A/N: Yeah. Made up the second part of the rhyme. It seemed incomplete. The story itself is pretty angsty and pretty mushy. I think the premise is really interesting, though, so I hope you'll read it all the way through in spite of the poor writing. It's platonic and everything, so worry'st thou not.
April showers bring May flowers
Lovely things and a wonderful spring
Wilson actually cursed out loud when the knife slipped for the third time, slicing still more of his genetic material into the soup he was trying desperately to make. The successes had not been encouraging. Neither was this cursing habit—in all the years he and his wife had been together, he'd never cursed. She'd bragged about what a wonderful, polite man he was. He'd probably cursed more in the past week than for his entire lifetime.
Although, Wilson thought, mournfully trying to rub his headache away, it isn't like I'm married anymore anyway.
Luckily for him, before the self-pity got too overwhelming, there was House to make him feel better. Strains of Bust a Move drifted from the bathroom, threatening Wilson with a smile. Wilson returned to cutting, helpless against the grin slipping over his face and the vague warmth that had rushed all the way to his toes. He'd have to be careful or he'd start singing it too, and that would go over even his quota of feel good.
House was feeling better than he had for months. The pharmacist had finally gotten it through his head that House, being a doctor, actually knew when he needed that new drug, Velma-something-or-other. It felt less like months, though, and more like years, since Wilson had seen any expression on House's face other than that of stony, taut one he started wearing because it was that or "scream all the time".
"And then I'll lose my voice and won't be able to tell Cuddy what a bitch she is," House had added, ashen, eyes wide, entire body just sort of dead. The clot had started in his heart and seemed to have killed off the initial point before it left, stupid as that sounded. And if it wasn't emotional death, it was hatred.
Wilson, at the time had looked away, trying to figure out if there was something he could say.
Evidently, there hadn't been.
House looked peaceful now. Whatever they'd gotten him on, it was a miracle drug. Wilson was ready to pay whatever it took, out of his own pocket, every single day, if he could just see that serene look on House's face without him being doped half to death on morphine and anesthetic.
Wilson was grinning hard enough to break his face now. He wasn't paying any attention to the cutting board and would probably regret that soon. He didn't care.
"Wilson?" House called from the bathroom, called, not screamed. Wilson did cut himself then, cursed again, cursed himself for cursing, which really didn't have the desired effect and then raised his voice to respond.
"There's no soap in here!"
Crap! Wilson thought, at least managing to keep it in his head this time, dropping the knife entirely to hurry to the bathroom. His heart was pounding. Perhaps a lack of soap may not have been a matter of crucial importance to anyone who wasn't living with a newly crippled best friend with a penchant for suicidal idiocy. The first time Wilson had found House sprawled butt naked on the floor, apparently in too much pain for the screaming that might have alerted his friend, a neighbor, the police, anyone, he'd been cured of that misconception. Wilson had forgotten to replace the bath towel, and House had thought he could get it himself because it was maybe five steps away.
Wilson had spent hours of sickening guilt at his friend's bedside, worrying, hours more of fear—is this the end of us?—when House snapped at him. He hated Wilson for being there to see him, hated him for that more than for letting it happen. Every time Wilson had to intervene and help, he knew he was stepping a little farther into the danger zone. It left him wondering why on earth he'd ever volunteered to take House into his home (still didn't have a good answer to that).
Was this it? He'd ask himself. Would this time be the one to make House hate him enough to drive him away? Make Wilson leave in tears, just like he'd made Stacy?
The painkiller was Godsend. House had asked instead of driving himself into a sobbing wreck.
Wilson procured the soap in record time, brandishing it to where House, head poking out of the shower curtain, was watching. The moment hung in time for a minute before Wilson realized with the sinking suspicion that he was being screwed with. House was fully clothed, looked pensive instead of reproachful, and Wilson had changed the soap a week ago, God dammit.
And still the soap hung in the air, held out by a—oh, crap, not again, bleeding—hand.
"Impressive," House remarked, propping his chin on his hand—why was he sitting in a bathtub anyway? "Are you any good at children's parties?"
