Title:Of Dreams and Nightmares (2/2)

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.

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. This is assuming that House's hallucinations at the end of S. 5 were due solely to the Vicodin. I don't really think that's all there was to it but for the sake of this fic, that's the assumption.

(~*~)

House's luck wasn't getting any better. Not only had Hallucination Cuddy sat in the backseat of Wilson's car but she had been joined by Hallucination Hannah. The new arrival had appeared shortly after the car had left its parking spot on the street in front of House's apartment building. She had startled him, causing Wilson to look over at him from the driver's seat in concern.

"You didn't help me!" H. Hannah accused angrily. "I told you that I didn't want my leg to be cut off! You told me you wouldn't do that and then you changed your mind and sweet talked me into it. Now I'm dead. What kind of doctor are you?"

"A good one," House had murmured aloud unconvincingly. "It was beyond my control."

"What was that, House?" Wilson had asked him, "I didn't catch that."

House had sighed, shaking his head and turning his face to the side window. "I wasn't talking to you," he had answered quietly, but loudly enough for Wilson to hear.

"Oh," had been Wilson's response. He'd returned to his silent musing as he drove.

House couldn't blame him for being uncomfortable; what did one say when one's best friend told one that he was talking to hallucinations? Wilson had been surprisingly collected since discovering that House had used again and was back to hallucinations and delusions. Was it possible the Wilson in the car with him was also a hallucination, part of yet another complicated delusion?

Now they were nearing the loft and an additional dose of anxiety was added to that which House already felt. He had a pretty good idea what her reaction would be when Sam arrived in the evening to find him sitting on the sofa watching TV. He knew it wouldn't be pretty and he'd warned Wilson about that. He knew he should have fought giving in to Wilson's desire for him to move back into the loft, but truth be told he'd been more fearful of being alone with his demons than facing Sam's wrath. Still, he regretted the pain it was going to cause Wilson.

He rubbed his thigh absently. It was aching a little, meaning the Vicodin he couldn't remember taking was beginning to wear off. Just as he'd expected, the craving to take more to eliminate the worst of the pain again was much stronger than it had been for months. Even before he's slipped and his pain had been at its worst he'd craved the relief that came with the opiate but this was ten times worse. His body had instantly readjusted again to groaning for the drug again; a year of sobriety and hard work down the drain. Perhaps that was what bothered him the most: the fact that he had not only failed to save Hannah but had failed to save himself as well.

Wilson drove his car into its parking stall in the underground garage beneath the condo building and parked. He turned the car off and then looked sideways at House with a small, optimistic smile; the diagnostician could tell that it was forced but didn't point it out.

"Well, we're here."

"Obviously," House retorted dryly, meeting the brown-eyed gaze resting on him. "You still have time to change your mind. We can be at Mayfield in a little over an hour this time of day."

Shaking his head, Wilson told him, "I'm not going to change my mind. This is your home; it always has been. I was just too selfish to remember that."

House wished he could be convinced that his best friend meant that, but he wasn't. Still, he wasn't going to argue the point any further. Aside from the headache this was going to cause Wilson when Sam came home, House was almost looking forward to see how the harpy's reaction would play out. He hoped she showed her true colors, but he doubted it. She was shrewd and knew how to play the game. Besides, even if she did overreact House doubted it would even register in Wilson's thinking.

"It won't last," H. Cuddy told House from behind him. He could hear her sit forward in her seat and reach around the headrest of House's seat to run her fingers through his short graying hair. He could feel it; her fingers were solid and the circles they were creating brought real goosebumps to his skin. He had to mentally repeat to himself that she was a hallucination to keep himself from becoming lost in the delusion again. "He doesn't love you like I do. I can make all of your most sinful fantasies come true!"

Of course she can, House told himself. She's a fantasy herself. He started when he felt a hand on his forearm. He looked over to see Wilson as the owner of the hand and he was regarding House with a mixture of curiosity and worry.

"Let's get your things inside," he said to the diagnostician and then opened his door and climbed out of the car. House sighed and pulled his head out of H. Cuddy's reach. He grabbed the old spare cane he'd found in the back of his hall closet and climbed out of the car as well. Wilson had the truck open and the older man reached to grab one of the suitcases but before he could the younger man snatched them both up and headed without a word towards the elevator. House sighed and slammed the trunk lid shut before limping in pursuit.

