This is my Wilson_fest entry on LJ and also my first House fic EVER. :) So yeah, please be nice. Cookie? Prompt: Wilson is a guardian angel and his assignment is a total bastard named Gregory House.

Despite the cracky prompt, this is actually kinda serious. Eh.

1.

"I don't need your help!" House shouted, his hand clenched around the edges of the sofa so hard that the knuckles were white. "Get the fuck out!"

Wilson didn't bother to answer that one, knowing that House would throw anything he said back into his face as patronizing, condescending, as yet another stellar example of Jimmy Wilson's pathological need to save the world. Instead, Wilson simply marched over and pushed House back against the couch until the other man was lying flat, trembling under Wilson's touch. House offered only token resistance as Wilson rubbed the rigid thigh muscle with slow, soothing strokes, feeling the scars soften under his fingers. House's face never changed—his eyes were still tightly shut, lines of pain stark against pale skin—but his fingers relaxed their death grip on the couch, finally letting go.

"You read Japanese, right?" Wilson murmured, casting about for a safe change of subject. He knew that this was as vulnerable as House would ever allow himself to be, that discussion beyond this point would only serve to humiliate him further.

House hissed softly, a sound caught between derisive amusement and overwhelming pain. "What, you've given up on Spanish now? El fuego del amor not cutting it for the masturbation fantasies?"

"Yeah, because we all know that the Japanese are the kings of porn," Wilson said wryly. "Well, yeah, actually. Tentacle porn." His hands never stopping their slow, deft movements, Wilson turned his head to catch the faintest quirk of House's mouth. "Someday you'll have to translate the Japanese for me. The ravish-ee certainly looks like she's enjoying it, but how much exactly I guess I'll never know."

House let out a short, curt laugh. "I couldn't live with myself if I corrupted the boy wonder oncologist," he said finally, his eyes opening to focus on Wilson's face. "I mean, you're still a virgin, right?"

"Yep, Julie and I never consummated our marriage. Are you going to ravish me now?" Wilson asked dryly.

House snorted. "Call later; I'm on a date with my leg," he said, gesturing dismissively at his thigh. He turned his head away, a look of vulnerability flickering on his face for just a second. "God, it hurts so fucking much."

"That's why I'm here," Wilson said quietly. As House turned in preparation to vent his vitriol on Wilson for daring to take advantage of that moment of weakness, Wilson raised his hands defensively. "Hey—I'm cheaper than a hooker. And you have to admit, I'm prettier than most of them, too."

House studied him for a long moment, his mouth set in a grim, almost angry line. But Wilson could see the slight crinkle in his eyes, the slightest hint of amusement playing in those brilliant blue eyes. "Yeah, you're my bitch," House said, the gruff affection in his voice belying his crude language.

Wilson laughed at the words, knowing them for the twisted compliment they were. "Anytime, House," he said, feeling the last of the tension seep from House's body. "I'll be here."

i.

The angel had had many bodies, many names, many incarnations during its existence from the beginning of eternity. It changed genders as effortlessly as humans breathed, shedding names with barely a thought. Who it was, what it was—angel was its identity, its being.

The angel didn't need a name. It was only when it took human form that the permanence of flesh was realized, that it became more than one in a faceless, nameless crowd. But weighed against the reality of flesh was the stark knowledge that nothing was forever. Humans came in and out of life like mayflies—they were born, they lived, and they died. The end.

Humans were such weak, short-lived creatures. So easily maimed, so easily killed. Nothing at all compared to the length of eternity.

2.

"Being miserable doesn't make you better than anyone else, House. It just makes you miserable."

Later that night, Wilson parked his car next to House's apartment, watching House's shadow pace restlessly back and forth. Stacy was gone, driven away by House's inability to accept any sort of change and his own goddamn stubbornness.

