Disclaimer: Insert something witty about me not owning House here.
Warning: Spoilers for Dead Poet's Society.
Forever The Same
The door burst open like a gun blast echoing through the night, and Cuddy glanced up to see House strolling into her office. He didn't stop until he was right in front of her desk, cane planted in front of him and hands clasped on the curve.
"I have a patient for you," she told him, holding out a file for him to take.
"I'm gay," he announced proudly, as if he were displaying a wonderful masterpiece he had painted.
Cuddy sighed and placed the file back on her desk, staring at the paperwork she'd been working on. She needed to go over the financial report for his department--which, not surprisingly, had gone over the budget. She didn't have time for his games. "I'm not giving you and Wilson life-partner benefits."
"I never said Wilson was gay. I said I am."
She rolled her eyes and finally looked away from her paperwork. "You can prank Wilson on your own time. As for now, I have very important paperwork to go over--and while we're on the subject, how do you justify buying two monster truck tickets with the hospital's money?"
"Research," he replied with a shrug.
"How is that medical research?"
"Never said it was medical. I wanted to see if Wilson blushed when I touched his thigh and leaned into him halfway through the Gravedigger's reign of carnage. Diagnostically speaking, I'm still unsure of his sexuality. It may take many more monster truck shows to figure it out."
"I'm taking this out of your next pay check."
"Are you discriminating against my sexuality?"
"No, I'm discriminating against your lack of professional spending. I couldn't care less about your so-called 'sexuality,'" she responded, using air-quotes to show she didn't believe a word of what he said.
He frowned at her. "You don't believe me."
"Of course I don't."
"Would I lie about something like this just to mess with you?"
"Yes," she replied without hesitation.
House shifted his weight onto his other foot and looked at the floor. He was so much taller than her that she'd never really noticed how thin his hair was until the light from her window shone on his bowed head. She could barely see him worrying his bottom lip with his teeth, and for a second--just one second--he almost looked vulnerable. "I shouldn't have used you as a cover. I wasn't . . . ready to accept it yet," he murmured to the floor so quietly she almost didn't hear him.
He glanced at her, their eyes meeting for the briefest of seconds, and suddenly, she wasn't so sure anymore. On one hand, there was an over-whelming amount of evidence proving he was straight--not only had they slept together years ago, but he'd lived with Stacy for five years.
She thought back to how jealous House would get every time Wilson had a woman in his life. She remembered all of the somewhat flirtatious barbs he threw at his best friend that she had always assumed were jokes, but what if they weren't? She thought of House nearly giving his life to find out just what had happened at the bar with Amber, all because Wilson had asked. She thought of the glances he threw Wilson's way, how depressed he'd been when Wilson had decided they couldn't be friends anymore . . . How close the two of them walked and how House had never pushed his friend away, when he couldn't stand anybody else getting in his personal space at all.
She lowered her pen to he desk and realized that he was apologizing for having sex with her all those years ago just because he couldn't accept he was gay.
"You're . . . you're serious?" She couldn't help but ask tentatively--the evidence was overwhelming, but years of dealing with House still made her wary to accept what he said as truth.
He shuffled in his spot for a second, then nodded once. They stared at each other for a minute, then he grabbed the patient's file without a fight. He turned around and walked out of her office, not nearly as confidently as he'd strode in.
Kutner loved work. Most days, when his alarm rang, he hopped out of bed, excited. He was one of the lucky people who didn't drag his feet all the way to the car, wishing his life had taken a different path. Not only did he help people on a daily basis, but he saved people who couldn't have been saved otherwise--besides, House made sure to make every day interesting.
Kutner poured himself a cup of coffee, keeping it black. It wasn't how he usually liked it, but there were thousands of ways to personalize it. Why limit it to just one? He just might like it better a different way--how would he know if he never tested it out?
House strode in and tossed a file onto the table and started scribbling frantically on the white board. Thirteen opened the file and glanced over it, Foreman casually reading it over her shoulder. Taub stared at House with mild disinterest, and Kutner decided he didn't really like his coffee black after all. He turned around, added some sugar into it, and took a hesitant sip. There. That was much better.
When he turned back around, House was standing away from the board and capping the marker before placing it on the whiteboard. The room was silent as they all read over the symptoms, Thirteen handing the folder over to Taub as they did so.
Persistent leg pain
Short-term memory loss
Unexplained weight loss
"The fainting could be exhaustion from the insomnia," Kutner pointed out before taking a drink of his now-sweetened coffee. "And what does the patient being gay have anything to do with the symptoms?"
House's eyes widened comically and he looked between the board and Kutner, as if just realizing he'd written that down. "Oh, my! Did I write that down? Oh, that is so embarrassing." He faux-chuckled and erased the last line, shaking his head. "That was me, not the patient. Sorry. Don't pay any attention to it."
"You just came out to us on the white board?" Taub asked, sounding monotonous. It was impossible to tell if he believed it or not. Kutner, for one, didn't know what House was doing, but was interested anyway. Perhaps it was another one of his metaphors, or maybe he really was gay. He'd never seen any evidence to prove or disprove that theory. Well, except for the fact he'd asked that one doctor out after firing her, but maybe that had been a joke. It was always difficult to tell with House.
