Summary: My alternate take on "Known Unknowns".
(Not an attempt to "fix" the ep' - the episode was outstanding. I loved it!)
Pairing: H/W pre-slash hints. Just a ONE-SHOT
Rating: Rated General (other than pre-slash hints)
Wilson heard his door creek open. Other than the looming shadow in the lighted doorway, there was no way to tell who it could be - other than he was sharing his hotel room with only one other individual and the height. Not many men he knew over six feet. "House? That you?"
The door slowly closed, the light from the hallway, a triangle of white, squeezed down and down, shrinking to a dot, then disappearing altogether. Wilson could smell the whiskey in the air. "What are you doing here?" He saw the tall ship tack back and forth across the carpet and crash on the reef that was his pillow top mattress. "Are you drunk?"
Liquid sloshed in a bottle. The shadow of House up-ended it in the dark, draining whatever was left in one large swallow. House said. "Not drunk' nuff. Not'z drunk as I'm gonna' be. 'N sure'z hell not'z drunk'z I need t' be."
Wilson finally gave up the blind conversation and switched on the bedside lamp.
House was carved in the glow of the bulb, yellow light and gray shadow. Slumped with fatigue, his normal physical strength surrendered hours ago, bent over like a reed in the wind. He stunk of misery.
"Jesus, what the hell is wrong?" Wilson tried for sympathy but tipped off somewhere between pity and irritation.
"Why d'you think sup'in's wrong?" House sounded a little mad. "Why duz 'ere 'ave to be supp'in wrong?" He asked again, working his tongue around the words that much harder because of the late hour and his advanced state of inebriation. "Y' alwayz-ink it'z me. Y' know, Wilson, my good pa-a-a-l, sometimes other people'r wrong."
Hoy-boy. Wilson sat up and snatched the bottle from House's left hand. A futile gesture as there were only drops left. "How much of this did you drink?"
House frowned and looked at the bottle as though to find out for himself. "Um...looks like all v' it."
Wilson threw off the covers and tried to stand, but House choose that moment to fall onto his face, dead-center of Wilson's stomach. Wilson let out a gush of air at the impact. "OOF! Easy, there. Geeze, House. Holy crap, how drunk are you?"
An answer from his stomach, muffled. "m' I stil' stan'in-up?"
"Pred'y gah-dam' drunk 'den."
House was talking into the little middle-aged paunch between Wilson's rib-cage and pelvis. "'N it's all your fault." House added with difficulty.
Wilson wasn't sure he was understanding his drunken friend. "I can't really hear you when you're speaking to my naval instead of me."
House lifted his face long enough to repeat himself. "Thi'is all your fault. If y' hadn't stopped talking to me like a child, I never woulda' had t' hire the guy. Now you've ruined ev'thing." He resumed his close-up inspection of Wilson's belly-button lint.
House was way drunker than Wilson had ever seen him. "What the hell are you talking about?" Though he understood what House meant about the not talking to him bit. Wilson had indulged in some rather juvenile revenge and cut House out of his life for several months, plus making sure House knew what a miserable, drunken addict he was whom Wilson didn't consider a friend anymore; a little gas on an already burning flame. He had been a self indulgent ingrate for dumping and running after Amber had died. Every time he thought about it, Wilson still felt the shame like it was brand spankin' new. Not his finest moment. "What have I ruined?"
"He'z 'ere. With Cuddy. Ri'now. 'bounce'n th' kid n' evr'thing."
He? As in - "You mean that detective?" Wilson couldn't remember the guy's name.
House nodded, his cold nose making a tiny wet smoosh on Wilson's fat roll.
"You mean he and Cuddy...?"
House smooshed once more. "He lig'z her. She lig'z 'im. She," He took extra care in articulating the next bit, "cares for me"."
Ouch. Wilson had heard those words before, right before his wives had handed him his walking papers. "You mean Cuddy and him...?"
House nodded, but this time turned his head so he could breath again. "As I n' yer belly speak."
Wilson grabbed House's ears and forced him to sit up. "So you went and tried to talk to her, to tell her how you feel about her, and instead he was there and...?"