House didn't look at Wilson as he swung open the door, and Wilson didn't say anything as he threw his coat over the sofa and settled against the wall. House continued to pace, the crease between his eyes deep with pain—self-inflicted pain. Pain that he deserved.

"You're an idiot," Wilson said finally, crossing his arms.

"You already said that," House snapped, his head snapping up to glare at Wilson. "Your little speech on the roof sufficed to tell me how this is all my own fault. If you're just going to rehash it all, get out. Get out now."

"What are you punishing yourself for, House?" Wilson said. "What did you screw up so badly that you've hated yourself for it ever since? Because seriously, there's no other reason you could possibly be so fucking masochistic."

House snorted. "I worshipped Hitler as a child. You should get out; you never know when I might get an urge to start killing annoying Jews."

"You were happy with her—"

"She's married!"

"If you hadn't sent her off—"

House slammed his cane down onto the table with a vicious, angry crack. "What, Wilson? If I hadn't sent her off—then what? We pretend none of this ever happened, go on having casual sex whenever Mark's not looking? Maybe you don't give a fuck about marriage vows, but sleeping with a married woman is something grownups call 'adultery'—"

"So it's all about ethics? You're worried about slander—"

"You really think this story has a 'happily ever after?' Two guys, one woman—it's guaranteed that someone's going to get screwed over. And Stacy—she—Mark doesn't—" House gritted his teeth.

This isn't some big sacrifice! Words from the roof, spoken in indignation and disgust. House didn't know sacrifice. House couldn't know sacrifice. He was a self-centered, egotistical son of a bitch who nagged, prodded, and exploited people until he got what he wanted. He lived for the thrill, the puzzle, nothing else.

Right?

Wilson opened his mouth then closed it again, suddenly uncertain.

The silence didn't pass House unnoticed—whirling around to face Wilson, he waited, his blue eyes inscrutable. Wilson ran his hands through his hair, his mind spinning.

"You slept with her," he said finally.

House didn't say anything.

"And you stole her file. You—you offered to catch a rat for her, for God's sake. You did everything short of getting down on one knee gig to try to get her back."

House waved a hand at his thigh. "Bum leg. No kneeling," he offered in a half-hearted attempt to deflect.

Wilson ignored that, his mind still spinning. "And after all that," he said finally, "You're just going to…walk away?"

House swallowed, his eyes dropping to the floor. After a long pause, he nodded.

Wilson exhaled slowly, rubbing his face. "Why?" he said at last.

House didn't say anything. Wilson could see the way his shoulders tensed up, the way his hand clenched on the cane—tension and anger and pain that House struggled to hide every moment of the day. His jaw clenched, and for a long moment Wilson thought House would refuse to answer.

"It was the right thing to do," House said finally, looking up to meet Wilson's gaze.

The look of vulnerability in his eyes made Wilson's heart skip a beat. House's barriers had been shaken by Stacy—the earthshaking revelation that yes, despite what she'd done to him, despite the years and history between them, he did in fact love her—and the equally devastating knowledge that in the end, it would amount to nothing. Can't ride off into the sunset if the gal's already married, cowboy. Sorry, thanks for playing.

No snark, no wit, no sarcasm. There was nothing sharp to mask the fact that right here, right now, House needed him. Not just for pizza and beer, not for free lunches, and certainly not for sanctimonious lectures. Just to confirm that, yes, he was right. It wasn't the fairytale choice, it wasn't the heroic one, but it was the right one.

"Yes," Wilson said finally, quietly. "It was."

ii.

Humans. Paradoxical, illogical creatures that twisted the world to suit their whims. Complex, complicated, contradictory.

Existence is easy.

Life is complicated.

3.

Merry fucking Christmas.

Wilson stalked out of House's apartment, slamming the door behind him. He was done. Done. House could clean up his own crap—Tritter, the pills, all of it, because Wilson was sure as hell not going to wipe his ass for him anymore.

