Summary: House/Wilson slash. House gets engaged to Cuddy only to discover his best friend isn't as supportive as he thought he'd be. Takes place sometime after "Small Sacrifices."

A/N: Hello readers. Sorry for going so long without publishing something. I actually wasn't even going to publish this (I had kind of given up on it) but HousianVoices kindly requested I write another story so I decided to give this another shot. However, unlike most of my stories, I'm publishing the first chapter before I've actually finished the story, so I can't say for sure how many chapters there are or how often I will publish. I do promise, though, not to be one of those authors that publishes a new chapter every so often and then disappears off the face of the earth leaving you hanging. The ending is already planned and I will finish the story, it just might take awhile for me to get there. Gentle prodding always helps. Oh, and I'm trying something a little new with my POV, so hopefully it will work out and not be confusing. Hint: Wilson, House, Cuddy.

Disclaimer: I don't own House, Wilson or Cuddy. But I think House and Wilson would be happier if I did own them, because I'd force them to confront their feelings for each other.

The Engagement

Prologue

He slides his tray down to the desserts and grabs a slice of apple pie, complaining loudly about them being out of chocolate cake.

"Wilson, you're a girl, you like to bake," he informs me with a glance. I try very hard not to roll my eyes, but I can't keep the small smile off my face. "If I come over tonight, you'll have a chocolate cake waiting for me, right?"

I scoff. "You'd just complain about the fact that I used whole-wheat flour," I point out.

He shrugs. "Just add enough sugar so I won't be able to tell the difference. Do...whatever your inner housewife tells you to do to make it taste good."

"Mm-hmm," I mutter, resisting the temptation to add a slice of pie to my own plate. I remember my love handles and slide the tray down farther, looking at House instead of the desserts.

Another temptation that's agony to resist. He's facing away from me, concentrating hard on selecting a beverage, so he doesn't notice me checking him out. The careless rumple of his clothing, just the opposite of mine, echoing his not-caring-what-anyone thinks attitude that, like confidence, just adds to the allure. I shake my head in fascination. If I ever tried that, my self-consciousness would be so glaringly obvious it would make me look ridiculous. Not House, though, although he does look just as sexy in a suit and tie on the few occasions he wears them as he does in jeans and a wrinkled button-down. He looks sexy no matter what he wears. Or maybe I'm just a little biased.

"He'll be paying," House informs the cashier with a jerk of the thumb toward me after finally choosing a drink.

I pretend to be irritated, though House probably knows better.

"Why don't we just get a joint checking account?" I suggest to him as I hand over the cash. "That way it'll at least feel like you're paying without you actually having to."

He turns to me, and his bright eyes sparkle so that my breath almost catches in my throat. I can't look away even if I'd wanted to, which I most certainly don't.

"Exactly," he smirks, eyes not leaving mine. I can barely hear what he's saying. It feels like I'm drowning, staring at him like this, and his voice comes from far away, but I try to focus. "It'll feel like I'm paying. It's not like I can't afford my lunch, Wilson, I make as much as you do. But it tastes better when it feels like someone else is paying."

The smirk continues as he turns away, picking up his cane and making his way to a table without waiting for me. I smile back, now that he couldn't see it, and follow him to go eat lunch.

I flip through the channels on her TV. I'm bored. I'm not really watching, I'm just waiting for her to put the kid to bed, so then she can come to bed with me. I smile at the thought. The best part of the day. It was nice, a few months ago, when she would just come over to my place to hook up and then go back to hers, but this way we do it more often, sometimes in the morning. And she likes when I stay over. Like bringing us closer or something like that. It's cool. We're in a good place, I think. Not really living together, but kind of. I can still escape to my place when I want some privacy, but I can also come over here whenever I want to spend time with her or sleep with her. It's like the best of both worlds.

Finally she comes down the hall, looking tired but smiling.

"Rachel's asleep," she announces, joining me on the couch.

"About time," I comment, clicking the TV off and setting down the remote to look at her. I lean forward to kiss her, but she backs away.

"Actually, I wanted to talk about something first," she says, looking at me somberly.

I feel the dread begin to creep through my body. What have I done this time? I wrack my brain, trying to think. It can't be that she found out my apology to her was fake, or she'd be angrier. Or ignoring me. I don't think I've done anything to offend her lately. I've been doing...not all my clinic hours, but most of them. More than I did before we started doing it. What does she want?

She waits a moment, gauging my reaction, before pressing on. "Now that you...you know, you spend most nights here now. You eat dinner and sometimes breakfast here, you have some clothes in my dresser..."

She's gonna ask me to make my move-in official. Great. So now when I don't feel like spending the night with her and the kid, she'll try and guilt me into staying anyway. Maybe she'll even try and get me to babysit without arranging it ahead of time. Why does she keep having to change things? We're doing just fine the way we are now, let's just keep it this way.

She continues, "...So, since you're kind of already moved in here, I was thinking maybe you could start helping out with things like the mortgage and groceries."

What? I stare at her for a second. She's looking up at me, slightly nervous.

"Lisa, you never even asked me to move in with you," I point out, watching her. "Don't you think that part should come before asking me to fork over cash for things you've been doing just fine paying for yourself?"

She furrows her brow at me. "I know we never officially moved in together, House, but for all intents and purposes, you basically live here. I'm your girlfriend, not your mom. Since both of us are living here I think it's only fair that we split the cost of the mortgage and the bills."

"I've still got my own rent and bills to pay," I argue. "If we're gonna split things 50/50, then shouldn't you be paying half my rent too?"

She rolls her eyes, giving me an additional twinge of annoyance. "Yeah, if we actually spent any time there. It's been weeks since I've even been over, and even when I do come over it's just for a little while, I don't actually eat or sleep there."

"Fine," I say, getting up off the couch and looking away from her. "I'll go home. Next time you want to spend the night together, come over. I won't even charge you for it."

"House, come on, that's not what I want," she says, rolling her eyes as she gets off the couch to follow me. "I love the way we have things now—we get to spend more time together and I don't even have to get a babysitter for Rachel. It's a great arrangement."

"But I'm not actually living here," I point out, turning back to her. "What, if your sister were to come spend a week here would you send her a bill?"

"That's different," she says, rolling her eyes again. "Maybe you don't spend every night here and maybe you don't always come straight here after work, but you're doing more than just visiting. It's permanent."

We look at each other a minute. I don't comment on the 'permanence,' though I don't know what fairy tale she's living in that she thinks we're not gonna break up someday. I don't want it to happen anytime soon, but it will eventually. "So," I say, watching her carefully, "are you asking me to move in for real?"

She looks away for a second, hesitating. "If..." she says eventually, glancing back at me, "...you agree to pay half the mortgage, bills, and groceries...then I guess it's only fair that you...live here as well."

I don't really want to live here as well. But I even more don't want to fight, and I am still hoping to get laid tonight. And it's not that unreasonable for her to want some help, even though she makes more than me and doesn't need it. "Compromise," I say, forcing a small smile and stepping closer to her. I wrap my arms around her. "The key to to lasting relationships."

She smiles back and wraps her arms around me in return. She really does believe we can work, doesn't she? Well, believing it makes her happy, and it's better when she's happy. I lean down and kiss her.