AN: Part of the Disquietude-verse (Disquietude, Nothin' to Cry About), where House and Wilson get together after "Out of the Chute, though not necessary to read the other two stories, before this one. This was written for Camp Sick!Wilson on livejournal. Hope you guys like it. :-)
Period of Adjustment: 1
The first thing House smells when he opens the door and steps into the loft he shares with Wilson is tomato sauce. He frowns, because he doesn't hear anything, and Wilson tends to be loud and jubilant when he's cooking. So, he walks further in toward the kitchen, sees the thick red mess peeking out from behind the center island and his first thought is to proclaim that he didn't do it.
But that's before he sees Wilson sitting on the floor, with his back against the hard counter, his knees pulled up and his forearms resting on them. Next to him is a pail of water, a sponge next to it, as though Wilson had every intention of cleaning up the mess he'd made…but couldn't do it.
House sets his back-pack and jacket on top of the island, and approaches Wilson cautiously.
Wilson looks at him, as though just realizing where he was and what he's doing. He looks at the mess on the floor and curses. Grabbing the sponge, he dunks it into the water.
"Wilson, what the hell," House moves forward, as quick as he can, and grabs the soapy object. He tosses it back into the water and moves the bucket away from his lover with his cane.
"Come on," House says, leaning down and grabbing Wilson's arm. Wilson looks like he's about to protest, but a glare from House makes him see the futility in that, and he gets up with a huff and some awkward fumbling.
Once they're both standing, House plants a hand in the middle of Wilson's back. "Walk."
"Aren't you going to read me my rights first?" but the sarcastic comment comes out less caustic and more weary.
House puts pressure on Wilson's shoulders until he's sitting on the couch, so close to the edge that he will fall off if he makes any sudden moves. House sits on the coffee table in front of him, puts his cane against the couch next to Wilson, and looks at his face.
He supposes, considering the look on Wilson's face after he'd realized he'd been sitting in front of his recently tomato-painted floor that he'd be pissed off, but instead Wilson looks nervous, confused and the weariness he'd heard in his tone etched in the lines in his face.
"Got a call," Wilson answers quietly. "Got distracted and knocked the bowl of spaghetti sauce to the floor."
"Okay," House says slowly. "Who called?"
Wilson takes a deep breath. "Before I tell you that…I need to tell you something."
House's first instinct is to be worried. Things have been going so well for them over the last year and a half, since they moved their friendship into something more, and Wilson helped him get back off the Vicodin. But after all they've been through, House tells himself that anything to do with their relationship would have had Wilson being a lot more composed. That tomato sauce would have been cleaned, and dinner would be cooking along as usual, as though nothing was ever wrong at all.
Wilson pauses for a second, then blurts out, "I lied to you three years ago."
Bewildered, he answers, "About…what?"
House senses that this is going to be a story that will be a hell of a lot more comfortable when he's not sitting on the hard coffee table. So he sits carefully next to Wilson, and says simply, "Go on."
"Do you remember how I talked about our meeting…how anti-climactic it was?"
"Yeah," House answers, thinking. "You said you wanted me to meet him…that you were going back next week. I never went."
Wilson smiles, but there is no amusement in it. "Yeah. I never went back either."
"You lied about how it went."
House leans back against the couch and stretches his arm across the back of it. "What really happened?"
"I told a semi-truth. We were strangers, but it was worse than that. It was…he didn't even recognize me. He thought I was some doctor who was there…someone that was going to 'keep stuffing useless shit down his throat.' No matter how much I tried to convince him that it was me that I was his brother, it didn't work…he became belligerent and began getting physically violent. The orderlies came in before it got any where near what it could have, he didn't even manage to get his hands on me, but I left. I just left him in that room. Stopped in the hallway to calm myself down. Then met you in the waiting room again."
"It ended before it began."
"Yeah," Wilson whispers. "On the way home, I had thought about going back the next week…to try again. You and I talked when we got back here and you, without knowing you were doing it, reassured me about it at the time. I was all set to do it. I called and made the appointment…took the afternoon off. When the day came, I couldn't do it. I kept remembering what he looked like when he was coming at me the week before and I couldn't go. Then everything with you happened and you went to rehab…and it just…."
