He waits for exactly four minutes before arming himself with a journal, going to the vending machine and getting a pack of taco-flavored Doritos. He slips into the office silently, sits down in front of the desk, and props his feet up on the table. He notices out of the corner of his eye that House has propped his leg up on the table, and has just finished downing pills. He plucks a Dorito out of the bag, and pops it into his mouth, flipping through his journal.

It says a lot that House doesn't reach over to help himself to the chips. Or comment on the fact that taco-flavored Doritos are ridiculously bad (he hates mildly-flavored chips, preferring to go for strong, over-the-top flavors. It's almost like they reflect his personality), and that he should have gotten cheese-flavored Doritos. Or even better, Cheezels. They only ever eat Doritos or Cheezels. Nothing else appeals sufficiently to House. Ergo, Wilson doesn't go into House's office with anything else, because whenever he goes into House's office with food, he knows he has to share it.

"Yeah, yeah," House mutters, his eyes fixed on the laptop screen. "Tell me how I'm miserable and alone and it's all of my own doing."

"It wasn't your fault either," Wilson says lightly as he skims through the latest drug trial for breast cancer. "We've been through this. It was a random occurrence."

"That's what I told him."

Wilson notices the absence of agreement. House wouldn't be House if he easily shook off all blame that, whether justified or not, weighs down on his shoulders. Wilson tries not to sigh. Instead, he puts down his journal, and reaches over to close the lid of House's laptop. He stares at House, waiting for him to look up.

"You may be miserable, but you're not lonely. And you're most definitely not alone."

House looks up sharply, something desperate in his gaze. Wilson can feel a twinge in his own heart at the naked look. By anyone else's definition, House is lonely. But he actually, really, isn't. All he needs is Wilson.

He lets a lopsided smile curl up at the corner of his lips, and he watches as House too, lets a minute smile creep up on his face.

"You don't have to be miserable." He strives to not sound self-righteous. "You can start now."

House's secret smile - the one only he is privy to - fades just a bit. This is House terrified. Rock-bottom, and now climbing back up, trying to find his footing in a world that has tilted and shifted to become almost unrecognisable.

"I think," Wilson extends the bag of taco-flavored Doritos towards House, "maybe it's time for a change."

He doesn't need to elaborate more. They both know what he means.

House slowly reaches out. It's almost automatic, him reaching out for food offered to him. Especially when it's from Wilson. But Wilson can see the slight hesitation as House stretches out towards the bag. It's minute, but it's there. Then House snatches the bag away, the bag crinkling and crunching in his grip.

"Taco-flavored? I am disappointed in you, Wilson." Still, he reaches in the bag, and drops one into his mouth. "Maybe the kettle chips next time." Wilson grins. They've never gotten kettle chips before. "Backyard barbeque flavor, of course. None of that original flavor nonsense."

Baby steps, Wilson thinks. Baby steps.