"Yep. Figured it was as good a way as any." He bounced his cane between his hands, staring at all of them expectantly.
Kutner, not really knowing what else to do, looked over the symptoms again. "Has the patient had any head trauma lately? Could explain the short-term memory loss and fainting."
"But not the persistent leg pain, weight loss, or hyperactivity," Foreman pointed out, raising his eyebrow at him.
"The leg pain could be explained if the head trauma happened in a car wreck," Kutner retaliated with a shrug. "The rest could be explained by stress."
"Hyperactivity and insomnia present in the same person as a result of stress?" Taub repeated, sounding just as condescending as Foreman. "It sounds more like drugs to me. We should do a tox screen to confirm."
"Did everybody forget that I'm gay?" House asked, tapping his cane against the floor and staring at all of them in turn.
"You expect us to believe you're gay now?" Thirteen asked, her mouth quirking upward in a slight grin. It was clear she didn't believe him, and to be honest, it didn't look like anyone else did, either. Kutner was unsure, but it wouldn't be beyond House to lie about his sexuality just to screw with them.
"Gay now? I expected more from you, Thirteen! I've always been gay."
Thirteen rolled her eyes. "You know, being gay isn't something you should joke about. Thousands of men and women struggle with the prejudice and stigma of being gay every day, and you're just making light of them for entertainment."
"Oh, right. A girl who can switch her gayness off whenever it's inconvenient to her would know all about that, huh?" he snapped, and the mood of the room changed entirely. Thirteen reeled back as if she'd been smacked.
She shifted in her seat, then pressed her lips together. "I don't 'switch off' my gayness, House. I'm bisexual. Which, just so you know, has its own stigma--from both homosexuals and heterosexuals. It's not something I chose."
"You think I don't know that? I'm just saying that out of everybody in this room, I expected you to be a little more accepting."
"All right, so you're gay. That's fascinating. Can we focus on the case please?" Taub suggested.
House looked at Taub suspiciously, then lowered his chin to his chest. "You don't care that I'm gay?"
"No, I don't."
"But you believe me?"
"It wasn't exactly surprising. Amphetamines could cause most of the symptoms. A tox screen should either confirm or deny."
"Tox screen was clean," House dismissed with a sweep of his hand. "And what do you mean, it's not surprising?"
"It's not surprising, because it isn't true," Foreman aired, rolling his eyes so heavily that his head moved along with it. Kutner sipped his coffee, still uncertain of whether or not House was messing with them, but he was starting to lean more towards Taub's side of the discussion. He did spend an awful amount of time with Wilson, and when he'd left after Amber's death, he hadn't handled that very well. "House is trying to mess with us."
"Not necessarily," Kutner butted in, finally pushing away from the counter he was leaning on.
"You don't actually believe him, do you?" Foreman asked, head dropping and eyebrows raising in disbelief.
"Are we going to at least do an MRI?" Taub asked, looking at House expectantly.
"Do one on her head and leg; see where that takes us. And what do you mean, it wasn't surprising?"
"You spend more time with Wilson than I do with my wife," Taub pointed out.
"And you do get jealous every time he talks to a girl or spends time with someone who isn't you," Kutner agreed.
Thirteen narrowed her eyes. "Does Wilson know that you're . . ." She made a vague gesture with her hand, still eyeing him suspiciously.
"Didn't I tell you to run an MRI?" he asked rhetorically, tapping his index finger against his chin in thought. "Oh, wait, I did. Run along, kiddies, Daddy has some work to do."
Taub was the first to leave, shaking his head as he went, and then Thirteen joined him, glancing over her shoulder at House as she did so. Foreman stood out of his chair as if it caused him great pain, and glared. "Just so you know, I'm not falling for it," he stated bluntly, then left the office with a loud sigh.
Kutner downed the rest of his coffee in one gulp, then walked over to House tentatively. His blue eyes narrowed dangerously and he leaned back, as if trying to force himself out of Kutner's personal bubble. Kutner realized that he never seemed to complain when Wilson invaded his personal space, bumping into each other as they walked.
He reached forward and patted his shoulder. House flinched but didn't pull away, and stared at Kutner as if he'd just sprouted another head. "It must've been difficult to come out. Thanks for trusting us with it," he said, nodding once and smiling comfortingly at him.
House blinked, then pushed Kutner's hand off of his shoulder. "Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I like getting all sentimental."
Kutner chuckled to himself--gay or not, he was still the same.
Wilson tapped his fingers against the counter, watching as the pharmacist glanced over his prescription. He went over the shelf, by now knowing exactly where the Vicodin was. He grabbed it and walked over to Wilson, slipping it into his hands, and stared at him with a cold eye that he reserved just for him. The pharmacist was one of the few people who hadn't taken a liking to him; then again, the pharmacist probably didn't condone Wilson enabling House's drug addiction. He was, after all, the one who wrote out the scrips for most, if not all, his Vicodin.
Wilson smiled as politely as he could. "Thank you," he said, trying to put as much meaning behind it as he could muster.
