Disclaimer: I don't own them. *sniff*
A/N: My first attempt at sick!House because the talented artist hockypocky asked and I figured it's the least I can do to repay her for sharing all of her fantastic drawings. Unbeta'd so I apologize for any mistakes.
House nervously limped through the door of the condo, knowing he was about to get berated by either Wilson or Sam, or both. He crept as discreetly as someone with agonizing leg pain could from the foyer toward his bedroom. He'd just reached the dining table when the inevitable happened.
Wilson's voice was angry and frustrated, just as House knew it would be. He swallowed down his pain – both emotional and physical – and put on a happy face as he turned to look at his roommate. "Yes?"
"We had an agreement," Wilson growled, rising from the couch. "You'd go bowling with Chase so Sam and I could spend some quality time together… alone."
"Was that tonight?" House asked mockingly, hoping his attitude would mask how much pain he was in.
"Yes," Wilson snapped. He opened his mouth with the intention of continuing his rant, but froze when he noticed how his friend was standing. The knuckles of his right hand were white from gripping his cane so firmly, while his left hand clung to the edge of the table, his forearm trembling. "My God, House, why didn't you say the pain had gotten so bad?"
Because I thought my best friend would have noticed on his own, House wanted to say. "Because it's no worse than usual," he lied.
"Just let him go to his room, James," Sam said with a dismissive wave. "He'll be fine."
House shifted uncomfortably under Wilson's scrutinizing stare until he couldn't stand it any more. "I'll leave you two lovebirds alone."
"House…" Wilson didn't seem to know what to say, but his eyes were clouded with concern.
"I'm fine," House lied again. He craned his head around and smiled disingenuously at Sam. "You two have fun." He turned to leave and had to bite his lip to keep from crying out in pain, grateful Wilson couldn't see his face. Drawing on the last of his reserves, House managed to make it all the way to his room and close the door before hid knees buckled. He sagged against wall and slid to the floor, not wanting to make enough noise to disturb Wilson and the Evil Harpy.
He heard loud voices coming from the other room but was in too much pain to pay attention to their words. Instead he clutched at his thigh and began rocking back and forth, wondering which was worse – the ache in his leg or in his heart?
The gentle voice broke through House's hazy world of pain. "Wilson?"
"Yeah," his friend answered, a hint of guilt and sorrow in his voice. "Can you make it to my bathroom?"
"Thought I wasn't allowed in there," he mumbled bitterly.
Wilson let out one of his more impressive sighs as he slipped his hand under House's arm. "Tonight you are."
House looked up at his friend, shocked to discover his eyes were shining with unshed tears. He felt a twinge of remorse as he realized he must have made Sam mad enough to hurt Wilson in some way. Mad at himself, but loathe to admit it, House shook his head. "I'm fine in here. Just help me to my bed."
"Damn it, House, you are not fine!"
He cringed a bit at the anger in Wilson's voice. For once he'd decided to do what everyone else recommended and not interfere in his friend's love life – after a few requisite sabotage attempts – and yet he'd still ended up hurting his friend.
"Stop beating yourself up over whatever it is you think you did wrong and help me get your ass off the floor."
Too weary to even attempt a witty comeback, House nodded and allowed Wilson to haul him to his feet. He took a trembling step toward his bed, only to have Wilson loop an arm around his waist and pull him toward the door. "Where are we going?" he demanded weakly.
"To my tub," his friend answered, his tone indicating the matter was not open for debate.
The two men shuffled awkwardly through Wilson's room and into his bathroom. Wilson gingerly sat House on the toilet while he drew a bath. "I shudder to think of what you're going to say, but would you like me to put some bath salts in here?"
"No thank you."
Wilson craned his head to look at House, his mouth hanging slightly open in shock. "Thank you? Just how much pain have you been in?"
House just shrugged and studied a spot on the floor. He was startled when he felt Wilson's hands tugging at the hem of his shirt. "I can do it," House protested, slapping at his friend's hands.
"Just trying to help," Wilson said softly. He hovered nearby as House stripped naked and stood, quickly grabbing House's elbow when he listed to the left. He slipped one of his friend's arms over his shoulders and led him to the tub, carefully supporting House around the waist as he climbed into the warm bath.
Despite how much he'd protested, House couldn't deny the fact that the warm water was already having a soothing effect on his leg. He closed his eyes and slipped further under, resting his head on the cool porcelain rim of the tub.
"So," Wilson drawled, "the pain's not that bad, huh?"
House opened his eyes, startled to find his friend kneeling next to the tub, his head mere inches away. "Some days are worse than others."
"I don't have my House-to-English dictionary handy, but I believe that's code for the pain is practically unbearable." Wilson raised an eyebrow and shook his head. "Why wouldn't you tell me?"
"I want you to be happy," House softly confessed.
Wilson's confusion only grew. "And you think I'm happy when you're in pain?"
"No," Wilson said vehemently. "House, you're my friend – my best friend. Why would you think you couldn't tell me about this?"