What the fuck did House think he was doing, screwing with his life like that? House was a doctor, a brilliant one. If he'd wanted to commit suicide, he'd be dead with a few well-placed shots of morphine. No pills, no mess. So what was this? Some sort of pathetic cry for help?

Goddamn you, House, what do you want from me?

Outside, safely ensconced inside his car, Wilson slammed his hands against the steering wheel with frustration. Fine. Yes, Wilson had 'betrayed' him, if you wanted to get all technical, by going to Tritter. But it wasn't like Wilson had received a million dollars and a flying pony in return for his testimony. He'd begged, pleaded, done everything short of getting onto his knees in order to get Tritter to agree to a deal. It wasn't—he wasn't—he wasn't the bad guy here!

"I am not responsible for your life," Wilson said to the empty silence of the car. "And if you die, House, it is not on me."

Against his will, his hands were shaking. Wilson stared at them, suddenly furious with himself for daring to show so much emotion for a heartless bastard who probably couldn't care less. Angrily, he clenched his fists around the steering wheel until the shaking stopped and his heart slowed to something resembling normal.

Once he felt like he could breathe again, Wilson revved the engine of his car and drove away, forcing himself not to look back.

iii.

Becoming human was terrifying.

It wasn't just the cloying heaviness of a human body, or the flood of foreign senses that threatened to overwhelm. Those the angel could get used to, after a while. It was like walking into bright daylight after being in a pitch-black room—it would sting, it would hurt, but eventually it would adjust.

No, the terror went much deeper than that. Because once in encased in a human body, terror became real. It was more than just a word or a description; it was the frantic pounding of a human heart, the quick jerky breaths of panic, the involuntary chills that would spread up the spine. Humans were such frantic, involuntary creatures—every event triggered a jolt of instinctive, unwanted chemicals and hormones that flooded the body with the sensation called emotion. Anger. Joy. Sorrow. There was no way to stop them, short of returning to the passive void of the angelic form.

4.

"His father's dead, James...he isn't talking to me…please, can you convince him to come to the funeral? I know he'll listen to you…"

With one simple, pleading phone call, Blythe House had managed to turn Wilson's life upside down. Not surprisingly, the root of it all could be traced back to House. House, House, always House.

He didn't have to talk to House. Wilson was a doctor. A busy man with a specialty involved a higher mortality rate than what most people could handle; people like that were bound to have too much on their minds. Besides, Blythe knew that they were just friends. Or were, anyway. Friendships, especially broken ones, didn't obligate people to have to do anything.

No. He'd tell Blythe that yes, he was so sorry to hear about John's death, but no, I don't have to give a fuck about House anymore. Well, maybe in more polite terms than that. He wouldn't want to drive a grieving woman over the edge, after all. But she had to understand that House was no longer Wilson's problem—he'd walked away. Done. Fin. The end, only without the 'happily ever after' bit.

Wilson shook his head fiercely and returned to his work, filling out the paperwork that constituted so much of a doctor's life. Paperwork that House always refused to do, making Cameron do it or—no. And in fact, add a what the hell? in there for good measure. He didn't have to think about House. House was somebody else's problem now. Someone else could make House go to the funeral…

"Hello?"

Unbidden, Wilson's hand had crept to the phone, dialing before his brain could catch up. Cuddy's voice rang through the speaker, as sharp and crisp as ever. "Lisa?" he managed finally, his hand clenching around his pen.

"Wilson!" Cuddy's voice was guarded, pleased, and confused all that once, a feat that Wilson couldn't help but admire. "This is a surprise."

"Uh—yeah," Wilson said. "Listen, Lisa—"

He stopped, rubbing his face hard.

"James?" Cuddy asked after a moment of silence went by. "Are you still there?"

"It's about House," Wilson blurted before he could change his mind. "Look, I need a favor."

Cuddy was silent for a long moment. "He hasn't been stalking you, has he?" she said finally. "Harassing you at work?"

"No—well, I mean, yes—but I mean—look, it's not about that. His mother called me. Um...his dad died."