(~*~)

The loft looked very much like it had before House had moved out but for a few feminine touches here and there: a floral throw and matching cushions, vases of lilies and roses in every room, the scent of lily-of-the-valley fabric deodorizer, and so forth. Boxes upon boxes stacked onto each other, each filled with stuff Sam had moved in and hadn't gone through yet, lined one entire wall. The bed had been stripped and pushed out of the way to accommodate an elliptical machine and a yoga/Pilates zone. The closet was also filled with Sam's stuff. Apparently she had wasted no time in trying to erase any evidence of House from the loft. Not that that surprised him in the least; he probably would have done the same thing if the tables had been reversed.

"Uh," Wilson said a little uncomfortably as he set the suitcases on the floor at the foot of the bed, "I hadn't been expecting you back so soon, so I haven't had a chance to get her junk out of here yet."

House noted the younger man's use of the work 'junk' when describing Sam's things and repressed a smile.

"No problem," House told him, sitting on the edge of the bare mattress. "All I need are a couple of drawers and some bedding. The rest can stay."

Wilson looked at him with mild surprise. "That's good of you House, but I won't have that. This stuff should have been put into storage anyway, especially the exercise equipment. Since she started going to a gym she doesn't even use it. I'll go get you some bedding and other linens. You look tired and could probably do with a nap. After that I'll move as much out of here as I can until I make other arrangements with a storage company."

House shrugged without any enthusiasm. If Wilson wanted to go to the bother, let him, the older man decided. It wasn't like he expected to be staying there for long. Once Sam's complaining pushed the younger man to the breaking point House would find himself out on his ass again. He wasn't even sure that he was going to bother with unpacking his suitcases. As for a nap, he agreed it sounded like a good idea; he felt like crap, his entire body was beginning to ache and the pain in his leg was getting worse. Perhaps in his sleep (if he could fall asleep) he could avoid the hallucinations for a while, too.

Before that, however, House grabbed a toiletry bag out of one of the suitcases and took the whole thing into the second bathroom, the same one that had been his bathroom once upon a time and would be his bathroom again as long as he was there. It looked almost exactly as it had the day he left only cleaner. As he unpacked his things he opened the doors to the vanity cabinet beneath the sink. His eye was drawn to a couple of small boxes that were partially hidden behind bottles of toilet bowl cleaner and tub and shower spray. They hadn't been there when he'd left. Curious, he grabbed them to take a look. He sighed when he saw what they were; one was an over-the-counter ovulation test and the other was a home pregnancy test. So they were considering having a baby. It was a bit of a surprise to him, considering the fact that Wilson had mentioned once that while he'd thought about having kids when he was younger, he was at the stage in his life where he wasn't all that interested anymore. There was also the fact that the boxes had been stored out of immediate view and were in this bathroom instead of the master bathroom.

House wondered if Wilson was even aware that these boxes existed or that Sam was thinking about becoming pregnant. Although he had promised Wilson that he wasn't going to interfere in his relationship, he believed Wilson should be aware of this. Perhaps the oncologist was, in which case it wasn't a problem (well, it was a big deal to House, but that didn't matter). But if she was doing this behind Wilson's back, then he felt the younger man had the right to know before he unwittingly fathered a child. If she got pregnant without his agreement Wilson would feel bound to her and the baby and that meant Sam would never get the boot. That prospect frightened House.

He considered how he could arrange it so Wilson would be sure to discover the tests on his own without it being obvious that House had fixed it. If Wilson knew House had set it up for him to find them, it wouldn't matter whether the younger man wanted a baby or not, he would be furious with him.

"Tell him you want to shower but it's a little dusty in the stall and you want to clean it out before you do," Wilson's voice said from behind him. House turned to see the oncologist behind him, only it couldn't have been really him. He'd never seen his friend wander around in a Speedo before, much less around the loft in one. It was a great look on him though. "Before you do, hide the tub and tile spray under the sink in the kitchen and then tell him there's no cleaner under the bathroom sink."

"He won't buy it," House told H. Wilson, knowing full well that it was just a hallucination but still a portion of his own mind reasoning things out. "I'd never offer to clean it myself. Besides, you're—I mean—he's anal about making certain the proper cleaner is its proper place at all times."

"If you play up the pain in your leg while you do it he will," was the hallucination's reply. "His need to be needed will win out, trust me. I should know. Make certain the boxes are placed so he can see right away what they contain."

Again the diagnostician shook his head. "No," he said, squinting in concentration, "I have a better idea."