House wanted so badly for Wilson to walk out and leave him in the tub to soak in the warm water and wallow in his self-pity. However, one look at Wilson's determined expression shattered his hopes. "You have Sam now," House said, hating the bitterness in his voice. "And apparently neither you nor her have any room for a third wheel in your relationship."
"How the hell did you come to that conclusion?" Wilson sputtered.
"The other night when I came home and you two were playing cards… I didn't even get so much as a hello. From her I understand because she hates me." House shook his head before Wilson could speak. "No, it's true and it's fine with me because the feeling is mutual. But you… you say hello to everyone in your life! Nurses, janitors, lunchroom ladies… hell, I've even seen you talk to that stray mutt that hangs around outside!" House had unconsciously began to lift himself out of the tub. "How the hell do you think it makes me feel that I'm not even as important to you as random strangers are?"
He ignored his friend's warning tone, not realizing how badly his leg had begun trembling until he slipped and crashed hard into the bath. Pain flared all along his body but was soon dwarfed by the fire in his leg. Without even realizing he had, House began sobbing as he pressed his cheek against the hard edge of the tub. Within seconds Wilson's hands were in the water, kneading the angry muscles of his right thigh. Each gentle squeeze and firm caress gradually dulled the pain, until House no longer had tears in his eyes.
"I'm sorry about the other night," Wilson whispered in his ear as he cupped the back of House's neck with his damp hand. "I was just trying to make a point."
"That you're a jerk?" House retorted, still not willing to let Wilson off the hook even though he'd just given House a much needed massage.
"That I wasn't going to let you sabotage my relationship with Sam. I thought if I showed you that I was serious about trying to have a relationship, you would maybe ease up and give it a try, too."
Wilson's sincere, hopeful expression melted House's anger and his blue eyes regained some of their sparkle. "A threeway? Gee, Wilson, all you had to do was ask."
The younger man laughed softly and gently squeezed the back of his friend's neck. "House, do you know why I find it so hard to date? And no, it's not because of anything lacking down..." He gestured to his waist. "…there."
"Because the world is in short supply of needy women? That feminist movement really screwed you over."
"Because I'm like a single parent with a wonderful, caring child who likes to act like an obnoxious ass around everyone else in the world." Wilson sighed and rested his chin on the edge of the bathtub. "I would never trade our friendship for anything in the world, House. I learned that the hard way after Amber died and again after you went to Mayfield. Without you I'm… incomplete."
"Bu why Sam? Did you forget how badly she hurt you?"
"No, but people can change. Besides, she's smart and funny and I thought you might even like her if you gave her a chance."
"She hurt you," House impatiently reminded him. "I don't like people who hurt you. Except for me, of course. Wait a minute…" House's eyes narrowed as he studied his friend's face. "You've given up. You don't think there's going to be anyone else out there, so you settled for something from your past even though you know it's bad for you."
Wilson rolled his eyes. "That's ridiculous."
"No it isn't," House pressed forward. "That's exactly how I felt when I left Mayfield and nothing would keep the pain at bay; the threat of returning to my old pill-popping ways was almost insurmountable. Hell, you're the one who secretly tested my urine for Vicodin; you know it's true."
"You're feeling better."
"What?" House was confused by the sudden change in topic.
"You're leg isn't shaking any more, your breathing rate is back to normal, your facial features aren't pinched, and you've got your arrogant ass demeanor back."
"It still hurts," House pouted, although secretly he was amazed at how much better he was feeling. Maybe Wilson had a point when he lectured about emotional pain causing referred pain in his leg – not that he would ever admit it.
"Tell you what," Wilson said as he slowly stood, rubbing a hand on his lower back. "Let's get you on my bed and I'll give you a proper massage."
"Is this your way of asking for a threeway? Is Sam going to massage another part of my body?"
"Sam is…" Wilson sighed, a satisfied look on his face. "Sam is not coming back."
"Yes," Wilson assured him.
"And you're okay with that?"
"Yep." Wilson helped House out of the tub and handed him a towel. "I am grateful to her for a couple of things, though."
House looked up from drying his legs, a bewildered expression on his face. "Like what?"
"If it wasn't for her serving me divorce papers in New Orleans, then I wouldn't have gotten drunk and broken that mirror which means you wouldn't have taken an interest and bailed me out. We owe the beginning of our friendship to her."
House nodded thoughtfully as he finished drying off and wrapped the towel around his waist. "I suppose that's true. And the second reason?"
Wilson smiled as he looped House's arm over his shoulder and led him toward the bedroom. "She reminded me of who was really important in my life." He settled his friend on the bed and began massaging his damaged thigh. "No matter what happens, you – albeit in your strange Housian way – have always stayed by my side and that means a lot to me. Especially since I can't say the same about anyone else in my life." Warm chocolate eyes locked onto intense blue ones. "Thanks, House."
He knew he should say something back, but the adrenaline had left his system and Wilson was working magic with his fingers and he was just so sleepy…
The last thing House felt was a gentle squeeze of his hand and the soft brush of lips against his forehead.