"I'm so sorry," Cuddy said softly. "He hasn't told me, of course, but that's no surprise. Will he need time off for funeral leave, or—"

"He's not going to the funeral."

Cuddy paused. "Oh."

"Blythe told me that House isn't talking to her, and uh...she wants him to deliver a eulogy. And House refused. So, uh…"

The words, can you make him go to the funeral? hung unspoken on Wilson's tongue, tasting dry and foreign. Cuddy would refuse, of course, but the point was that Wilson had tried. He'd done his responsibility—hell, he'd gone above and beyond, considering that he wasn't actually friends anymore with House. He'd done his ex-friend a required favor: he'd passed the torch onto Cuddy, who was his administrator and boss and quite frankly had no responsibility either. But it was more than what Wilson had to do, and he'd done it.

He'll listen to you…

No, he won't, Wilson wanted to laugh. When had House listened to him about anything? Stacy, Tritter, Amber…god, Amber. Wilson closed his eyes, feeling the familiar ache start in his chest. He loved her. She was smart, independent, and not in the least bit needy. She was good for him, in a way that House never was.

"I have the right to walk away from you," he said out loud, needing the sounds to reconfirm the empty conviction.

To her credit, Cuddy didn't squawk what? or bleat in confusion when she heard the words. When she finally spoke, her voice unusually gentle. "I'll do what I can, James," she said quietly. "I can't guarantee he'll listen, but I'll try."

There. He'd done it. She'd even said yes. He could hang up now.

"James?" Cuddy's voice drifted from the phone.

Fifteen years. Fifteen years of intractable stubbornness, of being mocked at every opportunity, of having his fries stolen and his office trashed. Fifteen years of fractious, unpredictable friendship, ever since those words were spoken outside a lonely jail cell in New Orleans.

"No. I'll take care of it."

Wilson took a deep breath and closed his eyes, accepting the inevitable.

"Lisa, I just—god. Look. I'll be outside the hospital tomorrow. Just find a way to get him to my car…"

iv.

The definition of an angel is obedience.

That was the way it had been since the beginning, and the way it would be until the end. Angels had no needs, no wants, no desires. They just were, and they were there to serve. Who, what, how—choice was not something that was ever considered.

As an angel, disobedience was never even considered. It was only when it became human that things became complicated. Because humans, in losing the permanence of infinity, had received the power of choice in return. Nothing was binding, nothing was absolute.

Yes or no? Will or won't?

Since the days of Eden, the trial of humanity was the power to decide.

5.

Neither of them was really sure who initiated the first touch. Wilson was positive that House was the one who had leaned over first, while House maintained firmly that Wilson had looked at him in a way that meant business.

"Okay," House said finally. "If I'd've known feeding you would've resulted in this, I would have…"

"Not done it at all?" Wilson said wryly.

House turned over to stare at him, bright blue eyes piercing through Wilson. "No," he said quite seriously, his hand reaching out to flick Wilson lightly on the cheek.

Wilson felt a warm shiver run down his spine at the touch. "You know, I never thought you were gay," he said finally, more to distract himself than anything. "What with Stacy and all those hookers you've hired."

"And you have three marriages under your belt," House retorted, "Not to mention a broken record of philandering and pity sex with dying cancer chicks. Not exactly gay either."

Wilson smiled lightly and rested his head against the pillow, watching House with lidded eyes. "I never actually intended to have sex with them," he said. "It just kind of…happened."

"Did this just kind of…happen?" House said after a moment, his joking tone belying the seriousness on his face. He turned his head away, preventing Wilson from seeing his expression.

Wilson hesitated, reaching out to touch House and abruptly stopping. "House…"

The light from outside the window was bright orange, the last few rays of sundown. Looking around, Wilson couldn't help be struck with the irony that House must be feeling right now—this was Amber's apartment. Amber's room. Amber's bed. And now Amber was dead, and here Wilson was, having sex with the person he'd effectively blamed for killing her. House had carried around that knowledge that he was essentially the reason that Amber had died for months, never having a chance to grieve under the guilt. So much guilt, in fact, that he'd started hallucinating her.

