Title: Of Dreams and Nightmares

Author: pgrabia

Disclaimer: House M.D., its characters, locations and storyline are the property of David Shore, Bad Hat Harry Productions and the Fox Television Network. All Rights Reserved. Quote is from Rogers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music.

Genre(s): AU, Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Sick!House, Pre-Slash, Romance

Character(s)/Pairing(s): G. House, J. Wilson, L. Cuddy, S. Carr/ House/Wilson preslash, mention of House/Cuddy and Wilson/Sam

Word Count: 5952

Warnings: Spoilers for all Seasons and episodes up to Season 7 episode 1.

Rating: R (M)

Author's Notes: A response to episode 7X1. It begins just after Wilson tries to break into House's apartment and House catches him. This will be a two-shot.

(~*~)

"But…shit, Wilson!" House protested when he saw the look of unadulterated worry on his best friend's face. "She's hiding. That's what she's doing. She's nervous about us being discovered."

The pajamas and robe clad diagnostician crossed his bedroom and headed for the closet. He was determined to convince his best friend, who he'd caught breaking into his apartment through the kitchen window when said friend got himself stuck halfway through, that he hadn't been hallucinating once again of having had spent a night of passion in the arms of his boss, Lisa Cuddy. House knew he hadn't been. Cuddy had come the night before and stopped him from taking the Vicodin he'd hidden behind his bathroom mirror. He remembered it clear as day. Since he hadn't taken the opiates to ease the intense pain in his leg from crawling around in rubble all day and being verbally emasculated by the woman who later had become his savior, he couldn't have hallucinated making love to her, calling in sick for both of them so they could spend the day alone together.

"House, please don't do this—" Wilson began, and the expression House saw on his face when he glanced back over his shoulder was one of concern, as if the oncologist feared his friend was going to make a fool of himself and wanted to prevent him from doing so.

Ignoring his protest House pulled open the folding closet doors with a flourish, a smile of victory on his face as he stepped back without looking so the younger man could have full view of Cuddy huddled within. Only, Wilson didn't suddenly become sheepish and apologetic. Instead his friend closed his eyes in grief and lowered his head. Wilson's left hand rose to rub the back of his neck habitually. House felt a tendril of anxiety begin to wrap itself around his heart. Slowly, reluctantly, he turned to look within the closet. Cuddy stared back at him, as beautiful as ever, and winked a seductive blue-grey eye at him.

"See!" House said in irritation, turning on Wilson. "I told you! I suppose you're going to tell me there's no one there!"

Wilson lifted his head and opened his eyes to meet House's gaze. They were shiny with tears that he was trying valiantly to blink back. He regarded House with the same sad expression he'd had the day he'd watched House enter the doors of Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital a year before. He shook his head and sighed.

"House," he said almost apologetically, his voice thick with emotion, "There's nothing in there but clothes and shoes. Cuddy's not there. She never was here."

The single tendril was joined by several others, causing House's heart to stop beating out of fear. No. This was a joke, he told himself, unwilling to accept what Wilson was implying. She was there! He'd just seen her with his own two eyes—!

He looked inside the closet again, and she was gone. House felt his knees give out from underneath him and he fell to the floor, one hand still holding onto the knob on the closet door. His face fell and his eyes widened with the realization that Wilson had been right and he had been wrong. He was delusional and hallucinating again, and that only meant one thing….

House started when he felt a comforting hand on his shoulder and realized that Wilson had closed the distance between them without his noticing. The younger man crouched next to him, his soft brown eyes holding an expression in them House hadn't seen in them regarding him for a long time: compassion. The diagnostician stared back at Wilson with haunted blue eyes, not even attempting to hide his fear and disappointment from him.

"It's okay," the younger man murmured gently. "It's going to be okay, House."

"But," House responded, finding it incredibly difficult to speak, "I didn't take the Vicodin, Wilson. I swear!"

