Truth or Cantaloupes
By G. Waldo (formerly GeeLady) f
Rating: Maybe Adult-ish
Summary: A mostly conversation fic'. My take on the Lockdown Truth or Dare exchange between 13 and Wilson, plus a little extra based upon the spoilers for next week.
Warning - little SPOILERS!!
Disclaimer: Not mine...blah, blah, blah - though a fantasy never hurt anyone.
Wilson sat back, ready for anything that Thirteen was willing to toss his way. She claimed to the queen of Truth or Dare. Well, he was queen too, er - king. "Fine." He said. "Truth."
Thirteen crossed her arms, and leaned forward, anticipating. "Okay. I've worked here for three years, and heard all the gossip about you two, so I just have to know - did you and House ever do it?"
A long pause occurred from Wilson's side of the table. Then, a sheen of sweat forming on his upper lip - "Ask me something else."
Thirteen chortled. A single ironic yip. "Hah! - not on your life. This game was your idea, Wilson, so you have to answer, though the terror on your face pretty well tells me what I want to know."
Wilson blushed crimson, and took a deep breath. "It was a long time ago, I was young, an idiot..."
"... and House was tall, sexy, insistent..."
"N-o-o, he wasn't." That was enough to confirm Thirteen's suspicions that the idle hospital gossipers were not as idle as everyone thought. House and Wilson had done it. For real.
Her speculations were enough to push Wilson into sparing a few more details. "Okay, fine, yes, we,..I-I mean House and me,...we kinda'..", whispering, "slept together." He thrust a finger in her face to halt further speculation. "Only once. There was beer, a lot of beer, we were both lonely, it was Christmas, and I was an idiot."
"So all it took to get you into your best friend's pants were a few beers and a sad face? Wow." She nodded her head as though she, and everyone else had always known it. "You're a slut, Wilson."
"It wasn't a "few beers", it was a case and a half of beer. Plus once we were smashed, House pulled out the pipe and we..." He looked over at her insatiably curious expression. "It was just one of those things, all right? It just happened. It wasn't a conscious decision. I wasn't hardly conscious at the time."
Thirteen perked up. "You're embarrassed. Why? Did little James bow out?"
"No!" He almost shouted. Quickly dialing back his volume - "I mean,...look, it was a regretful one-night stand with my new best friend. We were young. I was barely a doctor then - in residency. And House was - "
"- hard to resist?"
Throwing her a chilly glare. "Will you let me tell my shameful story, please?"
Thirteen raised her palms in a surrender.
"I'd just been served with my final divorce papers. I was a mess. House bailed me out of jail, and we - "
"- hold it, hold it. Why were you in jail?" She looked at him like he was crazy. "What in God's name were you two doing?"
"Nothing. I broke an antique mirror in the hotel. It was a medical conference. We were at a conference. I was drunk, some idiot was playing a song over and over and wouldn't stop; a song I hated so, like a drunken moron, I threw my beer glass at the bar mirror and smashed it."
"So you went to jail because you refused to pay for it."
"No. I wrote a check to cover it, but the hotel management decided to make an example of me and pressed charges anyway."
"So they threw your ass in jail. Was House in the next cell? Are we talking jail gender-bend-over sex here, or- "
"No. Shut-up and let me finish."
"H-okay. Just trying to ferry things along." Thirteen smiled though. A tease. To Wilson's great irritation, she was enjoying his misery immensely.
"House bailed me out."
Thirteen didn't believe it for a second. "What? The cheapest man I've ever known bails you - a stranger - out of jail for no reason? You have to be lying. What really happened?"
"That's what really happened."
"Okay, say I believe you. Why? And where does the sex come in?"
Wilson looked a bit crestfallen. He had hoped she'd forgotten about that part of the tale. "House said he was bored, and I was "interesting". That's why he bailed me out."
"And you were grateful, so you went back to his hotel room with him, and introduced him to James Junior?"
"Again - no." Wilson glanced through the partition window and out to the larger cafeteria window that teased him with outside and freedom from her tyranny. "We got talking. We drank. I was depressed. I was drunk. He was drunk. He pulled out the pipe...and we...sort of got horn-i-fied together."
"Horn-i-fied?" Thirteen, with a huge grin and all business - "And how, you know, was he?" She wiggled her eyebrows.
Wilson swallowed, found something fascinating about the table napkins and answered. "Honestly? It was nice. House doesn't suck in bed" He quickly glance at her. "In a manner of speaking." Narrowing his eyes at the bizarre memory, "And he does this...strange, incredibly erotic thing with cantaloupes..."