He turned around and slipped the bottle into his lab coat pocket, then headed towards the nurse's station. He grabbed a clinic folder and the nurse behind the counter smiled at him genuinely. He opened the file and looked at the information inside, turning around to head towards exam room two.
He short-stopped when he realized Kutner and Taub were blocking his path. He closed the folder and raised his eyebrows. "What did he do this time?" He tried to keep from sighing, but he failed miserably.
"Is House gay?" Kutner asked without preamble.
"Depends on how drunk he is," he retaliated smoothly and stepped to the side so he could move past them.
They blocked his path again. "He came out to us on the white board," Taub explained further, his face completely impassive.
"He told you he was gay."
"On the white board," Kutner added, as if he hadn't heard that part the first time.
"On the white board," Wilson repeated, staring between them. Taub looked unconcerned, but Taub always managed to look as if he had no feelings either way for any situation, and Kutner looked at him eagerly. After a moment, he sighed and rolled his eyes. "What do you think?"
"I've thought he was gay for awhile," Taub answered, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
"I'm currently undecided."
"Please tell me you're not taking what he said seriously." They both looked at each other, and he shook his head, opening the folder again (if only to point out that, unlike some doctors that would remain nameless, he actually did his job) and glanced over the information. When would they learn? "He's screwing with you. Of course he isn't gay."
"He seemed pretty adamant," Kutner pointed out.
"Well, in that case, it must be true. Five years with Stacy and a nigh uncountable amount of hookers must be wrong." He moved to walk past them again, still reading over the patient's files, but they stepped in front of him smoothly.
"Many gay men don't come out until they're middle-aged," Taub said, as if that made all the difference in the world. Wilson looked away from the paperwork and raised his eyebrows. He closed the folder, and Taub's smug expression almost mirrored House's. "Some even have ex-wives and children."
Kutner nodded, agreeing with Taub. "And you two spend a lot of time together."
Wilson raised his hand to prevent them from going further. "Spend a lot of ti--I'm not gay."
"We never said you were. We said he was," Kutner rushed to say.
Taub sighed and rolled his eyes. "We didn't say anything. House is the one who said he was gay."
"If he were gay, don't you think I'd know about it? As you pointed out, we do spend a lot of time together. I'd think that, at some point, he might have told me."
"He gets jealous when you talk to girls. He gets jealous when you have someone else in your life that isn't him," Taub stated as if that was all the evidence he needed in order to become convinced that House liked men.
Wilson furrowed his brows. Why would House tell his team that? What would it accomplish? Then again, what did any of House's pranks ever accomplish, except just to screw with people? He shook his head. "I'm sure that if he were gay, he would've told me."
"Not if he thought you wouldn't be his friend anymore," Taub said.
"Or if he was in love with you."
Wilson blushed and rubbed the back of his neck. Great. Not only were House's team under the impression he was gay, but they thought he was in love with Wilson, too. "House isn't in lo--he's just--we're just friends," he spluttered. They both looked at each other again, smiling thinly to themselves. "Even if House were gay, he would never . . . I mean, we're just--if he loved me, he would've made a move by now."
"Who's to say he hasn't?" Kutner sounded far too confident for his liking, and Taub raised his eyebrows and nodded in agreement.
Unwittingly, he remembered House saying he loved him after his little experiment with the knife in the electrical socket. He shook his head, clearing his thoughts before he thought of anything else that could prove House was gay (possibly in love with him) and suck him into House's little game. He had known House long enough to know that nothing was too sacred for him to mock, and everything was fair game when it came to his pranks.
"He isn't gay," he reassured, although he wasn't too sure he sounded as confident as he'd wanted to. They both looked at him with their eyebrows raised. Apparently, they didn't believe he was confident either.
He stepped aside to walk past, and this time, they let him.
Unlike House, Wilson actually liked doing clinic hours. It was a nice change from dealing with terminal cases and violently ill cancer patients. Diagnosing colds and handing out antibiotics was a pleasant alternative to diagnosing cancer and handing out death sentences. Most of the people he saw in the clinic didn't know his name. They didn't see him on a daily basis. He could be the bearer of good news and send people home with smiles on their faces, as opposed to seeing sickly patients every day and telling them he could make them as comfortable as possible for the remaining months.
It also managed to ease his mind off of anything that happened to be stressing him at that moment. He managed to go through two hours of clinic duty without thinking about the stupid prank House was attempting to pull.
In fact, he had managed to set up a few appointments and sign some paperwork before his door opened and someone strolled in. Wilson was surprised to see Cuddy--normally, if someone walked in without knocking, it was House.
"Is House gay?"
He dropped his forehead to his palm and let out a long sigh. "Not you too," he moaned, irritated that she had reminded him of what he had managed to forget.
"What do you mean?"
"Did it ever occur to anybody that House is just screwing with everyone?"
"So you don't think he's gay?"
He pulled his head away from his palm and sighed. "Of course I don't think he's gay. We've been friends for fifteen years; don't you think he would've told me before he told his team or--no offence--you?"
"You mean he hasn't come out to you?"
"The first I heard of his coming out was through his team. He hasn't talked to me about it."
She furrowed her brows. "Huh."