"Wha…?" Wilson really wished he could lower his hand, but a part of him was still very determined that House should take the hygiene product and avert the crisis brought on by Wilson's not paying enough attention, not caring enough to change the soap… He was out of breath, he realized, which was pathetic. When was the last time he'd gone and worked out? "You… don't need the soap?"
"Good idea," House nodded, reaching for it. "Because it works so well in combination to air." Wilson immediately leaned forward to hand it to him, and House rolled his eyes, shoving the hand out of the way. It now was suspended awkwardly to one side, and Wilson was beginning to get claustrophobic in the bathroom and wonder about things like whether or not the soap—soup—was burning. "No, I don't need the fucking soap."
"Um…?" Wilson said, now trying to wrap his mind around the situation and failing. Alarms were still going off in his head about how House was in trouble and how they were going to fight, and trying to think around them was sort of like trying to bash his head through a brick wall. "…Are you sure?"
"Are you being deliberately stupid?" House asked with his usual congeniality, and gestured with his free hand, devoid of cane, to an area slightly to Wilson's left. "Pull up a toilet. It's time we had… The Talk."
"I'm pretty sure I got the gist in seventh grade health class," Wilson quipped on autopilot, and nevertheless automatically sank onto the toilet seat. The soup question still hovered around the edges of the list of important things at the moment, and he shoved it more forcefully away. "Are you teaching certified?"
"That's not important right now," House dismissed, and poked at the ends of the shower curtain for seemingly no other reason than that he felt like it. His eyes narrowed briefly at Wilson during the distraction. "You look happy."
Wilson jumped as though this was some terrible accusation—which it kind of was—and wiped the smile off his face. "No I don't."
House shifted, sending off tumultuous worries in Wilson's head about whether his leg was bothering him, whether his back or shoulder was bothering him as a result of the leg, whether he'd fallen and couldn't get up and that's what this was all about, before settling and sending those worries to a restless sleep.
"You do realize you're wearing a dress?" House asked.
Wilson blinked, and felt his face starting to turn hot, further exacerbating the claustrophobia. It was not a dress. It was an apron. Which was perfectly manly and respectable. "No I'm—"
"It has frills, Wilson. Dainty, lacy frills." The contempt in House's voice was sharp enough to eat through stone, and this coming from a man sitting in the bathtub like he was the lady in the cyclone in the Wizard of Oz. And of course the apron had frills! Wilson wasn't any happier about it than House was, but since becoming House's caretaker, Wilson had had to learn how to cook (House seemed to think that takeout and a handful of vitamin-pill party mix was suitable for every meal), and he'd grown tired of ruining dress shirts. He'd been to three stores and in the end, he gave up and took the frilly one because at least it didn't have floral print and it wasn't like it would be broadcast to the world! Just to the person who would be able to mock it with the most accuracy.
House was a good foot lower than him and he somehow still managed to look down his nose at Wilson. "You're smiling again."
This smile was more persistent, and still Wilson tried. "No, I'm not."
He winced as soon as he said it, because the lie really was that pathetic—he could hear the smile in his over-bright, chipper tones without even wondering about his mouth. House nodded to himself. "I take it," he said slowly, and produced from the tub, a plastic prescription bottle. He rattled it between fingers still withered from his hospital-induced eating habits. "You like this?"
"I'm not the one taking it," Wilson responded gently, and there was that warm feeling again. He ducked his head. Yes, he'd been manipulated into another one of House's experiments, insulted, and screwed with—all under two minutes. It was far from a personal best, but it was a start.
Could the great, infallible Gregory House be back again?
"How do you like it?" Wilson wanted to know, hoping to tease a smile, or at least an admission of positivity from his friend. House stared up at him wonderingly.
"I like anything that makes it feel better," he murmured, turning his eyes to the bottle momentarily. "I love anything that makes it stop…" There was an odd note of curiosity in the air, some unasked question. It had been a while since Wilson had seen that side of his friend again, visiting the outside world long enough to find his new puzzle.
The smile had turned into a grin, which Wilson attempted to hide with the back of his hand. "OK, I like it," he declared. "What was it called again?"
"Vicodin," House supplied offhandedly, examining the bottle with the same blatant curiosity.