"House, your pupils are pin heads and bloodshot," Wilson told him softly. "I can hear your breathing. Right now it should be quick and deep, almost hyperventilating. Instead, it's slow and shallow. Your face is flushed. Those are all symptoms of opiate use. I'm not going to lecture you or condemn you, but I can't help you until you face the truth."

Unable to meet Wilson's eyes any longer, House looked away from him, trying to figure out how this could have happened. Was it true? Had he taken the Vicodin and forgotten about it? Were his incredible night with Cuddy and her confession of love to him all creations of a sick mind? Had he failed in his effort to stay clean and prove to himself and others that he could beat the darkness of his past? Had the past year of struggle and pain been for naught?

"No!" House growled suddenly, rising to his feet fueled by adrenalin. His legs were so tired that he could barely stand but fortunately the endorphins from the lovemaking were helping ease his pain. He had to prove to Wilson that he wasn't delusional. Somehow Cuddy had managed to sneak out unnoticed by neither of them, that was why she hadn't appeared to set the matter straight. It had happened, damn it! She had been there! She'd left Lucas for him and had told him that she loved him! They'd made love! It had been real! He limped, cane-less, to the bathroom, unwilling to be deterred.

"House!" Wilson called after him, following him. "It's okay! Like I told you, it's not unusual for addicts to have slips. It'll be okay—"

"I'm not crazy!" the diagnostician screamed at him over his shoulder. "I didn't slip!"

House reached the bathroom and stopped short. His body began to tremble uncontrollably. Two amber vials were on the floor, one capped and standing upright, the second without a lid on its side with little oblong white pills spilled out onto the tile. The bathtub was still filled with shards of the broken mirror. This was impossible. Wilson was playing some kind of malicious joke on him. Desperate to show that he hadn't taken any, House dropped to his left knee and then sprawled out onto the floor next to the vials. He set to pouring the pills in the open vial out onto the floor and counting them. Wilson stood in the doorway, leaning wearily again the jamb, appearing to be sick to his stomach.

"There were ninety in here," House told him rapidly as his fingers counted them off. "It was a full bottle. I'll prove to you that I didn't take them. There should be twenty-eight here and the other two are somewhere on the floor in here where I dropped them!"

"House," Wilson said softly, sadly.

"Shut up, Wilson!" the older man snapped. "I'm trying to fucking count here!" He continued to whisper out the count. "Twenty four, twenty—" There was only one more pill to make twenty-five. Five pills were missing. That was impossible! They must have been kicked somewhere at some point while he and Cuddy were kissing, moving for the bedroom. He began to search the floor desperately for the five missing pills. They had to be there somewhere, but the white tiles were camouflaging them! He scoured every square inch of floor in the bathroom, all the while telling Wilson over and over again that they were here, and he would find them.

But he couldn't. It was impossible for them to have just disappeared but…but that's what had to have happened.

"House," Wilson said again patiently, "if Cuddy was here, why isn't there any evidence of it? Her car wasn't outside when I pulled up. You crawled through rubble for hours yesterday—how is it possible that you're even able to walk with your bad leg?"

No, no, no, no! House screamed to himself and then began to mumble out loud. "No, no, no,no! I didn't take any Wilson!" He turned to look up at the younger man with panicked eyes that shed tears unwittingly. "There has to be a logical explanation!"

Wilson stepped into the bathroom and knelt next to him, grabbing both of House's forearms gently but firmly. "There is a logical explanation…."

House was shaking his head no, blue eyes pleading with brown. He couldn't speak.

"…And that explanation is that you hallucinated Cuddy again…." Wilson continued unabated.

"No," House began to whisper repetitively.

"…because you took those Vicodin," the oncologist said sadly. "You had to have been in so much pain, House. Foreman told me what had happened, how you could barely walk after you got out of the ambulance without your cane."

"No…."

"How distraught you were with your patient's death," Wilson told him without skipping a beat. "That combined with the fact that you must have felt isolated and alone, in part because of the way I've been treating you lately, it was only natural you sought out relief the only way you knew how. It's okay. I understand. I don't blame you. I should have checked up on you, but Sam had wanted me to come straight home. I should have dropped by anyway but I let my dick do the thinking last night. I'm sorry, House. I really am. But I'm here now, and I'm not going to abandon you again. We'll get through this together. You'll be okay."

