A/N: Just a couple of technical things. First, in an attempt to adhere to House M.D.'s (seriously) screwed up timeline I'm assuming that the misdiagnosed infarction didn't take place at PPTH. Also, while I'm sure that House's birthday is in June, like wiki and everywhere else says, the show's first season gives the impression that it's in the winter. So I'm just ignoring that, and going with what the internet says. Oh, and there's slash in this. Mild, but it's there.

Disclaimer: Don't own anything. Not House, not the O.C. Nothing.

Four Times House Didn't Tell Wilson That He Loves Him

(and the one time he did)

The second Wilson turns his phone back on he knows something is seriously wrong. Nine voicemails. The first, from House, doesn't give him much. "Wilson, it's me. Call me when you land." The second, from Stacy, is still vague. "Wilson, it's Stacy. I'm worried about Greg's leg. We're going back to the hospital."

That's enough, right there, to send chills up his spine. He doesn't bother to listen to any more, and immediately dials Stacy's cell phone number. He firmly tells himself not to panic, but brave words aren't enough to steady his hands while the phone rings.

"Wilson," Stacy's voice comes on. "You need to come to Princeton General." She sounds like she's trying not to cry, which sets off the alarms in his head.

He tries to piece together the questions that spring into his mind, but the lump of fear in his throat is hard to overcome. "What… happened," he forces out. He bypasses baggage claim and steps outside to hail a cab.

"It was an infarction," she answers quietly. "He… They had to operate." She pauses. "Wilson, he needs you here when he wakes up." There's a warning in her voice that he can't decipher.

So he tips the cab driver all the cash he has on him, $200, to get to his friend as fast as possible. He's going to be fine, he determinedly tells himself as he steps through the front doors of the hospital. He's going to wake up, be in some pain for a couple of days, and then we'll go to the beach, like we always talk about. But when he finally locates Stacy, standing outside his best friend's room sobbing into her hands, he realizes that he's made a grave miscalculation. For one horrified moment he thinks that he's too late and that House didn't make it through the surgery, but the open blinds reveal that his friend is awake. They lock eyes through the window-brilliant blue and warm brown. He knows he should speak with Stacy so that he's prepared for what exactly he's dealing with, but he doesn't care. Without even a glance her way, he steps into the room.

"House," Wilson begins gently, willing himself not to cry. His friend has never had patience for that kind of thing. He tries to go on, but finds himself at a loss for words.

House looks up and into his eyes once again. "She ignored my specific instructions," he hoarsely says. "She knew I didn't want the surgery."

"An infarction." A smile plays across Wilson's lips. "Leave it to you to diagnose yourself." He watches as House's expression softens the tiniest bit. Then, to his amazement, his best friend takes his hand in his own and lightly squeezes it.

"I'm glad you're here."

The phone rings eight times before Wilson's husky, exhausted voice reaches his ears. Even though he knows that it's the middle of the night and that the oncologist is going to be annoyed, he can't ignore the surge of relief that pours into him. It's going to be okay now.


"Wilson." He imagines his friend sitting up in bed and switching on the light. "Please come over." His voice traitorously cracks.

He listens to the deep breath on the other side of the line, the squeak of the bed as Wilson gets to his feet. "Are you alright," his friend asks him.

House's eyes move to the empty pill bottle on the floor. "I took…" His voice trails away, he can't finish. He hears the sharp intake of breath.

"I'm coming. House, listen to me. Go the bathroom and throw them up. I'll hang on."

He follows the instructions and when he's done, he flushes the toilet and wipes the tears from his cheeks. "Wilson," he chokes through the dry sobs tightening his chest.

"I'm coming."

House spends the time counting the seconds until he walks through the door. He gets to 589 before the door flies open and there's his best friend, wearing sweat pants, a tee shirt, and an expression that seems to be permanently ingrained on his face in the years since the infarction. Wilson crosses the room in four long strides and pulls House into his arms, crushing him into a tight hug. House knows he's supposed to say something sarcastic, but somehow it's comforting. He rests his head on Wilson's shoulder until the younger man pulls away to examine him closely.

"Are you insane," he demands, not unkindly. "What were you thinking? You cannot pull this crap anymore, House. I know it's unbearable right now, but I almost lost you once. I can't go through that again."

Almost immediately House feels shame build up in him. "I'm sorry," he says quietly, his eyes downcast.

Wilson pulls him close again and presses his forehead against House's. "Please, House, god, please… Hang on for me. I love you. You're my best friend, I need you, please."

House wraps his arms around the younger doctor. "Okay. It's okay."

"Stop this, House," Wilson begs. "Stop this crazy, self-destructive-"

"Okay," House interrupts. He looks him in the eyes, so Wilson will know that he means what he's saying. "Okay, I'm done, I promise. You're right."

"I know this weird friendship may not seem like much," Wilson babbles, "but I just…"

House nods. "I know," he says again.

"We'll get through this. It's just going to take time."

"I know."

The oncologist exhales the breath that he seems to have been holding. "Okay. How about I make us some food?" And as he rests his hand on House's shoulder, then walks into the kitchen, the older doctor stares after him in silence.

From the time House was six his mother always made his birthday cake from scratch-a chocolate cake of her own recipe. Somehow Blythe House's baking far out-ranked Harris Teeter's.

So Wilson really shouldn't be surprised when he visits the diagnostician two days before his birthday, and finds his apartment in total disarray. "House," he cautiously calls out, careful not to step on the mountains of papers littering his friend's apartment floor. "What the hell are you doing?" he asks when House peers around the corner.

"Reading to the blind," is his friend's sarcastic response.

Wilson rolls his eyes. "I meant, what are you looking for?"