"Vicodin," Wilson said, testing the name out and not finding it unpalatable. It sounded neither like a woman he had once dated nor like a Latin tongue-twister. Just Vicodin. Very doable. "Cool. Yeah. I do like it."
"Of course you do!" House exclaimed, volume jumping just a little too high and making Wilson lean back just a little too fast. House seemed to notice, and adjusted the volume accordingly, a look disarmingly like a smile over his face, as though he might start to grin any second now. "Of course you do. This—all this—had to be hell for you. You practically run home every night from all those cancer patients dying in the wards. You've never had to take a patient into your house with you. Can't have been fun. Much harder to run away." House was watching him too carefully now, and his voice had gotten too hard. Something was bothering him—oh gee, you think maybe it's the fact that we tore out half of his leg? Whatever it was, it fast approaching and armed with plenty of teeth. So there would be a fight after all. Wilson braced himself.
Like a shark in the water, Wilson thought.
"You're hardly my patient," he pointed out, not bothering to try and deny the accusation of running away. He knew what he did and he didn't want to talk about it overmuch. He got the feeling he'd need all the manpower he had in whatever battle he picked. "We're friends. It's not a problem."
"Really?" House's voice got a little harder. "Friends? Is that what you think?"
Oh, Wilson thought, realizing exactly how bad this was about to get, and feeling himself sinking into ice cold murk. It had happened. He'd tripped some wire from which there was no return and now House was going to do what he did best, second only to saving lives he didn't care about. He was going to push Wilson away.
"Don't sell yourself short, Wilson," House admonished, shifting again to sit up in the bathtub, eyes glaring out his face like headlights. And also quite a bit like teeth. "You don't have to put on an act for me." Wilson was feeling very conscious of his apron now. It did have frills. It didn't inspire much confidence. This is not what men wore to war.
"You've made up for all those hours spent not dealing with patients by getting another one," House extemporized in a growl, "Installed directly into your home. The automatic anti-guilt-o-meter." He smiled now, but it was humorless and horrible, and the last expression Wilson wanted to see on his face. It had NOTHING to do with feeling better. "Enough to sustain your conscience for weeks."
"House," Wilson whispered, even though he had nothing to say. He pleaded. Please don't.
"I'm the perfect bargain," House continued, heedless of the growing horror on Wilson's countenance. "Recently dumped, recently abandoned, recently reduced to a complete invalid. Pretty easy on the eyes too—I don't ooze, itch, or infect. I'm toilet trained. The modern American vampire dream!" Wilson looked away, closing his eyes tight, but he could still see House's glaring at him. Hating him. "I must make you feel so good about yourself Wilson, why, I did humanity such a favor when I had my leg gutted. You must be so PROUD!"
"I had nothing to do with that," Wilson forced out, and House fell silent to listen, which only made it worse, because that way when House spoke again, Wilson couldn't drown him out in protests. He'd get to feel himself getting torn to shreds as House systematically attacked his every protest. This sparring was still tame compared to what House could do. Wilson didn't think he was bleeding yet. At least not figuratively.
Distantly, he realized that the soup was burning, and the smell was filling the bathroom.
"I didn't want that to happen to you," Wilson went on, choking. "If I had been there, I wouldn't have let them—"
"Don't even try to lie to me, Wilson! You would have let them do anything they wanted!" House slamming his hand against something with a crack—Wilson hoped it was the bathtub and not the tile, because if it was the tile, then House had just broken his hand. It was ever so slightly ironic. All Wilson's reasons for not wanting that to happen confirmed everything that House already knew about why, exactly, Wilson would have let Stacy do what she did. He hadn't been complicit. But he had known, and that was enough in House's eyes, in Wilson's eyes, in the eyes of whatever twisted fate that filled him up with guilt each morning. "You would have let them take off my leg entirely if you thought it would keep me here, because just like her—"
That was all Stacy had been reduced to. 'Her'. She didn't have a name anymore except in Wilson's thoughts when he played the tragedy out again and again to find what could have saved them or might fix things. He wished it was for Stacy, but it wasn't. He just didn't want the same thing to happen to him.
More for House or for himself, he didn't know.