House couldn't hold back his sobs, even though the last thing he wanted to do was cry, especially with an audience. He saw that his best friend's eyes were wet, too. When Wilson gingerly wrapped his arms around the diagnostician to hug him House didn't even try to fight it. He just allowed the younger man to hold him and comfort him and it felt so good. A thought occurred to him and he pulled back some so he could look at Wilson's face without breaking his embrace.

"Am I hallucinating you, too?" he whispered fearfully.

Wilson shook his head and smiled a sad but fond smile at him. "No. I'm real,"

House nodded, not completely convinced. There was no way he could be certain that this was reality or another delusion but for the moment he didn't care. He had his best friend holding him, and it felt good, it felt right, and if this was a hallucination, he didn't really want to know.

(~*~)

Wilson brought a tray with two steaming bowls of chicken noodle soup and sliced bread into the living room. There had been next to no food to be found in House's kitchen, only a few cans of soup, some peanut butter, breakfast cereal, about a pint of milk (on the shelf of the fridge, not in the door), and half of a loaf of multigrain bread. The only other consumable items were three full bottles and one partial bottle of Maker's Mark and a dusty bottle of crème de menthe that Wilson had left there about three years before. He set the tray down onto the coffee table next to an empty whiskey bottle and then handed one of the bowls and a spoon to House.

The diagnostician sat at one end of the sofa with his bad leg up on the coffee table. He still hadn't complained or shown signs of pain. House had been frighteningly quiet since the incident in the bathroom, looking shell shocked. He no longer was weeping or trembling; he looked like every ounce of self-confidence and spirit had left him and all that was left was a shell. He took the bowl without meeting Wilson's gaze.

Taking his own bowl of soup and a spoon in hand the oncologist then sat down next to House. He wasn't all the way at the opposite end of the sofa but kept a space between them large enough for a woman to sit comfortably. He began to eat, keeping an eye on House as he did. The older man just looked down at the soup with disinterest.

"You need to eat, House," Wilson told him encouragingly. "You have to keep up your strength."

House didn't move a muscle. After a moment he asked, "For what?"

It frightened Wilson to see his friend that despondent. It reminded him of a year ago, something he'd hoped he'd never have to witness again. He couldn't help but feel guilty; his conscience kept telling him that it was his fault that House was back in this state again. He'd told Dr. Nolan that House could stay with him as long as he needed to, because being alone would only make it more difficult for House to resist the urge to use again. He'd known it could be long term, even though he'd denied that when he'd asked House to move out of the loft because it appeased his guilt to do so. If he hadn't asked House to leave so the oncologist and his girlfriend/ex-wife could cohabitate in privacy, House probably wouldn't have returned to his apartment where he still had stashes of Vicodin hidden. He wouldn't have relapsed in desperation, and he wouldn't be delusional and hallucinating again. Had it been wrong for Wilson to want to pursue a life of his own and be happy? He didn't think so, but he'd been wrong to ask House to leave and to push him away like he had, and the way Sam had so vehemently objected to him checking on his best friend this morning had caused him wonder if she was actually the best choice to pursue that life and happiness with.

He truly didn't condemn House for relapsing. He'd been rejected not only by Lisa Cuddy but also by him. Wilson didn't understand why Cuddy had insisted House be out there in the rubble and ruin last night knowing that it would be terribly harmful to him. There were other doctors who had remained in the safety of the hospital that were able-bodied and much more capable of withstanding an environment like the crane collapse. He had been one of them.

