding against mine provocatively. His beard was scratchy, but I didn't mind. With each push forward, he grunted into my mouth, and I moaned. His abdomen was grinding against my hard on, shooting little shocks of pleasure up my spine, forcing myself to meet his thrusts.

Sometimes, I forgot Julie existed altogether.

When I scratched my nails down his back, he swore into my mouth and arched his back, his waist meeting mine quicker and sharper. The sounds he made should've been illegal, and I reached down to stroke myself impatiently, feeling tension mounting in my abdomen, knowing I was going to come soon. He knocked my hand away and started jerking me furiously, our grunts and moans and swears making a cacophony that probably sounded ludicrous but at the moment sounded arousing.

Failing at my third marriage felt more like a success than it should've.

Suddenly, I knew nothing but white-hot pleasure, coursing through me. A entire marching band could've pranced through the room, pounding drums and playing horns, and I wouldn't have known. I clutched onto him, crying out, still feeling his length inside me, the friction driving me insane.

A moment later, House was collapsed on my chest, and I realized he must have finished seconds after me, but I had no recollection of it. His forehead rested on my collarbone and his hot breath danced along my chest, his beard scratching my skin, but honestly, I somewhat liked the sensation. I played with his dampened hair while I closed my eyes, relishing the feel of our bodies entwined and pressed flush against each other.

He rolled off of me and I stared at the ceiling, smelling sweat and sex and linen and a mismatch of cologne. He was breathing as heavily as I was, and when I felt his hand reach down and hold mine, I couldn't help but smile.

I used to wonder if Julie would care if she found out, but I didn't anymore. I had actually wanted to leave her for House a month ago, but I'd been too afraid to ask House if he was all right with that. If I left her for him, then it was serious--it was real. If I told her, then it wasn't just some fling House and I would get over and never talk about again. It would be real, and that was scary, because the last time House was in a real relationship, it had ended badly. I had already proved to myself and, I had hoped, to him that I wouldn't leave him no matter what, but it was frightening thing.

I suppose I was afraid of him leaving me, were I to mention our affair to my wife, who was feeling more and more like the other woman each day.

I had almost brought it up over dinner once, and I was sure House had known what I was going to say, but a moment later I changed my mind and the direction of the conversation. When I had finished asking him if he liked the mozzarella more than the parmesan, he said; "I wasn't ready for it, anyway," and I knew what that was an answer for.

"You ready to leave Julie?" House asked abruptly, and my heart skipped a beat.

I turned my head to face him to see that he was still staring at the ceiling, his grip on my hand tighter. I smiled. "I was ready ages ago, House," I told him, leaning forward to press a kiss to his temple.

He turned he head so we could look at each other, and the smile that spread across his face was positively evil. "I'll tell her myself," he said smugly.

I laughed.

2 tablespoons of cinnamon,

And 2 or 3 egg whites

a half a stick of butter

melt it.

Stick it all in a bowl, baby

stir it with a wooden spoon

mix in a cup of flour,

you'll be in heaven soon.

--Chocolate Salty Balls (Chef)

"Ugh, what is that smell?" House asked, nose crinkled in disgust, although really, the aroma filling his apartment was far from disgusting. It was, in fact, mouth-watering--crashing over him in waves, his stomach growling with hunger suddenly although a few moments ago he had been full.

Wilson stood in the kitchen, smiling slightly and shaking his head in amusement. "I'm baking."

"My God, could you be more of a woman?" House asked, tossing his jacket aside, and then waltzed to the table, plopping in a chair. Ever since Julie had drop-kicked Wilson's ass to the curb and he'd come to move in with him (albeit temporarily) he'd come to understand that if Wilson was baking, he would be fed. He'd also come to realize that if, for some reason, Wilson were to ever be sacked and lose his medical license, he could become a master chef. The things that man whipped up in the kitchen were positively sinful.

Not that he would ever tell him that. And if he did, he would just shrug and grunt something along the lines of "not too shabby" or "pretty good." He would never tell Wilson what he really felt about it, because then he'd have to wax poetic, and House just didn't do poetry.

"I suppose they have operations for that now. I always did like the name Jamie . . ."

