You're in the kitchen, up to your elbows in suds and dirty dishwater with bits of food and other nameless unmentionables orbiting your arms. You've done this so many times that you have become immune to the repulsive feeling of saturated food between your fingers. Your mind can be miles away and the dishes will still come out spotless.
Your mind isn't miles away though, it's in the living room with House. You can see him in your mind's eye. His back is to you as he plays that organ you bought him, the sleeves of his wrinkled blue shirt rolled past his elbows because he can't have anything touching his wrists when he's practicing. House has just finished Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and moved on the Chopin. It's Nocturne Op. 72, No. 1. You remember when you first found out and it brings a smile to your lips.
It was just last week when you stole his iPod as revenge for his taking your phone. You remember how you were listening to the songs as you sat on the couch and how he leaned over the back, surprising you. He should have been at the office, working on his case. He reached over and took the device from your hands, his fingers lingered on yours longer than social etiquette called for.
"Here, listen to this." He said after a second.
The music changed from Solomon Burke to Chopin. He dropped the iPod and your phone on your lap and looked at you for a moment. He didn't stare, that wouldn't be the right word. He looked at you almost as if he was studying you, his eyes soft but clouded as if there was something weighing on his mind. Suddenly, he walked away without another word and disappeared into his room. You stare after him and when a hooker named Cinnamon calls two hours later, you politely tell her that it's the wrong number and hang up.
The music has changed now. It's something you don't recognize and you wonder if he's composing again. It is such a slow and melancholy piece that you stop scrubbing and the smile slips from your face. After drying your hands on the dishtowel, you walk out into the living room to watch him. You don't get too close. You are afraid he might sense your presence and stop playing so you lean against the wall close to the kitchen in case you need to escape. With House, there should always be a plan of escape. You look down at the floor instead of his back because you've long since learned that he can tell when someone's watching him.
You don't realize you've lost yourself in the music, in the thought of blue eyes and cane-calloused hands until you feel someone invade your personal space. You open your eyes and look up from the sight of orange and grey sneakers to look at House, your eyes meeting his. He's only a few inches away and you want to reach out to feel his hands, his arms, trace the bullet scar on his neck. You know how much he hates being touched so you don't. Besides, he might not react well to being touched in such an intimate way by someone he considers just a friend. You cross your arms over your chest instead.
"Why did you stop?" You ask.
"Why do you care?" He's so close you can smell the coffee and the sterile scent of the exam room from when he slept his clinic hours away.
You don't have an answer. You've never shown an interest before besides when you bought him the organ. He's never known that you've been interested since the first time you heard him play. He doesn't know you wait all day just to hear him play a scale.
"I was hoping you would finish." You reply.
The beginning of a smirk tugs at the corner of his mouth and you forget to breath.
The smirk turns into a mischievous grin and all thoughts run from your mind but the word Don't manages to make its way out in an undignified croak. You cough, hoping to cover up this latest blunder as your face turns a shade of red with embarrassment.
"Don't what?" He asked. You were hoping he would let it go but you knew from the beginning it was pointless.
"Wilson, is there something you're not telling me?" He's trying not to smile but you can see the roguish glint in his eyes, the impish little grin forming against his will.
Your mouth is dry and fear settles uncomfortably in your chest. You don't know why; you have nothing hide. Do you?
"N-no." You stammer like a boy who's just gotten in trouble with his better. "I just meant that I don't want you to stop."
He comes a few inches closer and puzzlingly you feel like you've never been touched before. Every single fiber of your being screams for his touch and his alone. No one else should even come as close as he is now.
"Why?" He asks. You can smell the pizza on his breath. You want to taste it on his tongue. "You've never taken such an interest in my musical talents before."
"I just never told you I did." You answer quickly and suddenly you realize that you've been staring at his mouth. You can't take any more. There's something wrong and you need to get out. A plan of escape begins to form. "Look, I'm sorry if I disturbed you." You turn to go back in the kitchen, hoping he'll go back to composing but he grabs your arm. As he turns you back around, you have a sudden comprehension of why he doesn't like to be touched. You feel exposed, insecure, helpless.
"You didn't disturb me." He lets go of your arm but you wish he hadn't because now a loneliness begins to envelop you even though he is standing less than a foot away.
House bites his lower lip and looks away as if in thought. His cane taps the ground a few times and he shuffles a bit.
"What's wrong?" You ask. You've seldom seen him act so uncertain and it bothers you.
"Nothing." He shakes his head and sighs heavily. He turns to go but it's your turn to stop him.
You grab hold of his shirt sleeve. "Stay with me. Talk to me." You say. "There's something wrong."
"There's nothing wrong." He tenses slightly and shrugs in the attempt to look calm.
"Are you alright?" You're worried, afraid he might be sick. With all the things he's injected, snorted, and swallowed you feel justified in worrying.
"Are you happy?" You press. He could call you a girl for it and you wouldn't care at this point.
House shrugs again. "If you're happy, I'm—"
"Do not give me that." You snap. His happiness shouldn't be dependent on you. "What if I'm not happy, House? What if I'm miserable?"
"You don't know what misery is." He responds quickly, his eyes like chips of ice as they glare at you.