House doesn't say anything, knowing there's more. He just curls his arm around Wilson's shoulder and waits for him to continue.
Wilson takes in a shuddering breath and does just that. "All this time, I managed to put him out of my head. I let myself believe that my brother really was gone, like the coward I am and I…" he stops and shakes his head.
"The hospital called tonight?"
"Yeah," Wilson confirms. "He's asking to see me."
"You were protecting yourself," House says slowly. "It's not often you do that. It doesn't make you a coward."
"You're trying to make me feel better."
"I wouldn't lie to you to do it," House counters.
Wilson meets his eyes and smiles a little. "Thanks. I just…"
House understands what he isn't saying. "So, go see him. Do what you didn't do then…try again. It's already different. He asked for you this time."
"Maybe," Wilson answers doubtfully. "I need to think about this awhile."
"Okay." House looks back to the kitchen, where the smell of tomatoes is starting to get stronger. Wilson's gaze matches his and he sighs.
"I should probably get that cleaned up before it stains the tile."
House nods, though he couldn't care less about the color of the kitchen floor; it's the idea of slipping and falling in it that seems less than appetizing.
Wilson gets up and moves toward the kitchen, saying something about ordering pizza on the way.
Agreeing, he pulls out his phone and dials their usual pizzeria.
That night, he opens his eyes with a start, and can't tell what exactly woke him. He glances at the clock and sees the time, before turning his head and realizing that Wilson isn't asleep beside him.
His lover is staring forlornly at the ceiling, looking so deep in thought House gets the distinct feeling Wilson hasn't slept at all.
"Hey," he whispers softly. Wilson turns toward him and blinks.
"Sorry," he says. "Did I wake you?"
"No. Have you slept?"
"Not really. I tried to when you fell asleep, but I just…insomnia rearing up again, I guess."
House nods, remembering Wilson's bouts of sleeplessness when things in his life are being upended; divorces, some of House's more dangerous antics…and now this.
House doesn't know what to say to help, so he reaches out and settles a hand on Wilson's shoulder. He squeezes gently.
"Do you want me to do anything?"
Wilson looks a little confused for a second, but leans a little more toward House, their foreheads touching, and grabs House's fingers. He squeezes back.
"Thanks for asking, but no."
House searches Wilson's eyes, sees the uncertainty there. "Okay."
Wilson smiles tightly and closes his eyes. He doesn't fall asleep though, House knows this because he stays awake, too.
House really does intend to let Wilson think it out. But Wilson's not just restless at night….when he's not able to distract himself from making this decision by taking care of his patients, he alternates between staring off into thoughtful space and fidgeting madly, as though he's trying not to think about it.
So, naturally, House's mind starts to form a plan.
He sits on it for a couple of days, lets it form. This is important to Wilson and it would be best not to screw it up. This could go either very badly…or as well as it could under the circumstances.
On Thursday, four days after Wilson told him the truth about his interaction with his brother, House goes to Cuddy's office, barges in the door and stands in front of her desk.
"We need to take a few days off."
Cuddy looks at him, pausing in the middle of her paperwork, her pen practically in mid-air. House grins at her innocently.
"Preparing for the apocalypse?"
"Been there, done that. So two years ago, Cuddy."
Cuddy snorts a laugh and folds her fingers together. "Why do you need time off?"
"Wilson and I," House corrects. "Need three days off to go to New York."
House wants to lie…tell her some crazy story that she'd never believe just to see the vein in her forehead pop through. But they've come a long way, too. And he needs this.
"We're going to see his brother."
Cuddy looks at him, surprised, then that surprise flows into suspicion. "Does Wilson know you're going to New York to see his brother?"
Cuddy sighs and sets her pen down. "House."
House waves a dismissive hand. "What do you know about the relationship between Wilson and his brother?"
Cuddy frowns in confusion. "I know that he's in the psychiatric wing at New York Mercy….and that you and Wilson went to see him a few years ago…other than that, not much. Is there more to it?"