Wilson's sleeves were rolled up past his elbows, and his skin was flush form the heat of being near the oven. His bangs hung on his forehead while he put his fists on his waists, frowning.

House closed his eyes and sniffed, nearly groaning in hunger and pleasure when he recognized the scent of chocolate, wafting over him.

A minute later, he heard a clinking noise and opened his eyes, not having realized how tired he was after a long day of playing Guess The Patient's Lie until then. The scent of warm chocolate was intoxicating, and the glass of milk in front of him was inviting.

Wilson opened the oven and pulled out a cookie sheet, House not recognizing the oven mitts he wore, and so he assumed they were Wilson's. He placed it on the counter and hummed quietly. House wondered, not for the first time, if Wilson even realized he hummed when he was lost in thought.

A moment later, there was a plate onto the table, filled with dark spheres, dripping with still-hot chocolate. Wilson knew House liked his cookies and brownies still hot out of the oven, and it only made sense he'd feel the same way about the new desert before him, teasing him with its invigorating scent.

"So you spent all afternoon kneading balls?" House asked, grabbing one and wincing as it burned his fingertips, and plopped on in his mouth. He closed his eyes when the taste exploded in his mouth, the chocolate melting over his taste buds and sliding down his throat. At some point in time, Wilson had to have sold his soul to Satan. It really was the only explanation, even if House didn't believe in the devil.

"You're the one sticking my balls in your mouth and savouring them," Wilson retaliated, and when House opened his eyes a second later, he saw that Wilson was smirking.

House finished swallowing before he talked. "You presented them."

"Only because I knew you'd enjoy them. I have needs, you know."

"Glad to be of service," he retorted before plopping another, slightly cooler, chocolate ball in his mouth, and sucking on it, letting it roll over his tongue as long as possible.

House didn't tell Wilson how great his food was, but when he saw Wilson smile and start to eat as well, he knew he didn't have to.

I'll steal you

Do they think that walls could hide you?

Even now, I'm at your window.

I am in the dark beside you.

--Johanna (Anthony)

Amber slept like the dead. He had watched horror movies with the volume obnoxiously loud, with women screaming like banshees and creepy children singing unnerving nursery rhymes and she hadn't woken up. Wilson was under the impression that she would sleep through the apocalypse if given the chance. The only thing--and when he said only, he meant it--that woke her was her alarm.

When Wilson heard a tapping noise, it woke him with a start, his heart pounding heavily in his chest. It didn't surprise him when he turned his head and saw, using the moon as his source of light, House standing outside of his window, steadily knocking his cane against the glass.

Sighing, Wilson tossed his blanket off the bed, and slipped into the first pair of boxers he'd found and a thin white tee. He figured House couldn't see him, seeing as it was darker in the house than it was outside, what with the moon and streetlamps. And even if he did, well, Wilson didn't have anything that House didn't.

He regretted telling House that Amber slept as heavily as she did. Had he not, perhaps his obnoxious friend wouldn't have come knocking on his window.

Actually, no, he still would have.

He slid open the window and let out an annoyed huff of air. "What do you want?" he asked. House was at least a foot shorter than he was in the current position, and it was somewhat disorienting.

House shrugged, but even though it was dark, Wilson still managed to see the devious grin. "I thought pebbles would be cliché. Nobody goes around knocking on windows with canes."

"And even less people go around knocking on their best friend's window at one in the morning."

"That's ridiculous. You can have less than nobody." He planted his cane on the ground and jerked his head to the side. "Go open the door. Craning my head is making my neck hurt." Without waiting for Wilson, he started walking off.

Rolling his eyes, Wilson closed the window and glanced at Amber, who in the pitch black of the room looked like nothing more than a dark lump on his bed.

A few seconds later he heard loud knocking and he winced, hurrying into the living room and opening the door. House stood on the other side, but before he could ask him what the hell he was trying to accomplish, House grabbed his arm, and drug him out onto the porch.

It was cold out in the night, with only a thin undershirt/tee and boxers on. "House, what are you doing?" he stage-whispered angrily, moving to go back inside.

