"You've been here, what, three times in the past two weeks?" Wilson leaned out from the kitchen into the living room.
"Something like that," House said.
"And three or four times in the two months before I signed the paperwork on the new loft?"
"And it never once occurred to you to clean out the refrigerator?"
"I was saving it for you," House said. "I didn't want to deprive you of a prime whining opportunity."
Wilson sighed and shook out a fresh trash bag with a decidedly extra flap of the plastic for emphasis.
"You volunteered for the kitchen, remember?" House turned his attention back to the bookshelf. He'd let the moving guys deal with the bulk of the packing and moving later, but there were a few first editions and other rare texts he didn't trust them to handle.
Wilson, for his part, began packing his stuff before he'd even signed the contract. Amber's things too. The shelves in House's room -- Amber's shrine -- were cleared by the end of the first full day of packing, the boxes sealed with three strips of duct tape and stashed in a corner of Wilson's room.
House kept putting off any packing, pointing out that he'd been living out of a couple of suitcases and boxes for so long that it wouldn't take long anyway.
Wilson ignored him for a while, but last week, he put down the box he was carrying and stood between House and the TV.
"What about your place?" he asked. "You haven't even started packing there, have you?"
"What's the rush?" House asked. "The lease isn't up for another three months."
Wilson crossed his arms over his chest. "You're not going to change your mind, are you?" He had the same look on his face he'd had after the self-centered jerk went back to his floozie girlfriend.
"Don't be an idiot." House got one of the empty boxes from the stack and tossed a few things into it. "Why would I?"
Wilson finally looked like he was satisfied when the box was half-filled and moved on to his own crap again, but House sat there, staring into it. Why wouldn't he, he asked himself. The loft was moving on, right?
"You keep telling me to move on," House told Nolan the next day.
"Moving on is a good thing," Nolan said. "Generally."
"There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to psychiatry. You know that."
House groaned and leaned his head back against the chair. "So you're saying that it's just a crap shoot as to whether the move is good. Why am I bothering to come all the way out here again?"
"I'm not saying it's just a game of chance. I'm saying that every situation is different." Nolan leaned forward. "It's up to you to figure out what makes this move different from what you had before." He paused for a moment, as if he was setting up the guidelines for a new line of questioning. "You like living with Wilson, right?"
"Not at first. It felt like I was under a microscope. He kept watching every move I made."
House stared at the ceiling for a moment. He hated this, being forced to dredge through his emotions, to catalogue and name them and then to expose them here in this room. He heard Nolan shift and knew without looking that Nolan was casually running a pen between his fingers, waiting and watching and learning more about House by what he didn't say than what he did.
"It's OK," House said finally.
House looked Nolan in the eye. "It's good." He didn't bother saying anything else. He let Nolan try to read what he meant by that -- that he'd forgotten what it was like to come home to something other than his books and his instruments. That he liked knowing that coffee would be ready when he got up, and the smell of food on the stove when Wilson got there before he did. He'd forgotten how even the air felt different when Wilson was there, like there was a kind of warmth that was different from the heat pumped out by the furnace on a cold night.
"So if it's good, what's the problem with moving into the new place?"
"It's just a different place," House said. "I still have a watcher --"
"A friend," Nolan interrupted.
House rolled his eyes. "A roommate," he said. "I thought this whole thing was just supposed to temporary, until I was ready to move home."
"And what's home?"
"Home is home," House said. "It's my own place."
"So your apartment, that's home?"
Nolan had a look on his face -- his eyebrows raised slightly and head held slightly off center, as if he was seeing something House couldn't, as if he knew something House didn't know. House hated that look. "And what makes that home?" Nolan asked.
"It's my place," House repeated slowly. "It's mine."
"Is that all a home is? A place?" Nolan leaned back. He didn't say anything for a few moments. He watched House instead.
House narrowed his eyes, remembering his apartment with its dark wooden floors and wide bed, the soft leather couch, the bookshelves, his books, his piano.
"Home should be more than what we own," Nolan said finally, and House hated that he'd seemed to read his mind again. "It should be a place that we like."
"I liked it just fine."
Nolan ignored him. "Ideally, it should be a place where we're happy." He rolled his pen between his fingers, pointed it idly in House's direction. "Were you happy there?" he asked. "Are you happy now?" He raised an eyebrow. "Relatively, I mean."
He didn't wait for an answer.
"Figure that out," Nolan said, "and you'll know what it will mean for you to move on."
House was quiet that night. Wilson didn't push him to say anything. He didn't ask any questions. He never did. He seemed to understand the silences that followed the visits to Mayfield. He spent the night packing up things in his own room. House flipped the TV from one station to another, not really watching anything, listening to the sound of Wilson opening and closing drawers and taping boxes shut.
The next morning, he found Wilson at the table, eating cereal and reading the paper.
"I'll have to call around to find a mover for the piano," he said. "Know where I can find some boxes?"
Wilson offered to drive.
Over at Baker Street, House took the first box to the hallway bookshelves and dumped it on the floor. Wilson watched him place the first few books inside.
"You just going to watch?" House asked.
Wilson grinned. "I'll take the kitchen."