Disclaimer: I don't even own a house, so how would I own Greg House?
Warning: Vagueish spoilers for seasons 3, 5, and 6. This was written before Brave Heart.
Five Times House Lost A Friend (And One Time He Didn't)
When House lost his first friend, he was eight.
His name was Leonard Jacobson, but everyone called him Nimoy, or Nim for short. House had never understood why people had nicknames for nicknames--wasn't that the whole point of having one? Either way, it didn't matter, because House called him Nim just like everybody else.
Nim had never really liked the name Leonard--he said it made him sound like a boring grown-up and people snickered at him whenever the teacher called him by that name during roll. He said he always felt more like a Nim than a Leonard, anyway.
Nim had a tragically normal home life--a mommy who stayed home and took care of him and his three older brothers; a father who worked a lot, but didn't neglect his kids. He'd never been outside of the city they lived in, and House fascinated him because, even in just eight short years, he'd been to two different countries and three states. That was why House liked him--when he spoke, Nim hung onto every word. House liked it when people listened to him. His father had never paid him any attention growing up.
It was a friendship borne of interest, he supposed. Nim never interrupted him or told him he was wrong. He never talked over House or dismissed what he said as being boring. He listened attentively to everything he said, almost as if House's stories were drugs to him. Green eyes sparkling and staring up at him adoringly, House had become addicted to it as well. In a way, they had both been very selfish--Nim got to experience all the things he never had, and House could be as narcissistic as he wanted, and neither of them cared. Feeling freedom and cared about was new to him; when growing up, all he knew were rules and apathy.
One day, Nim came up to him, and instead of asking House to talk, he'd opened his mouth and divulged information about his life for the very first time. "We might be moving," he muttered, kicking up dust and staring at the ground, as if he were ashamed; as if it were his fault.
"Well, that sucks with a capital S," House had replied. He didn't mourn the possibility of losing a friend so much as losing being able to talk when he wanted about what he wanted, and it always being about him. Selfish as that was, it was the only place he'd gotten it, and Nim had never minded. In fact, he'd craved it, it seemed.
The next few weeks, House and Nim seemed to fill each day with as much as possible. Getting into trouble for incessant talking in class was a recurrent situation; something he ended up taking many ice baths for. It didn't matter, though; he could tell anything to Nim, and he was just listen as if were the most interesting, dreadful, or happy thing to have ever heard.
"It officially sucks with a capital U C K S," Nim had said much later, when he had finally accepted the truth that they weren't maybe moving, but definitely.
On their final day together, the two boys skipped class and hung out a block away, in a makeshift tree-house that someone else had made but had stopped using. House scribbled his address and phone number on a piece of paper and made sure Nim put it in his pants pocket. He told one last, great, magnificent story, and when he walked Nim home, he stayed until the moving trucks pulled out of the driveway.
"I'll write you, Greg! I swear!" he'd shouted out the window, waving goodbye, sounding completely sincere.
Nim had promised he would write House as much as possible. He had promised vehemently, and multiple times. House had stared into the wide, green eyes, at the tears streaming down his pale face, and at how Nim had run his hand through his dark brown hair, and believed him.
Every single day, House checked for a letter from Nim. And every single day, he expected it. Nothing--absolutely nothing--ever came. Not a note; not a postcard. For two months, House ran to the mailbox, sifting through the junk mail and bills, and felt himself die a little bit each day when he realized nothing came for him. He only stopped because he had to move, and even then, he idly hoped something would come--but of course, it didn't. Nine months of friendship--of interesting stories and laughter--and Nim had not once sent him anything. Nim had broken the promise; the promise he'd sworn and cried over; a promise House had believed.
"Everybody lies," he said when he was eight.
When House lost his second friend, he was fourteen.
His name was Robin Puck, and his parents thought that hilarious. Robin's parents were the type of people who his father liked, if only because standing near them made him appear more intelligent. They surpassed his father in every way--in brilliance, status, and brain power, and they knew it, too. They saw fit to remind everyone around them of their incredibly high IQ points by using large words and insisting that they were well-above genius range. They had three kids--Viola, the eldest, was so competitive that she once burst into tears and tore her report card to shreds when she got a B, and her parents had the nerve to ground her for the grade; Robin, the middle child, was more athletic than brainy, but far more interesting than anyone who shared his last name; and the youngest, Claudio, who was an annoying narcissistic monologist who actually wasn't nearly as intelligent as he liked to pretend he was, but nobody ever saw fit to tell him as such because his head was so large criticism bounced off of him, leaving him unscathed.