House had expected that much. "Yes…but Wilson only told me a few days ago."
"Okay," Cuddy answers slowly.
"He doesn't think he can go," House continues. "I think he needs to. And if he does go, I want to be there."
"House," Cuddy says again, shaking her head. "Whatever happened, I appreciate that you want to protect him…but you can't get him to go if he's not ready." She holds up a hand to forestall his forthcoming protest. "You know I'm right. Tell you what, you tell him that you're both going to New York to visit his brother, and I will give you both that week off."
House stares at her and blinks. "Seriously?"
Cuddy looks at him steadily. "Yes."
House nods slowly. "Okay."
"Good," Cuddy answers him resolutely. "Have him, him, House, call me and let me know. Now, get out. I have a lot of paperwork to do."
When House gets to Wilson's office, he looks at closed door, before searching out Wilson's assistant. When he sees her standing at he nurse's station, he walks up to her, affects his best charming grin and leans against the counter.
She is immediately suspicious. "What can I help you with, Doctor House?"
House knew that had been a long shot. She's been around too long to not be skeptical of him.
House looks back at Wilson's door again, to make sure there's no sign of him, and turns back to her. "I'm taking Wilson away for a week. I need you to help me clear his schedule."
She turns her head, and her eyes narrow. "Is he going to come back alive?"
House rolls his eyes. "Would you talk to Wilson that way?"
"Doctor Wilson has never called me, pretending to be Doctor Wilson, to tell me that I need to make an appointment for a guy with ovarian cancer."
House shrugs; the girl's a point. Not to mention that it wasn't one of his best gags. "Fine. And yes, he's coming back alive. If you want, call Cuddy and confirm that I asked for the time off."
Her narrow-eyed gaze sits on his face for a second. "I'm going to do that."
"'Kay," he says, knowing he's getting what he wants. He turns around and limps to Wilson's door. "Also, I'll come up with a better joke next time."
Sandy rolls her eyes as she dials on the phone.
House barges into the office in time to see Wilson shoving the drawer to the file cabinet closed. Wilson apparently senses him in the room, probably because he's Wilson and always seems to know things about House…and also because House doesn't really have a quiet setting. He grins at this thought as Wilson look at him wearily.
"Can I help you?"
"Actually," House answers cheerfully. "I'm here to help you."
Wilson blinks. "I thought you'd been a little too quiet the last few days."
House exhales and twists his cane in his fists.
He pauses and breathes quickly, as though this sentence completely wore him out. Then he grins innocently. "Gotta go save some people. See ya!"
He's half-way out of the door when Wilson calls him back in. He pops his head back in Wilson's door. "Sorry. Did I go too fast?"
Wilson doesn't say anything for a moment and House finds that he's just a little afraid of his reaction. But there is no trace of anger in Wilson's expression. Resignation, maybe, and indecision. Just a little hope, that makes House wish, even more, that, if they do this, it works out differently than it did the first time.
Wilson swallows and tilts his head, motioning for House to come further into the office. House does so, and closes the door.
"I told you that I wanted to think about it," Wilson says.
"I know." House moves closer to him but is careful not to touch him just yet. "But I think if you didn't try this, try it, then you would regret it now, even more than you regret what you didn't do three years ago."
"And you're all about not having regrets?"
House shrugs. "Don't see the point. Everything I've been through got me where I am now. But I know you and it's how you operate."
"Because I'm a co-"
"If you call yourself a coward, again, I will hit you," House warns. His words are belied by the gentle tone and slow movements toward his lover. He leans on the side of the desk, his cane between his knees, in front of Wilson and looks at him.
"Listen to me, Wilson," House says firmly. "Okay? You told me once that you loved me for me. Don't talk," he says, when Wilson opens his mouth. "That you would stick by me no matter what decision I made that night about the Vicodin. I have to admit that at first, I didn't believe it, because why would you stay with me? Have a relationship with me when I was on it? And then I realized that I still had the Vicodin. My very last bottle...I hadn't given it to you yet. I was holding it, and you were looking at me, not that bottle and I got it then."