House let out a rank, whiskey breath. "And." He said, saying no more. He didn't need to. It must have been a tidy little domestic scene, and must have hurt him like hell.
Wilson felt bad for him. Cuddy and House had been flirting with each other for years. "It seems odd that she would take up with..."
"Right, him, so suddenly."
"Ye-a-a-h." He nodded, as though the thought was a revelation. "R'lly odd, 'cuz e's short." One of House's last ditch attempts at insult. House shook his head and made a grab for the whiskey bottle, but Wilson was too fast for him. "Only wasn't sudden. Y' got a'thing to drink 'round 'ere?"
"No. I had the hotel remove the bar fridge from my room."
House looked at him like he was insane. "You're so b-o-o-r-i-n-g, sometimes."
"Yes, I'm boring to want to keep an eye on your poor, long-suffering liver."
"I'z lame t' admit t' being boring, Wilson - and it's boring."
Wilson sighed, looking at his long-suffering friend. It took House months to ask out a woman he really thought he could care about. For one night stands he'd have a clever remark ready in under twelve seconds. But House had sort of pursued Cuddy for a long time. The saddest part was, she knew it, too, and had done nothing to discourage him.
House was on the verge of tears, and that was so astounding that Wilson thought maybe it was a trick of the light. "House? House...?" He took House's rough chin in one hand, trying to make House look him in the eye. "Just tell me, do you love her?"
House blinked slowly, as though the question had never occurred to him. His eyes were red and watering and he was muttering under his breath so softly, Wilson couldn't make them out. "House? Did you hear me? Do you love her?" If so he was going to encourage House to march right back there and tell her so, and get rid of that idiot detective one way or another. Hell - he'd help him do it, if it came to that, no matter how much it hurt.
House frowned, a small puzzle forming on his face, his eyes looking at Wilson, the bed, the wall, the clock radio; everywhere. "I,..." He shook his head. "I dunno'."
He didn't know? The empty booze bottle argued otherwise. This drunken visit in the middle of the night was a second. The almost crying brought in the third. This upset and he still didn't know? Then he wasn't - couldn't be in love with his boss. House was confused and hurting and anguished, but he wasn't in love. Not with Cuddy. Angry maybe. Feeling stung that she had kept her relationship with Lucas from him.
"Shit." Wilson stared into his friend's sad, bloodshot eyes. "Oh boy..."
In the course of their friendship House had come to him with problems before, usually disguised as the need to get wasted or an invitation to eat pizza and watch sports. Then House would quietly angle the conversation around to something that was bothering him.
And Wilson had often advised House, who at first either rejected it outright or pretended he didn't hear but then secretly implemented it behind Wilson's back. But Wilson had no idea what to do with this. House wasn't a man you comforted. He hated mush and platitudes, and hugs were reasons for a right-cross more than a thank-you.
But this was the first time House had ever shown up on his door a depressed, drunken wreck.
House started going through his alcohol-soaked reasoning in his head, every act, every corner, every wrong decision that had lead to his sitting on the edge of Wilson's bed, on the edge of crying his eyes out. His speech had improved remarkably. "If you hadn't stopped talking to me, if I hadn't called you that night, if Amber hadn't gotten on the bus, if I hadn't killed her, if I hadn't gone crazy and..." House suddenly looked away, over across the room to memories, almost all of them painful. "...hallucinated and...four months in a mental institute...fifty years old mental case...I'm fifty years old..."
Holy crap. Wilson was getting anxious himself now. "Hey, fifty is not dead. Fifty is seasoned. There's nothing wrong with fifty."
"Yeah,..." House sounded a continent away from convinced. "Yeah, nothing wrong with me at all..."
Wilson had left anxious behind as was in the land of scared. He grabbed House around the back of his head with both hands and made him take a hug. Forced him to accept the human touch because that was all he was able to give and as far as he could see, that was what House needed. House would have never asked for it himself either. He would stand over there, on the other side of the room and pretend he was okay - suffer rather than let on that he sometimes craved, needed, help or closeness just like everybody else.
Wilson had nothing to say except. "Tell me what happened."