Robin's parents had hated House right off the bat, because unlike most of the idiots they surrounded themselves with, House actually understood them. He may not have been as smart or as experienced as they were, but he was damn near close. He was a threat to them, and they hated it. He told them all where the bear shat in the woods, which was never something people liked to hear when they believed themselves to be above it all. It was that trait that Robin had liked; that trait he had envied.
Robin had never been able to say whet he felt; House hadn't blamed him--what, with parents like that, who would? They wouldn't listen to a word he said--if he started to talk over them or start thinking for himself, they would talk over him and tell him what to believe and how it "really" was. Smart people always believed they were right, even when they were wrong. Including House--but he knew that about himself, so it hardly counted. Robin envied House the ability to say what he thought, and be intelligent about it so his parents couldn't outwit him, as they were so accustomed to doing.
From that moment on, Robin sought him out. He lived through House--instead of acting on his impulses, he allowed House to take control and drag him around to live out his instead. He laughed at all of his cruel jokes; he laughed at his biting sarcasm. He cheered him on when House did something incredibly stupid and dangerous, and even participated, knowing that House had his back; knowing House could protect him.
Then, they went rock-climbing. Robin fell, and had gotten an infection from his injuries. They'd taken him to the hospital, and the baraku that had cured him had pretty much captivated House. He didn't know if he'd seen himself in the doctor who didn't care what people thought, or if he'd seen what he wanted to be, but it was like staring into a mirror.
Robin, however, hadn't been the same afterwards. House didn't know if it was because seeing how the other doctors treated the baraku, despite the fact he'd been right, or if nearly dying had changed his thought processes, but suddenly, he wanted to change--wanted House to change. His scathing, hurtful comments he threw at idiots (admittedly, probably for attention) no longer made Robin laugh. The dangerous things he did no longer excited Robin, but scared him.
"A bored Greg is a dangerous Greg," he would say, and every time he did, it grated on his nerves. Instead of idly watching or getting over it and joining, he started lecturing him. "You'll kill yourself," he'd say, and glare at him disapprovingly. "Can't you just conform for once?"
Conform? Yeah, right.
"You're too mean," he'd follow each eye-roll with, or; "That's not appropriate."
The freedom Robin had craved, and the very reason they'd become friends, drove them apart. Robin went back to Mommy and Daddy, threw in the towel, quit whatever sports he participated in, and joined a bunch of honours programs that were far too advanced and taxing for him to handle.
Viola killed herself a few months later for getting a C in physics, and though they grieved, claimed she went to hell for committing a mortal sin. They blamed the teachers; they blamed God; they blamed everyone but themselves.
When their youngest, Claudio, failed one of his classes, it was because the teachers didn't like him; he was far too intelligent for them to comprehend, and therefore the grade was erroneous, despite that every time Viola or Robin had gotten an unsatisfactory grade, they'd been punished.
Robin hated science, but decided to go into research to placate his parents. He went to church every Sunday, though had lost faith in God when Viola had died.
And every single time House did something stupid, Robin got a wistful look on his face, but had the nerve to tell him off later on. Robin hated everything House did when others were around, but when they were alone, they were just fine; perhaps a bit tense and spiteful, but he didn't dare tell him what to do.
Breaking Robin's nose had been cathartic, but stupid. His father had hit him with the belt several times, and asked why--why did he break Robin's nose?
"I hate hypocrites," he'd answered when he was fourteen.
When House lost his third friend, he was sixteen years old.
Her name was Paula Hanson.
For some godforsaken reason, his father had shipped their happy asses to Utah. It wasn't that the place itself was annoying, so much as the people; he was the new kid in a small town; a freak. He was too tall and too thin; a gangly, loud-mouthed jerk who spoke what he thought whenever he thought it. Perhaps he instigated the fights (all right, so he definitely had) but he was sixteen, dammit, and tired of all the moving around he did. He was a hormone bomb waiting to explode, and he didn't care who he hurt in the process.
Paula was a beautiful girl with a bright smile and shiny eyes. She was blonde and she had blue-grey eyes, and always seemed so at peace with life. House hadn't really meant to talk to her, but she was the only other person who sat in the back the class. He sat there because he hated people; she sat there because she was shy. One day, a few days into term, she had asked him where he was from--that she hadn't recognized his accent, and House (always willing to talk about himself) had told her that they moved around a lot, and so it was more of an amalgam than any accent in particular.