H. Wilson's face suddenly lit up and then grinned deviously. "Of course!"

He began to walk towards House and the older man backed away from him until he met up with the vanity, effectively pinned between it and H. Wilson's nearly naked body. The hallucination pressed his body up against House's body and snaked his arms around his neck. He brought his face within a couple of inches as the older man's face and House could feel the younger man's moist, hot breath against his skin. How was it possible for this to seem so genuine? The mind truly was an amazing thing.

"But first," the hallucination said before pressing his lips against House's mouth and grinding his erection against House's flaccid cock. He began to harden despite himself. He tried to remind himself that this wasn't really Wilson but it felt so good and it seemed absolutely real. He found himself returning the kiss, wrapping his arms around H. Wilson's waist. The younger man tasted so good, felt so good….

House broke the kiss but not the embrace. He rested his forehead against H. Wilson's and looked down. He could see the head of the younger man's fully-erect dick poking up out of the Speedo, just begging to be touched, to be kissed. The diagnostician closed his eyes and swallowed thickly.

"This isn't real," House whispered, trying to remind himself of that. "It was so much safer when you were Cuddy," he told the hallucination.

H. Wilson smiled seductively, and traced House's lips with his finger, grinding his hard on against House's again. "But I'm so much more fun."

"Yes," House confessed breathlessly. It would be so easy to give in to the delusion, just for a little while—just long enough to make love to his best friend like he'd been dreaming of for years; but he wouldn't be making love to Wilson, but rather to a nightmare.

"No!" House said suddenly, pushing the illusion away. He couldn't do this. He couldn't submit to a fantasy. When it happened, if it ever happened, he wanted his first time with his best friend to be real, not like this.

H. Wilson sighed and shook his head before walking out of the bathroom passing through the door. The diagnostician didn't know whether to cry or scream.

He wouldn't have to fake the pain in his leg, at least.

House retrieved the bottle of cleaner out of the vanity cabinet and situated the tests just so. He limped to the door and opened it carefully before peering out. There was movement in the kitchen. House sighed and then backed back into the bathroom. He opened the cabinet doors and then sat himself down with his back to the wall opposite it, his legs sprawled out in from of him and his cane laid haplessly a few feet away from him. And….action! he said in his head.

(~*~)

Wilson chopped away at the carrots with his chef's knife. He wanted to make comfort food for House—Shepherds' Pie—for his first meal back at the loft. The older man was under a great deal of strain and doing the little things for him right now would, the oncologist hoped, help relax him. Soon he would be in agony and craving Vicodin and every little bit would help. Sam would complain about all of the carbs and fat, but that was too bad. He'd make a salad to go with the entrée and she could chomp on that if she didn't want to eat what he made.

He whistled softly as he cooked. He hadn't enjoyed preparing dinner this much in weeks.

"Wil-lson!" came the bloodcurdling scream from House's bathroom. The younger man jumped in shock and nearly sliced the tip of his index finger off with the knife. His heart seized in his chest in fear as House continued to call for him and scream hysterically. Wilson had never heard his friend scream that way, not even during the days right after the infarction. He dropped the knife onto the cutting board and sprinted towards the bathroom.

"House?" Wilson cried out as he ran and stopped short in the open door way. To his horror he found House on the floor, writhing and batting at himself in a frenzy, as if he was trying to kill and knock off a swarm of mosquitoes or something. There was nothing there, it was simply another hallucination. Wilson's stomach dropped and he felt nauseous, his heart aching for the older man. He slid on his knees to his side. House had a bottle of spray cleaner in his hand, and began spraying it at his body. He grabbed House's shoulders, fighting against the older man's thrashing. He tried to capture House's wild eyes with his own.

"Get them off!" House shrieked. "Get the roaches off!"

Wilson sighed. "House! There are no cockroaches! It's another hallucination! House, they're not real!" He continued to repeat these things over and over until the diagnostician began to relax and then stopped thrashing and batting.

"They're not real?"

Shaking his head, Wilson smiled sadly. "No, they're not." He gently pried the spray bottle out of House's hand and then turned around to put the cleaner away when his eyes fell upon the boxes. He frowned and set the bottle down before picking them up and looking them over. The frown deepened.

"Fuck," House said softly, his voice shaking slightly. "I'm sor—they seemed so real."

"I know," Wilson said softly and then returned the boxes to the cabinet and shut the doors. He turned to face his friend. House's face was drawn and troubled. He looked so tired and defeated. Wilson wondered if he was capable of giving his friend the help he needed, but he had to at least try. "It's okay. It's going to be okay."