Wilson snapped his mouth closed as though he was revealing too much, or perhaps starting to enjoy the memory. Thirteen smiled again. "You really like House, don't you?" She said, then without waiting for him to answer. "Me, too. I mean I like working for him." Her eyes narrowed. "But you really like him. It's deep and personal with you. With House it's a kind of, I dunno', romance from afar."
"No it is not." Wilson shifted in his seat. The cafeteria chairs were not meant to nestle a backside for many hours. "Look- maybe I was grateful for him bailing me out. He made me promise to pay him back, by the way. House doesn't give freebies."
"But you still felt obligated to him? Is that why the mattress dance?"
"No," He said sternly but with lowered volume. No sense in adding to the gossip. "That isn't why I had sex with him. I just told you why."
"So it was mutual, then? Give it up, Wilson. Drunk or not, how many strangers have you ever slept with?"
"One or two. Who hasn't?"
"Wilson," Thirteen leaned in to more explain something to her poignantly dense colleague. "Wilson, you willingly had sex with House, and then remained his friend. You had sex with a stranger, and he still became your best friend."
"So, it was more than a drunken mistake. And even if it was a mistake, it had to have meant something to you later. If it didn't mean anything, 'cause as you say, everybody does it and runs at least once, why are you embarrassed to talk about it?"
"Because he became my best friend. Sex with your best friend, twenty years asgo or yesterday, is not a coffee-break topic."
"Wilson, you can't be this dumb. Why did he become your best friend to begin with?" Thirteen asked. "Why didn't you just leave and never look back, if it didn't mean anything? If he didn't mean anything?"
From his confused expresion, it was crystal clear to her that the man had never thought about it. "I don't know." Then he took a frantic stab in the dark to explain his inexplicable behavior. "Maybe I felt sorry for him. He seemed as lonely as I was."
"You know what I think? I think you started loving House right away. I think you grew as attached to him as he obviously did to you. And for the first time in your life, that love felt real."
"I'm not in love with House. I'm seeing someone."
"But you do love him." She pressed the point, her nose almost touching his. "After all he's put you through, you're still here."
To that Wilson quietly agreed. "Of course I love him. He's my -"
" - best friend." She finished for him. "You're the queen of denial, Wilson."
Wilson shook his head, trying to dispel any stray or unwanted thoughts the conversation may have planted in his brain. "You can't tell anyone. Least of all House."
"Why not House? He was there."
"Because he and I agreed never to discuss it. For nineteen years, we've made as though it never happened."
Thirteen shrugged, and nodded her agreement not to blab. Of course she wouldn't talk about it, but for some reason she was suddenly miffed at Wilson. As though his having, or showing, affection for House, was something dirty or taboo.
Both men were an interesting study. She'd seen Wilson with his women, now and then, in public. He always acted like a perfect gentleman, every single minute. Very respectful and chaste. Calculated in his socially correct displays of affection. Timely, even. Robotic.
And she'd had occasion to observe House's shameless public advances toward Lisa Cuddy, and his boisterous, before-the-whole-world homoerotic teasing of his best friend. Coming down to a choice, she found House the more refreshing man. He was lustful, childish and crude, but wide open when he loved. He offered discrete, but sweet physical affections, and was thoroughly unashamed of his romantic interests.
The two men could not have been more different.
It was no wonder House obsessed over Wilson's affairs and marriages. He could see through the very correct gestures, and wall-papered emotions as though they were made of glass. Maybe their one-night homo-sexual tryst had not, for the last nineteen years, been mentioned, Thirteen thought, but it had left its mark, at least on her boss. Poor House.
A bell sounded that signaled the lock down was over. An announcement followed, confirming it. Thirteen stood up. "I got news for you, Wilson, you 'aint fooling anyone."
Wilson wined and dined his first ex-wife, then brought her back to his shared apartment, into his perfectly made bed, and banged her like a good heterosexual.
The next morning he heard voices in the kitchen. She was meeting House for the first time. He couldn't really hear what they were saying to each other, but there was no shouting, and House sounded,...almost nice. A good start.
When she returned to the bedroom and crawled back into bed, she whispered. "I didn't think the scar would look so bad."
"Your room-mate's scar? The debridement you told me about? I can see why he has pain."
Wilson sat up, his hair mussed from the pillow and the romp from the previous evening. "Wait. You saw House's scar? How,..."
"You didn't tell me your room-mate walks around naked."
That's because he doesn't. "Um, well, House never...he was naked?"
She sounded altogether too pleased for his taste. "Don't worry." She was quick to reassure. "It wasn't that awkward."
Now he really sat up. Blue-bird awake and chirping. "Why not??"
She sat up again. "James, are you jealous that I saw your friend naked? I wasn't trying to peek, you know. He was in the kitchen, I walked in....we talked, I handed him an apron..."
"You had to give him an apron? He didn't...he didn't try to cover himself up?"
