Author's note: many thanks to my incredibly efficient and supportive beta reader, coconut_ice22.
Warning: mention of sexual violence (in the past, nongraphical)
Dedication: I want to dedicate this last installment to my reader and reviewer tetrafish06. Thank you for your unwavering support!
Chapter 20 - Questions And Answers
The party was over, the guests gone. Wilson had talked House into having a nap, during which he had restored the living room to a semblance of order, and now it was time for a small dinner, and maybe some physical therapy before the evening's last painkiller. "House, wake up! Time for dinner."
"I wasn't sleeping and I'm not hungry. Can you come in here?"
"Sure." Wilson sat on the bed and smiled. The smile wasn't very convincing, unfortunately, because he feared what was to come. At least he was satisfied with what he had achieved today.
"I meant take off you shirt and pants and climb in bed with me. I need to talk to you about many important things and I'll feel better if we are close." Wilson obeyed. He felt more vulnerable dressed only in his underwear, but if the time had come for him to be punished, vulnerable was the way he should be. "What should I call you now? Everybody tells me I used to call you Wilson."
"Whatever you want. It was your choice to call me Wilson to begin with."
"What would you want me to call you?"
"It doesn't matter so much, does it? I'm no longer your guardian, and there are a number of other people you should choose to spend your time with instead of me." They were both surprised, House almost frightened, by the extreme bitterness of his tone.
"What are you talking about?"
Wilson spoke as though he had rehearsed the sentences many times in his mind. "I killed you, House. Or at least, I killed the most important part of you: your brain and your job. You treated Stacy like hell just for a little muscle, what do I deserve? Plus, she was trying to save your life. I was trying to save someone else. I was heartless and selfish. What I did to you was horrible. And for a long time I couldn't even explain it to you properly, and you thought I was helping you...while I had hurt you to begin with. I will do anything you ask me to, but there's no way I can undo the damage I did."
Wilson was not crying. He was not looking at House, or at anything else.
"You could start by answering a few questions. Can you promise to answer them honestly?"
"Why did you care for me after the infarction?"
"Nobody else was doing it. You were no good at taking care of yourself. You were my friend."
House looked intensely at him, wondering whether this could be considered a sufficient answer. Then he asked his next question.
"Is it true that you have been in love with me since before Amber? How long?"
A pause was needed. Because every word was important. "Yes. I don't know how long. It took me a long time to accept I could be in love with someone who was so obviously only interested to me as a friend. But I knew at least since my last divorce. In a weaker sense, since the infarction. Amber was my way to find a relationship which would be as close as possible to what I wanted with you."
"I had long discussions with Thirteen. She introduced me to several men she knows, who live in same-sex relationships. They told me about the difficulties, but they also explained that even two men can make love and be in love and commit to each other. They told me how difficult it sometimes is to see what is directly in front of your nose. Is it true that it was painful for you to play the 'sex-but-no-love' game the therapist forced on you?"
"I don't know how you found out, but it's true. I hated it. It was at the same time so near and so far from what I really wanted."
"Have you ever had sex with another man?"
"Sex, like what we had together so far, yes. When a teenager, with my best friend. It was fun and pleasant and not so important." Wilson paused. He had to tell the end of the story, although he didn't like it. "It might have become love, but my father found out. He...he hit me with his belt. Said I should stop." Wilson turned pale. Waited. Remembered his promise to tell House the truth. The whole truth. "At my high school prom, I got very drunk. Someone offered to drive me home. He stopped the car halfway and raped me. I stayed away from men sexually since then."
House held his friend tighter. Once when discussing sex, his therapist had explained to him what rape meant, and what impact it could have. She had probably been preparing him for this moment – she and Wilson's therapist worked together of course. A long silence followed, and House knew that it was he who had to break it. Because now, for the first time since before the DBS, House was the strongest out of the two of them. "Would you want to be in a relationship with me? A love relationship, with making love and living together and commitment and monogamy and everyone knowing about it?"
