House decided to wait until the next day to confront Wilson again. His friend was rarely ever in as bad a mood as House had seen him that morning and he wanted a discussion, not just another fight.
He even decided to take his civility a step further and knock on Wilson's door before entering.
"Come in," his best friend's voice called, and House slowly entered the office.
The plastered smile on Wilson's face disappeared once he saw who it was.
"Go away, House," he said, turning back to his work. "I don't want to talk to you."
"You can listen then," House suggested. "Wilson, come on. Believe me. Stop ignoring me. Answer my phone calls and texts. I'm your best friend."
"No, you're not, House," Wilson contradicted, shaking his head and still not looking at him. "Not anymore."
"After all Sam did to you, you still believe her over me?" House asked angrily, starting to lose his temper again. "If we really were fucking behind your back do you honestly think we'd kiss where you could walk in on us?"
"I didn't say I believed her," Wilson said, his voice steely, "I said I didn't know what to believe. But it doesn't matter. I'm...done. I've had it. These...nineteen going on twenty years of friendship have been nothing but destructive for me. This was the final straw, House. I don't want anything to do with you anymore."
"Wilson, no," House objected. "We had this conversation two years ago—you left after Amber's death but you came back because I'm your friend and you like being with me. Don't do this again. Wilson...fuck...just tell me...what am I supposed to say? What do you need me to do to make us okay again?"
Wilson shook his head. "There's nothing you can do, House," he said to his desk. "It's over. Our friendship is over."
House glared at Wilson, in hurt and frustration more than anger. "And nothing I say can make you change your mind?" he asked, his voice gravelly.
Again, Wilson shook his head. "No. Not since I walked in on you kissing my girlfriend, whether it was the first time or the millionth."
House also shook his head, though Wilson wasn't looking at him. "I don't believe it," he said.
Wilson didn't respond, so House continued.
"You really think I would do that? You actually think I would be able to hurt you that way?"
"House, our relationship has consisted of nothing but you hurting me. Every time I start to be happy, you find a way to fuck it up. You can never just leave me be."
"But I've never made a move on someone you were in a relationship with," House countered. "And before you bring up Nora, the two of you were never actually together, you didn't have any sort of claim on her." He shook his head again. "Fuck, Wilson. Yeah, I try to cockblock you, and yeah, I do little things to bug the hell out of you, but I never purposefully do anything to hurt you. I...I can't. I can't hurt you on purpose because I'm in love with you." He chanced a glance over at Wilson. The younger man had not looked at House once from the moment he entered the room and now was no exception. He was looking at the papers on his desk, not saying anything.
House went on, "That's why I always try and fuck with your relationships. I'm jealous. I know that doesn't make it okay, but I also always back off after a while. And maybe I should have told you sooner. I don't know. The only reason I didn't was because I didn't think you felt the same way and I didn't want you to end our friendship over it. But since you're ending our friendship anyway, well, I guess it doesn't make a difference then." He sighed. "Maybe you're not believing this anymore than you believed what I told you about what happened with Sam, but it's the truth." He stood up and spent a second watching Wilson, who hadn't moved. "Now you know."
And he left.
Alcohol was House's friend. Wilson wasn't speaking to him and Cuddy wasn't speaking to him, but the guy who owned the liquor store would tell him his total, and House would hand him his gold card, and then he would be kept warm for the night.
House didn't know if he was angry or grateful that Cuddy had gotten rid of the last of his Vicodin. Now that he had nothing left, he probably would have relapsed again if it had been there, but he knew that wasn't really what he wanted.
He thought about calling Dr. Nolan again, but the man hadn't been much help to him last time, so why would now be any different? And either way, his pride wouldn't let him. Yes, he was drinking, but he wasn't back on drugs, so what did he need therapy for? He didn't need it.
Sometimes House thought about illegally obtaining painkillers, but these thoughts usually came in the middle of the night when he was barely sober enough to stand up, let alone go looking for drugs. And always by the next morning, when the possibility was much more realistic, he knew it was a bad idea. If someone handed him a bottle of Vicodin, he would probably take it, but he wouldn't go looking for it. During the day he tried to focus on work, on patients and diseases and medicine and sometimes soap operas. It helped him to forget that he was basically alone in the world. And then at night, when the distractions disappeared, he had his booze.