Paula didn't treat him like a freak, like many of the others did. If anybody insulted him, she would tell them off in the most tactful way someone could. She had a habit of telling people where to go in such a way they would actually look forward to the trip. Of course, House didn't need her help, and when he insulted them back enough to make them cry, she never once told him to back off or grow up. She found his antics amusing--well, at least quietly so.
The next thing he knew, he was being invited over to her house for dinner, and they would always have enough for him. They prayed before every meal, but did not force him to join in giving grace. They gave him free clothes, but never asked for anything in return. They would politely ask him to change a subject if they felt like he was being too crude, but never became angry or hateful if he told them he could talk about what he wanted.
House realized he was in a give, give, give, give friendship with Paula--with her always giving. He hadn't cared; in fact, he'd pretty much milked it for all it was worth. Anything to get away from his father, really. He even went to church with them on Sundays--not that he believed all the tripe about Mormon and Lehi or whoever--because sometimes, for him, three hours of silence was better than three hours of glares and reprimands. They knew he wasn't interested in their religion; they knew the real reason he was there, and even told him that if he ever felt uncomfortable with the teachings he could leave; that he wasn't obligated to show.
He should've realized that they were being too nice; perhaps he had noticed. In fact, thinking on it, he definitely had--it had unnerved him, and he'd often wondered about it, but if someone gave him an inch, he would take a mile. They gave and he took; no questions asked. Paula knew what his home life was like, and allowed him to rant about his father as much as he wanted, without once telling him he was overreacting, or that when he got older he would understand. It was a nice feeling, he supposed--being able to do whatever he wanted without being judged.
One night he'd gotten into a serious argument with his father, and in a fit of teenaged angst, snuck out (or rather, told his father to do something anatomically impossible to himself and stormed out) and headed over to Paula's. It hadn't been the first time he'd gone to her home in the middle of the night and climbed in through her window, lying on the floor beside her bed and blabbing about how much he hated his life, but it was most definitely the last.
He had overheard (read: eavesdropped on) a conversation she'd been having with her father. Who could blame him? They'd said his name. The father had found out he'd spent the night in her room a few nights back, and had been predictably upset. "Greg's using you, don't you see that? He walks all over you, and you let him! He's just a needy bastard and you can't not help him because that's what you always do! You can't keep bringing in strays, Paula! This is not a refugee camp!" her father had shouted.
"But Greg has nowhere else to go, Dad!" she had shouted back.
The argument continued, but House hadn't paid it any mind. He'd listened half-heartedly, replaying the first bit of the argument he'd heard over in head, obsessing over it. He listened to the father call him a manipulative asshole, and conceded that the father had many good points. He wasn't wrong in anything he said--in fact, logically, House believed that he was right, and that Paula should've listened. But all she did was defend him; say that he needed her because he had nobody else; that she couldn't just stand by and let his family treat him the way he did.
She felt sorry him, and he hated that. He would rather be despised than pitied.
When the argument finally ended and she'd stormed into her room, her wide, innocent eyes froze on his frame and her normally fair cheeks burned a bright red. She'd rubbed the back of her neck and apologized; said that she had a temper she was trying to work on, and that she was embarrassed because he'd overheard her screaming.
House had never really cared much for filtering his words, and that night had been no exception. "Is that all I am to you? A refugee?" he'd asked, clenching his jaw staring at her, demanding nothing but the truth.
"Of course not, Greg," she'd said, and it had sounded like she meant it, but it had made him want to die, anyway. He had learned long ago that nobody told the truth, and so he'd called her a deceitful bitch and climbed out of her window, deciding instead to wander around the small town for a few hours rather than sleep in the same room as someone who pitied him.
The next few weeks, he'd decided to do everything in his power to make her hate him, or ignore him, or anything--anything--other than pity him. Nothing seemed to work. She asked him how his day was, and when he, in no uncertain terms, told her she could die for all he cared, she had nodded once and left, only to return the next day.
On the last day in Utah, she had come to give him a parting gift. She had held the wrapped present in front of her, saying she was sorry that he had only had "a few months to make this town more interesting."
Rather than accept the gift, he'd lost it. "I'm not your pet, dammit! I'm not some stray you bring in from the cold, so leave me alone! Maybe if you'll pray real hard to your God, Nephi will send some dying Ethiopian to your doorstep, but that isn't me, you got it? I don't need your pity!"