House pauses his search to collapse onto his couch in defeat. "I'm looking for a recipe. I called my mom and she said she's already loaned out her copy and I could have sworn I had one around here somewhere."

"A recipe for what?" Wilson passes him a beer.

"Nothing," House answers, sulking. He doesn't feel like having this conversation. Truthfully, he's not exactly sure what he would have done if he'd found the recipe anyway. Demand that his best friend make it for him? Well, yeah, probably.

So when June 11th rolls around he's not expecting anything. He's already told Wilson he doesn't want a gift, and that if he knows what's good for him he'll leave him alone today. He just wants the day to pass and be over with.

A sharp knock at the door interrupts his thoughts and with a suspicious frown, he answers. And what he sees makes the corners of his mouth turn up. There's Wilson, completely disregarding his orders-but it's okay because of what's in his hands.

"Is that-"

"Your mother's birthday cake? Why yes, it is. I borrowed the recipe like two weeks ago." The younger doctor steps inside and places the cake on the kitchen counter. Green icing on top spells out the words Happy Birthday, Greg. "I wanted to write 'Happy Birthday, Insufferable Loon' but there wasn't enough icing."

House laughs and dips his finger into the cake to taste it. He raises his eyebrows in disbelief. "It's… good."

"It's your mom's recipe."

"Yeah, but you could have completely screwed it up. I'm impressed, Jimmy." He glances at his best friend. "This is the coolest thing you've ever done for me."

Wilson turns away but not before House catches the small smile spreading across his face.

It's the end of the longest day. He's saved a six year old and put a 12 year old case to rest. He's a little euphoric.

He and Wilson take seats at the last poker table in the room, and he cheerfully deals out the cards. "Did you know that, relative to its size, the barnacle has the largest penis of any animal?" They both laugh.

"You want to go to breakfast," House asks as the end of the hand.

Wilson rolls his eyes. "I want to go to bed."

"Are you trying to get fresh with me, doctor?" House teases, his eyes dancing.

"If I were trying to seduce you, you wouldn't have to ask." Unused to Wilson's mock-flirting back, House feels his heart skip a beat. He smirks to hide his surprise.

"Promises, promises."

Wilson grins and half-shrugs. "I have been married three times. I know how to dispense pleasure."

"Yeah, to a woman," House returns.

"You think your psycho-analytical brain is too complex? I have known you for over ten years. I think I could find my way around." House looks up to his friend. Wilson is still smiling sardonically, but he's pretty sure there's something else in the oncologist's eyes. There's a darkness there that makes House's hair on his arms stand up. A whisper of legitimate desire. And he wonders what it would feel like to have Wilson's lips on his neck, his shoulders. His hands pressing against his back.

He clears his throat a little awkwardly. "You can show me sometime." Then he forces a grin and changes the subject.

Considering their history it's strange how it finally happens. Wilson dates Amber, and then Sam (again) and House dates Cuddy. But those relationships don't last, to neither man's surprise. Somehow it makes perfect sense that they should end up sitting together on the couch in the loft, watching reruns of the O.C. with the sound turned low.

"I was so relieved when Marissa died," Wilson comments, just so he has something to say.

House makes a noncommittal sound. Truthfully, he was glad too, but right now the last thing on his mind is Orange County. He and Wilson are both single at the same time for the first time in a while and he is determined to take full advantage of that fact. He takes another sip of beer, nervously spinning the bottle in his hand. Finally he sets it down, decision made. Without moving his eyes from the television, he drops his hand, and instead of letting it fall onto his own knee, he guides it to his friend's.

Wilson glances over, and he's staring at House with such lust in his eyes that it takes root in the older man's abdomen and squeezes until it releases butterflies into his stomach. He can't even think with his friend looking at him like that.

"House," Wilson murmurs.

House doesn't even blink as he reaches up with his other hand and cups the younger man's cheek. He swallows the fear in his throat and brings Wilson's lips to his own.

His first realization is how… commanding his friend's kisses are. Wilson presses back with vigor, exploring his lips, his teeth, the roof of his mouth. He slips his arms around House's waist and pulls him closer. House feels a trail of heat follow Wilson's lips as they move from his mouth, to his ear, to his neck. His two-sizes-too–small heart seems to expand.

Then suddenly he's just touching air and his best friend is on his feet, glowering at him from across the room.

"What the hell was that," Wilson snaps. The look on his face is pure betrayal.

"I thought it was self-explanatory." He's aiming for humor, but his voice shakes. "Is something wrong?"

"Why are you doing this to me? Is this funny to you?"

"No," House answers honestly. "It's not funny." He stands and walks toward his friend, then flinches when Wilson backs away. "Talk to me."

"Why are you jerking me around? You know how I… feel about you."

House's heart is hammering in his ears, his mouth dries up. He feels his expression soften, and inwardly he curses himself. He's pathetic. "I'm not. And I didn't. Not for sure."

"If this is some sort of test-"

"It's not! For fuck's sake, Wilson, I love you."

The words hang in the air, neither man daring to move an inch. In the background they hear Taylor's earnest explanation to Summer: "I just need to get him to tell me that he loves me."

Then, to House's enormous relief, Wilson smiles broadly. He takes a step forward, then another. "Yeah?" he asks.

House flicks his eyes up in frustration. Nevertheless, when Wilson is standing in front him, he takes his hand in his own. "Yeah, of course. Are you kidding me? I've been waiting for you." He's pleased to watch the other man blush. "You're such a girl."

"You're the one who's been pining."

House frowns deeply. "You pined too," he accuses. Damned if Wilson is going to make him feel like a sentimental asshole.

His best friend, his… other… half (he mentally cringes) leans forward, and before their lips meet again, Wilson whispers, "I pined too."