Wilson sighed. He should have volunteered to go in House's place and allowed the diagnostician to remain back at PPTH. He hadn't because he'd had plans to take Sam out dancing last night and hadn't wanted to be stuck out in the elements all day first. Sam would have had a conniption if he'd returned too tired and sore to take her out. She'd planned it weeks ago, and didn't appreciate having to change her plans at the last minute…for any reason. It was a trait of hers that Wilson really didn't care for. Oh, okay—he hated it, actually. She'd been that way when they had been married and it had caused him headaches when his job demands conflicted with hers. He hadn't been a department head back then. He'd just graduated from Medical School and was the bottom of the totem pole in his residency program. He couldn't just schedule himself days off and refuse to work weekends like he could now. Hell, he didn't even like using his authority to do that sort of thing now, although he'd found himself doing it more and more of late to appease Sam, usually. He hated being that kind of boss, but he hated arguing with her more.

He watched House set the bowl of soup down untouched. The older man looked over at him with soul-weary eyes. "So…," he said quietly, "what now?"

It was a good question. Last year his delusions had wound him up in Mayfield. If Cuddy and the hospital board learned that House had slipped, he would be out of his job. Yet, the man needed help. Wilson wanted to help him, but wasn't certain he was capable of it. He'd done one rotation in psychiatry during residency; that hardly qualified him to treat a psychotic man even if said man was his best friend. Still, he couldn't bring himself to suggest a return to the asylum. Wilson knew that having to return would probably hurt House more than it would help him.

Calling Nolan had been a consideration the oncologist had made and then quickly nixed. The psychiatrist would be obliged to notify the state medical board about it and House's license would be suspended again, possibly for good. If the diagnostician lost the right to practice medicine, he'd never survive. No, Wilson decided, he was partially responsible for House's relapse so he would take up the responsibility to help House without jeopardizing the older man's career if at all possible.

Last year House's psychotic episodes had stopped once the Vicodin had been purged from his body. So that's where they were going to start, Wilson decided. They would keep him off any further use of Vicodin, and it would probably be a good idea to keep him away from alcohol as well, at least for the time being. That was step one. Step two would be to have House arrange to take some of his accumulated vacation time now so he'd have time to clean up without drawing too much suspicion. Step three would be moving his best friend back into the loft where Wilson could keep closer tabs on him and he wouldn't feel as isolated and alone. The younger man knew that Sam would be anything but pleased when she found out, but that was too bad. The loft was Wilson's and House was Wilson's friend. He would move him back in if he wanted to and she had nothing to say about it.

"Earth to Wilson," House said flatly, trying to get his attention. Wilson snapped out of his private thoughts and regarded the older man with a smile.

"Sorry, House," he apologized. "I was just thinking about the answer to your question. What do we do now? Well, first of all we get rid of all the Vicodin and booze—all of it—and get you back onto the wagon. While we're doing that we call the hospital and use some of that vacation time you've accumulated to give you time to recuperate without Cuddy or the Hospital board snooping too deeply. We also move you back into the loft. There's no way I'm allowing you to stay here all alone. It's not safe."

"No," House objected quickly. "I'm not moving back in with you."

Wilson rolled his eyes and sighed. "I'm not taking no for an answer. It's either you move back to loft or I call Nolan and have you readmitted to Mayfield. I really don't want to take you back there, House."

"I won't live under the same roof as the Harpy," the diagnostician told him resolutely.

"Don't call her that!" Wilson objected. "And you don't have to hang with Sam. She works all day, so you won't have to be around her then and in the evenings I'll be home to run interference between the two of you. Isn't it better than going back to the hospital and possibly permanently losing your license to practice?"

"She'll hate you for allowing me to move back in," House told him. "I'll only cause trouble for the two of you and I meant it when I said I would stop interfering in your relationship."

Wilson couldn't help feeling the warmth that filled his chest. House had really meant it. He'd really cared enough about the younger man to back off in his attempts to break him and Sam up even though he still strongly believed that she was a mistake and would end up hurting Wilson again. That fact only made Wilson feel guiltier about asking House to move out in the first place.

"I know that," he told the older man with a nod. "And you won't be interfering. Sam's an intelligent, compassionate woman. I'm sure she'll understand the situation and be good with it."

For the first time in an hour House smirked at him. "How many Vicodin have you taken today?"