Wilson's consciousness snapped back from a night of more twenty years ago. His brain repeated the words just heard, trying to make sense of them. He thought he must be dreaming. "House, are you crazy? I'm telling you, not only I tried to kill you, but I'm also damaged goods from a sexual viewpoint. If I thought that I could make you happy, nothing could be better. But there's no way I can make another person happy. Especially not you."
"You aren't my guardian anymore. I'm a responsible adult again, and I am free to choose which risks I want to take. If you really want to do something for me, so that you can stop feeling guilty, then give the two of us a chance. Starting now. In this bed, making love to me. Because however pleasant it was with Cuddy or with Chase's girls, I know sex with love is so much better; even the little we had together was better. And I don't love Cuddy. I love you, and you love me." House's hands tenderly undressed both of them under the comforter. Then he hugged his friend close, letting him nestle his face on his shoulder, their bodies slowly acknowledging each other's touch and reacting to it.
Wilson felt intoxicated by the feeling of being naked together. It made it difficult to think. "I love you, yes, and I still can't believe you love me." He paused. "It's like all my dreams are coming true."
Wilson slowly untied the knots in his soul, with House's help and the help of his therapist. The two lovers had been expanding their physical relationship, and the night just finished had been somewhat of a milestone.
"Good morning, House. Took you long to wake up."
"Well, I worked hard yesterday night." He smiled, remembering. "That lovely smell wouldn't be pancakes, would it?"
"Pancakes it is! We need to celebrate my first time." Wilson's smile was even wider.
They ate together, both loosely dressed in sweatpants and t-shirts, their hair slightly damp from the shower. Then House motioned Wilson to sit near him on the couch, and opened a cardboard box full of files.
"Since you want to celebrate, there's something I want to show you. Stacy gave me back all the documents I prepared with her before the DBS. This one was for you, but luckily you didn't get it."
The envelope had written on it just Wilson, with the well-known handwriting. The seal had been broken but the sheet of paper was obviously the original, with a letterhead the hospital had stopped using short after the date of the letter, the day of the DBS.
If you are reading this it means the DBS went wrong and I'm dead. I estimate the chances of this happening as between 1 and 5%; not so big, but worth preparing for. It is my opinion that your natural reaction to this, in the not unlikely case that Amber also dies, will be to commit suicide, crushed by guilt towards me.
Please don't. Not so much because you're a good doctor and a number of cancer patients need you: you know that already. The main point is you didn't force me, you asked me. You asked me because you would have done anything for a person you loved. And I now realize that so many times I was the person you loved, and you did everything you could, often without even receiving a thank you.
So now it's my turn. I've taken a risk for you, and I lost. At least I died trying to do something useful. Trying to help someone I love. And that's not Amber, it's you. So keep living and working, Jimmy, my Boy Wonder Oncologist. And thank you for your friendship and your love.
House looked through the window. He now was a grownup, and understood that his lover didn't want to be looked at when he was crying.
After a while he felt a delicate tap on his shoulder. Wilson returned the letter with a smile, his eyes now dry but slightly red-rimmed. "Thank you. I should give you something in return." He thought for a while, then added "I'll be back in a minute," and disappeared towards the bedroom.
House was left wondering what the something could be, since he knew Wilson had kept no material possession for himself. Maybe it would be a family heirloom. He could hear the document safe being opened, and steps returning. "Here you are."
He opened a small black box, containing some syringes and a few medication vials, of the standard kind that PPTH's pharmacy issued for internal use. And then he read the labels, and his neck hair went up. The box contained death. He couldn't remember the details, but there were enough chemotherapy drugs in the box to kill a man of average weight – say, Wilson – and to do so in such an efficient way that even immediate intervention wouldn't be enough to save him.
He was so busy worrying that he was taken by surprise when Wilson started speaking. "This box has been ready since the day after Amber's funeral. I didn't want to live after what I'd done to you, but I knew I had to take care of you first. It helped me to know that whenever I was no longer needed I was free to go."
Wilson took the box from House's shivering hands, closed it and laid it on the table. "Your gift is to destroy its content. You showed me your love by being ready to die for me. It's only right that I show you mine by being ready to live for you."