"You're a coward," House finished, loathingly, and Wilson would have given anything to be miles away. "Just like all those-those stupid patient families, you'd put me on life support until I was ninety if there was any chance at all that your lives wouldn't have to change."
The bathroom was quiet for a moment, a long moment, and Wilson could have jumped in any time to deny what he'd just said. He could have said something, even if it was just that the soup was burning and they could talk about this some other time. But instead he sat where he was, head turned away, jaw clenched tight against any sound. He didn't say anything at all. It was so quiet that he thought he might lose his mind.
"Of course you like the Vicodin," House spoke up tiredly, shattering the silence around them, and just for that Wilson's eyes opened. "Of course you like it."
He rolled over in the tub, so that his back was to Wilson, and the shower curtain rasped over the space where his head had been. Wilson wasn't effectively locked out, but the meaning was clear. A line was drawn and the conversation was over. He wondered if this was what Stacy had seen in some distant time, the time before House came to be with him, before he'd even been let out of the hospital. If so, Wilson thought he knew what day it had been down to the hour.
He and Stacy were always with House whenever they could, but Stacy got there first every day, because her work let out earlier. Wilson thought he'd pick up some coffee for each of them, and so he was just a little later that day. Maybe, in some small way, what had happened had been his fault for messing up the equilibrium and not being there to calm the tense atmosphere that followed the words House and Stacy, because when he got there, Stacy had been on her way down.
"I think I should go home," she said when he stopped her, and kept her head determinedly angled away from him. She couldn't hide the tears in her voice, thickening it to cream, jerking with sobs. Her arms had been wrapped around herself like she could hold things that were falling apart inside together. Wilson had never seen Stacy cry and never thought he would, but he supposed that seeing her boyfriend trapped in a hospital bed, in agony, would be enough to cause a few breakdowns. He thought he understood, and he thought he understood her wanting to leave. Better for House not to see it. Better for him not to hurt any worse—
But as soon as Wilson turned he could see House though the blinds, watching them. His familiar eyes were filled with so much rage that it hurt to look. It was ten thirty, mid-November, and from that day onward, he saw Stacy cry plenty of other times, and he watched House driving her away by inches every single day. Sometimes it wasn't, but many of those times, it had been completely intentional, and deep down, Wilson knew that House knew exactly what he was doing.
Was this how he'd done it to her? Wilson wondered. To the person who loved him most in the world. Had he had this talk, The Talk, and turned his back? Had he ended it one day and it had just taken Stacy that long to realize that she had lost him?
The words weren't enough to drive Wilson away, but the air in the room was heavy with promise. There would be more words. It was April the twenty-fourth and the beginning of the end.
What did I do? Wilson asked himself, frozen where he was. What can I do now? Please don't let me lose him now! And then the thought he knew must have crossed Stacy's mind, Cuddy's mind and even his own a thousand times, making him weak with shame; he's not dead, he won't die now, so I can't lose him!
"House," he croaked, and didn't know why he was doing it. "It's not like that."
There was no answer.
"Talk to me," he pleaded, staring up at the ceiling and waiting for something. "Don't just—"
"Go away," House growled from within his shell, muffled by the curtain. Wilson leaned back, feeling like the walls were closing in and he couldn't breathe. Talking would feel like chewing on his own lies and he hated that. He didn't lie, he didn't swear, he didn't curse, and he didn't do this—he didn't create these kinds of situations where he was persuading someone not to hate him.
He just… didn't.
He didn't want to say anything.
He thought then that maybe what House needed wasn't to talk anymore. It was all he'd been doing since he woke up from their trick. He'd answered their questions, reassured them, explained, shouted, wept, and begged, and it was all to no avail and maybe he had every right to be tired of it. Maybe what House needed wasn't another question. Maybe it was time that Wilson opened up to him and told him the truth. Spat out the lies.
It couldn't make things worse, at least.
Wilson bit his lip. "House," he called again, soft, even though he knew that wasn't necessary. He just wanted to say the name. "We're friends." When the other occupant said nothing he took a deeper breath and went on. "I didn't bring you here to… to atone for anything… I mean—"
"I don't want your dissertations," House snapped. "Get out!"
Wilson took another deep breath. "I can't do that."