For an answer, he got a soft snore. Wilson carefully lifted House's head and, with one hand on his friend's right shoulder, managed to crawl out from beneath him, letting him fall back onto the mattress. Making sure House's head was turned to one side so he wouldn't suffocate, Wilson lifted his legs onto the bed and left him to sleep it off. Then he got dressed
A soft tapping on her door woke Cuddy up. "Who'd that be at this hour?" Lucas asked from the other side of the bed.
Cuddy threw on a robe. "Who do you think? It's House. Probably needs me to sign off on some hair-brained procedure he wants to inflict on the bell-hop."
Lucas sighed. "He's hurt, you know."
She knew that. House was hurt the only way House usually showed hurt. By not talking and pretending everything was okay. "He'll get over it." He'd have to.
Cuddy looked through the peek-hole. She opened the door to a slightly disheveled Wilson. He looked a little confused and uncertain as to whether he ought to broach the subject at all. "House is in my room, sleeping off the greatest drunken train wreck of the year. What happened?"
Cuddy sighed. Of course, house would have run to Wilson. Of course, it would have to be awkward and miserable. "House made an impromptu visit. Lucas was here. It was awkward, he left."
As simple as that. Wilson remembered that it was him who had been pushing House on Cuddy for weeks, and it was his idea House should offer to baby sit or some such nonsense. House bouncing and diapering a baby. A thing no one with enough common sense would ever imagine in their wildest nightmares. It was his fault. At least, this part. "Um, sorry, I was sort of encouraging him."
Cuddy shrugged. "Doesn't matter now. He knows, he and I are good."
Wilson tilted his head. "Umm, I wouldn't say he's good, he drank enough alcohol that I doubt any of the organs in his body will ever decompose."
Cuddy shivered in the doorway. "Well, I sorry about that, but I can't do anything about it." Cuddy looked uncomfortable.
"If you're here with Lucas, then you've been together what? at least a while. You could have at least told him. You should have - weeks ago."
"House knew this - whatever "this" that he and I didn't actually have, was never going to go anywhere." Cuddy was protecting herself, too. What a screwed up bunch they all were, including himself.
Wilson shook his head emphatically. "I don't think he did. Cameron didn't even know, and she knows everything about everybody."
"I need stability. Lucas can give me that, House can't."
"He's trying." He really was. He was still in pain and still a Grumpy Gus, and still slightly insane, but he really was trying. Maybe for the first time since the infarction.
"A good try won't give Rachael a dependable father."
That was true enough, but Wilson was still pretty steamed. "You led him on. You let him think he had a chance, Lisa." He had to go pick up the pieces now. Such an awful but familiar feeling. "You're an excellent Dean, and a strong willed woman, so you usually get what you want from House, but this is the first time I've ever seen you be cruel."
Wilson now understood why Lisa Cuddy had booked her room on the other side of the hotel. So she and Lucas could avoid run-in's with House. He slipped down to the restaurant, had some really early breakfast and returned to the room with Pepto Bismal, a large black coffee, and an order of dry toast for House.
Who hadn't moved. He was still asleep on Wilson's bed and was lying so still that Wilson, knowing he was just being paranoid, checked the pulse at his throat to make sure his friend was still present and accounted for. The heat beat was strong and steady. Miraculous, considering the man had experienced three heart attacks in fifteen years.
Wilson checked his watch on the bed-stand. House had stumbled in around three AM, and it was now going on six-thirty. He would probably sleep the rest of the morning. Wilson dreaded the wake-up, but whatever happened, whatever they talked about, whatever feelings House might have had for Cuddy and dismiss as trivial, whatever his pain or pout, Wilson would make sure he was there for it.
Plus House made a good room-mate. It was fun having him at home every evening. They were sort of made to be friends and, Wilson recognized, he really did love House. A lot. He couldn't possibly put up with the man if he didn't.
Wilson watched his drunken friend sleep. House wasn't a bad guy, he'd just had a long run of bad luck with life and, it would seem, with people. Wilson never believed that he would come to think so but House deserved better than Cuddy. Wilson lay down beside his friend and draped one arm over House's shoulders.
He was sleepy, and this felt very comfortable. It felt nice. "'G-'nite, House."