One week Chase asked House to join him for bowling, but, knowing it was likely just out of pity, House refused.
Sometimes when he saw Cuddy he tried to be friendly, to flirt, to get something out of her, but she treated him just like any other employee, not commenting on anything that wasn't strictly medically necessary.
One time he went to Wilson's office for a completely legitimate consult, but Wilson wouldn't even look at the scan. He directed one of the other oncologists in the department to do the consult for him.
For three weeks House lived like this, and each day he was getting a little more desperate, each morning the idea of going back on drugs seemed like a less horrible solution. But House tried to tell himself it wouldn't last. He'd suffered through periods of misery before, with and without drugs, and they always passed. He always found something or someone to help, make him go from miserable to less miserable, and for awhile he had even made it all the way up to happy, so he knew it was a possibility. He just didn't know how he was going to get there.
It was almost lunchtime. This didn't matter, because Wilson never ate in the cafeteria anymore. He'd also begun locking his balcony door, and his office door whenever he left. House had given up on trying to run into him.
House tried to think about his patient as he went to the men's room to use the urinal. She appeared to have genital herpes, but she insisted her boyfriend always used a condom, and besides that the tests that had been run three times were a consistent negative.
But as House went to wash his hands he became distracted from thoughts of his patient because Wilson had just emerged from a cubicle and was also heading for the sinks.
For a second both men paused and looked at each other.
Well, at least Wilson was looking at him. That was the first time in over three weeks it had happened.
Then Wilson dropped his gaze and continued toward the sinks to wash his hands. House took a longer time than he normally would and watched Wilson out of his peripheral vision. He wondered if the man he still thought of as his best friend was as miserable as he was. He didn't look it. He wasn't smiling, but he looked...great. Hair perfectly in place, shirt tucked in, tie...ridiculous as always. House's face almost flickered into a fond smile, but it didn't. How pathetic was he?—three weeks of avoidance and he was still hopelessly in love with his best friend, as much as he ever was. House turned into the sink and stared at his now-clean hands. Wouldn't it ever go away?
House gave up on trying to delay any longer and reached for a paper towel to dry his hands. Behind him he heard Wilson's tap turn off. Well, it was time for this almost-interaction to draw to a close. House snuck another half-look at Wilson on the pretence of throwing away his paper towel, and then picked up his cane and headed for the restroom door.
He had reached out his hand to push it open when he heard his name.
"House," Wilson said.
For about a second House thought he was having an auditory hallucination, but he slowly turned on the spot to face his friend. Yes, Wilson was looking at him. Directly at him. He looked like he wanted to ask House something and he had his hands on his hips. House wondered if he knew how endearing that pose made him look.
"Was it true, what you said?"
There was probably only one thing Wilson could mean by that, but House decided to clarify anyway. Obviously Wilson didn't want to say the words out loud, so House would do it for him. "You mean about me being in love with you?"
Wilson looked away briefly. "Yes," he muttered. "That."
House nodded. "Yes," he said, looking at Wilson, who was still looking away. "I meant it."
When Wilson didn't say anything else, House turned to exit again, but just like a clinic patient with an embarrassing inquiry, as soon as House's fingers met the door he spoke again.
"And is it still true?" he asked.
House slowly turned around again. Wilson was looking at him now, shyly for some reason. House glanced away and nodded again. "I don't think it's something that's gonna change."
Wilson nodded, and House waited a beat for him to say something else. When he didn't, House turned back around. He was about to leave when he decided to ask his own doorknob question.
"Why are you asking?"
Looking at the floor, Wilson sighed. "I've been thinking," he admitted, and for a second House felt a flutter of hope in his chest. "I've realised that I really don't think you would do something like that...like sleep with someone that I'm in a relationship with. Especially not if you're..." But for some reason he still couldn't say the words. He shrugged. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you and I..." He looked up and caught House's eye. "I want us to be friends again."
House felt his heart pounding in his chest. Was this for real? Wilson wanted to reconcile with him after all that...after all they'd fought about? House wanted more than anything to hope, to hope he could have his Wilson in his life again, but he was hesitant. He took a few steps closer to Wilson, studying him carefully. "And what about the fact that I'm in love with you?" House asked, his tone serious. "That doesn't bother you?"