"No it won't," House argued softly, avoiding Wilson's gaze. The oncologist helped House up to his feet. The man was trembling. Seeing the supposedly invincible Gregory House this way was nearly overwhelming for Wilson. He picked up House's cane and handed it to him.

"It will," Wilson assured him. "Look, why don't you change out of those wet clothes and take a shower to get all of that cleaner off your skin. Then take a nap before dinner. Doctor's orders."

The diagnostician nodded obediently.

"I'll bring you some towels and your robe," the younger man told him before leaving the room. He swallowed the lump in his throat.

(~*~)

House watched Wilson leave and then sighed wearily, reaching down to knead his hurting thigh; the ruined muscle was beginning to cramp up. He saw the boxes. Mission accomplished, House told himself. He felt a little guilty for deceiving his friend like that, but it had been necessary and was for said friend's own good.

Wilson returned quickly with the towels and robe and gave House a long look with chocolate brown eyes and fond smile before leaving again, shutting the bathroom door behind him.

Sighing wistfully, House started the water in the shower and undressed, hoping that no apparitions decided to join him.

(~*~)

House lay on top of the bedding on his bed, fully clothed except for his Nikes. His hands were laced together at the fingers and rested like a cradle underneath his head. He was exhausted, particularly after his long, hot-as-he-could-handle-it shower. The moist heat had helped ease some of the pain in his leg, but not enough to enable him to sleep.

He could feel every muscle, tendon and strand of sinew in his body ache a little from the exertion he'd put them under the day before but the pain from that was nothing compared to the pain in his ruined thigh or even his headache or stomach cramps. It was beginning—the withdrawal symptoms. He'd hoped that they wouldn't appear since he'd only taken five Vicodin tablets after a year of sobriety but his body and mind had simply reset to the default mode they had been in before his detox in Mayfield. One slip and he was going to suffer through that again. He hoped that the kicking wouldn't be as severe as back then. It wasn't just pain that was bothering him; the incredible craving for more of the painkiller was nearly driving him out of his skin. It took almost all of his will to remain still and on the bed. The anxiety he felt gradually increased until it was of the order he figured it would be if he were going to die if he didn't locate and take Vicodin right away.

He knew he should find Wilson and tell him how strong his anxiety and urges were and how bad the pain was becoming, but he didn't want to concern his friend and he had too much pride to admit yet another sign of weakness. He felt pathetic enough.

Since the incident in the second bathroom, Wilson had been very quiet and withdrawn and hadn't come to check on the diagnostician for over an hour. Perhaps it was because the younger man thought he was sleeping but he doubted it. In the past, whenever House had had a bad cold and Wilson had assumed the job of mothering him back to health, he'd check on the older man every half-an-hour to make certain he wasn't dying or something. Part of House was glad that he wasn't being pestered but another part realized that Wilson's distraction was probably due to the boxes he'd 'found' under the bathroom sink and House couldn't help but be a little concerned. He was convinced that Wilson hadn't known that Sam had those tests or the intention of becoming pregnant. Even if Wilson did want kids, he would be angry about her duplicity and not talking with him about it first.

House wondered if they were riding without a helmet, so to speak, and if she was off any form of birth control. Chances were very good that she was. He was angry at the thought of it, and his hatred of her only intensified. That conniving bitch! Perhaps this would be enough to open Wilson's eyes to the truth of who she really was under the sickeningly sweet act she put on when he was around her. If nothing else, he hoped it would lead to Wilson wearing a condom when they did it.

He screwed up his face in disgust, trying to get that mental image out of his head. A particularly strong spasm tightened his ruined thigh muscle to contract so tightly that he cried out involuntarily before he bit his lip and stifled himself. He thought nonstop about those little white pills. He knew he would never survive this without them, felt that down to the marrow of his bones. The pain would become so intense that he would die. He knew Wilson would be disappointed in him and that he would never regain his sanity but what good was sanity when one was dead? He slid across the bed to the right side edge of the mattress and reached his arm over the edge; he began to feel his way as he stuck his hand between the bed frame and the bed rails. There was a little ledge, and he began to run his hands along it back and forth, searching, searching….

The knock on the bedroom door caused House's hand to freeze just as his fingers found the frayed edge of the duct tape. Of course—he should have known that Wilson's super-human hearing for groans, whimpers and other sounds of neediness would hear his cry and sent him running. It was as endearing as it was aggravating.

"House? Are you alright? Do you need my help?" the oncologist called.

House sighed in exasperation and pulled his shaking hand out. He moved over toward the center of the bed again, gasping in pain with every movement of his leg.

