Disclaimer: House and Wilson do not belong to me. To my eternal sadness...
Note: Takes place during 6x18, Knight Fall. Creates an AU.
"You're a cold-hearted bitch who ripped his heart out. I watched him struggle for years to overcome the damage you did - and there's no way I'm just gonna let you wheel him back in so you can do it all over again."
Sam let out a soft sigh, and shook her head.
"And all this?"
"Phase 2 of getting to know my enemy," House explained shortly.
"You're wrong about me. But I'm glad I don't have to pretend to like you, except when James is standing next to me."
"Same here - only difference is, I'll outlast you."
There was a pause as they both listened for Wilson. When she heard nothing, Sam leaned closer.
"You've been here nineteen years, House," she scoffed. "I'll give you that. But what you don't seem to realize is you'll never have him the way you want him. James will never love you the way he loved me - or the way he could love any woman."
Sam's eyes glinted cruelly.
"Does it hurt? Knowing what you want is available to every attractive woman he meets? You can desire him all you like... But the only place James will ever return your feelings is in your dreams."
House's chest tightened painfully. Sam had reminded him of the harsh truth - he would never have all that he wanted from Wilson. House looked away from Sam's smug gaze.
"You're right, he won't," House said calmly, inwardly wondering how he hadn't strangled her already. "But I accepted he wouldn't return my love years ago. I can live with wanting. All I need is for him to be here, whole and happy. I won't let you hurt him."
It was House's turn to lean in and smirk.
"I've helped him through two more failed marriages after you, and many more affairs. I've only met one woman who deserved his love, and she's dead. You've already lost him once - and that's without me even in the picture. What makes you think you stand a chance now? You had him for two years... I've been here for nineteen."
Sam shut up, her face pale.
"End scene," House said smoothly, and his face shifted into a friendly smile.
Wilson came walking in, a cautious smile on his face.
"Hey," House said, grinning at him.
Sam wrapped an arm around Wilson as he sat down, and he gave her a peculiar look.
"See, you can leave us alone!" She teased. "It's safe."
"Good," Wilson said, his voice distant to House's ears. "Shall we get a movie?"
"Isn't it too late?" Sam asked, glancing at her watch which read 10:20.
"There should be some eleven o'clock films at Star Theatre," Wilson mused. "Good night, House."
"Night, you two have a good time," House waved them off.
"So, action or romance?" Sam asked, looking at the listings in the newspaper as they drove.
She looked up at the sharpness of Wilson's voice.
"What - James, why are we at my apartment?" Sam asked in surprise.
Wilson parked and got out of the car without saying a word. Confused, Sam followed him.
"Don't," Wilson said tersely. "I was fooling myself, Sam. This won't work."
"What?" Sam felt dumbfounded. "I don't understand..."
"I'd forgotten how cruel you are," Wilson spoke quietly, but every word struck her like a blow. "You haven't changed."
"You heard," Sam whispered, her cheeks flushing hot.
"I did," Wilson said, regarding her with disdain. "It's been an illuminating evening. One that we shall never repeat. Goodbye, Sam."
She blinked furiously, and nodded. Sam knew she had lost.
"Goodbye, James," Sam said, as evenly as she could.
She watched Wilson drive away, a sense of emptiness slowly filling her chest.
This time it was entirely her own fault. Sam didn't know when she'd ever get another chance with a man as good as the one she had just lost... for the second time.
"Wilson!" House looked up in surprise. "You're back so..."
"I won't be seeing her again," Wilson said quietly. "Good night."
House's mouth dropped open. This was too good, he thought in astonishment, surely it wasn't true?
"What happened?" He asked, rising to follow Wilson to his bedroom.
"I realized how little she had changed, and had no wish to have a repeat of twenty years ago," Wilson said simply. "I need some space. Please leave, House."
Strangely enough, House did, and Wilson shut the door gratefully.
Wilson sat down on his bed and drew in a shaky breath.
His mind was still wrapping around what he had overheard House and Sam saying... Nineteen years of memories washed through his head... But now he knew how House felt, it all made sense on that level as well.
He wondered why it didn't bother him to know that House loved him. Wilson undressed and lay down on top of his covers, thinking.
House had stuck around for nineteen years, in love with him for maybe that long, maybe less. He had admitted he needed Wilson - here, whole and happy.
James buried his face in his pillow.
"I need you too," he whispered.