"Very funny," Wilson retorted dryly. "Look, even if Sam doesn't like the idea of you moving back to the loft, that's too bad. It's my place and she doesn't have any say. House, you are my best friend, and I let you down. At least allow me to try to help you and make it up to you."

House's face and eyes hardened. "I don't want your pity or your guilt. If that's what is behind this than you can get the hell out of my apartment and leave me alone!"

Wilson felt his frustration rising. This was not going as well as he'd hoped. He had to make it clear to House that he wasn't doing this because of guilt, even though he did feel it. Nor was he doing this out of pity.

"I can't do that," Wilson told him firmly, his voice remaining quiet and level. "I won't desert you when you need me again. I'm not doing this out of pity or guilt!"

"Liar," House accused, scowling at him suspiciously.

Shaking his head the oncologist sighed and said, "I'm not lying. Look, I'll be honest. I do feel guilty about kicking you out of the loft and pushing you away so I could please Sam. It was selfish and stupid and I regret it. That being the case, I'm not moving you back in with me because of the guilt. I'm moving you back in for two reasons. One, because I promised to help you and allow you to stay with me for as long as you needed to and I broke that promise, so I intend on making amends for that. Two, and this is the main reason, I'm doing it because you are the most important person in the world to me and I care about you. I want to do everything I can to help you get back on your feet, healthy and of sound mind. I'm not bullshitting you here. Besides, I have a pathological need to be needed, remember? So really I'm doing this out of selfishness."

House looked away from Wilson again for a moment or two as he contemplated what his best friend had just told him. When he looked back he replied. "You're not a shrink."

"No, I'm not," Wilson agreed. "So I help you clean the drugs and booze out of your system and then you continue seeing Nolan for therapy. What he doesn't know won't hurt him, unless you feel you need to be honest with him about it. If you're clean again when you do tell him, he shouldn't have any reason to have to contact the state or Cuddy."

"This won't work," House insisted, shaking his head—but Wilson could see he was wearing him down.

"Maybe not," the younger man conceded. "But before we come to that conclusion, what can it hurt to at least try?"

House stared at him skeptically for a few more moments before exhaling loudly and shrugging.

"Fine," he said noncommittally. "We'll try it your way, for now. But if this fucks up your relationship with Sam, don't say I didn't warn you."

Wilson smiled a little. "I won't," he told him.

(~*~)

Together House and Wilson went through his apartment and the diagnostician revealed every hiding place he had left, and watched longingly as the oncologist dumped every last pill down the toilet and flushed them away. When the younger man then grabbed all of the booze and did the same thing with it House was not impressed and vociferously expressed the fact but it happened regardless. After that was done House called in to Human Resources and arranged to take two weeks of his vacation time effective immediately. He only had one hurdle; he had to get final approval from Cuddy.

Just the thought of her brought back full force the sadness and humiliation he felt for once again hallucinating a night of sex with her. It had seemed so real, but so had the last time. He felt hollow at the knowledge that she hadn't come to him to tell him that she loved him, because she didn't love him. She was still with Lucas, still engaged to be married, and he was still alone. Except he wasn't, well, not exactly. He had Wilson's friendship and concern back, which he was incredibly grateful for, but the oncologist was still sleeping with the harpy and House still didn't have a lover to keep him warm at night and to grow old with. It would only be a matter of time before Wilson grew tired of him again.

He wasn't overly distraught about not being with Cuddy, however. Not as much as he should have been. What was with that? When he'd hallucinated making love with her and waking up with her he had been elated to have her in his bed and in his arms. He'd felt happy and at peace for the first time in a very, very long time. He'd been certain that he loved her. He realized that the joy he'd felt had probably been the high from the Vicodin, but had his feeling of love for her been from the Vicodin as well? And had he really loved her—did he love her—as much as he'd thought?