"No!" House called back a little too quickly, startled by the strain he heard in his own voice.

Obviously his best friend wasn't convinced. He slowly opened the door and entered, warning, "If you're indecent you better cover up now."

Wilson took one look at House and moved quickly to the bed, sitting on the edge of it. He began to feel House's face for a temperature.

"You're anything but okay," Wilson scolded him. "Why didn't you call for me?"

House just realized that he was breathing heavily and his heart was racing in his chest. "If I call for you—" he gasped as another spasm hit sending white hot pain coursing to his spine again, "—every time my leg hurt—ngnnn!—you'd be better off handcuffing yourself to…to me!"

"I'm going to go get that ibuprofen and you're going to take it—it can't hurt," the younger man told him, "and then I'm going to run a hot bath for you. While you're in it I'll call Chase and tell him to bring over Toradol, methocarbamol and Ativan. I'll tell him no questions."

"I thought I wasn't allowed—ahhhhhng—in your bathroom," House panted.

"Let's not get into that right now," Wilson told him, frowning. "I'll be right back." He jogged out of the room and was back with a minute with a glass of water and a full dose of the analgesic. He had to help House take them because the diagnostician's hands were shaking too much to hold the glass. Once they were down, Wilson left the room with the glass. House a few seconds later he could hear the sound of water pouring into the tub in the master bathroom. He knew he didn't have much time; he slid gingerly over to the edge of the bed again, reached down and found the spot immediately. His hand wrapped around the pill bottle and he yanked it off of the frame, hearing the tape tear away. Carefully his wriggled his fist out of the tight space and cursed as the pills inside the amber vial rattled with his shaking.

House's eyes shot back to the door, looking out for Wilson, then back to the Vicodin. He popped the lid off and spilled out a small pile onto his sweat-soaked chest. Three, he told himself, "just three. No more. Three will do. He struggled to pick up the tablets with his tremulous fingers but somehow he managed and held them in front of his eyes, staring at them like a starving man would look at a thick, juicy steak—

"No!" the diagnostician heard just before a hand slammed into his, sending the pills flying across the room. Wilson was practically on top of him and grabbed at House's wrists with a strength the older man hadn't known he possessed. "House, no. You can't!"

"I—I c-can't take the p-pain anymore!" House told him in a grieved voice. His eyes stung with tears but he didn't feel like crying. He felt like screaming. "I have to make it g-go away. I j-just want it all to g-go away!"

"Not this way, Greg," Wilson told him, shaking his head fervently. "This isn't the way. I don't want you to go away! Now I'm going to let go. Don't try to take anymore. Please."

After a long moment House closed his eyes shut tightly and nodded. "Be q-quick about it," he warned.

He felt Wilson release the bruising grip he had on his wrists. House had the immediate thought that if he rolled right as soon as Wilson's weight was off of him he would fall off the bed but would bring the pills on his chest with him…. No! he told himself angrily. Anger was good. Anger was strong and he needed to be strong. He beat this bitch once, he could beat her again. The pain would pass, Wilson would find a way. But the anxiety was so high….

"I'll die without them," he groaned, unable to hold back the words. His logical brain told him that he wouldn't, but the pain and withdrawal maddened part was screaming that he would.

Wilson was gathering up all of the pills and putting them into the vial again. House felt him moving quickly and even sneaking his hand underneath the diagnostician's body in search of strays. Wilson left the bed for a moment.

"House, just lie still," the younger man told him. "I'll be right back."

House gritted his teeth and clenched his fists until his knuckles were white and his fingernails gouged into his palms, but he didn't move. He was disgusted with himself and his weakness; he was in too much pain to feel ashamed but he knew that would come. The sound of a toilet flushing reached the spare room and then Wilson was back.

"House," he said, sounding fatigued. "Please look at me."

"I'm a f-fucking idiot," was the response between gasps and hisses. The older man's hands were kneading his thigh like it was tough dough.

"I had no idea your leg was hurting you so much," Wilson told him. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"It's always been this bad," House told him through gritted teeth. "I did tell you, but you assumed I was exaggerating or that it was conversion disorder or you figured I was jonesing for a fix. Then you would lecture, so I stopped telling you." He opened his eyes and looked up at the oncologist, who knelt on the bed next to him, looking ashen-faced and mortified.

Wilson didn't say anything, but simply got off of the bed and went around standing on House's right side. He carefully helped a very weak House up to a sitting position and then wrapped one of the older man's arms over his shoulders.