Looking away, Wilson shook his head. "It doesn't bother me...because I think...no...I know...House, I'm in love with you too." He gave a heavy sigh that expelled a rush of air, and then he looked quickly up at House and started babbling, as though he needed to explain himself. "I think it's why I started dating Sam in the first place. I first noticed things, feelings that I didn't want to acknowledge years ago when I was staying with you after my divorce, but I moved out and tried to keep them repressed, but then they came back again when I you were in Mayfield and I missed you, and then you got out and you were living with me and it started to creep back up, and then I was having my surgery for the liver and I just wanted you there, and when you came and I saw you, then I just knew that I really was in love with you, but it terrified the crap out of me and it wouldn't go away, so I ran to Sam, and I didn't really think you would sleep with her but I didn't know what was going on or what to do or what I wanted, and then just for the past few weeks I've missed you so much, and House...all I want is to be with you." He finally ran out of either air or things to say, and he looked up at House with a terrified expression on his face, as though House would tell him no, tell him he didn't want him.
In what universe did Wilson think that was even a possibility? Did he not get what House meant when he said he was in love with him?
House looked at Wilson and nodded. Truth be told, he was scared, too. They hadn't spoken in weeks and now after all this time Wilson was saying he was in love with him and wanted him...it was all House had ever wanted. And there was every possibility that it wasn't real, that House was dreaming, that Wilson would change his mind in the next thirty seconds, or the morning after they first made love, or while they were first making love. There was no guarantee at all that this would work out.
But there was a chance. And this chance was all House had ever hoped for, and maybe...maybe it would work out. Maybe House would actually get to be with Wilson. Maybe he could be happy.
House didn't remember crossing the room the rest of the way, but he realised suddenly that he and Wilson were only a foot apart.
"So..." Wilson said, giving a nervous shrug. "Um, now what?"
And for the first time in days, House smiled. "I think this is the part where we make out," he suggested.
Wilson nodded nervous agreement and they simultaneously stepped closer together. House leaned his cane against the sink and Wilson hesitated.
"Here? In the bathroom?"
House shrugged. "If you'd wanted a more romantic setting for our first kiss, you should have picked a more romantic setting to confess your love. Now shut up and get over here, Wilson," he directed with a hint of a smile.
Wilson nodded again and stepped closer, allowing House to wrap a tentative arm around his waist to pull them together. House spent a second studying Wilson's face, looking into the wide, captivating eyes that had haunted his dreams even when he was with Cuddy. His fingers ghosted over Wilson's cheek, almost not touching, and the younger man closed his eyes at the barely-there contact. House leaned forward, closing his eyes as well, and his lips met Wilson's.
Wilson pressed against him, lips and body, and their mouths opened so warm tongues could explore and House pulled Wilson even closer and Wilson wrapped his arms around House in return.
All House could think about was that he could barely believe this was really happening, after he'd waited for it for so long, after he thought he'd lost his Wilson forever...
A loud throat cleared from somewhere behind them.
Wilson froze in horror and House, without relinquishing his hold, turned around. But it was only Chase.
"This isn't a peep show," House informed his fellow. "Go away."
Chase raised his eyebrows. "I just wanted to use the bathroom."
"House," Wilson said, and when House turned to him his warm brown eyes gave off an irresistible glow. That was love, all right. He'd never seen that look directed at him from Wilson with this intensity before. For a second he just continued with the fond look, but then he spoke again. "We can pick this up later," Wilson suggested, his right hand finding House's left and slipping his fingers through it.
House nodded. When Wilson looked at him that way he knew he couldn't deny his now-lover anything. Though he blushed as they passed an amused Chase, Wilson still held his hand as they walked. House did not mind.
"House," Wilson said as they left the restroom, glancing over at him. "Would you have ever told me how you felt if I hadn't said our friendship was over?"
"Probably not," House admitted, shrugging. "I thought telling you would push you away. Didn't want to take that risk." He paused for a moment and then asked, "Would you have confronted your feelings if Sam hadn't forced you into leaving?"
"Probably not," Wilson sighed. Then he smiled at House. "I think I'm going to have to send her a thank-you card tonight," he said.
"No you won't," House contradicted, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. "You'll have better things to do."
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