House blithely stepped in front of him and closed the door. "Uh-uh-uh, you're coming with me." He grabbed Wilson's arm again and started leading him down the walk.

Although it was spring, the snow melted and the flowers in bloom, it was not exactly ideal weather. "I'm half-naked!" he protested, although he didn't do much to prevent being dragged. Actually, he was walking along obediently. That was pretty much what half their relationship was built on--Wilson pretending to be outraged but more than happy enough to play along.

"Bonus," House said, finally stepping in front of the cherry-red Corvette that Wilson would have killed to own. "Don't worry--I'll have you back before she wakes up."

House slid along the hood of the car and Wilson chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck. Wilson opened the car door and sat in the comfortable seats, and chuckled again when House hopped over the door instead. He reached into the back seat and pulled out a blanket, handing it over to Wilson, who immediately wrapped himself in it. "What, exactly, are you doing again?" Wilson asked, finding that he really couldn't care less.

"Kidnapping you, obviously. Think CB will pay a ransom?"

What a lot of fun

You guys have been real swell

And there's not a one

Who can say this ended well

All those secrets

You've been concealing

Say you're happy now,

Once more with feeling

Now I gotta run

See you all in hell!

--What You Feel, reprise (Sweet)

Losing a patient was never easy. No matter how many died, it was still hard. Knowing that, maybe, if he had thought quicker, figured out that lie just a few minutes sooner, or maybe just cared about the patient a little bit more, the patient wouldn't be a lifeless body in the morgue.

The patient had only been sixteen years old.

He'd been a boy with a great GPA, a lot of friends, and hadn't insulted any of House's team members once. He'd been in more than one honours program at school, had plenty of visitors and so House assumed he had plenty of friends, and was, in general, a good kid. A kid who deserved to live, really.

He couldn't even blame the death on one of the kid's lies. The kid had been completely honest with House; had even admitted to doing cocaine once, in order to stay awake during finals week. He had cooperated, and even convinced his mother into okaying a procedure when she'd been doubtful.

House should've focused more on the mother--more on why she was doubtful about the procedure. Why she hadn't wanted to sign it. He hadn't been there, but Kutner had told him enough--enough that House should've asked why; should've realized it was odd. Should have realized that the poor kid had no idea that the man he'd called his dad his whole life hadn't actually been his biological father.

He should've known that the mother had had an affair with her brother-in-law; with the man who had only come in once to visit. It should've clicked sooner. But no, instead, he had realized it a second too late. He'd been talking to Wilson, as he usually was, and it had just occurred to him what was wrong out of seemingly nowhere. He'd called the room and told his team not to administer the treatment.

He would've sworn his heart had stopped beating when Taub told him the had just finished giving it to him had he not known it was impossible. "Get a crash cart," he'd ordered and then bolted out of his office, thigh muscle be damned.

This story happened a thousand times before--House charging through the hospital, just to make it to the room and rescue his patient in time to call him and his family idiots. This time, however, it had ended differently.

He'd burst into the room to see Kutner fail, for the first time in his life, to defibrillate a patient back from death. He'd shouted at the mother, calling her an adulterous bitch for sleeping with her husband's brother, and blamed the death of the patient on her.

If only he'd had that epiphany just a few seconds sooner, the boy would've lived long enough to realize his uncle was his dad and vice versa. It was an obvious lie; a simple lie (simple medically, although perhaps not simple for the family) and the kid had died thinking House had saved him.

His team had done everything they could, and he had done everything he'd thought of. They hadn't done anything wrong--in fact, they'd done their job well. The case was solved, they'd done as well as possible, and yet . . .

Taub had gone home, probably to have comforting sex with his wife. Kutner had consoled the family after the death, and as far as he knew, was probably still down there, talking them out of suicide and apologizing for House's behaviour. As for Foreteen, they were probably having comfort sex in a nearby janitorial closet. He honestly couldn't care less. Cuddy had already bitched at him for yelling at the mother so soon after he son's death, and he had validly pointed out that she didn't deserve kindness seeing as it was her fault the kid had died anyway. All right, maybe it had been a harsh thing to do, but House stood his ground--he was right. He was always right.