"I figured that if he wasn't gay and was just . . . messing with us, you would've been the first person he told." Wilson furrowed his brows. How did the fact that he hadn't told Wilson confirm that he was telling the truth? "Why wouldn't he want you to know if it was just a prank?"
He held up both of his hands and shook his head slightly. "Wait, are you suggesting that because he didn't tell me, then it must be true?"
"If it were just a prank, wouldn't you be the first person he told? He would be trying to mess with you, wouldn't he?"
As much as he hated to admit it, that actually made sense. He had been under the impression that had it been true he would've said something to him first, but now that she brought it up, that made more sense. It seemed that he hadn't wanted Wilson to know--how was he going to mess with Wilson if he didn't say anything? No . . . no, House would've known his team would ask Wilson about it . . . Right? He hadn't known his team would ask him about the 'anonymous' present . . .
"What, exactly, did he tell you?" he inquired.
She shrugged one shoulder, and smoothed her blouse. "He just said he was gay. He apologized for . . . using me as a cover," she murmured, shifting her weight onto her other foot.
Wilson had known that House and Cuddy had had sex at some point in time, but he'd never talked about it with her. She must've figured that House would've bragged about it to him, though.
After a long, awkward silence, she finally looked up at met his eyes again. She was staring at him like a young child stared at his mother, begging for confirmation that the tooth fairy really did exist.
He tried not to think about all of the times House had met his eyes, or how close they sat on the couch, or how House never seemed to mind that they brushed shoulders when they walked. It wasn't that the fact House could be gay bothered him--in fact, he couldn't care less about people's sexuality. It was more along the lines of why House hadn't said anything about it that bothered him.
But surely, it was a joke. Right? Even Wilson wasn't so certain anymore.
"I don't know," he settled. It was the truth, after all.
It was near one-thirty by the time Wilson even saw House. Hungry, confused, and more than a little curious about the whole situation, he finally popped his head into House's office. "Lunch?" he offered with a smile, glancing at the white board through the glass windows. 'I'm gay' was no longer written on the board, but just looking at it made him think of how it must've looked, intermingled with the symptoms.
The walk down to the cafeteria went the same as it always did--House complained about his idiot team and the fact the MRI came back completely clean, and Wilson pretended like it was a great chore having to listen to his best friend whine.
Wilson paid for House's food like he usually did, and followed his friend to the table they most often sat in, as if nothing interesting had happened at all. Wilson tried to gauge House's mood--see if he was acting differently. House didn't segue into his admission, nor did he tell any gay jokes or call Wilson a homophobe. He didn't meet Wilson's eyes more than normal, or brush his hand suggestively, or do anything at all that would give away the fact he was just trying to freak him out.
"I guess she used to be this massive porker. I'm not saying she was worthy of an Oprah telecast with an audience of blubbering, crying women telling her how brave she is for getting her stomach stapled--but she was fat. Suddenly she's got this massive weight loss--she's lost almost one hundred pounds in three months--and she's complaining? Well, I guess, with all the flabby skin . . . Well, and the whole fainting, insomniac, leg pain thing. Her leg's been in pain for three months, apparently." He rolled his eyes as if he didn't approve of the mother complaining about her leg. "Her daughter says she hasn't been eating as much as she used to, but she's not anorexic or bulimic--the daughter said she checked her mother's knuckle for bite marks and that she never goes to the bathroom after eating. Of course, I sent Thirteen to ask the mother about it with the daughter out of the room--Foreman took her to get some coffee under the pretence of asking about her medical history."
Wilson nodded, filing away all of the information he'd given him in the same place he filed all of House's patient's symptoms. The case wasn't nearly as interesting as he would've expected--but Cuddy had told him House had taken the folder without a fight.
"Since the daughter doesn't have any symptoms, we ruled out environmental factors, and the tox screen was clean, but I sent Kutner and Taub to break into her house anyway. She could be hiding medication--something that wouldn't show up on out tox screen if it's experimental."
He nodded again, ignoring the fact House stole one of his fries and dipped it in some ketchup.
"What's crawled up your ass and died?" House asked, narrowing his eyes dangerously at him. "I took a boring case and sent my team off to break into her house even though I just said we ruled out environmental factors and you haven't given me a lecture. Should I tell you about the thirty Vicodin I sucked down last night with a bottle of bourbon? That would probably get your attention."
"A pretty poor attempt at attention-seeking, since you'd also be dead."
"But at least then I'd have your attention. Hey, would you commit suicide so we could be joined forever in the afterlife? Has a sort of Shakespearean ring to it, don't you think?"
"I'd be more likely to throw a party to commemorate my freedom. I might actually be able to have friends other than you. It could be interesting."
House scoffed and rolled his eyes. "You'd miss me, and you know it."
"Until I looked at my lunch bill and realized how much cheaper it was."
"You like providing for me," he insisted with an evil smirk, then he tilted his head. "So, onto the subject of the rotting corpse inside your ass . . ."
Wilson knew that if he avoided the subject House would eventually drag it out of him through force, and so he relented. "Your team asked me if you were gay."
House froze. Literally. He was in the middle of chewing one fry and reaching for the other, and it was like Wilson had hit pause on his DVD remote. It was so brief Wilson almost didn't notice. "Oh. Huh," he muttered a moment later with a shrug, then finished grabbing the fry.