He had expected her to punch him, or burst into tears, but instead she just nodded.
When he left his house that afternoon to leave that town forever, that same gift was on his doorstep, with a card saying she was sorry for how things turned out for them, and her mailing address underneath that, despite his efforts to piss her off.
"There is no God," he decided when he was sixteen.
When House lost his fourth friend, he was eighteen years old.
Her name was Helen Duncan, and oddly enough, she'd moved into town and been the new girl, instead of him. House had actually met her when he was seventeen. He'd been living there for a little over four months, and was finishing up his senior year in school. Helen had come into class ten minutes late one day, and the teacher had introduced her as their new student.
Helen had thick red hair that fell past her shoulders in unmanageable curls, and shiny grey eyes. She was tall and pale and thin, but that wasn't what caught his attention. No, what caught his attention was that in just a week, she managed to get into a brawl after school. She'd lost spectacularly, but he'd admired her pluck.
It didn't take long for them to become friends. She was the student that teachers hated, simply because she had a mouth on her but managed to get good grades. Not perfect grades, but well enough. She was a walking contradiction, and that fascinated him--she liked watching and playing sports, even if she sucked at them, but wasn't against putting on makeup and watching girly movies and crying discreetly at the end. She was confident and flirtatious, but she never had boyfriends. She spoke without thinking, and the two of them could verbally spar for hours, but she'd been known to give homeless people change and comfort anybody who looked like they needed it--whether she liked the person or not.
Just when House thought he understood her, she'd go and do something to surprise him, and he found himself captivated all the more. They snuck out constantly and walked around town for hours, and the summer following their graduation, he'd never been on more adventures in his life. She was so very full of life, and could actually keep up with him--as rare as that was.
When she pulled him into their very first hug and kissed him on the cheek on his birthday, he knew this friendship was different from his others--never before had a friend of his made his stomach swoop quite like that. After that, it became easier for the two of them to touch--as if she'd broken the ice--which was saying something, seeing as House hated touching people
After that, all he lived and breathed was Helen. That wasn't unusual behaviour for him--after all, House would often go on binges and get obsessed with something. He'd been obsessive with all his others friends--and that hadn't mattered, because they'd been just as possessive and clingy as he had been. It was difficult not to be that way. House hadn't had many friends, and when someone didn't treat him like filth at the bottom of his shoe, he wanted to hold onto it as long and as tightly as possible. It had never gotten in the way of his friendships before, and so he hadn't anticipated it bothering Helen now. She certainly hadn't seemed to mind.
People around town thought they were dating, and if they asked and House told them the truth--that they weren't--they wouldn't believe him, anyway. He supposed it really wasn't all that much of a shock--they slept in the same bed, sat on the couch so close their arms would link and their knees would be pressed together, and if one was seen without the other, it was guaranteed the other would be there soon.
They went to the same university, and Helen had made it quite plain the only reason she went was because she wanted to be there with him. She joined the cheerleading squad, and so had he--much to his father's disapproval. He'd had to sleep outside for a week after that mishap. They practically lived at each other's homes, and House didn't really give it much thought if his heart skipped a beat when she fell asleep on his shoulder, or if he noted the way her hair smelled. He didn't analyze why he felt the urge to walk across their classroom and beat the hell out of Jason when she mentioned to him briefly that she thought he was cute.
When Helen started hanging out with other people, House felt like she was abandoning him--like she was kicking his ass to the curb and laughing at him behind his back. He tried harder to hang out with her, and took of most of her time anyway, but it still hurt whenever she'd mention one of her other friends in passing. None of House's other friends had had other friends--so why should she? He needed her, dammit--he couldn't be without her. She was the only thing in his life he cared about, and it hurt that maybe he wasn't the only thing in hers.
The more he tired to hang out with her, the more she tried to find somewhere else to be. He knew that she was hiding form him, and he knew that he should stop, but he literally couldn't. The harder he tried not thinking about her, the more she took up his thoughts. The more she confused him with her mixed signals (kissing his cheek goodbye, sleeping in the same bed as him, but all the while avoiding his calls and not letting him hang with her when others were around) the more he wanted to understand.
One night, when House purposely called her when he knew she had a boy over, she burst into his room not fifteen minutes later, demanding what his problem was. They'd gotten into arguments before, but not like that--not ones where she was yelling at him, her red hair wild like flames and her grey eyes spurting with tears, but from anger and not sadness.
