a/n: My whole brain is crying. Here's some fic so you can cry with me. This is also my 100th fic on here, which seems befitting as this was really the first fandom non-HP I got into.
I own nothing you recognize. Quote & title are by Rosie Thomas.
So farewell my love, 'cause I was wrong I guess
Farewell so long, 'cause I was wrong I confess
When your best friend tells you they have cancer generally life doesn't just go back to normal, but that's what happens with House and Wilson at first. Wilson goes back to treating patients and being too cheerful with his fake smiles as he tells them they'll be just fine. The same thing he was telling himself. He knew the odds.
It's the looks from everyone else he can't stand. Doctors who have never spoken to him are shooting apologetic glances in elevators and in the cafeteria. He feels like a tiny bug surrounded by giants, and that more than anything makes him want to scream.
When Chase comes into ask about a patient's medical records for House, there's something in his eyes that just grates Wilson's final nerve.
"I'm fine! It's going to be fine!" He shouts, hands shaking so hard he can't even hold his pen, and Chase scampers out of the room so fast he can't even apologize.
House has hobbled his way into the bright office within twenty minutes, shutting the door gently behind him and looking at his best friend with a look that others might misconstrue as pity, but Wilson knows better.
"I know that yelling at Chase is your job," He starts, sighing and pushing his chair back but House cuts him off.
Twirling the cane idly in his hand he shoots a glare at Wilson, "You're an idiot."
It's just a small thing, and the words should really irritate him, but for some reason he finds himself smiling. This is House at his best – when the rest of the world has a pitying look, he's there with his stupid cane, reminding everyone why they hate him so much.
But Wilson doesn't hate him for the same reason he's never given up on him: they understand what the other needs. Just like their road trip to House's father's funeral and the bail money that took Wilson out of jail that fateful night so many years ago, they always understood.
So, House briefly looks the oncologist up and down he surmises that lecturing about his condition isn't what's needed right now and instead pulls Wilson's keys off his desk.
"Chinese? On you? Sounds great." He grins, and Wilson sighs in a psuedo-attempt at irritation but ends up smiling by the time they get to the elevators.
He won't realize how much he appreciates this action from House until months later, but even on the ride to his apartment he wonders why no one has ever been able to see the best parts to House before, not even Cuddy. It's always just been him.
And it always will be, he thinks as he hands the other man a fork and napkin.
He starts treatment three weeks later, and he knows what to expect. He's seen this so many times before, but nothing really could have prepared him for just how horrible the chemo is. He valiantly goes alone to his first few appointments, with a casual friend from work offering to take him home afterwards.
His first thought was to ask House, but he couldn't put House through this. The man who wouldn't come watch his surgery for fear he'd die – furthermore, who knew if House would even show up to do it if he did agree.
It's about two weeks in before Wilson sees the older man leaning against the wall into the oncology ward, one hand still clutching that familiar cane. He doesn't say anything, which is probably for the best because Wilson already feels like complete shit.
There is something comforting about having House by his side in that awful white room as he vomits into a silver container. Most people would scoff at the idea that House could ever be comforting, but at least you know he's not going to let you feel sorry for yourself.
Wilson follows him out of the hospital following his treatment, feeling even worse than usual, his hands shaking so badly he can barely hold his keys.
"I'll drive you back." House says firmly, reaching for the keys, but something in Wilson flares up. No one thought he could do anything by himself anymore, even open doors or jars or pay for lunch.
"I can do it, House. Don't pretend you care now." It's a low blow and he knows it as soon as the words leave his mouth, but the other doctor only shows the slightest indication of hurt before his face goes back to being casually blank.
He scoffs after a second, "Watch it Wilson, I don't want to hit a dying man."
"Oh, that's rich, coming from you: the addict." Wilson snaps back, his shaking hands balling into fists as he steps towards his friend. "Why do you get to crack jokes while I fight for my life?"
The question wasn't supposed to come out at all. He hadn't meant it, not really. House was the greatest medical genius he'd ever met, and Wilson knew he was nothing special compared to that. Long after he was gone people would still hold House's name in high esteem, but wouldn't even remember him,
House's face falls, eyebrows knitting together to form the same troubled expression that Wilson has seen so many times before.
"I don't know," He sighs back finally, like he honestly has tried to think of a reason for why it would be Wilson that this would happen to, "People always seem to die around me in some way or another."
There's a split second where Wilson has the most insane urge to embrace House, just to have their bodies close together, trying to let him know that he was going to try his hardest not to let that happen, but he can't. Instead he settles on handing over his keys and letting House help him over to the passenger side door.
"I think we should move back in together," slips from House's mouth one Tuesday afternoon when they're having lunch together. He's been on chemo for over two months by this point, but the cancer is more aggressive than he previously thought.
He wonders why House volunteers his apartment for them both, but he knows deep down it's because House is afraid he's going to die and he doesn't want to be alone the last few months of his best and only friend's life.
Wilson nods in agreement, "All right, but no hookers – and I mean it House." His stern voice causes the other man to crack a wide and rare smile.
That urge to touch his friend wells up in Wilson's chest again, and before he can stop himself his hand has reached across the table to grab House's shoulder in a tight grip. House doesn't even flinch at the touch, which is a sign of their friendship because Wilson knows that House hates being touched.
Later, after they've moved all of his possessions in, (which turns out to be a fairly depressing amount), they settle in on the comfortable green couch. Wilson catches a glimpse of himself in the blank television. He's lost a good bit of weight, his cheekbones more pronounced and shirt hanging loosely around his torso.