Wilson waited for House to explain himself, then grew impatient. "You came out to them on the white board," he pressed, wanting House to at least say something. House continued eating--apparently, he had gone deaf in the past few seconds. "Why would you tell them that?"
"Practice," he answered casually.
Wilson blinked at him, not quite sure how to take that answer. "How do you mean?"
House sighed, then stabbed the cafeteria's version of steak with his fork. "I didn't think they would go to you. Wanted to tell you myself."
"You wanted to tell me . . . ?"
"That I'm gay. Try to keep up with the conversation, Jimmy, or you'll get a bad grade on your report card."
Wilson shifted in his seat. "You're not gay," he declared, sounding far more confident than he felt.
"I think I would know a little bit more about my sexuality than you do."
"Oh, come on. You're constantly hiring hookers, commenting on Cuddy's clothes--not to mention you two have had sex, and are we forgetting Stacy? You lived with her for five years--and nobody can fake as distraught as you were when she left you."
House shifted in his seat, and Wilson had to wonder if it was actually because he felt uncomfortable with the discussion, or because he was circulating the blood flow in his leg. "Stacy was . . . different. Special. The only woman I ever . . ." He let out a long sigh, then shook his head. "Actually, I don't want to talk about this anymore." He reached forward and stole one of Wilson's fries, dipping them in his ketchup again.
Words like 'closeted' and 'latent homosexuality' flittered across his mind, but he shoved them away. He couldn't be serious. If he were serious, Wilson would have known before now. "So, what brought upon your sudden realization then?"
"I said I didn't want to talk about it."
"Let's say I believe you--which, just to make perfectly clear, I don't--why haven't you said anything before now?"
"Look, you know what? Never mind. Forget I said anything. It was just a prank." He wiped his mouth of hastily with a napkin and pushed away from the table, his blue eyes looking at anything and everything except Wilson's face.
All right, not the reaction he had been expecting.
House limped away from the table and Wilson stared after him. It didn't occur to him until the doors shut behind him that maybe--maybe--House was being serious.
It was actually a pretty good day, in all honesty. There were no deaths, and he'd even told two people they had finally gone into remission. One malignant tumour, but caught so early on that the patient's survival was nigh guaranteed. Clinic duty wasn't exceptionally hard or annoying and he finished all of his paperwork early. The only thing that detracted for the day's perfect nature was the thought in the back of his head that House could be gay.
Not only did it bother him that House had messed with him so many times in the past that he couldn't even take something as serious as coming out at face value, but because if he was actually telling the truth, why hadn't he mentioned it before? Why hide it form him? Why did he have to practice, for God's sake? Why did he have to be the last to know?
Had Wilson, unknowingly, made House uncomfortable? Had he said something that made House believe he wouldn't stay hid friend, were he to be gay? Had he ever come off as homophobic, or bigoted? House was the most important person in his life, and he would do anything for him--but he wasn't the perfect friend, despite what people believed. Obviously, he couldn't have been, if his best friend wouldn't share something as important as coming out with him, but had no qualms telling everyone else.
It hurt--it hurt that House hadn't trusted him.
Without knowing how, he slipped past denial and ambivalence and had finally accepted that House could be telling the truth. It didn't make a whole lot of sense, but then again, what about House did? He felt guilty about reacting as he had. Obviously his opinion had meant a lot (although House would never admit it) if he'd practiced before telling him; if he hadn't wanted him to know.
After he finished up his work, he walked across the hall, glancing at the white board--excessive twitching was now scribbled on it hastily, as well as mood swings. He calmly walked into House's office and sat down in the desk. House completely ignored him, staring at the computer screen with a look of utter concentration on his face.
"When did you realize you were gay?" Wilson finally managed tentatively.
House clicked his mouse and his brows knitted together. He slowly looked away from the computer screen and slipped off his glasses. He looked Wilson over slowly, and Wilson made sure to keep his face completely impassive--he wanted to be a better friend and actually do the right thing. He wanted to make sure House understood he didn't have any qualms whatsoever about his sexuality.
"I don't know. A part of me always knew, I think. I had a friend--he was a boy--and I'd get angry if he spent his time with anyone else. Just little things--I noticed how he smelled, or the way he moved. When he talked about girls, I didn't understand what was so great about them, and why he would waste his time wondering if they liked him back--I couldn't understand why anyone wouldn't want to date him. I was young. Ten."
Wilson nodded, taking that at face value. It was believable enough. "And Crandall? Were you two . . . involved?"
"He wouldn't know a gay come on if it smacked him in the ass. And believe me, I know, because I did smack him in the ass. He was totally oblivious to the fact I wanted him. I . . . would've married him."
Wilson vaguely remember House mentioning he would've married Crandall had be been a woman, but he'd never much thought on it. "Why now? Why tell us now?"
"Why not?" he retaliated with a shrug. "You coming over tonight?"
Confused at the sudden subject change, Wilson waited a moment before nodding. "I'll bring the beer. Thai?"
"More in the mood for pizza."
"I assume I'm buying. Supreme?"