"We got through it," Wilson whispers. "We've come a long way."
"We did and we have," House answers. "You've always…been here, Wilson. Even when you weren't here…you were here." Wilson smiles at that and House continues. "Like I said, protecting yourself from getting hurt is not something you normally do, not really."
"He's my brother."
"You said it then. You are, and were, strangers," House counters. "You don't know the person he is now. He didn't know who he was then."
"I'm not sure that I believe that. We may have to agree to disagree."
House shrugs. "Okay. As long as we agree with my point of view and disagree with yours."
Wilson snorts with amusement, but his face quickly turns thoughtful. House watches him, watches the emotions roll across his face and House finds that he can't just watch.
"Wilson," he whispers gently, and doesn't clarify until he's sure that Wilson's eyes are on his, that he's paying attention. "Let me help."
Wilson's gaze doesn't leave House's as he takes a deep breath. "Okay."
"Good," House answers. He pushes off the desk and wraps his arms around Wilson's back. "And next time, all you have to do is ask. Since you won't share your mind-reading powers, I can't always tell when you need something, too."
Wilson shakes his head. "I'm sorry. I just…"
"Don't apologize," House interrupts. "I know, before we got together, that I never really gave you a reason to think you could definitively count on me to be there."
"I've never held that against you and you've been there for me plenty of times since then."
House is a little skeptical of that, since helping Wilson through a migraine, flu, and broken ankle aren't really the same as helping him get through something that could very well turn his life upside down, but Wilson continues talking and he lets that thought go.
"This is just…not something I've dealt with with anyone else. Once we found him again, my parents and brother pretended that he'd been at some nice little vacation resort. Before that, they never really dealt with him being gone. I've been used to thinking about this on my own…old habits die hard on that front."
"I know. Still, ask."
"Right." Wilson walks forward, and House uncrosses his ankles so Wilson can step between them. When Wilson's forearms are resting on his shoulders, House's hands grab Wilson's hips and pull him forward for a kiss.
"Thank you," Wilson says, once they've stopped to breathe. "For being interfering and pushy."
"Can't really remember a time I've been thanked for that before," House says, affecting a mock thoughtful expression.
Wilson grins gently. "First time for everything."
"Yeah. Hey Wilson? You better call Cuddy and tell her I told you."
Wilson looks confused, and then understanding spreads across his face. "Ah, yes. The week off. If I'm supposed to confirm with her, how were you going to make sure I did that if you left like you did?"
"I figured you would call me back in here like you did and we'd talk about it."
"Okay….and just coming in here, sitting down, and telling me like a…oh, wait. You're you."
"Oh good," House teases. "I was afraid you were getting me mixed up with someone who isn't me."
Wilson snorts and steals a kiss, then backs away with a squeeze to House's shoulders. "Get back to work. I'll call Cuddy."
"I'll just stay here a second…leg hurts from leaning against this desk."
Wilson looks concerned, and ready to ask if he has his meds with him, but understanding makes the corners of his eyes crinkle. "You made the appointment…and you're coming with, right?"
House nods resolutely as he plops down on Wilson's couch, facing him.
As Wilson moves to make the call, he stops as if something's just occurred to him. "Does she know about what really happened?"
House figures he could be angry by that question, but he understands why it's asked. "No."
"Sorry, I had to ask. I should have told her after I told you. It just hasn't come up."
"Stop apologizing, Wilson," House says with a roll of his eyes. "You don't have to explain."
With a decisive sigh, Wilson picks up the phone, holds it to his ear and meets House's eyes when Cuddy answers the phone. "Hey Cuddy…yeah…he told me. Actually, do you have a minute? There's something I want to tell you about that visit."
House wakes up the morning of their visit to New York, tosses his arm to Wilson's side of the bed, not really expecting Wilson to actually be there. If he'd been restless before (and that certainly hadn't abated after Wilson had confirmed House's plan to Cuddy), House can only imagine how he feels today.
When he's confirmed correct, he flips the covers back, grabs his cane and leaves the bedroom. The apartment is a little too quiet, which means that Wilson isn't cooking. As he gets to the kitchen, he notes Wilson sitting at the island drinking a cup of coffee from the lone mug in front of him.