"You don't know what I feel. You don't know that—" You quickly suck in a breath of air to stop yourself and release his shirt to escape back in the kitchen to the dirty dishwater and the lemon-scented soap.
You plunge your hands back in the water to scrub vigorously at nothing in particular as tears sting the corner of your eyes. This is childish and you know it but it can't be helped. You sniff and wipe something off your cheek with your shoulder. You refuse to acknowledge it as a tear.
"I don't know what?" House is standing next to you, leaning against the counter with his arms folded across his chest.
It's ridiculous how he could thump all over the place with his cane but be as silent as he wanted when he want to.
"I don't know." You reply. "I was being childish. It was nothing."
"It must have been something. You ran out on me." He pauses for a moment and you watch from the corner of your eye as he sucks in a breath to swirl it around between his checks.
"You do that a lot." He adds quietly as he releases the air.
Your stomach does a little flip and your heart seems to beat painfully in your chest. "What do you mean?" You focus on the little mountains of soap bubbles in the sink, the way the light makes tiny rainbows in them.
"Run out on me. It's not just me. Whenever things get to difficult you run." He shrugs. "It's what you do."
"I don't run." You reply automatically even though that tiny voice in the back of your head is agreeing with him.
"Then why don't you tell me what you were about to say? Are you afraid things will get difficult?"
You tense slightly. "I can't talk now. I have to, have to take a shower. I need to change." You dry your hands again and turn on your heel.
"Look at you. You're doing it again." House raises his voice until he's a step away from yelling. "Do you even realize you're doing it? Be a man about this, Wilson, and face your problems."
"You are my problem." You yell. You turn to face him and see that his eyes are hard a stone. It makes you miserable.
"If I'm a problem you could always ask me to leave. Better yet, you have the ability to kick me out. This is your place." He frowns. "I could probably be out of here by tomorrow morning if you wanted."
"No, I don't want it. This is our place. Yours and mine. We live here, you arrogant pain in the ass, and I want to keep it that way."
"You could've fooled me." He's smirking again but this time it's cold and distant.
You point a finger accusingly at him, anger filling your chest. It hurts to breathe. "You know what you're doing, I know you do."
"Please, tell me. I haven't caught on yet."
"Don't play with me, House. You did out there and you're doing it now. You tell me I don't know what misery is but I do. It's living with you day after day."
Something akin to agony flashes across his face but his jaw tightens and he resumes that hard stare.
"You're my problem. You don't know that I love you. You don't know that the last thing I think of at night is how blue your eyes are and how much I wish you would look at me like you did Stacy or you do with Cuddy." You pause and give what sounds like something between a sob and a sad little laugh. You look away and put your hands on your hips because their trembling now. "You make me miserable and you know it."
"I didn't know." He pushes off the counter and brushes past you, sans cane.
You worry that this is it. This is the end of House and Wilson. You stare like a zombie at the spot that House had just occupied and your feet begin to move of their own accord until you reach his door. You're not sure what you're going to do or say but you knock anyway.
"Go away, Wilson." House's voice calls through the door.
"I'm sorry." You say because there's really nothing else you can think to say.
You hear him give a short laugh. "There's nothing to be sorry for. Go away and we can forget this ever happened."
"I don't want to forget it. I'm sorry I said you make me miserable. It's not true." You pressed you head against the smooth grain of the door and sigh. "Look, can you just come out and talk to me? Please?"
There's no reply and you wonder if he's intentionally fallen asleep or if he's just ignoring you.
"House?" You're prepared to leave and chalk this up as another one of your mistakes because you know that House won't talk if he doesn't want to.
Just as you are about to leave you hear him call your name, soft and hesitant.
"Yes?" A glimmer of hope swells inside.
"Is it because I'm broken?" House asks. "Are you just looking for something to fix?"
You almost laugh at this as you come to understand that he hasn't entirely rejected you.
"No, House. You're not broken and I don't want to fix you." You put your hand on the door and wish it was him you were touching. "Can you come out? I hate talking through doors."
"Come in." He replies.
You open the door but linger in the doorway. It feels too much like invading his space. You lean against the frame with your hands shoved in your pockets. House is sitting on the bed as he faces you, his guitar in his hands as he stares across the space at you.
"You need needy." He says. "I don't need needy but I need you. You're all I have."
You're not sure what to say so you settle for a nod. A smile begins to work its way across your mouth and before you know it, you're grinning like an idiot.
"I don't know what you grinning for." House snorts. "I never said I'd go along with your love admission."
"No, you didn't." You say, still grinning.
"I never said we'd be a couple."
"I know." The exuberant feeling won't fade.
"I never said I'd kiss you."
"I didn't say you did."
"I never said I love you."
"I know." The grin just gets bigger and you can't help yourself.
"I never said I wouldn't do any of that stuff either."
"That's why I'm still smiling."
That night you don't kiss or hug or exchange admissions of love; that's not how you work. You do manage to get House to make room enough for you on his bed and you fall asleep with a foot a space between you. But in the midnight hour, you wake up with House's forehead resting against your arm and his arm thrown over your abdomen. As sleep starts make your eyelids heavy, you realize that you don't want a plan of escape for this, you don't want to run.