House nodded, then picked up his glasses, slipping them on over his nose. "Extra olives." He turned back to his computer screen, and clicked his mouse.
"I'll be over at ten," Wilson told him, scooting his chair back and standing.
Wilson sat beside House, taking a long pull of beer before settling it down on the coffee table by House's bottle. A low-budget science fiction movie with horrible graphics and sub-par acting was playing. It wasn't that they were interested in the plot so much as they were interested in mocking it, and looking at the incredibly hot actress with legs that went for miles and incredibly bouncy, bra-less breasts underneath a tight shirt. Well, Wilson was anyway--maybe House was checking out the love interest.
"You're totally checking her out," House said with an evil smirk.
"And you're not?"
"Of course I'm not. Gay, remember?"
Wilson rolled his eyes. "You know what I meant. You're obviously checking him out."
"How would you know?"
"Why else haven't you changed the channel? Your tongue is hanging out even further than mine." Wilson looked at the man in question--he was tall and broad shouldered, with chiselled features and dark eyes. His shirt was ripped and dirty; his pants were torn around the knees, ragged and damp with sweat and mud and blood. He guessed he wasn't the best person to do any judging, but the guy didn't seem above average, or in any way special. "Is that the type of guy you like?"
"You sound a little disappointed."
"Well, no, not really--just . . . he doesn't seem like the type you'd . . . I have no idea what I'm talking about."
"Believe it or not, I'm not watching for him. I watching it because it's so ridiculously crappy. It's like watching a spoof. It's sad that it's not."
"So . . . Who do you think is hot?"
"Oh, Jimmy, you don't need to beat around the bush for a compliment. You're a sthexy man beast, you sthilly goosth."
Wilson's shuddered theatrically. "That was . . . mildly disturbing. And I was not fishing for compliments. I don't need you to verify how good-looking I am."
"And I'm the arrogant one?"
Wilson lifted up both of his hands in surrender. "I'm only saying, I know where my strengths lie. And believe it or not, I really was just curious."
"A few more beers, and I'll take you up on that offer of curiosity."
"You're the gay one, and you need the beers? Wow, perhaps I have overestimated my appearance."
"Well, you really do have crappy taste in ties," House informed, leaning forward to grab his beer, eyes glued to the screen, where the hot actress was screaming and running around with her breasts and arms flailing, the guy jogging calmly beside her.
"Once again, you are the gay one," he replied with a one-armed shrug, before grabbing his beer and taking a sip as well.
"I guess that explains why I'm so well-groomed."
Wilson scoffed. "Right." He took a drink of his beer. "So, really, who do you think is hot?"
"Jake Gyllenhaal, obviously."
He took another sip of beer, eyeing the fact the actress was either really cold, or really horny, because her nipples were poking through the shirt. It was a shame, really, that such a face came with such poor ability. "Obviously?"
"All gay men love Jake Gyllenhaal. It's a bit like how all straight men want to be adopted by Angelina Jolie."
He rolled his eyes. "Not every straight man thinks Angelina Jolie is hot."
"Really? Name one."
No names came to mind, and to cover up the fact he couldn't think of anyone, he took another drink. He glanced at House to see him smirking, and he sighed. "All right, I stand corrected. So, Jake Gyllenhaal. You like Heath Ledger, too?"
House stuck out a flat palm and it wavered slightly. "Meh, he's not bad."
"Blonde not your thing?"
"I always had a thing for brunettes, personally." he shrugged and took a longer drink of beer, his blue eyes sliding over to meet Wilson's, who was still looking at Hose with his eyebrows raised. "Kind of like you."
"I saw that coming."
"Does it make you nervous?"
"What if I told you I check you out constantly?"
"Now I'm just flattered." Wilson figured that if House hadn't hit on him in fifteen years of friendship, he wasn't going to hit on him now. He really hoped he didn't, because that would be an incredibly awkward situation.
"Ethan Hawke. He's a hottie," House answered with a small sip.
"Who's that again?"
"He played in that one movie with Robin Williams."
Wilson tilted his head in thought. "I thought that was Matt Damon and Ben Affleck?"
"Wrong movie. Oh, but speaking of Ben and Matt, they can't be as straight as they like to pretend they are. Bromance? Please. That's a full-on homosexual romance."
Wilson just rolled his eyes as a response.
"Ethan Hawke played in that other Robin Williams movie. You know, with the poems and stuff. Boring as hell, though. It's one of those Oscar films." House scowled.
That was code for 'incredibly boring but visually appealing and great acting.' As a rule, House stayed away from Oscar films, simply because his attention span was similar to that of a toddler's. "I'm amazed you managed to sit all the way through," Wilson said.
"Well, silly me, I thought it was going to be a laugh riot. There was some serious eye-candy in that movie, though."
"You think Robin Williams is hot?" Wilson raised his eyebrows at him.
"No. I think he's funny. There's a difference."
"So just Ethan Hawke made it tolerable? I sympathize."
"Nah, the kid who offed himself was hot, too. I'd flat out carpe his diem, if ya know what I mean." He overdramatically winked, just in case Wilson didn't catch on.
He rolled his eyes. "That doesn't even make sense."
"It would if you saw the movie."