"Why do you always do this, Greg?! Why can't you let me spend some time away from you?! You're suffocating me, dammit! Everywhere I go--everything I do--you're there! You knew damn well I had someone over, so why?!"
House, who had never really the ability to keep his mouth shut, and shouted his answer loud and clear, and even though at some level he'd known it for awhile, it had surprised him. "Because I'm in love with you, idiot!"
What happened next, House really didn't expect, or understand.
She cried. Sobbed, really. When he touched her shoulder, she pushed him away, and when she removed her hands from her face, she grabbed the nearest thing she could find (a book, House remembered) and chucked it at him. Thinking back on it, House probably could've stopped himself from calling her an idiot, but he'd never really been good at expressing emotions.
"I could never be with a possessive freak like you," she'd spat, and that was that.
She dropped out of college, leaving him alone in his classes and on the cheerleading squad. She did not pass go, she did not collect two hundred dollars--she just left. She had been pretty popular, and so everybody knew their story, even if House hadn't said anything. House wasn't the martyr--he was the psychotic stalker that drove Helen not only out of school, but out of town.
It went by like a blur--one day, they were swapping stories and racing each other down roads, stealing his father's car and taking it out for a joyride, and the next thing he knew, she was gone.
"I push everyone away," he realized when he was eighteen.
When House lost his fifth friend, he really had no idea how old he was.
The entire friendship had been based on one thing--Dylan Crandall's car.
Unlike most of the people at the university he was attending, House had to pay his way through college. Oh, he had scholarship, naturally--being intelligent had its benefits--but as for transportation and food and other things his scholarship didn't cover, well, he was pretty much screwed. His father was against all free handouts--even to the point the found it almost unethical for House to have a scholarship, despite he'd worked his ass off for it. He didn't send him allowance, or money, or even food.
Working and going to school was tough enough, and on his pay check, he couldn't exactly afford car insurance, and the school he was going to wasn't cheap, so anything his scholarship didn't cover, his hard-earned money went towards. Well, and the drugs. House liked his marijuana and his coke and alcohol, too. And the parties.
But Dylan Crandall was the type of guy who sailed on his daddy's money. He got barely-passing grades, and had obviously lived in a bubble. What kind of idiot just hands over eighty bucks to an obvious scam artist? Someone trying to help, apparently--but also someone who had some serious cash. Someone with a smokin' hot car who could've been easily persuaded to let others drive it. And so he'd sought him out and purposely became his friend, if only for free transportation.
Growing up, House had moved around a lot, and making friends had been difficult--and the friends he had made he'd lost just as quickly, and so House hadn't planned on starting to care about him. He was a world-class idiot and perpetual sucker, but he meant well. But then he was so damn funny. Not in a conventional way, and sometimes House found himself wondering if he even meant to be, but the truth was, he could make him choke on his laughter easily.
Most of the time it was the way he said it instead of what he said. The perfectly straight face, the totally innocent expression, as if he didn't really get why everybody was laughing when he spoke. He had loads of friends, but it was apparent within a few months that he preferred House over anybody else. He liked listening to his stories, he wasn't afraid to go along with his crazy schemes, he gave House anything he asked for, and he didn't seem to mind the fact House really didn't spend time with anyone else.
Even when they argued, it never reached anything intense, and Crandall had a way of forgiving even the worst slights. For the next few years, they spent at least eighty percent of their time together, and everything was going just fine.
Even when House had demanded Crandall think twice before marrying The Shrew, they hadn't split apart. "But she's my fiancée, Greg," he'd whined as an explanation, and House had cringed at the way he'd said his name. It reminded him of all his other friends--friends who broke promises and lied, and left him and pitied him; friends who had said his name multiple times, but he only remembered the worst ones--the times they'd said it and pity or anger or tears had coloured the tone.
"Don't call me that," he'd ordered, and from that day on, Crandall called him G-Man, or like all the people his father had known and all of the professors at the university called him, House.
Sleeping with The Shrew and been purely for Crandall's benefit, but for the first time that House could remember, guilt over that act fuelled his actions from then on. If Crandall knew about it, he didn't care, but he'd never really did anything to make House assume. The Shrew had broken off the engagement, and Crandall hadn't once blamed House, so he figured he had no clue, but House couldn't stop thinking about it. He'd betrayed his friend, and that just wasn't something House did.
