Author's Note: This chapter takes place close to the end of "Merry Little Christmas", season 3. The initial quotation is from Ella Fitzgerald's recording of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", which plays at the end of the episode- just after this chapter, in fact.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
let your heart be light.
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
make the Yule-tide gay.
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.
Here we are as in olden days,
happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
gather near to us once more.
Through the years
we all will be together,
if the Fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
and have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
When House finally comes to, it is sometime around daybreak, judging by the light trickling in the windows. He's sprawled out on his own couch, with his bad leg propped up on a pillow and a blanket wrapped around him. Wilson watches him glance around slowly, fighting against the side effects of a near-overdose to figure out his situation. His eyes drift the rose sitting in water on the coffee table, a little orange bottle beside it, and then to the television just beyond where The L Word is softly playing. Then he notices Wilson in the armchair. Wilson pretends not to notice that House is waking up, as though the television is just that fascinating.
"Didn't think you'd come," House mutters at last, even as he gropes at the pill bottle.
"Because we're fighting?"
"Because you're Jewish," he replies, wheezing a little. That he only takes two tablets is like an apology for all of this shit. That he cracks a joke means he's okay.
With years of practice in reading their silent code, Wilson chuckles accordingly. "Merry Christmas."
The silence stretches awhile, but not long enough. "Really, what are you doing here?"
Wilson's not ready to answer that yet, so he doesn't. "Why me?" he counters as smoothly as he can, staring down the bloodshot blue eyes. "The other day. Why salad, me, all of it?"
"You guessed at my motivation already," House retorts, and Wilson's own words rattle between his ears, 'Do you think I want you like this? Clawing at me because you need a fix?' He isn't sure yet whether or not to regret them. "Didn't believe yourself?"
"Maybe I want to hear you say it."
He fights the urge to run a hand through his hair. It's too early in the conversation for that. "Call it idle curiosity." No reply; he decides to switch tactics. "You never propositioned Cameron."
"Never say never," House replies with an exaggerated wink. It doesn't quite fit on his face this morning.
Wilson lets himself smile, even though it's all raw inside, but he keeps asking. "Fine, you didn't proposition her this week. Not for Vicodin."
"Didn't need to," he replies, a little too glibly. "Foreman caved first."
"The same offer you gave me, I suppose." Wilson is surprised by how hard it is for him to keep his tone light.
"No, I went straight for anal with him. No holding back." It seems they're both having trouble sounding casual today.
"Sure. Was that before or after you kissed me?"
A sorry, crumpled laugh slips out. "What, worried about your ranking?"
"Worried about you," Wilson corrects. He feels tired all of a sudden, as the weight of the night before crashes down on him. Maybe this argument is more brutal than their usual fair of late, or maybe he's just getting old. "Were you trying to kill yourself this time?"
"I was in pain!" he barks, but without his characteristic sting.
It's a dodgy answer, and they both know it. They watch each other: Wilson calculating the odds of each possible scenario, and House waiting him out. It could be that House was suicidal last night and won't admit to it now. It could be that he wasn't trying to kill himself, but he knows that Wilson won't believe an outright denial. Maybe he just wants to fuck with his head... There are no good options, and Wilson realizes that he doesn't care.
He ought to try the truth, he realizes, and wonders if it is too late. "I'm sorry."
"Tritter, salad, everything. I'm sorry."
"You always are," House replies at last, looking away, "but you don't usually admit to it." The grudging words sound like gratitude.
He takes a deep breath, and lets the rest of the confession out: "I should have kissed you back."
House's eyes zoom back to Wilson's face. "What?" he repeats, louder this time.
"You were right about me, and I should have had the balls to admit it."
There are a thousand ways House could reply, and now it is Wilson's turn to wait, eyes downcast. He wonders through the silence what form of rejection House will choose- a rebuff, a denial, sheer mockery...
"Why tell me now?"
Huh, a not un-friendly response. It's all Wilson can do to blink in reply. At last he manages to sputter, "Dammit, you called me out! What was I supposed to do, pretend you hadn't and it was all just a sick head game?"
"It'd be the hetero-normative thing to do."
"You kissed me! I think we're a bit beyond normalcy."
"We were 'a bit beyond normalcy' two marriages ago."
Wilson gapes, until House snorts, and then they both grin a bit. It's awkward, but just normal-awkward instead of gay-confession-awkward. Of course, House still hadn't admitted to a damn thing... and then he's sitting up, trying to stand. Wilson gets up too, to bring the cane over, but House makes it to his feet. They're standing too close, for the thousandth time in a decade, and it's definitely gay-confession-awkward now.
"I don't need a fix." It's a sad admission, and a challenge, and the closest to a romantic confession Wilson's going to get. He touches House's arm, telling himself it's just for stability but it isn't and they know it, and then they're kissing again. It's still awkward. Their eyes are open, and it's ugly and hungry and pained- and nothing like last time.
Hands and stubble and teeth later, Wilson forgets to keep his grip on the cane. It thwacks the coffee table and they both start a little. "Ho ho," he says softly.
"Definitely a bit beyond normalcy," House agrees.
They're both still standing there, sheepish but giddy, probably looking more like teenagers caught necking than grown men with muddled sexual identities. Now what?
Now House is grabbing his cane off the floor. He's halfway to the bedroom before Wilson manages to call out, "Where the hell are you going?"
"To get my shoes." He's out of sight now, and Wilson can hear the contents of the bedroom being torn to shreds.
"House, it's Christmas! There's snow on the ground."
"Fine, boots." He reemerges clad in rain boots with ducks on them, wool socks poking out.
Damn literal bastard. "Where are you going?"
"To make a deal with the devil."
Damn metaphorical bastard... "What?"
"I was right that you wanted me. You were right that I need help." A peck on the cheek (dear god, a peck on the cheek) and he's out the door, leaving Wilson to wonder why he didn't see this coming.