"Y-you're going to hurt your back," House protested, his voice deep and gravelly.

"Not if you cooperate with me," Wilson told him. Somehow the oncologist managed to get House to his feet—or rather, foot—without hurting himself. House cursed foully from the pain caused by the jarring movement, but slowly they made it to the master bathroom. Wilson sat House down carefully onto the toilet and then checked the bath water. He let some out and added straight hot. Once he was satisfied he returned to House. House had already managed to remove his shirt and undo his jeans, going so far as to slide the waistline past his buttocks but he couldn't bend to remove them all the way. He looked away from Wilson in shame.

Saying nothing Wilson helped him remove his jeans and socks, leaving House in his boxer-briefs.

"Do you want to remain in your shorts or do you need help to remove them?" Wilson asked, not looking directly at House's face. House really wanted to curl up in a ball and die from humiliation. Yes, Wilson had helped him before, just after the infarction following Stacy's departure but that didn't mean he had no problems with it. He scoffed at himself. If he hadn't felt so damned helpless he would have been aroused at the thought of his best friend undressing him to nothing, but not now.

"I can do it," he mumbled. Nodding, Wilson stepped back and looked away as House managed to push his underwear past his buttocks and down to just before the knee. Taking his cue Wilson helped remove them completely, looking at the wall and using only his peripheral vision. He then helped House over to the tub and with some effort and a couple of false-starts managed to get him into the tub and lower him down into the water. The younger man kept his eyes trained on House's face now.

"How's the temperature?" he asked the diagnostician, panting lightly from the effort. "Too hot? Too Cold?"

"It's good," House told him and allowed himself to slide down until the water was up to his chest. He closed his eyes and tried to relax while the hot water worked on his leg and his nerves.

"Just don't fall asleep," Wilson cautioned him. "I'll be in my bedroom if you need anything. Just yell."

House nodded, too weak to talk. He heard Wilson walk out of the room and then heard the door as it made contact with the door latch but it didn't click, meaning Wilson left it open just a tad, just in case he had to make another mad dash to House's side.

Already House could feel the muscles in his leg relaxing, easing the pain somewhat. He exhaled in relief. He knew he would never be able to repay his best friend for all of this.

(~*~)

Wilson helped House out of the tub, aided him in drying off and then handed him his robe. From the way the muscles in House's face and neck appeared to be more relaxed, he knew that the pain level must have dropped to a more tolerable level. He helped House back to his room and then left him for a few moments when the older man insisted he could put on his own pajamas "like a big boy."

Chase arrived with the medications, asking all sorts of questions which Wilson promised to answer another day before kicking the intensivist out. He took the meds to House's room and knocked on the door with a knuckle.

"Okay," House said from the other side of the door, "you can come in if you want."

Wilson stepped into the room to find House lying on top of the bedding again with just a pair of flannel pajama pants on. He had his back against the headboard with his legs stretched out . Wilson retrieved a heating pad and wrapped House's thigh in it before plugging it in and adjusting the heat setting to low. He then found his medical bag and took out a wrapped, sterile syringe. With it he injected House with the Toradol and the muscle relaxant and then gave him an Ativan tablet to put under his tongue. He took the meds and his bag away and came right back.

"Come sit down," House told him quietly, frowning. "You're making me nervous just standing there and staring at me."

The younger man surprised his friend by moving around to the other side of the bed and matching his pose, leaving about two inches of space between them. House didn't mind the proximity at all, the oncologist noted, but then again, House didn't understand the concept of personal space unless he was the one demanding it.

It was the first time all day he'd had the chance to just get off of his feet and relax, and he was glad he could do it with House beside him. Wilson had missed the older man a lot—perhaps too much for 'just a friend'. He stared at House, his eyes appraising his face and then his well toned chest with its smattering of chestnut and grey hair, and all the way down to his long feet. For some reason he wasn't even trying to hide the fact that he was checking him out, and for the first time he wasn't embarrassed by the fact that he felt himself respond a little as he appreciated his friend's form. He'd always thought that the diagnostician was handsome in a careless, scruffy, devil-may-care kind of way. However now, he couldn't get over just how attractive he was, which was odd, considering that the man was in obvious discomfort. Wilson returned his eyes to House's face where they were met by his azure eyes. They gleamed with a hint of amusement and something else, something that reminded the oncologist of the red hot embers that remained after a bonfire burned itself out.

"Like what you see?" House asked him with a little smirk but no cynicism in his voice. It was an electrically-charged question. Wilson searched his face for any sign of mockery but couldn't find any.