Mentally, Wilson compared Mayfield to the infarction in his mind, listing all the ways that House had lost some part of himself, spiraling out of control. A leg versus his sanity. Muscle versus his mind. Which did House value more?

"It wasn't just sex, House," Wilson said finally.

"Of course it wasn't," House said, his voice muffled from the pillow. "It was merely two men jumping each other, tearing each others' clothes off, and jerking each other off. Can't imagine why people would think the word 'sex' about all that."

"So that's why you're acting this way?" Wilson asked. "You're worried about what people think?"

House turned around at that, his blue eyes flashing. "I'm not a cancer chick for you to save, Wilson," he spat. "I don't need pity sex."

Perhaps it was a result of his less-than-pleasant childhood, Wilson didn't know, but House abhorred pity. After the infarction every inch of comfort or solace had to be basically shoved into his face, because otherwise he'd throw it right back at you. Are you in pain? No, you moron, just give me the damn scrip and shut up. Do you need anything? Nothing from you, go away.

"House," Wilson said quietly, firmly. "It wasn't pity sex, and you know it."

"I'm sure you said that about all the other times you've tried to save people with your dick," House snapped.

"I wasn't trying to save you," Wilson protested vainly.

"You eat neediness. I'm needy. I just came out of a psych ward; you can't get much needier than that. I'm Grace version two."

"I didn't know Grace for almost sixteen years," Wilson said, starting to become exasperated. He grabbed House's arm, refusing to let go. "She didn't bail me out of jail or see me through three broken marriages, or stick a knife in an electrical socket and scare the shit out of me. She didn't go through an infarction, either, and she sure as hell didn't drop by my office every single day that I was at work to annoy me or steal my food or just for simple conversation. She didn't have a mental breakdown in my office or—"

"I didn't break down," House snarled, jerking his arm away. "I—hallucinated. I—"

"You hallucinated Amber."

House was deadly silent. Abruptly, he sat up, looking around for his clothes. "I'm not talking about this."

"House—"

"I'm not talking about this!"

House fumbled around for his shirt and looked at Wilson to discover that Wilson had hold of it and wasn't planning to give it back. "Fine," he snapped. "Take it. I know where you put your laundry, anyway."

"Your subconscious chose Amber for a reason," Wilson pressed, ignoring the glare that House was shooting at him. "You—"

"Yeah, okay? You caught me. I felt like crap after she died. And then you basically told me that you hated me for it and we were never friends, so that just made me feel even better. Then Kutner died, and my subconscious chose her because of all the guilt I felt about her death. Does knowing all that make you feel better, Wilson? Great! Let's go to Florence!"

"What about the guilt I felt?" Wilson shouted, clutching House's shirt to him like a talisman. "For knowing that I was the one who drove you to see Amber? That I led to your psychotic breakdown—and yes, it was a breakdown, House! And then when I had to say no to you in Mayfield—"

"I'm not your brother," House snarled. "You don't need to mourn for the rest of your life just because you hung up on me. I'm a big boy. I can take it."

"That doesn't mean you should have to," Wilson snapped.

House paused for a moment before turning to stare incredulously at Wilson, letting out a sardonic huff of laughter. "What're you trying to do, Wilson?" he said after a moment. "Save me, or something?"

Wilson sighed, all the fight seeping out of him. He slumped against the headboard, letting House's shirt fall limply from his hands. "I—"

"You don't have to try to protect me from all the evils of the world," House said, and his voice this time was surprisingly gentle. "Or shield me from the grasping hands of Vicodin, or whatever else it is your messiah complex requires you to do."