Just not when it counted.

When the door opened, he heard the tell-tale sigh, and knew who it was who was standing in his office. He turned in his wheelie chair, no longer facing the wall. He stared at Wilson, who stood there, hand rubbing the back of his neck.

The lights were off, but somehow, Wilson's had known he'd be there anyway. House didn't ask how.

"You did everything you could," he said tentatively, as if afraid House would blow up in his face for talking about it. He had to admit, he had good reason for thinking that.

"Just a second too late, is all. No harm done, right?" House quipped darkly, bouncing his cane lightly on the floor, before pressing his bottom lip to it in thought. "I should've realized Gertrude and Claudius were boinking ages ago. I dunno, maybe Hamlet would've lived long enough to ponder suicide."

The smile on Wilson's face was humourless, and only there to show he'd understood the reference. He finally lowered his hand from his neck and sat in the chair across form House's desk, his brown eyes almost black in the darkness of the office.

Wilson didn't try to tell him it would be all right--House wasn't an idiot. He couldn't afford to mope about one death for days. It wasn't the first time someone had died under his care, nor would it be the last. He wasn't bothered by this patient's demise any more or less than any other death bothered him. As much as he liked to come off as a bastard, he wasn't entirely heartless. He had failed, and House had always hated failing. Unsurprisingly, it made him feel like a failure--which was something he had to avoid as much as possible, since lives hung in the balance.

Wilson didn't even try to tell him it wasn't his fault, or that it would never happen again. Wilson wasn't naïve, and neither was House.

The door opened and Thirteen walked in, acting as if Wilson wasn't even there. Eventually, all people acted that way. If they were in House's office and Wilson was there, they knew that it was all right to speak freely, and ignore him. The same was true in Wilson's office of House. Anything they could say to him, they could say to his best friend.

"They won't be pressing charges," she revealed, as if House had even worried about it. Of course they weren't going to try and sue him. It wasn't his fault the mother was a harpy. "You could go and talk to the parents. They wanted to thank you for doing all you could."

House snorted. All he could. Right. They wanted to thank him for not being quick enough. They wanted to thank him for being a jackass and probably ruining their marriage, and tearing apart brothers. He knew as well as everyone else in the room did that he didn't deserve the gratitude. He was a failure, no better than the mother. And if he looked into either of their faces, he would know that was what they were thinking. They probably wouldn't tell him that, but he wasn't an idiot.

"I'm not interested," he told her.

She blinked once, then furrowed her brows. "They want to thank you, House. They realize that y--"

"Talking to me won't bring Alex back," he spat angrily, glaring at her. "Now go and tell them I'm not interested, understand?"

Thirteen glared at him, her eyes narrowing dangerously. Her posture changed instantly, moving swiftly from her casual, relaxed stance into something rigid, bordering on intimidating. House almost smiled at the ridiculousness of such a pose. He'd grown up with a marine, after all, even if it wasn't his real father.

"His name was Cody," she seethed, lips twisted into a scowl. "You really are as heartless as they say you are. You really couldn't care less about the grieving family or dead boy in the morgue, could you? Go to hell."

And with that, she spun on her heel and stalked out of his office.

House's eyes moved to the floor, feeling that horrible sinking sensation in his gut he refused to acknowledge.

"You knew his name was Cody," Wilson stated, understanding why he'd done what he did--why he didn't want to look into the eyes of Cody's parents, and why he didn't want Thirteen to know he actually cared.

House nodded and let out a sigh.

There was a beat of uncomfortable silence, and finally Wilson broke it with: "Thai?"

He smiled, although he wasn't feeling all that happy. He knew that it wouldn't be the last time he would be in this situation, but he knew Wilson would be there then, as well. Tonight had happened before, would happen again, and would end exactly the same way as it always had.

After all, the story was over--no use complaining over it now.

He'd just have to make the next one better.

A/N--Whew! That was more difficult than I had anticipated, but it was fun. Virgin State of Mind was a bitch to write, though. And am I the only one who thinks Story of a Girl fits House to a T, minus the pronoun choice? Anyway, I hope you liked, but even if you didn't, don't hesitate to review!