"I did see the movie. I thought it was a brilliant film. Far better than Good Will Hunting."
House nodded, and they clinked bottles together. "It is at that."
They both took long drinks, and Wilson returned his attention to the horrible science fiction film. The main actress was currently tangled up in a quasi-pornographic sex scene with the main star. Her breasts looked even more impressive with her shirt off.
They were both silent as they watched the sex scene--which honestly was the only part of the film where the acting was halfway decent.
When the screen faded to black and she woke with her head on the man's bare and muscular chest, House knocked his knee against Wilson's, presumably to get his attention. "You staying the night?" he asked, keeping his eyes focused on the screen, and his lips were pressed to the top of the beer bottle.
"Sure. I've got a change of clothes in my car for the morning."
House turned to him, and he smiled so briefly Wilson barely saw it. "Well, if you wake up to see me standing above you, breathing heavily . . ."
"I'll know you're screwing with me," he added with an eyebrow quirk.
"You know me too well," House decided.
Wilson had learned a long time ago never to schedule any appointments with patients near lunchtime--When House was hungry, he burst in without knocking, and if Wilson was with someone, he would say something offensive, embarrass him, and end the appointment abruptly. Nothing came in between House and his stomach.
So, Wilson was completely alone when House burst into his office through the balcony door at eleven-thirty. "Lunch?" Wilson offered, as if there was still some doubt in his mind.
"You seriously don't care?"
"Care about what?"
"That I'm gay, idiot."
Wilson pinched the bridge of his nose. He waited until House was seated before looking up, staring him directly in the eye so he knew he was serious. "Of course I don't. Why? Did you want me to have a crisis?"
"I figured you'd pretend not to care but then stutter and avoid me for a few days. Or something. Inwardly care, but outwardly, perfectly charming and helpful, as usual. That's why I didn't tell you. I didn't want . . . things to change." He bounced his cane on the floor, his blue eyes roaming around the office, never fixing on Wilson.
"I'm not inwardly bothered, either."
"I know. If you were, you wouldn't have sat next to me on the couch, or spent the night, or talked to me about who I thought was hot. You seriously could care less that I'm gay."
Wilson blinked at him. "And this bothers you because . . . ?"
"Yesterday, you weren't as accepting or calm. At lunch, you were . . ." He bounced the cane again, and Wilson sighed. House was still upset over the fact he hadn't believed him? ". . . different. That means that I did something--you were bothered by something. Hurt. You were acting like I had shunned you. Nobody acts that way when finding out a friend is gay . . . unless you're gay and you're upset 'cause I haven't asked you out."
"I'm not gay, and yesterday, I didn't believe you," he told him sincerely, pulling out his wallet and counting the bills inside.
"They're serving Jell-O today," House informed, as if it were of great importance.
Wilson looked away from his wallet and slipped it back into his pocket. "They always serve Jell-O."
"Well, today I want it," House amended as they both stood out of their chairs. Wilson made it around his desk before House grabbed his shoulder and made him look at his face. "I offended you without even trying. Why?"
Wilson rubbed the back of his neck and then placed his hands on his hips, sighing. "It's complicated," he settled, not quite sure what else there was to say.
"I'm somewhat of a genius. Or at least, that's what people tell me."
Wilson smiled humourlessly, then shifted his weight onto his other foot. House hated sentimental discussions, and yet, here he was, starting one. But how could he avoid it? House would wring it out of him eventually. "Look, I had figured that you would've told me sometime before now. But you didn't--you kept it from me. As if you . . . As if you didn't trust me. And it bothered me--it bothered me that you thought . . ." He searched his mind for the proper word, aware that House was still staring at him, his eyebrows halfway up his forehead, apparently amused. "You thought that I was, I don't know, homophobic? That I would shun you if I knew you were gay--that I had done something to make you think I cared about that, when I really don't."
House nodded, urging him on, the sides of his mouth quirking up.
Wilson felt his cheeks burning. "I know, it's ridiculous, but it bothered me that . . . That I had been sitting beside you for fifteen years, through Stacy, through the infarction, through two failed marriages, cooking you pancakes and playing foosball with you, and for some reason, you felt like you couldn't tell me you . . ." House was full on grinning now, his eyes wide and sparkling with joy. "That you were messing with me the entire time," he realized slowly, hands dropping from his hips.
House burst into laughter, as if he'd been holding it inside for hours, and he could finally let loose. "Of course I'm messing with you! I'm not gay! God, how long have you known me?"
Wilson clenched his teeth together. "This isn't funny, House. You came out to your team! To Cuddy!"
"Well, of course I did. You wouldn't have believed me if I told you first--and I knew they would all go to you for confirmation. Please, I'm not an idiot."
"House! I spent hours thinking you--that you didn't trust me enough to--this is a serious issue, and to think you didn't trust me with--to think you would actually--"
House scoffed and rolled his eyes, no longer laughing. "Oh, right, I suppose you're the only one allowed to keep important things form your best friend--taking depression medication, dating Amber, God knows how many other things . . ."