Wilson groaned, rubbing his forehead. "I—we—for God's sake, House, can't you just accept the fact that maybe I needed this too? That it wasn't pity sex, or else it wasn't just that. I didn't—I need this. I need you."

House studied him for an agonizingly long moment. Wilson felt the bed indent as House sat down slowly, hesitantly on the other side. "You are one confusing person, James Wilson," House said finally. "You need to be needed by the needy, when you in fact are one of the neediest people I've ever known."

"That doesn't make any sense," Wilson protested half-heartedly.

"That's why it's interesting," House said as a tiny smile quirked his lips.

"Oh, great. Well, at least you're interested. Don't I feel all warm and fuzzy now."

"I've been interested in you ever since I saw you chucking that bottle at the mirror in New Orleans," House informed him matter-of-factly. "And then when you threw the bottle again at my dad's funeral." He snorted, shaking his head. "I still can't believe you did that, by the way."

"We still haven't apologized to your mom for it," Wilson said after a moment.

"Don't. It was probably the most exciting thing she's gone through since Dad died." House was silent for a moment, studying Wilson with a meditative look. "I never told her, you know."

"The DNA test?"

"Yeah," House said. He looked away, playing with the sheet. "She already knows, after all."

Wilson reached out tentatively, brushing House's stubbled jaw with his fingers. To his surprise, House didn't pull away at the touch. Instead, his eyelids fluttered slowly before finally closing, an uncharacteristic gesture of surrender.

"We're both fucked up," Wilson pointed out softly, his fingers caressing House's cheek. "And we never pledged to follow a social contract, remember?"

"So we're okay," House said after a moment.

Wilson had to smile at that particular piece of deja vu. "Yeah. Yeah, I guess we are," he said.

Maybe Dr. Nolan, that sneaky bastard, had been right after all—sharing things was good. In more than one way.

v.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

One simple sentence to sum up a devastating work of art. It could just as easily been, One day, God was bored and decided to get creative, or, From nothing, God crafted the world and universe and then left it at that. A person could use Old English or perhaps put it in haiku form; any of a million variations to describe a miracle.

Because basically, words didn't matter to an angel. Words were spoken and then forgotten, drifting into oblivion about as soon as they were born. Why put your trust in such unreliable things? Angels did not argue, bicker, or lecture. Voice was not something that was required in the pursuit of obedience.

But humans embraced language. They cherished it, they crafted it, they elevated it to an art form. With humans, words could destroy or heal. They had the power to create universes, to bring someone to the heights of ecstasy or the darkness of depression.

And often, the most important words were the simplest.

6.

The day House died, it was cloudy.

No thunderstorm. No rain or hail or sleet. It was just cloudy, with clouds hanging placidly in the sky, not seeming to know or care that at fifty-four years of age, Gregory House was dead.

An accident, the men who found him said. A car driving on the wrong side of the road. The driver was drunk, didn't notice him. He didn't suffer. He died almost immediately.

Wilson attended the funeral in a daze, unable to comprehend harsh reality. Vaguely, he was aware of the fact that everyone was tiptoeing around him, whispering as if he might break at the slightest voice or touch. His best friend. Well, House only made him miserable anyway. No, they were living together. Do you think they were gay? Were they having sex? Hush hush, it's none of our business.

Cuddy offered to go home with him that night, but Wilson refused. Perhaps she knew at that point and decided to let things run their course. Or maybe she just didn't want to know, so she could take solace in ignorance later: I didn't know. I didn't think he would. It's not my fault.

Pain is invisible. Pain is human. And wanting release from that pain is an ingrained part of human instinct, part of human nature. It was nobody's fault—not House's, not Cuddy's, nor any kind of god.

Dying was simply the final step to becoming human.

vi.

Becoming human was repulsive. And yet returning to the angelic body is somehow even worse. Because once bitten by the pleasures of flesh, the cold immobility of permanence is stark, bleak. The only consolation is indifference.

The memory never fades. It just doesn't matter.