House's was the loyal one--he didn't lie, he didn't pity, he wasn't a hypocrite, and he certainly didn't get pushed away, but it seemed like in this case, he could be. He railed against Crandall for doing good deeds out of obligation or guilt, and yet he knew a lot of what he did for Crandall was based on the fact he'd slept with his fiancée. Anytime someone tried taking advantage of him, being the naïve kid that grew up in a bubble, he came to his aid. Perhaps not overtly, but he was there for him, and it was out of pity. He lied to spare his feelings on a few occasions, and sometimes he even decided not to hang out with him when he was perfectly capable.
When they fell apart, it wasn't over an argument, or a broken nose. They didn't leave to spite one another, or in anger, or even sadness. It wasn't over anything really. What happened, House supposed, was far more tragic.
Crandall graduated far sooner than House, and House moved onto med school. Crandall went and did his thing, and House went and did his. They called each other up all the time at first--left emails, wrote snail mail, met up once a month . . . and then, eventually, they stopped. Crandall didn't called when he normally did, and House didn't much care. Instead of writing an email, he'd search for porn, or do his homework instead of writing a letter.
Eventually, Crandall just became another long-lost memory.
It wasn't until, years after they last spoke, that he pulled out a picture and remembered everything they had been and no longer were. He tried to place just when, exactly, they'd broken off. He'd tried to blame himself, or blame Crandall, or blame The Shrew, even, but what he realized was far worse--they'd just drifted apart, and that was life. Neither of them had done anything wrong, and yet he was still sitting at a desk, utterly alone, with no one but his guitar and piano for company.
"I'll die alone," he whispered while sitting, and his age was inconsequential.
"It's not a complicated procedure, Wilson. It's called self-checkout, not Aneurisms R Us," House said, raising an eyebrow at his friend.
They were at Wilson's favourite grocery store (which, incidentally, was about five miles away, although there was a much cheaper and closer one near his apartment--apparently, their produce section was 'sub-par.') They had built these new 'self-checkout aisles' to help speed things along, and so far, it hadn't been very speedy or helpful in Wilson's case. He'd scanned his groceries, put them in their plastic bags, but was having difficulty swiping his credit card and actually paying for them.
He swiped his card, and frowned deeply at the machine when it beeped disapprovingly at him. "It's not as simple as you might think. I've never actually done this before."
"Obviously." House tapped his cane against the linoleum, and glanced over his shoulder. There were four people standing impatiently in line behind him. He looked back at Wilson, smirking. "Well, it can't be too hard. The girl in front of us wasn't exactly a rocket scientist, and she bought over two hundreds dollars worth of groceries."
"Not all of us can be as tech savvy as teenage girls, House." A pointed glare in his direction and a slight raise of his ridiculous eyebrows let House know just what he was implying.
"Oh, please. This coming from a guy who downloaded that new Taylor Swift ring-tone for his cell phone?"
The girl directly behind him snickered, then tried to hide it with a cough.
Wilson narrowed his brown eyes briefly. "I only did that because it was stuck in my head for over a week because somebody played it over the intercom."
"You would've done the same."
"I can assure you I wouldn't have, but whatever helps you sleep at night." He turned back to the machine and slid his card through it again, shoulders slumping slightly when it beeped at him again.
"You know what would really help me sleep? Your bed."
"Ah-ah-ah, I slept on your couch for years--it's only fair that you have to sleep on mine. Now shut up and let me do this." He read over the directions printed on the machine carefully, nodded to himself, and swiped his card yet again. The machine saw fit to bitch at him. "Ah! Why does this have to be so difficult?"
"It's not that hard. You swipe the card, pay for your crap, and take your groceries."
"It's hardly as easy as you make it sound."
"Could you two please hurry up? I have someplace to be," the woman behind him spat angrily.
House turned around and eyed her slowly, raising his eyebrows. "Wow, we are so uninterested in your life right now," he stated, then turned back to Wilson, who was giving him a disapproving glare. "We could always just go grab some takeout. You don't need . . ." He picked up the first thing he saw to prove a point. "What the hell is this, anyway?"
Sighing, Wilson plucked it from his hands and tossed it back into the plastic bag. "That's basil, House, and unlike you, I can't survive on canned spaghetti and peanut butter. We are not having takeout for three nights in a row."
"It's not . . ." Although he was talking to House, his eyes were focused on the touch screen, as if looking at the total amount could help him. He rubbed the back of his neck in thought. " . . . healthy," he decided after a minute, then stared at his credit card, lips drawn in a tight line.
