Disclaimer: I don't own any of the House, MD characters, which is good since I tend to kill them.

Acknowledgements: I used hwshipper's timeline (entry 27571 on their lj). Any merit this story has must be shared with my wonderful and patient beta reader, George Stark II.

Chapter 1

Summary: House learns something about Wilson.

Wilson sat comfortably in front of Cuddy, in her office. He was positively beaming now that House was solidly on the way to recovery from the liver transplant. She noticed that he hadn't bothered with blow-drying in a while.

"Hi, Wilson. Your request is about House, right? Tell me how he's doing first."

"Yes, it's about House. He's seen a new pain control specialist and he's going to have a mixture of otc analgesics, physical therapy, and occasional opiates. Dr. Li said opiates are not hepatotoxic and not particularly dangerous if taken in a controlled way."

"That's a big if."

"I think he's changed this time. He was scared."

She smiled. "He better have been. I was scared, too."

Wilson's hand brought further disarray to the hair on his nape. "Don't tell me. Cuddy, I need some leave. It can be unpaid if you want, but I want to bring House home with me when he gets discharged next week."

"With you? How about Dominika?"

The oncologist smiled. "She's not a real wife, you know? She'll be visiting every day, help me with cleaning and cooking, and she'll stay at his place."

The Dean sighed. "You never stop surprising me, Wilson. How long do you want your leave to be? I can give you one week paid."

"I need at least one month, plus some part time. Money is not a problem, Lisa." His voice trembled ever so slightly, and she wondered if he was telling the truth.

"You can have your leave, one month with an option up to another month. Is it okay if Brown takes over as temporary Head of Oncology? Can you arrange this with him?"

"Sure. I'll talk to him next. Thank you."

She sighed. "I'll go tell House you'll be there for him now. He certainly needs you."

She hadn't expected the answer she got. "Not as much as I need him." No matter how long she'd known them, she was always surprised by the depth of the connection between them.

"Hi, Cuddy."

"Hi, Greg. Hi, Dominika." She felt very proud of herself for saying that so calmly. Truth is, she was slowly starting to like Mrs. House. Especially now that she knew they weren't going to live together.

"Good morning, Dr. Cuddy." Dominika wore her usual, effortless smile. If she was embarrassed in front of her, she was good at hiding it.

"I just came to see you, and to tell you I granted Wilson one month of leave to take care of you. How are you today?"

"Ready to go home. Except Wilson wants to keep me prisoner here three more days, claiming it's the surgeon's opinion. I guess he hasn't finished hiding his lace underpants." House looked happy, she suddenly realized. Nothing like being near death to appreciate life.

Dominika laughed. "Don't make such jokes when he's there, or he'll refuse to take care of you and I'll have to do it. I wouldn't mind but I'm not a doctor, you know."

"I know, but you give better massages." He stopped, and seemed to be wondering. "Actually, I'm not sure. It's a question I intend to investigate once I'm home. Were's my butler, Lisa? Why isn't he here?"

"He's busy settling stuff with his successor to the throne. He's temporarily stepping down from Head of Oncology, although he hopes to still see some of his patients if you're well. Don't worry, he'll be with you most of the time starting Saturday." Wonder how the life in three will be. Pretty sure Wilson will send you back to Dominika before the month is over, she thought to herself.

Wilson let himself in as noiselessly as he could, thinking that House might already be sleeping. It had been a long day, and Wilson had insisted on driving Dominika home immediately after an early dinner. From now on she would be driving herself with House's car. He noticed that the light was still on in the master bedroom just when he heard his friend's voice calling him.

It had been obvious to him that they must switch bedrooms; this way, House would be near the tub and have a large TV screen. His eyes had been shining when he saw the Wii, and Wilson was sure that in the next few days his credit cards would end up charged for a few more games.

"Took you long enough. I was bored."

"You look mostly tired. Isn't it time to sleep for you?"

"Soon. Especially after that idiotic nurse woke me up at seven this morning for the last blood test. But there are a couple of things I need to clarify first, now that we are alone and not in an hospital with flimsy walls and nosy coworkers."

Wilson sat down on the bed, wondering whether House wanted alcohol already or was freaking out about the money.

"I found out how much my treatment at Eden cost." Damn. He had expected it, but not so soon. Although it was a better topic than booze. Maybe.

"And there aren't eighty thousand dollars less in my bank account. Also because there aren't eighty thousand dollars in it to begin with. Where did you get the money? Did you ask my mother?" House's expression was weird; it looked like he was concentrating on solving a puzzle. Except this one here was deceptively trivial.

"I…I just remortgaged the condo. It's no big deal, the interest rates are low now."

"And how are you going to pay the higher mortgage without an income?"

"Well, uh, I thought you could help. You know. A little. It's just for a month or two anyway."

House sighed, but his expression didn't change. "I will, of course. I'm used to owing you money but this is a bit out of my comfort zone."

"Don't worry. I'll be back to work soon and I don't need that much money. You'll pay back what you want when you can."

The blue eyes studied him carefully. Wilson felt more like a lab rat or a CT scan than a human being. "You also lied to the transplant committee. You convinced them that I was just pretending to be on Vicodin again. If my data from the Eden clinic stay ever becomes public, your license will be gone."

Wilson shivered at the thought, then he banished it away. It hadn't really been a risk. "That's why it's so expensive. They're discreet."

"And I do remember the last night before the transplant. All of it." His eyes seemed to want to pierce him now. Wilson felt the blood rush to his face, and all he could do about it was look away from the searching gaze fixed on him.

"I…I wanted you to feel comfortable. Cared for. It might have been your last night." Wilson thought he sounded convincing; after all, he had rehearsed the sentence before. Until he glanced in House's eyes again. He knew. He felt his heart accelerating.

"I'm sure that's what you do with every one of your dying baldies. Give them a skin-to-skin massage and then sneak into their bed. Wilson, do you want to tell me or should I guess?"

Wilson felt like a rabbit in front of a snake. He knew he was done for, and he didn't even try to run away. "I will, but you have to promise to stay here. Don't do anything stupid."

"I'm waiting. And I won't go. How could I, anyway?" The last sentence was spoken much lower, and there was an unhidden bitterness in it.

Wilson slid his sweated palms over his slacks, then tried mechanically to put his hair in order. So many years of waiting and hiding and now it was over. He felt nonsensically relieved. "House, I love you."