"That's different," Wilson defended, one hand on his hip again as he pointed at House with the other. "Unlike me, you would've made fun of me because of it." He put his other hand on his hip, ignoring House as he rolled his eyes. "This is a serious issue! Thousands of men and women go through the struggles of homosexuality each and every day, have to deal with the bigotry and prejudice, and you're using it for amusement?"
"God, now you sound like Thirteen," House muttered. "Something you both forgot to mention is that those same thousands of men and women lose friends that they thought were close--thought were true friends--all because they couldn't handle the fact they were friends with a carpet cleaner or an ass pirate. Luckily for me, everyone I care about passed the friend test."
Wilson stared at House incredulously. Apparently, despite the fact he had been willing to accept it was all a lie and would've been unsurprised to find out it really had been a joke yesterday, he was now stunned that House would've done such a thing.
House limped towards the door. "I may not be gay, but I'm still hungry, and Jell-O doesn't eat itself, you know."
Wilson walked out of his office, standing beside House, their arms touching as they walked. "You were putting me through a test. To make sure that I would care about you no matter what."
"I also took a patient without a fight. Did I do that because, deep down, I really do feel guilty about avoiding my patients, too?" he faux-asked, eyes wide with false innocence.
Wilson shook his head and stared at the floor, hiding his smile. "You could've just asked."
"That's boring, and you're reaching for something meaningful because, unlike me, you really are an emotional sap. Who paints his toenails and blow-dries his hair . . . Well, and knows a scary amount of knowledge about the Village People . . ." He slid a curious glance Wilson's way, and Wilson knew what was coming before he said anything. "Hey, should I be expecting a coming out announcement anytime soon?"
"Face it," Wilson retorted as he pressed the call button, "you care about me, and you wanted to make sure I care about you too. Really, truly care about you."
The doors opened and they both stepped into the elevator, doors sliding closed a second later. House used his cane to press the floor they wanted. "Believe what you want," House relented, which was just as good as admitting that Wilson was right anyway.
"Not everybody is going to be as . . . lenient as I am when they find out you were lying," Wilson pointed out, shuddering to think of how each of them would react.
"I could care less . . . Wait, no, that would imply I care now."
"And most of the hospital will still think you're gay."
"Most of the hospital thought we were lovers before I said anything. All I did was say what they wanted to hear." Wilson nodded in agreement--it wasn't the first time he'd heard such rumours. "Which, you know, apparently these people don't know I'm far above your league, anyway."
"Yes, because you're in a league so high above mine," he retaliated with an eye roll as the doors opened and they strolled out, a few nurses staring at them curiously as they walked. He didn't want to know what they thought they'd been doing.
"Damn right I am. Don't know if you've noticed lately, but you're getting kinda chunky in the middle. I prefer my men lean. Pop a few diet pills, and . . ."
House slowed to a stop, his eyes darting back and forth, and Wilson stared at him, knowing damn well he was having one of those epiphanies. Any moment now, he would be running off to save his patient, and Wilson reminded himself that House wanted the Jell-O, so when he came back, he wouldn't have to hear House complaining about how he forgot.
Sure enough, House spun on his heel and darted as quickly as one could with a cane towards the elevator, and Wilson shook his head, walking to the cafeteria, and pretending that he wasn't amused by House's antics.
Wilson found himself, once again, sitting on House's couch, a beer in hand, with The L Word on mute. House had told him several times how he'd saved his patient, and what had been wrong with her. Apparently, she had been taking experimental diet pills and those, mixed with some depression pills she'd been hiding from her daughter, had caused severe side-effects. The two things all Americans wanted--to look good and be happy--had nearly caused this woman's death.
"So, since you aren't gay, how did you manage to sit through that movie? I doubt it was because of Ethan Hawke."
"My girlfriend dragged me to it. She said the show had some serious eye candy. She missed the message entirely. Even I caught onto it, and I slept through half of it. Of course, you were probably sitting on the edge of your seat, crying little a baby at the end. You're such a girl."
"I didn't cry."
"I don't believe you. Some poor kid blew his brains out and what? You laughed?"
"Yep. What can I say, I'm completely heartless."
Wilson stared at him, confused. "You did?"
"Tears of boredom," he added with an evil grin, and Wilson chuckled along with him. He got the feeling that House really had cried, though, and it wasn't because it was boring, either. "The coolest kid in the show, the one I actually liked, had to go and off himself. How's that for a waste of money?"
"Oh, come on. The only reason you liked him was because you wanted to, what was it? Carpe his diem?" Wilson joked, knowing damn well it was because House had had a similar father, but he wasn't going to bring that up and ruin the mood. He'd seen himself in the boy, and he'd gone and killed himself.
"Damn straight. He was hot." Wilson watched as the camera zoomed in dramatically on one of the women on the show, and vaguely wondered what was going on, but not enough to turn up the volume. "You really didn't care that you thought I was gay."
"Actually, I did. I'm just that good at hiding it."
"You know, if you were gay . . ." House began, trailing off to take a drink of beer. "I would tease you mercilessly and never let you hear the end of it." He took another drink. "But I'd still let you sleep on my couch."
"In other words, absolutely nothing would change."
"Not a damn thing."
A/N--Happy (belated) birthday to Jonic Recheio, without whom this story would not exist.