Author's Note: This chapter takes place alongside the events of the episodes "Finding Judas" and "Merry Little Christmas" (two of the last episodes featuring Tritter, in season 3). The initial quotation comes from the former. UPDATE: It's now properly formatted too!

"People think House has no inner censor. The fact is he holds himself back, because when he wants to hurt, he knows just where to poke a sharp stick."

Three yards into a mile of paperwork, Wilson hears a rapping on the door to the balcony. "You never knock first," he mumbles, eyebrows raised as he waves the other man inside.

House strides in, a plastic bag tucked under his arm. He looks far better than Wilson would expect—even more gaunt and less shaven than usual, but he seems okay. In fact, if Wilson didn't know better, he would almost say there is a smile on his face. That is his first clue.

"I'm not giving you any Vicodin." With Tritter nosing around, Cuddy has had to restrict his supply. He is surprised that it has taken House this long to come to him for help, and annoyed with himself for the thought.

There's a tightness in his jaw when House replies, but his tone is cheerful enough: "Well, I'm not giving you head. Deal?"

There's a half-second of awkward silence, but only that much. "Deal." Wilson starts ruffling his papers as noisily as he can.

Unfazed, House plops the plastic bag on Wilson's desk and starts rifling through its contents. There's a salad-to-go, a packet of ranch dressing, and a fork on top of Wilson's stack of charts before he can muster up a long-winded explanation about why House should leave.

"You hate salad."

"It's not for me, honey-bun."

Another half-second goes by. "Don't call me that, or think that calling me that will change the topic. You never get me salad when I ask for one, let alone unprovoked. Hell, you never buy me food at all. What gives?"

House smirks, planting himself on the edge of the desk. "Can't a guy show his appreciation for his best friend, whose undue suffering at least deserves a salad?"

"Strangely, it's never come up." With his accounts frozen, and his favorite lunch hand-delivered, Wilson decides to put off questioning House's motives until after he is done eating.

Three bites in, House has not moved. "Where's your lunch?"

"I gave it to a homeless person on the way over."

He seems to be gritting his teeth more than the sarcasm merits. "Loss of appetite, huh?"

"Get stuffed," House responds cheerily.

Four more bites, and House still has not moved. "Why are you watching me eat?"

"You have a perdy mouth," House comments with a sudden and pronounced drawl, leaning just a hair closer.

Yet another half-second goes by. "I am not going to dignify that with a response."

Seven bites later (Wilson is actively counting now), he realizes that House has moved closer, much closer. "Is it warm in here?"

"No," House replies flatly, evidently still staring at his mouth.

"Stop that!"

"Stop what?"

Wilson starts to loosen his tie, catches himself, and forces his arms to his sides. "Staring at my mouth."

"I can't help it, you just have such a..." A lean hand reaches across the desk, and Wilson freezes. One finger strokes his chin, and he thaws enough to blink. House turns the finger, so Wilson can see the salad dressing that now adorns it. Licking it off slowly, he concludes: "... perdy mouth," his eyes intently watching Wilson.

A half second passes, and Wilson is still blinking. After another, he regains the ability to speak: "Out. Now."

"Really, so soon?" House smiles, showing off his teeth. "The formalities aren't even over yet."

"What formalities?"

"Lunch, mostly. Of course, there will probably also be a few rounds of negotiations."

Wilson begins packing the salad up. Hungry or not, he has decided the thing is not worth whatever House has in mind. "Negotiations over what, which ward to commit you to?"

"The terms of our deal."

It takes Wilson too long to get House's meaning, and by then he has made the mistake of peering under his desk to make sure the salad winds up in the waste bin rather than on his shoes. When he looks up, House is already standing beside his chair, his alligator smile even wider.

Wilson has been House's best friend for years, and until now he thought he knew that grin. Every other time, it has meant some sort of mischief, usually involving strippers and too much alcohol. Now... "House, this isn't funny," he says, slowly standing as he tries to control the pitch of his voice.

House takes a baby step forward. Wilson tries to back up, only to bump into his chair. House takes another small step, and the only way for Wilson to keep their bodies from brushing is to put his hands on House's chest. "House!" he yelps, and cannot decide whether it would be worth it to stumble over his chair in a pitiful effort to escape. Before he can dive away, House leans in, and Wilson can feel his whole world tilt.