"Quit being such a girl."
"I'm not a girl," he defended half-heartedly, then swiped the card again. For a long glorious second, it was silent.
"You paint your toenails. Ergo, girl."
"No offence, but I really need to be somewhere, so could you stop arguing with your boyfriend and get on with it?"
Wilson turned an apologetic expression towards the woman, looking over House's shoulder. "I'm sorr--what?" He furrowed his brows, then shook his head, lifting up his palm and shaking it a little. "No, I'm not--he's not--we're not . . . together."
House leered at him. "That's not what you said last night."
"There was no last--" he began, glaring at him, then looked back at the woman behind House, cheeks a faint shade of pink. House chuckled darkly to himself--messing with Wilson was just too much fun. He'd missed it over the summer. "There was no last night. He's just . . ." he trailed off, apparently deciding that explaining House to a stranger would be too pointless and difficult, and then looked back at him. "House, could you be helpful for just one minute in your life and help me with this?"
"I would, but irritating you is much more interesting, darling."
"Then could you at least stop attracting attention?" he whispered harshly.
"Attract attention? Me? Never!" He glanced over his shoulder at the pissy-looking woman behind him, then pointed over his shoulder at Wilson with his thumb. "My boyfriend's a little shy. Just out of the closet, you know."
He faced his friend again, forcing an innocent expression. "What? Why should we hide our love? It's a beautiful thing!"
"Sir, could you hurry this up, I have--"
"Somewhere to be, yeah, yeah," he dismissed with a hand wave, not even bothering looking at her. Irritating her was far less fun than irritating Wilson. "We know. I'm not the one you need to be talking to here. He's the one who can't swipe a damn card."
"If it's so damn easy then why don't you do it?"
"Because you're cute when you're frustrated," he said while batting his eyelashes overdramatically.
"I'll let you have the bed tonight," Wilson rushed, hope lighting his brown eyes.
"What was that?"
"Do this for me," he pointed at the self-checkout machine, "and I'll let you have the bed. For tonight only."
"I thought you said you hated the couch?"
"I do, but it's starting to have some appeal."
Wilson stared expectantly at House, but he was too busy thinking of curling up on an actual bed, with perfect, fluffy, warm comforters wrapped around him . . . and then subsequently realizing he would be sleeping on the same bed Amber slept on. Was that creepy?
"Well?" Wilson pressed.
He gestured at the machine. "Are you going to help or not?"
"I'm thinking." He tapped his cane to the linoleum, weighing his options in his head. Sleeping in the bed once shared with the woman he'd hallucinated not a few months earlier could be odd, but he figured sleeping on an actual mattress outweighed that by a mile.
"Thinking? About what? House, there's a line!"
"Well, I've never actually tested your mattress out. What if it sucks? Helping you out here might not be worth it. I've grown to like your couch. Our love transcends time." He had already decided to do it, but he wanted to see how far he could push Wilson. Besides, the woman behind him was huffing and grumbling under her breath, and it was actually quite funny.
"And you can TiVo General Hospital."
Nice. That was a definite plus. And all for swiping a card, too. "Indefinitely?"
He tapped his cane to his mouth mostly for show. Of course he wanted the bed. "Deal," he said.
He grabbed Wilson's card and flipped it around (he'd been holding it backwards--House inwardly blamed the fact his friend was a lefty in a right handed world) and swiped it. It made a pleasant-sounding hum, and words flashed across the touch screen--apparently, the machine was glad to have their patronage, and wanted them to have a good day.
Wilson grabbed his bags of groceries and apologized profusely to the woman behind them before heading towards the exit. He kept glancing evilly at House, but waited until they were stuffing the bags into the Volvo's trunk to talk.
"How long did you know my card was backwards?" he asked as he situated the milk away from the bread so that it wouldn't squish it.
"Oh, around the second beep," he answered, relishing the brief annoyance that flashed across his friend's face.
"Why didn't you say anything?" he demanded gently, slamming the trunk shut.
"The girl behind us was hot," he lied. Well, it wasn't a lie, per se, but it wasn't the reason. He just liked getting on Wilson's nerves.
"You're an ass," Wilson muttered, making his way to the driver's door as House ambled towards the passenger's side.
"You love me for it," House said, then climbed into the car and shut the door.
A/N--No disrespect towards people of the LDS faith (Mormons.)