"Yeah, you look like hell." House says, not looking up from his book on some horrifying disease, but Wilson hears the smile in his tone.
"Well we can't all be Princeton Plainsboro's dreamiest doctor, now can we?" He snarks back, pulling his own book off the coffee table.
House doesn't the drop the book, but he does answer. "Like I had any chance against your baby blues? Please, Wilson, don't insult my intelligence."
Wilson knows it's just another bit of sarcasm, but there's something underling his friend's tone. It was almost like a regret hanging on the tip of his tongue. As Wilson readies for bed that night, watching House wander around looking for food, he realizes he doesn't want to leave this eccentric and broken man.
Just let me live. Let me live if just to see him everyday. He breathes quietly, because in the end that's really all he wants. One more day with House. One more day of his sarcasm and irritating way of always being right.
He's always going to want one more day than he's going to get, he's known that for a while. He realizes with a shock that so has House.
He goes to bed with the scent of House's laundry detergent firmly in his head, and dreams of his skin against House's and when he wakes up he can't even bring himself to regret it.
He doesn't get better. His body stops reacting to the chemo and he quits his job, a sad look on Foreman's face as he says his last goodbyes. It's hard to clean out the office that has so often doubled for his home, and even harder to imagine anyone else occupying the space that he's come to call his own.
Falling into depression is easy. He barely gets out of bed, and when he does his entire body aches and his bones feel so brittle they might shatter at any moment. His hair is long and unkempt and he gives up on shaving after a while.
Five months in and he's given up. He doesn't want to stay around anymore, not to live a half life like this. A life of nothing but gray. He never really thought about death much, even being a doctor, but now he thinks about it constantly – in the kitchen, in the shower, even in his dreams when they aren't revolving around House.
House ends up taking a leave of absence after coming home to find Wilson in the kitchen, sprawled out on the floor and too weak to stand up. He spends a lot of time at home, cooking and even cleaning. Wilson mostly just waits for the piano keys to be pressed; House always sounded more beautiful through music.
One evening House comes home after grabbing food for them to find Wilson on the floor of the bathroom, a razor blade clutched in his hand, looking down at his arms in deep contemplation, quiet tears staining his thin face. He doesn't even register House is there until he pulls the metal object out of his hand and slides down next to him on the cool tile floor.
"I'm scared." Wilson whispers, tears still rolling down his cheeks, "I'm so scared to die, House."
The words break House's black heart and he slides a warm arm around the frail man, "That's okay."
Wilson glances up, "But I still want to die now. I can't..." He can't speak for a moment, his entire body being overcome with nausea. He slumps his body against House's, his head on the warmth of House's shoulder.
"That's okay, too." House breathes, his breath smelling like a mixture of Chinese food and mint bubble gum.
Wilson raises his feeble head to glance at House's face, "I have dreams about your lips," he mutters quietly, pushing a hand up to touch the pink outline of House's mouth, his cool fingers taking comfort in the heat expelling from the other man's breath.
There's a split second where Wilson's hand moves from House's lips then their mouths are fused together, moving in sync, just like another blissful dream where Wilson isn't going to die and House won't be left alone.
"I'm scared, too." House breathes later, when they've broken apart, "If you die, I'm alone. For good."
Wilson doesn't really know what to say so he just places his lips against the exposed part of House's shoulder and murmurs into the soft skin, "I know."
They fall asleep together on the sofa later, House holding onto Wilson tightly, wishing that moment never had to have an ending.
It's a Thursday.
That's all House will remember for the rest of his life. It's a Thursday when he brings home the Thai food and finds Wilson on the couch, barely breathing. It's seven months since Wilson first started his chemotherapy, but the shell of a man on his couch is not Wilson – not really.
He just knows that this it – he can't explain it, but he does. He bends down next to him, ignoring the pain in his leg and cups the younger man's cheek in his hand. While stroking a lock of hair from his face, Wilson manages to barely open his eyes.
"We need to get to a hospital–" But Wilson grabs his shirt in one last bout of strength and groans heavily.
"No. We promised. No hospitals. I want to die here, with you." He grinds out, taking in deep breaths and dropping his hand, but House catches it and pulls himself onto the couch, taking Wilson's head into his lap.
"We were quite a pair," Wilson wheezes, the ghost of a smile on his dry and cracked lips. "Thank you."
House swallows hard, shaking his head, "I think I should probably be saying thanks. Without you I would have died a long time ago."
"So would I," Wilson whispers, his voice fading softly. He closes his eyes, unable to look at the pain etched into his lover's face. He knows that this is the end of his life, it was all leading to this moment in House's arms, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
"It was always you – wish... wish I'd seen that earlier," Wilson breathes quietly, the stillness in the air allowing the words to echo.
House, places a hand over his cheek and strokes gently, "I always knew."
There's no response from the younger man and rationally raising a hand to feel Wilson's neck, he realizes there is no response there either. He drops his head to rest against Wilson's. He doesn't cry, he never expected to cry, instead he takes in several deep breaths.
The Thai food is cold on the kitchen counter by the time he fumbles for the telephone. The notepad next to his cellphone catches his attention.
"Don't you dare put me on your mantlepiece.
And don't forget:
I love you,
"You, too." He manages, and pushes the necessary numbers on his keypad. Clutching the note in his fingers, he finds the words to say into the small phone.
Months later when a new ward is added to the hospital he donates the money Wilson left him to have JAMES WILSON placed over the doors in the shiny letters.
Wilson probably would've hated it, which made House smile and know it was the right thing to do anyway.