Well, the fact that she hadn't really come to him and saved him from himself didn't endear her to him like it had when he'd believed his delusion was true. That meant that everything she'd said to him at the scene of the collapse had been true. She hadn't contradicted it. She hadn't even cared enough to call and check on him. She'd really washed her hands of him; she was really through with him. Her cruelty hadn't been a result of her frustration at the moment. She had intended every bit of it. Knowing that now made it difficult for him to recapture that feeling of love for her. It actually had the opposite effect.

And who had been the one to really care, to really show up and be there for him, albeit a little too late to protect him from himself but there all the same? Wilson. Wilson was there with him right now. Unless, of course, Wilson was just a figment of his sick mind too. There was always that possibility, except for one thing. He was still having visual hallucinations of Cuddy around the apartment but they no longer made sense for being there. Wilson's presence did make sense, and unlike Cuddy, he wasn't appearing and disappearing. House was about ninety per cent certain that Wilson was real. At least, he hoped so.

Wilson dialed Cuddy's direct line for him and then handed the phone to House. The older man was hesitant to go ahead with the call but Wilson was right there with him and wouldn't allow him to hang up. House sighed. Why had his friend picked now of all times to decide to stop being a doormat?

"Cuddy," she answered simply. Hearing her voice coming over the line from where she was in her office was nearly overwhelming for House, but he managed to hold himself together, reminding himself silently that she had not been with him the night before.

"It's me," the diagnostician told her, forcing himself to keep his voice from quavering.

"House, what the hell is going on?" She responded coldly. "I just got a call from HR about you taking vacation time effective immediately. Are you for real?"

He smiled ironically. Was he for real? He had no idea what was real and what wasn't. He wasn't going to admit that to her, though.

"Completely," he told her. "I have it coming and I'm cashing in. Crawling around hell yesterday took a beating out of my leg. I need a couple of weeks to recuperate…and try to forget about what happened with Hannah," he threw in for good measure, except, it wasn't really a lie. Her face kept flashing before his eyes every so often. He only wished he could forget about her, and how he had failed. "Foreman and my team can handle finishing up with the crane operator and any other case that may come by. It's only two weeks."

"One week," Cuddy conceded, sounding all business. He voice now was so different from Hallucination Cuddy's voice when she'd told him she'd left Lucas, and she loved him. "That's all. No special privileges anymore, House, remember? I meant what I said. You're lucky I'm giving you one."

"No," House said firmly, raising his voice. He felt his resentment towards her returning from the day before. "I said two weeks, and that's what I'm taking. I'm not asking for special favors—I'm simply demanding what is rightfully mine as an employee of that hospital. I'm not taking no for an answer."

"House—" Cuddy began, her voice hard and threatening but he didn't wait for her to finish.

"I'll see you in two weeks," he told her and hung up. His whole body was shaking. He looked back up to Wilson, who had a look of admiration on his face.

"I'm impressed," he told the older man.

House didn't reply because he was too busy watching Hallucination Cuddy strip behind Wilson. His friend noticed his distraction and frowned.

"Are you seeing her again?" he asked simply.

House nodded, lowering his head and squeezing his eyes shut. "Yeah."

Wilson nodded sadly. "Let's get some of your stuff packed and get out of here, okay?"

House looked up again, opening his eyes. She was still there. He sighed and nodded.

"Okay."

(~*~)

They spent the next half an hour packing a couple of suitcases. Wilson tried to keep the mood light and tried to get House engaged in a philosophical debate about the absolutism of right and wrong but his friend just wasn't taking the bait. He wanted to get House talking, to keep him engaged so he didn't close up and withdraw into himself. That wouldn't help the situation at all. He knew he had to come up with something different and interesting, but what? It was then that he decided to pose to House a question that he had been asking himself and had been unable to answer.

"So," Wilson said as he neatly folded a pair of House's socks and handed them to him only to watch him toss them carelessly into the open suitcase.

"'A needle pulling thread'," House quipped without missing a beat.

Wilson couldn't help but smile at the quote. "I have a question I'd like to ask you," he told his older friend.

House shrugged, flinging one of his classic rock T's into the suitcase. "So ask."