"Bullshit you can't!" The curtain billowed, apparently having caught whatever projectile House had hurled in his direction. "You can and you will!" His voice changed, pain sliding through, from any number of things, Wilson supposed, that had nothing to do with his newly treated leg. "Why do you think I'm hiding in my bathtub, Wilson?"
And at that Wilson's breathing stopped entirely, just stumbled to a halt, as the implications of that sunk their way in. Sure, he checked in on House a lot, but it was only to make sure he was alright, to see if he needed anything… Not even once had Wilson considered that House would find it an invasion of privacy. His breathing returned in time for him to demand, "Why call me in here with you, then?"
"Maybe," House roared, "I was sick of hiding in my own HOME! Good enough for you? Just leave me the fuck alone and get out! No one asked you to take care of me! No one asked you to fix me! And I don't want you here!"
Wilson stumbled onto his feet, only to sink back down again, onto his knees before the shower curtain. He left it there. He let the soup burn, didn't worry about wherever the soap had fallen, and knelt in front of a closed-off wall. "What do you want me to do?" He asked aloud, of anyone, but only House answered.
"I want you to leave!"
You want everyone to leave, Wilson thought. Who's going to be left when you've run us all out?
You… aren't God, even if you can pull off a miracle. You still need someone. You needed Stacy—and you need me.
He leaned his head forward, just enough to touch against the curtain, to feel all the resentment it had come to represent. Stupid shower curtain. A remainder from his days with Julie. He'd never liked it, to be honest. It smelled funny. His eyes were closed again, and the only thing he could hear in the silence was their breathing. "Let me in," he whispered. It must have been too quiet for House to hear because he didn't answer. It wasn't a literal command anyway…
Please let me in. Tell me what I can do that she didn't. He could hear Stacy in his own voice, thickened with unshed tears. One spilled out of his eye now, surprising him, because he hadn't thought he was tearing up that badly. He wiped it away with a hurried hand, knowing that he was running out of whatever time there still was left, losing his options, failing his best friend.
He couldn't let that happen!
"We're still friends, House," he announced, forcing his voice as lighthearted as it would go, pushing around the tears. "Maybe you—I'm still your friend, anyway. Do you… Remember when we met?" The smile came unbidden, and he had to wipe his cheeks again. "At that conference. I was twenty-seven years old, and getting the first taste of the rest of my life. Because I always end up… suffocating people, I think. Because I care… not in the right way."
Endless silence. And then:
"Go away, Wilson."
Wilson breathed, closed his eyes, and went on. "That's when I met you. And I mean, all things considered, I should have thought…" He briefly considered censoring his words, but he figured his tone would tell the story for him if he tried, so he didn't bother. "I should have thought you were as creepy and weird, alright? But I didn't. Not at all. You were so interesting, so different, that I…" Crap, he couldn't explain this. It wasn't going to come out right. Why was he bothering when he already knew what was going to happen?
And that was just a dumb question.
"It was all the stuff you said and the way you said it," Wilson decided. "You were so rude. And half of the time I couldn't figure out whether or not to start laughing or crying about what you told me. And you were completely right. Except when I was—and you didn't just see…" Alright, now this was getting ridiculous. Wilson broke off with a laugh, choking on the sob that rose up beneath it. "You were you, House. You were perfect. How could I not end up friends with you?" He let his head sink to rest on the wall of the tub, curtain bunching around his ears. "What makes you think I can stop now?"
House made a kind of sighing noise that didn't sound entirely like breathing or 'go away', and Wilson risked opening his mouth just one more time. "You know people do stupid, stupid things—when they care about someone. What we did… And I won't pretend I didn't have a part in it, because I did. And, it was stupid. If we had followed your advice, even if you were wrong, it would just have been a doctor's mistake. You'd either be dead or alive and healthy; you wouldn't be suffering, and you wouldn't hate us for what we did." He was glad for the curtain, because he couldn't feel the tears he knew were sliding down his face, pooling in the plastic. "If I wasn't so stupid, you wouldn't be angry with me. But that's just what caring does, House; it makes us stupid. Get as angry about that as you want to but it…" Just to completely undermine everything Wilson was saying, a particularly loud and wet sob broke out of his throat. "It's not going to change!"