She shrugged. "No. Maybe he's comfortable with his sexuality."
"Well, I'm not comfortable with his comfort." He threw off the covers. "Wait right here."
"James, just forget it. He wasn't trying to get a rise out of me - he didn't even know I was staying here."
"Never mind." He threw on a robe, tying the belt furiously. "He and I have to discuss some new rules, like not walking around naked in front of my girlfriend."
"Look, if it's any consolation, he has a nice body, but it's not like I'm going after it."
Wilson spun to stare at his ex-wife-new-chick. "You think he has a nice body?" His voice shot up a full octave. "Just how much of it did you take in? Did you take notes? Pictures? - pull out the yard-stick??"
She frowned now, getting mad, and ready to jump right back at him. "You're still a jealous idiot, James. God, I thought you would have matured after all these years. I saw him, but we exchanged words, not fluids."
"You shouldn't have to have seen him."
""Have-to-have"? For Christ's sake - are you feeling all right?"
"Yes. I'm feeling fine. Violated, but fine."
"Why are you feeling violated? You weren't in the kitchen."
Wilson rubbed the top of his head, then his neck, his hand almost a blur, as though he was trying to sand down his skin. He had no idea, and it bugged him that he had no idea why he was feeling...betrayed.
Thirteen had said it. "You're still here."
He was. He was still here. Still doing the same things over and over. Still hooking up with people no good for him. Still making bad relationship choices. Still trying to prove that he was the man he needed everyone to think he was. He was still here in this spot, un-moved, after nineteen years. "I don't know what..." He stopped. Looked at his most recent conquest. "Would you mind...going? I mean, I'll call you later, but I need to talk to House alone. I have to get this out and over-with."
She spread her hands. "Get what over with? Nothing happened, you jerk!"
"I know, I know. It's...complicated. Him and me - I mean not him and me complicated.." Who was he kidding? "..I just mean this him and me is complicated."
It was obvious she was going to get no further coherent clarification from her still odd ex-husband. It was time to leave for work anyway, and began getting dressed. She felt sorry for the room-mate, who had done nothing wrong but walk around his own home nude, not that she was complaining about that part. He did have a strapping, well developed body. Rather a pleasant way to wake up, she decided, however socially awkward it may have been for her. He hadn't seemed to mind.
She sighed. Poor guy. He was about to be yelled at for no reason at all. Wilson could be a real jerk when he was in a self-righteous mood.
"Why were you walking around naked?'
House, now showered, dressed and sipping his first coffee of the day, looked up at his irate friend. Wilson had adopted his "hissy-fit" stance. Hands on hips, feet apart, face stern. The whole Wilson package stunk of disapproval.
"Why didn't you tell me you were bringing a filly home for the hay?"
"She's not a filly, she's my ex-wife."
"Is this part of the alimony?"
"No. We had dinner. We shared an evening, and you must have known she was here, because you never walk around naked."
"Never's a long time."
"I think you did this on purpose."
House looked out the window. "Yeesh. Yes, Wilson I'm trying to break up your two-day relationship with your ex-wife by flashing my wares."
"Am I what?"
"Trying to break us up?"
"I wasn't aware that two days made a together, but no, my leg started hurting in the middle of the night. I couldn't use your bath, because you threatened me with death the last time I did while you were sleeping, so I was using hot compresses on it in the bathroom. Hence no clothes. No clothes is another way of saying undressed, which is another way of saying naked. I got thirsty, and came out to the kitchen. She surprised me and fireman House, not the other way around."
Wilson's lips dripped doubt. "I'm pretty certain your thigh is not part of your privates or your hip-bone. You've never needed to be naked before to apply heat, why now?"
"Go to hell." House set his cup down, not too gently either, and limped heavily toward his bedroom. "By the way, she was lucky I was just thirsty and not in need of lubrication."
Wilson followed. Maybe he had pushed it far enough. Forgetting for a moment why he was mad - "Tell me why, House." He stopped in House's open bedroom door. "Has the pain gotten that much worse? Why didn't you say anything?'
"For the same reason you didn't believe me the last twenty times I tried to tell you that my leg is getting worse. You think I'm lying." House was real mad now. "You know what? I am lying. Your ex' and me did it hot and wild on the kitchen counter. Suck it up."
Wilson dropped his stance, and his muddled concerns about who saw what where. "Why is it getting worse? Have you had a CT or an MRI?"
Wilson came into the room, sitting on the other end of the bed out of reach of House's fists. "Why not?"
"Pain's radiating up into my abdomen now. It could be arterial wall damage. If so, a graft will repair the leg for another few years, which is slightly better than having it lopped off. If it's a tumor, or more muscle or nerve death, it means it probably needs to be lopped off. Which is forever, which is slightly worse than a graft."