"Why Cuddy?" Wilson inquired, tilting his head slightly and scrutinizing House's face. "Twice now you've hallucinated that it was Cuddy who saved you from yourself and then you made love to her. Is it because you are still in love with her?"

There was about a minute of silence and just as Wilson was about to give up on expecting House to answer his question, he surprised him and did. "I don't know. I love her, I guess…I've always wanted to fuck her again, that's for certain. Actually, I don't think I am in love with her. I guess…shit, this sounds gay, but I think I've been in love with the idea of being in love with her ever since you started pushing me at her."

"I never pushed you at her," Wilson denied mildly. "I simply encouraged you to see if you and she might—"

"—you pushed me at her," House cut him off, staring at the younger man pointedly. "Boy, were you stupid! But then again, I'm the one who listened to you so I guess that makes me a total idiot to believe that she and I could ever make a relationship with each other work."

"Yeah, you're right," Wilson agreed reluctantly, perfectly folding a shirt and placing it in the suitcase himself so House didn't have the opportunity to mess it up. "But after the way she treated you this past year…it just doesn't make sense that you would hallucinate having sex with her."

House looked up at Wilson curiously, appearing to be trying to read his face and body language to determine where he was going with this.

"So who should I have hallucinated about?" the diagnostician asked him, smirking slightly. "You?"

Wilson could feel his cheeks burn as he blushed self-consciously but forced himself not to pay any attention to it. "Well," he responded, shrugging, "sure. Why not?"

House looked at him incredulously, apparently having difficulty hiding an amused smile. "So let me get this straight. You're disappointed that I didn't hallucinate that you showed up last night, stopped me from taking the Vicodin, told me that you were in love with me and then had incredible, mind-blowing sex with me? Is that what you're saying?" The smile escaped custody and slyly ended up on his lips to complement the suggestive wagging of his eyebrows. "Why Wilson, I had no idea you felt that way about me!"

"Knock it off!" the oncologist told him, trying hard to sound annoyed instead of flustered. He didn't want his best friend to know that he'd actually contemplated such scenarios in his mind—to quickly dispel them, of course. Instead of giving him the heebie-jeebies like it should have, the idea had the opposite effect on him. "I meant, uh…well, uh, about the stopping you from taking the Vicodin part, yeah. I mean, I am your best friend and between Cuddy and I, I'm the one who's been there to rescue you much more than she has. Of course, I realize that my breasts aren't quite as appealing as hers."

"Don't count yourself short," House told him, straight-faced. "You have a lovely set of moobs developing there, really."

"Shut up," Wilson told him, glaring at him. "Forget I even asked, okay? Moobs. You're a fine one to talk!"

"Hey!" House responded, pointing his toothbrush at the younger man. "These are well developed and sculpted pectorals, not moobs"

"Uh huh," Wilson agreed wryly, "you just keep on telling yourself that. Denial in small doses never hurt anyone."

House tried to glare but only ended up chuckling a little. "You're accusing me of being in denial? Aren't you the pot calling the kettle black!"

"What are you talking about?" Wilson demanded a little too defensively. "I'm not in denial of anything ."

"Oh, please!" House retorted, rolling his eyes in disdain. "There's so much denial in that closet with you I'm amazed that you can still breathe!"

Wilson looked up at House in surprise. There was no longer any sign of teasing in House's expression. The diagnostician was looking at him with those scalpel sharp blue eyes that had the uncanny ability to look deep beneath a person's behavior to find the motives behind it. It was a talent that Wilson had often found more than a little disconcerting; with it House had caught him lying more times than he cared to remember. Was it possible he saw something that nobody else saw and the oncologist had only ever suspected?

They exchanged looks for a long time before Wilson looked away first. He zipped up the suitcase he'd finished packing and lifted it off the bed.

"I'll just take this down to my car," he muttered softly and quickly headed for the front door with it, turning his back to House's prying eyes. This conversation was getting a little out of control, and he was more than happy to be the one to end it.

(End Chapter One)