It seemed as though House wasn't going to say anything for a long time, but Wilson stayed where he was and didn't even want to leave. He hated the cloying smell of smoke and the tiny room and the feeling of being completely alone in it, but he stayed where he was and listened to House breathe until House finally asked, "So you're an idiot because we're friends?"
Without waiting for an answer, he moved, seeming to roll around, because Wilson could feel his eyes fixed on him again and blazing through the curtain. Who knew what that meant? Wilson didn't have the strength to try anymore, let alone try to decipher this person.
"We haven't had an actual conversation for three weeks," House declared. "We've spoken, but it's you asking something and me answering or me telling you do something and you doing it. Ergo, not a real conversation. We haven't done anything together because neither of us wants to deal with it; I don't want to deal with you hovering and you don't want to deal with my leg." Wilson swallowed, hard. "There's no warm fuzzy 'I care about you' crap. We don't even eat together anymore, Wilson!"
"That's not true," Wilson protested, sitting up a little bit. "We eat together every day—"
"No, you cook, I eat, and you sit there and watch me like some depraved vulture," House retorted, seething. "But you never eat anything. I guess you don't want to remind me of what I can't do on my own anymore like chewing and swallowing!" Something hit Wilson hard enough, even through the curtain, to knock him back and onto the bathroom floor. It was either a fist, or House had brought his cane with him after all. "Does that sound like friendship to you? Wilson—we haven't been friends since you let those two chop me up like deli meat! So let's put an end to this RIGHT NOW!"
The curtain was torn back, a ring popping loose and joining the soap somewhere on the floor and out clambered House, standing without the cane—fist then—face white with pain, or maybe it was anger. But he was still standing, still shouting, still gesturing the wild way he used to whenever he got a particularly devious idea. Wilson's mind traitorously gloated over the fact that the Vicodin was working. "We aren't friends! So you can just go on being guilty, and I can go on suffering, because you missed your shot at being the good guy by a mile!" Wilson stared up, but House wasn't done, he knew there was one nail he hadn't hammered in all the way.
"You said it yourself," House barked, voice dying back a little bit, leg wobbling beneath him. Wilson wanted to make him sit before he hurt himself really badly, but there was no use in that. House wouldn't let him do anything right now. "I hate you."
Well, Wilson thought in passing, staring up helplessly, unable to even turn away, at least he's still thorough.
"But I'm still your friend," he said in a small voice. "Sorry." He got back to his feet, moving for the door, but suddenly House was in front of it, in obvious pain now. Wilson froze where he stood, afraid to touch him. "I need to get your cane," he pressed, reaching out to guide him away, but House knocked both his hands out of the air.
"You're going to ruin your leg!" Wilson cried, but he couldn't try to move him again, pinned beneath House's glare. "House, please!"
House ignored him. "What part of this didn't you understand?" He questioned. "Your 'friend'—" Were the air quotes really necessary? "—is gone."
"He's n—I mean, you seemed better before, alright?" Wilson answered distractedly. His thoughts were glued to the leg. "Look, at least sit down…"
"Maybe I was," House said, and suddenly he didn't look angry or hurt, but just sort of lost, leaning against the door and wondering just as much as Wilson if there was an answer to it all. "But it won't last… and you know it won't."
"Neither will the pain," Wilson pointed out, even when House shook his head.
"You don't know that."
"And you don't either," Wilson said, and they looked at each other for not much longer, sad and tired, before Wilson stepped forward, and took House into his arms, easing him down, unfolding the leg from beneath him with practiced care that still left House's teeth clenched tight, and muscles pulled taut. His hand was like a claw against Wilson's shoulder.
"What if it does?" He breathed into Wilson's ear before his friend pulled back, heartbreakingly afraid, because Gregory House, Wilson thought, had never been afraid once in his life. "What if it does, Wilson?"
Wilson drew back and looked into his eyes, which, danced around the room, meeting his only briefly. How they could go from teeth to the one weak spot on House's face so quickly was always startling to behold. "Then we deal with it."
We both deal with it.