The kiss is not especially sexy; House's stubble is too scratchy, his grip too rough on Wilson's shoulders. Wilson makes the mistake of keeping his eyes open, and so has the privilege of watching House stare him down. His eyes are hungry, and Wilson is relatively sure that the expression is not for him, not really.

"Wanna make a deal?" House whispers against his lips.

Wilson pushes, and House falls back a half step, barely catching himself on the edge of the desk. This gives Wilson enough space to push his chair in and back away smoothly. A quick glance to the window reveals that no lucky nurses have happened by in the past minute or so, for which he thinks a prayer of gratitude before turning back to House. "What the hell is wrong with you? No, don't bother embarrassing yourself by trying to explain how this isn't the withdrawal talking. Just get out."

House grabs his cane, the handle of which had been tucked on the edge of the desk. All pretense of happiness has been clamped down now, and Wilson can see in his posture that the pain in his thigh is overwhelming him, and probably has been for a while. "Don't be stupid," House growls. "We can both get what we want."

Wilson takes a deep breath and runs a hand through his hair. "Do we start with the part where you need to get help, or the part about me not swinging that way?"

"First, I'm in the process of getting help right now—from you. Second," House continues, his tone shifting from scoffing to leering, "you want me."

House takes a step forward, and Wilson moves to put the desk in between them. "You are being ridiculous."

"If I am, then explain why are still talking to me. You've mentioned every reason not to in the past few weeks, and yet..."

"I'm sure I missed a few." Wilson pauses, closes his eyes and counts to five. "For just a moment, let's pretend you're right, and I'll change my question accordingly: you think I want you, like this? Clawing at me because you need a fix?"

A little beacon of House shines through the pain, just for a moment. "You aren't even denying it." There is something like amusement in his voice, or surprise.

Wilson wonders when he will go bald as he runs his hand through his hair again. "We are not having this conversation today. Get yourself checked into rehab, and then we'll talk."

House lurches a step closer, then freezes, jaw locked. "You wouldn't want me if I was clean," he hisses.

There is no good way to respond to that, so Wilson ignores the baiting. "We are not having this conversation today," he repeats, trying for a firm tone but coming out shaky. "Go home, Greg." Wilson opens his door and gestures. House limps his way out the door, with a look of disdain that he has reserved for clinic patients—until now.

When the cane is out of sight, Wilson locks both doors to his office and closes the blinds, and then flops at his desk, head in his hands.

There's a soft knock at the office door. Wilson knows it is safe to answer, because House will not be half so polite at their next meeting.

"I got your page. What's up?" Cameron asks. Her tone is light, but her eyes are worried.

"Has House..." Wilson pauses, considering his words, "tried to get you to give him Vicodin?"

"No, not yet. I'm guessing he already asked you?"

"You could say that." Wilson sighs. "Just let me know if he tries anything?"

Her pretty, worried eyes blink. "Sure." She turns to go, and Wilson considers calling her back and warning her, but he can't for the life of him think of what he would say.

The doors are still locked, the blinds are still shut, and Wilson has taken to staring at the ceiling. Any of it in isolation, he could excuse, almost—but all of it in one day? He verbally abused Cuddy, physically abused Chase, and tried to sexually... all on top of missing that diagnosis... He needs help.

Before he realizes he has made the decision, Wilson has unlocked the door and is marching down the hallway, towards the Roman legion stationed in a back room.

"I'm gonna need thirty pieces of silver," he says, as though the words will right the world.

The spat in the hallway this morning was explosive, stupid, and ugly. Walking in with Tritter had probably been a mistake, Wilson tells himself as he waits in the lunch line in the hospital cafeteria.

At least he convinced Cuddy to cut House off and send him home. Maybe he can be bullied into taking care of himself. Absentmindedly, Wilson sends up a prayer to that effect and grabs a salad. He reaches for a pack of ranch dressing, but freezes. Blue cheese instead today.

Someone should probably check on him in a few hours, see how he's doing. Wilson knows he can't do it, but maybe Cuddy or Cameron... No point in getting french fries, because he won't finish them by himself.

As that thought ricochets through his brain, Wilson freezes in the lunch line. Somehow, that stupid little decision not to get fries with his lunch makes the past twenty-four hours real in a way that living them had not, and Wilson realizes that he really will be eating alone.