A/N: As always, thanks for the reviews and the adds. They are my reason for being. And thanks to George Stark II, my fabulous beta-reader.
A/N2: Sorry this chapter took so long. It was rather determined to drive me crazy.
"Well, really, that couldn't have gone better," Wilson groaned sarcastically when he returned to his cousin and Danielle. He collapsed into his seat.
Carly laughed and leaned back against her chair. "I thought it was a nice touch that the day you arrive you find a way to get half-naked."
Wilson grinned back, coloring slightly. He wanted to correct his cousin and argue, quite honestly, that it was a coincidence but he knew neither girl would believe him. Nevertheless, he hadn't been thinking about the pool when he'd first collaborated with Cuddy.
Cuddy. God. Just thinking about his long-time friend back in New Jersey made his heartbeat speed up and his face redden again, this time with shame. He thought back to when he'd bought the loft out from under her and remembered that he had thought, at that moment, that would be the worst thing he would ever do to the woman, could ever do to her.
He hadn't known what he was capable of.
But he hadn't asked for her help. He knew that in no way absolved him of guilt, but she was never supposed to be involved (aside from the fact that it was her relationship he was trying to sabotage, of course). But Lisa had seen the damn invitation on his desk, poking out from underneath Dennis Bane's terminal cancer file. Cuddy was a smart woman and she had asked too many pointed questions for him to be able to lie convincingly. Until she'd assumed he merely wanted House's company because of his recent breakup. She trusted him, was what it came down to.
"I'm going to make dinner," Danielle announced, standing. With a quick peck to her fiancée's temple, she walked inside.
"You okay over there?" Carly asked him.
"Just wallowing in self-indulgent contrition."
"Oh, well if that's all." She rolled her eyes. "I'm assuming we're talking about the girlfriend back home?"
Wilson shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He had been doubtful about sharing the story with Carly to begin with, but he'd had to tell someone. "Yeah."
She was silent for a long moment, staring out at the water. "Well, I guess it's good that you feel bad. You should feel bad. You're doing a seriously sucky thing to someone you care about."
"Great. Is this you being supportive?"
"Sorry." She gave a comforting smile. "But you love your friend?"
He shrugged. "I'm pathetic."
"And you think he loves you?"
"Then focus on that. If she's not the one he really wants then he's not being fair to her anyway."
"Are you really trying to tell me that I'm doing Lisa a favor by stealing her boyfriend?" Wilson asked incredulously. "I'm not sure she'll see it that way."
"I'm done trying to help you," Carly replied in exasperation.
Wilson smiled and changed the subject. "Should we be helping Danielle with dinner?"
"I'm not allowed in there while she's cooking. She's afraid I'll do something apocalyptic like add salt or something." But she stood anyway. "We could set the table though."
Yanking on the tee shirt he'd been wearing before he dove into the pool, Wilson trailed behind her through the side door and into the house.
"So, what's the next phase of your seduction plan?" Carly inquired as they pulled plates from the dining room hutch.
He was in hell. "Please don't call it that. This isn't 'Cruel Intentions'—-I'm not trying to steal his virtue. I just want him to realize that he loves me back. It's romantic."
Carly arched her eyebrows. "When did you see 'Cruel Intentions'?"
Half an hour and a long shower later Wilson quietly knocked on House's bedroom door. No answer, so he knocked a little louder. He was half-tempted to wake his friend the way he'd been fantasizing (yes, he was definitely pathetic) about for months now, but he grudgingly supposed he had to draw the line somewhere.
There was the shuffle of footsteps, then the door swung open. House stood in front of him, looking completely rested and the alert blue eyes paired with his friend's trademark smirk sent a small shiver up his spine.
"I had a dream that I was an asshole to your cousin and flipped out on you over something you have no control over," House told him.
"Huh. That doesn't sound like you."
His friend grinned a little wider. "That's what I thought." He sniffed the air and glanced at Wilson. "God, Jimmy. Does the Wilson family have some sort genetic component that ensures every one of you guys comes out cooking like Wolfgang Puck? It makes everyone else look bad."
"Danielle made it, and she's not a Wilson." He blinked. "Actually, neither is Carly. Adopted. Maybe that's why her fiancée won't let her near the food." He gestured to the hall, and House followed him down the stairs.
The girls were already sitting at the table, serving themselves helpings of lasagna and bread.
"Hey, James," Carly began once the men were seated, "Danielle and I have wedding-type stuff most of the day tomorrow, until my parents get into town. Will you and House be okay on your own?"
Wilson tried not to roll his eyes at his cousin's quick wink that his friend, thankfully, missed. Probably because he was inhaling his dinner.
"Easy there, tiger," Wilson teased, relieved at the opportunity to have something else to focus on.
House turned to Danielle, who was eating in silence, watching the other three. "Marry me?"
She looked up and regarded him blankly. "Um. No."
Wilson snorted into his drink. "Ahh, well. Better luck next time."
They finished their meal and as Wilson and Danielle cleared the table, the oncologist saw his friend wander into the living room. He placed the last plate in the sink, then headed into the other room himself. Before he arrived, though, he discovered the nature of House's interest. The sound of his friend playing the beginning cords to Moonlight Sonata met his ears. He rounded the corner and found Carly lying on the couch, listening to the slow music.
He walked across the room and stood by his friend, watching the long fingers move effortlessly across the white keys. He'd forgotten how, well, beautiful it was to see the diagnostician play. Narrowed eyes, slowly rocking back and forth with the music. He loved it, and there weren't many things House loved.
As though reading Wilson's thoughts the older man looked up. Brown eyes met blue and Wilson felt his heart skip a beat.
House sighed dramatically, halted Moonlight Sonata, and switched gears to a different song, same composer. Beethoven's Fur Elise suddenly filled the room.
"James's favorite," Carly noted from the couch.
Wilson watched a shadow cross his friend's face before the older doctor replied, "I know."