Wilson blushed a little, and diverted his gaze. He cleared his throat and hoped that House didn't notice that he was hardening beneath his slacks. "I was just thinking that I…I missed having you around."

"You have Sam," House told him, still staring at him piercingly.

Shrugging Wilson said softly, "It's not the same." He hesitantly met House's gaze again, feeling drawn into it.

It was House's turn to look away, "Why are you doing this, Wilson?"

It was a fair question, Wilson admitted, but there was no easy answer to it and he wasn't entirely sure why himself. "When I found you this morning, I didn't pity you but…you're going to laugh at this but…I hurt for you. It hurt me to see you struggling like this knowing that I let you down—and don't say I didn't because I know I did."

"I wasn't about to argue with you," House said seriously. "But you have a right to find happiness wherever you can find it. I have no right to stand in your way like I was. Even though I hate her and I don't trust her, she makes you happy. I, on the other hand, hurt you. Logically you made the right choice."

Wilson shook his head slowly to that. "But…I'm not happy."

House frowned but said nothing, apparently waiting for the younger man to explain, so he did.

"Oh, I was at first," he admitted. "I was looking for someone to save me from myself, I guess you could say, and Sam…well, she was convenient. I knew that I would never love her again like I did the first time but I thought if I could love her just a little bit I could make it work. I was scared what would happen if I failed."

"What were you scared of?" House asked, appearing to be fascinated by what he was hearing.

Wilson shifted uncomfortably. This was getting real, and intense, and he was pleading with himself to shut up and go out to the living room to wait for Sam. That's exactly why he forced himself to stay, to man up. He couldn't run from this forever, even though he desperately wanted to.

"Of doing something that I would regret later and probably cause you to never speak to me again," the oncologist told him, his voice shaking a little. He looked down at his hands resting in his lap, finding it easier to open up when he wasn't looking at House. "With the two of us living together after you returned from Mayfield last year, it became nearly impossible to hide. When I bought the organ for you I realized that you were beginning to put two and two together. Damnit, House, I didn't want Sam! She was an escape route!"

House shook his head in confusion. "What are you talking about, Wilson?"

Wilson exhaled in exasperation and rolled his eyes, amazed at how a genius like House could be so dense sometimes. "I rushed into things with Sam because I was falling in love with you! There, I said it, it's out. I'm out. If you want to beat the shit out of me go ahead and get it out of your system!"

He couldn't face his best friend, he felt so ashamed, so he turned his face away and bit on the inside of his cheek to keep himself from sobbing. He was expecting the eruption any second where House would curse him out, call him every foul name he knew and order him out of the room and out of his life. When a few seconds passed and nothing had happened he slowly turned his head to venture a look. The moment his face was visible to the diagnostician he raised both long-fingered hands up to Wilson's face and held it gently, his eyes scrutinizing it carefully. His hands were trembling along with the rest of his body. Wilson sat perfectly still, having no idea what was going on and hoping that whatever it was it didn't involve violence.

"House," Wilson asked cautiously, "what are you doing?"

"Are you real?" was the fearfully whispered question, "Or are you just a hallucination?"

"I'm pretty sure I'm real," Wilson answered, feeling his mouth go dry. "Test me. Ask me a question that I would have no idea of knowing. If I'm your imagination, I should know the answer."

A genuine smile cracked House's face. "Only the real you would come up with such a stupid suggestion. All I would have to do is somehow make my hallucination not know the answer…you know what? Fuck it."

Before Wilson could react he felt House pull his head closer as he leaned in and kissed him gently. It was brief but hit Wilson like a bolt of lightning. House drew away far enough to search Wilson's face questioningly, trying to determine what the oncologist's response was.

Wilson smiled and lifted his hand, placing it at the House's nape and pulling him back into another kiss. This time it was just as gentle but deeper, with more passion and emotion being poured into it from both parties. Wilson ran his tongue along the older man's bottom lip and House moaned ever so softly, parting his mouth and allowing Wilson's tongue to enter and caress and explore every tooth, taste bud, and ridge on the top of his mouth. The younger man's other hand came to rest on House's chest as it gently rubbed circles over the hair and flesh. It was House's turn to explore Wilson's mouth for a while. The oncologist knew this was the luckiest break he'd ever—

"James? Oh my fucking god!"