"So you're afraid to know."
"There's only one thing that scares me more than being a cripple in pain for the rest of my life, and that's being a one-legged cripple with no pain. Ibuprofen, even Vicodin, can't fix amputation."
"I'm sorry I yelled."
House rubbed his thigh. "So? Did I frighten off your ex' with my degrading nakedness?"
"No." Wilson smiled. "I frightened her off with how annoyed I was about it." Not annoyed. That word didn't really fit.
"I wasn't trying to shock her, though Little House has made women faint now and then."
"Right. Look, next time, I'll warn you if I'm thinking about bringing someone home."
House nodded. "Okay, and I'll warn you if I feel like walking around naked. Otherwise, it's by request only."
"Gotcha'." Wilson walked to the door again.
But House said to his back. "I don't know why it freaked you out so much, anyway. It's not like we've never seen each other na-"
"-House." Wilson held up a hand, palm out. "You promised never to mention that."
"No, you made me promise never to mention it. It was shut up or lose your friendship, so I shut up." House continued to rub at his thigh, his face a study in tension. "I don't know why you hate the thought of it so much now, you didn't then."
Wilson pinched the bridge of his nose. "House, please..."
House muttered. "The clock struck, and I turned into a pumpkin."
"You're not a pumpkin!"
"But you are ashamed of me."
Shocked - "I'm not ashamed of you. Where did that come from?"
"You don't want to ever talk about it? Fine. Except you also want to pretend it never happened at all, like touching me suddenly became...disgusting. Like fucking me was the biggest mistake you ever made." House dropped his head down, saying the rest to his sore thigh. "Like I was a leper or something."
"That's not it - "
"- If not shame, then what?"
"I,.." Wilson stopped, at a loss how to explain the why's and how he felt then, and how he felt now. House just kept his eyes on his bothersome leg. This was a subject heavily on his mind, and evidently had been for a long time. Wilson gestured back and forth between them, "I like things between us...the way they are."
"Then why - ?"
"Because it hurts. It's hurt for nineteen years. If being with me was so terrible, why did you stick around at all? Obligation to a lonely, drunken jerk? Was I that pathetic? Because if that's what you thought, that hurts just as much."
"You weren't pathetic, and it wasn't terrible." It hadn't been. It had been a lustful, lengthy, lovely evening. Sexually delicious. Spiritually comforting. House had been bold and un-fettered in his intentions, but also tender and thorough - and a repeat performance man. That one evening had helped him heal from his self-loathing of being a man with an eight-month failed marriage at twenty-five years of age. The marriage break-up - his fault. The awful divorce - his doing.
House, his older, exciting, interesting, challenging new friend, had slaked his hunger for affection and love for one incredible night. It was in every way, a good memory. "I was ashamed of myself." Wilson waved away any false ideas that might spark before his friend could voice them. "Not of us having sex, or you, but who I was then." Wilson leaned on the door jamb and stared straight at his troubled friend. "House - you're important to me. You're one of the best parts of my life, and I want you in my life." Wilson sighed from the weight of his past failures and long-bourn failings. "But back then,..." he shook his head. "I would have hurt you, don't you know that? It would have been nice for a while - it might have been even great - and then I would have done my...pathetic, ego-centered, stupid thing. I would have backed off; probably cheated - too scared of the look in your eyes."
Wilson sat down again on the bed, closer this time. "If we had continued being together in that way, I think I really would have left." The past was almost as hard as the present when it came to living through it. "I'm glad we didn't get together romantically, because I would have broken your heart. I would have missed out on all this." He gestured around them as though they themselves filled what constituted their world together. "What we have now." Regretfully - "It took me another sixteen, seventeen years to change that pattern of behavior."
House's hand had never stopped its motion. "Oh."
Wilson almost laughed. What do you say, after all? "Trust me, House, you're sexy as hell." He stood up. "Come on, I'll get dressed and we'll go to the hospital. I'll do the scared thing for both of us this time, too, but let's get that leg CT-ed. Please?"
House nodded, taking the hand offered him. "Do you really think I'm sexy?"
"Sure. You had me after four drinks."
"It was three. I counted."
"How do you remember stuff like that?"
"And one little toke. You were a cheap date."
"Thanks, but there is where you are wrong. I smoked a whole joint by myself."
House laughed. "Right."
"I did. You passed out, and I hit the bong."
"You're such a liar. A joint and a bong are not the same thing."
"Fine. You passed out, and I did some shots."
"You're a liar and a girl. We both know you can't hold hard stuff."
"Fine. I'm lying."
"So why'd you sleep with me?"
"'Cause you look hot in a tux'."
"And 'cause you loved me."
"Well, there was that."
See Chapter 2