Epi-Epilogue

Let me point out that you don't really need to read this chapter to finish the fic. Last chapter was a pretty good closing, but I did promise Wilson telling House that Kutner wasn't his fault. I realize the chapter is horrendously short.

Wilson and House were sitting side by side in what was officially now their apartment, watching a hockey match. Even better was the fact that they were in support of opposite teams, Wilson currently cheering on the losing one.

"Come on, come on!" he urged the players pointlessly. "You can do it- no!"

House snickered as the puck was wrestled away from Wilson's team and shot into their goal. "You know, yelling at the TV isn't likely to change the outcome."

"Oh, shut up."

As the game went on, Wilson found himself losing interest in his losing team. Instead, his attention began to focus on House.

The man looked much less beaten down than he had even a month previously. He'd gained weight, started sleeping better. Ever since Wilson had made the transition from friend to lover, things seemed to have gotten easier.

He hadn't expected it to be like that. Sure, he'd been thrilled at the chance to help House. But he never thought he'd see a softer side of House, a more vulnerable side. The moment that House had trusted him enough to let him into his bed was the moment that everything changed.

House was still House, and Wilson was still Wilson. The men drove each other insane more often than not, still had debates, still berated each other. But now, there was a layer of trust and love that supported all of that. It was a layer that kept House's harshest comments in check, and Wilson's more mothering tendencies held back a bit.

Wilson smiled a bit to himself. People at work had begun to talk, after a week or so of House being less of an ass and Wilson being less of a mother hen. Many of them knew that they had been rooming together, but the rumor mill was just now catching up to them.

Wilson couldn't have cared less, and since when had House given a damn about what other people thought?

There had been tiny changes in the House house, of course. Wilson made a strong effort to keep the place clean. House had demanded that Wilson held off on his blow drying until at least seven thirty. Wilson cooked some, House cooked some, and they began eating less and less take out. It was the forming of a real, stable relationship, something both House and Wilson needed dearly.

There had been small moments that House had opened up to him, tiny cracks in his ever-present wall. He'd mentioned some small thing here or there, just letting Wilson know that he loved and trusted him enough to share his past with him.

One morning, House had explained his perpetual lateness to Wilson, if indirectly.

"He was all about punctuality," House had said offhand as Wilson hurried to get dressed, having overslept. Unlike his partner, House was nonchalantly sitting half naked on the bed, his eyes watching Wilson scurry back and forth.

Wilson had stopped dead, freezing in his attempt to find a matching pair of socks. He didn't turn around, didn't say a word. He didn't want to scare House off.

"Always, always, I had to be exactly on time. Even one minute late and I ended up sleeping in the yard, or not eating. It was a military thing, I think. Everything was on a schedule."

They'd been two hours late that day.

House had mentioned other things, small things. But gradually, he was letting his walls crumble, no longer pouncing on every crack with plaster and new, heavier bricks.

He still remembered the promise he'd made to Kutner. In fact, he thought about it often. There just seemed to be no good time to bring it up, no good way to reassure House that there was nothing he could have done to stop it.

His opportunity came a few minutes later, during a commercial. It was an ad for a suicide prevention hotline. It was almost too perfect.

House's gaze grew hard and fixed, as if it was staring right thorough the TV and into some distant memory. The diagnostician suddenly looked pained and tense, a countenance that Wilson had become far too familiar with.

Wilson muted the TV, intent on bringing it up. He'd gone too long without saying anything, seen House beating himself up over something he couldn't have changed far too often. He hated seeing his lover in pain, whether emotional or physical.

"House?" he asked, putting a hand on his shoulder.

House shrugged him off, looking away. "Unmute it, I like this commercial."

Wilson glanced at the TV; it had changed to a funny ad on condoms. It looked like a small child was rolling around on the floor of a super market, throwing a fit. His father was unsuccessfully trying to get him to stop. A close up of the man's exasperated face was followed by the words "Useā€¦ Condoms."

He turned back to House. "House, I've been meaning to tell you something."

"Fire away. If it's about that tutu you wear when you think no one's watching, I already know about it."

Wilson didn't rise to the bait. "It's about Kutner."

House's eyes shut off totally, and Wilson reached out to grab his arm desperately. House needed to hear the words he was going to say. "House, there was nothing you could have done."

"Like hell there wasn't. I'm supposed to be a genius."

"He didn't ask for help, he didn't exhibit any signs of depression. Whatever reason he did it had nothing to do with you."

House blinked angrily, staring away.

"Greg, he wouldn't blame you."

House seemed to deflate like a popped beach ball. "How the hell would you know?"

Wilson remained firm. "There was nothing you could have done. If he wanted to die, you couldn't have stopped him."

House wilted, staring at the TV but not really seeing it. His eyes were dark with uncertainty, and just a tad bit of cautious hope.

Wilson scooted up next to him and leaned into his side. "Don't keep blaming yourself. He's in a better place."

House scoffed quietly at Wilson's belief in heaven, but seemed to relax a fraction. He draped an arm around Wilson's shoulder and tugged him in, kissing his forehead lightly.

"Stop being so damn intelligent. That's my job, you're supposed to be the dumb one."

When the game ended, there was popcorn scattered all over the floor, beer cans crushed on the table, and two men sprawled on the couch sleeping in each others arms, both considerably better off than they had been just a few months prior.

Whelp, that's all folks! I must say I had fun writing this, though I had no idea what I was doing most of the time. Thanks to all the reviewers (especially those who pointed out spelling mistakes.)

One of these day's I'm going to take a break from the angst and just write a straight fluff fic.