Both men jumped at the sudden and unexpected cry of dismay that came from the open doorway. Wilson broke the kiss and turned to see Sam standing there with her mouth wide open and her eyes practically bugging out of her head. She appeared to be frozen in place, locked in her horror. Wilson sighed and his hand went immediately to the muscles at the base of his head. He glanced at House to see him staring at her with amused, sparkling blue eyes and a smug smile on his face.

"Hi, Sam!" House practically chirped with glee. "Welcome home!"

She unfroze then, sputtering and scowling hatefully at him before storming off to the master bedroom and slamming the door shut behind her.

Wilson looked at House, who was still grinning from ear to ear in satisfaction in spite of the fact he looked green around the gills and he was still obviously in pain.

"I couldn't have planned that better if I'd tried," he told the younger man, shrugging. "Oh well, look at the bright side, Wilson. At least this way, you can skip the confession and go straight to the break-up."

Wilson gave him a withering glare but he couldn't hold it for long. A smile broke out on his face just before he started chuckling ruefully. House chuckled too, weakly, then winced and grabbed his thigh.

"You okay?" Wilson asked anxiously.

"Will you stop that?" House retorted, annoyed. "Now get in there and kick her out on her ass. And try to keep the screaming down—I have a splitting headache!"

The oncologist raised both hands in a gesture of surrender and then headed towards his bedroom.

(~*~)

House laid under several layers of blankets; his sweats had shifted to the chills. He couldn't sleep because of the headache and stomach cramping, although, his leg had settled down to a dull growl. The withdrawal symptoms hadn't worsened as the night progressed but they hadn't calmed any, either. He knew that he could endure this and then stay sober again. He mentally shook his head in rue as he replayed the past two days over in his mind. So many changes had taken place in such a short period of time.

While House ordinarily hated change, he welcomed the ones that had brought him back to the loft and sent Sam packing in a murderous rage. He'd actually been afraid she would do something to hurt Wilson—and then him—but she'd had brains enough to realize that it just wasn't worth two first-degree murder raps and had left instead. For the rest of the evening Wilson had tried to get House to eat some of the shepherd's pie he'd made for him but the diagnostician's stomach had been too upset, opting for ginger ale instead. Wilson camped out in the spare room with House and talked about Sam's confession that she'd been trying since the day she moved in with him to get pregnant, defending her actions by saying that if she'd asked him if he wanted to start a family he would have said no just out of habit. The diagnostician saw only one hallucination all evening but when asked he'd refused to tell his best friend who it was because it only would have upset him. Wilson surprisingly left it at that, probably because he had a good idea who it had been that House saw.

House lifted his head and looked at the glowing red numbers on the alarm clock/radio. It was well past two. He sighed. Slowly and with too much effort he pushed back the blankets, sat up and then found his cane and used it to rise unsteadily to his feet.

"Damned muscle relaxants," he muttered and he slowly limped out of the room and headed towards Wilson's. Despite their kissing earlier, Wilson and House had parted ways at bedtime, more out of exhaustion and force of habit than anything. House was about to remedy that mistake. It was more like he hopped than limped to Wilson's door and turned the knob, finding it unlocked. He slowly opened it and limped inside as quietly as he could. Pale moonlight streamed in the window and fell across Wilson's face as he slept. House stood there with almost all of his weight on his left leg and simply watched him for several minutes. Never had House expected Wilson to be the one to make the first move, but when he thought about it he was glad that he had. This way House knew for certain Wilson loved him and wasn't just saying it because he didn't want to upset the older man while he was in such a 'fragile' state. Not that House would exactly say those three words to Wilson's face. He preferred putting his actions where his mouth was.

Gingerly House resumed his approach to the bed. He'd heard the oncologist stripping the bed and putting on new sheets earlier, for which the diagnostician was very thankful, for now he didn't have to sleep on the same sheets the harpy had the night before. House carefully pulled the blankets back and then eased himself onto the bed as gracefully as a cripple could. He pulled the blankets back over him and found a comfortable position. He wanted to wrap his arms around Wilson and hold him as he drifted off to sleep but didn't want to awaken or startle him so he contented himself with having him close enough to touch if he needed to.

House was just about asleep when he felt some movement behind him and then a body pressed up against him with an arm wrapping around his waist. House figured that in his sleep Wilson was mistaking him for Sam. That thought bothered him until he heard something being whispered into his ear.

"What took you so long?" Wilson asked him, his lips brushing House's ear. "Good night, House." Those lips laid a kiss on the patch of skin just below and behind the ear.

Wilson laid back down, continuing to hold the older man from behind. House smiled, sighed, and drifted off to sleep.

~fin~