Wilson turns toward him and smiles, but House sees the weariness and nerves there. "Did you sleep?"
Wilson shrugs, takes another sip. "There's coffee in the pot."
"Why didn't you wake me?"
"I remembered what we talked about asking you for help," Wilson answers. "But I didn't see the point in both of us being exhausted today. Trust me, I've got that covered. I did want to ask, though. I know it might be hard on your thigh, doing it, but…"
"I can drive," House interrupts immediately, liking the rush of feeling when Wilson smiles at him.
"Thanks." Wilson looks down at his mug and fidgets with the handle. "The last time I did this," he says hesitantly, as though he's trying to get his thoughts in order. "I expected…well, I had expectations from it. I'm trying not to do that now. I want to go with a blank slate."
"You can't." House looks at him steadily. "You're you. You worry, you think…you protect everyone but yourself. Have your expectations. Just remember this time, I will be in that room with you. He makes one wrong move…" House trails off, holds up his cane threateningly.
This time Wilson's laugh is loud and slightly unexpected. He must think so too, when he gets his bearings back, because he looks like he isn't quite sure what to do next. "I, uh, should eventually get a hold of my parents about this, too."
"Get through the first meeting, Wilson. Then worry about that step."
"Okay," Wilson answers with a nod, standing up. "You're right." He walks around the island, puts his mug in the sink. "Appointment's at 2?"
House nods, but doesn't say anything, since he's told Wilson that over and over the last few days. "Right," Wilson says absently. "We should leave at 11 to get there with plenty of time. It's just after nine now…I'm going to jump in the shower."
"Okay," House says, sipping his coffee. As Wilson scurries off to the bathroom, House is definitely glad that he's the one who will be doing the driving.
They get to New York Mercy at 1:30 as traffic was a little heavier than expected. House sits next to Wilson in the psychiatric wing, again and Wilson is alternating between getting up and pacing, to sitting on the bench, his knee shaking nervously and his bottom lip between his teeth. The third time he does this, House becomes afraid he might be chewing his own lip off so he gently sets a hand on Wilson's shaking knee.
Wilson looks down at it, stops shaking and squeezes his fingers, then looks back at the closed door of the waiting room
When the orderly comes in at 2:02 (he knows, because Wilson tells him) and tells them they're ready, House gets up, and limps after the orderly.
He doesn't get all of the way out of the door when he realizes that Wilson is not following. Looking back, he sees Wilson, with his shaking knee, wringing hands, and red, swollen lip. The expression on his face so nervous that House finds himself standing in front of his lover. He meets his eyes and holds out a hand.
Wilson takes a rattling breath and grabs it, levering himself up. He lets go of House's hand and steps in beside him, and they both follow the orderly down the dark hallway, to a room, where the door is closed, but there's a small glass square of a window.
"The door needs to remain open once you step inside," the orderly explains. "When you're ready to leave, just let us know, and we'll escort him back and you guys out."
Wilson doesn't say anything, and House acknowledges this explanation with a terse nod. The orderly opens the door and they both step inside.
House's first impression of Daniel Wilson is that his physical appearance is everything he'd expected it to be. He'd seen pictures, the few that the Wilsons had had in their home when he'd gone there, ones that had the three Wilson brothers posing together when they were younger. He'd had a fair amount of idea what Danny would look like. He also knows that while Danny is younger than Wilson, he easily looks ten years older.
However, when Danny sees his brother, the smile that spreads across his face is so staggeringly similar to his lover's that he almost gasps in surprise.
"Hi, Jaime," Danny says softly.
Any tension that Wilson had been carrying over the last week sweeps out of him as though it never existed. House watches it happen and he understands…this visit is already vastly different than the last. Wilson steps forward, pulls out the one of two chairs at the table, and sits, a smile on his face, also.
EDIT: I'm sorry about the odd formatting of House explanation of what he's up to in Wilson's office. It was supposed to be one long one, but isn't including the whole thing if I do that.