"And if…" House's voice rasped like gravel, eyes still unable to meet Wilson's. "If I don't come back?" There was a brief pause and then he rolled his eyes, voice hardening again, "And don't say some stupid thing like—"
"Then we'll meet again," Wilson said simply. Outside there came a soft clatter as the rainstorm the weather channel had predicted came to pass, and a wash of sound from beyond the room. Real life—they both jumped back from each other at the sound, shocked at the reminder. The words hovered between them, but the curtain was gone, and House's hand stayed on Wilson's shoulder. He sighed suddenly, falling back against the door, over-expressive eyes shut.
"Thank God," he groaned. "I had the mother of all pressure headaches." When Wilson didn't say anything, he went on. "…Put me in a really crappy mood."
House opened an eye and gave him a very severe look, which managed to jump start Wilson failing brain. An absence of alarms was… almost as disconcerting as having them bang their way through his skull. And they were gone. Gone. House was… still there. Giving him an out to the disturbingly emotional discussion they had just had. Wilson wasn't crying anymore. He had…
The storm had passed?
"Is something burning?"
"Just dinner," Wilson responded automatically, and then leapt up, shoving House very carefully out of the way to go tearing down the hall with an exclamation of "SHIT!"
"Cussing gives people cancer!" House called after him in his usual, tactless way. Ten minutes and one fire extinguisher later Wilson returned to find House waiting exactly where he'd been left with raised eyebrows. "Are we evicted yet?"
"No, but dinner is ruined," Wilson griped, and helped House to his feet. Not that he was particularly bereft over the loss. There had only been enough for one person anyway. "Come on. We'll order takeout."
House actually smiled.
It was April, and the beginning of something, buried beneath secrets and lies and anger, something that was a little better than both of them. It would lie there for years, dormant, but it would not die.
House stared up at the place that would be his fate, and Wilson did his best to look everywhere that wasn't at House, because it didn't feel right to do it now. Everything was showing on his face and in his eyes. He hadn't seen House so afraid, so despairing since the infarction, and now, the only thing it made him want to do was drive like hell out of there and find someplace where they could stay and Wilson could chase away all of the nightmares until they were gone. House looked so small.
It looked like rain. That had to be the cause of his headache, because it looked like rain, but the air pressure refused to release the storm building up behind it.
"What will you do?" House asked, the first thing he'd said that wasn't a monosyllable since Cuddy had stepped into Wilson's office, House trailing after her, looking so lost and alone that he—it was like he wasn't House anymore. He'd met Wilson's eyes exactly once, and it had told Wilson everything he needed to know. He didn't know the exact details until Cuddy explained them—he'd had his suspicions, of course—but all he'd needed to do was look at House and know that the reign of House the Grand and Great had come tumbling to its inevitable end.
"Tell me how to help," he'd said, and Cuddy seemed like she was trying to smile reassuringly. It didn't reach her face.
"I think we need to call… Mayfield," she said, voice faltering. "This isn't working anymore."
"I don't know," Wilson said in the present, staring through the dashboard at the building and the attendants and the barred windows. He wanted to curse, but he'd long since lost the habit that worry for his best friend had brought on. The cursing, not the worrying. He'd had a lot of practice in both. "The same thing I always do, I guess. I'll—I'll write to you."
"Don't." House warned, shaking his head.
Wilson's eyes narrowed. "Shut up. I'm writing."
"Don't expect anything back."
"I won't read them."
Wilson snorted. "So?"
"What are you going to do if I don't come back?" House asked, and out of the corner of his eye Wilson could see him blinking, his usual defense against something that involved emotional depth deeper than a shoebox.
Wilson shrugged. "You'll come back."
He heard House sigh, and looked into his eyes again enough to drop his hands from the wheel in order to resist the temptation. House gave him everything, even his watch. Renouncing the outside world. He didn't hesitate or look back until the very end, wanting to see that car driving off and leaving him to what would be his end.
But Wilson was waiting, standing exactly where House had left him. And staring straight into him. Believing in him.
To Mayfield in May. How sickeningly ironic. He could still feel that thing they'd planted a long time ago in a rainstorm. It was stirring now. Did Wilson feel that too?
House dropped his eyes, blinking the feeling away.
The flower wouldn't bloom until he was home—and it was home—again.
He would come back.