"It's okay if you are. I am too." Wilson added reassuringly as he adjusted House's tie one last time.
House grimaced, "Stop doing that."
Wilson took a step back and sighed, "I just fixed your tie! How did you manage to loosen it up already?"
"There are other things I'm good at loosening up and you know it." House growled semi-playfully. Wilson smiled.
"Ready?" Wilson lifted his fist in front of the big wooden door and gave House, who was standing right by his side, one more look of reassurance.
House shrugged. "Ready as I'll ever be… and since you got me all dolled up…"
"You look nice, House…" Wilson cut him off before he could get too sarcastic about it, "Nothing to worry about."
House nodded. He wasn't happy about being here but he was determined to do this; if not for himself then for Wilson's sake. "For both of us." Wilson's voice nagged in the back of his brain.
"Here we go…" Wilson took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
The door opened slowly and Wilson already perked himself to a more distinguished posture and smiled. House grabbed his cane more tightly; Wilson must've noticed because House could feel his fingers lightly brush the top of his fisted hand.
"Hi mom." Wilson leaned forward to hug the woman in front of him— his tall frame wrapping her completely in a warm embrace. She giggled softly and wrapped her arms around him just as tightly and mumbled something that sounded to House like "My baby-J…" But he wouldn't be surprised if he heard wrong.
He gulped nervously. Dinner with the parents was not his forte.
"You look good!" Rebecca Wilson told her son as she ran her hand on his cheekbone.
"I'm feeling good." Wilson smiled weakly, "Better than in a long time."
His mother nodded, "That's good… that's very good." There was a deep sense of satisfaction in her voice that was somehow shadowed by the grief in her eyes— so it made House's heart jump in his chest when those deep brown eyes that reminded him so much of Wilson's turned to him.
"Greg…" She smiled kindly. He smiled back to the best of his ability—he was sure he looked like a moron, but she embraced him in a hug nonetheless. "Thanks for coming here with James, sweetie." She whispered softly while still embracing him. Something about being called "sweetie" when you're over 50 just didn't sit well with House.
"It's good to see you, Mrs. Wilson…" he managed to voice out; and apparently it was good enough since she was still smiling. Even Wilson threw a satisfactory nod in his direction. Mission accomplished. Too bad this was just the first of many missions on the agenda this evening.
"Your father is out back." Mrs. Wilson once again addressed her son, and House was glad the attention was no longer on him. "He'll be happy to see you. Both of you!" She smiled at House once again. Wilson smiled at his mother and squeezed her shoulder lovingly. The whole scene was just way too smiley for House's liking and he somehow managed to let a small grunt escape his throat. Luckily, Wilson was too busy doting over his mother to notice.
"I'll call you boys in when dinner is ready." She gave Wilson a peck on the cheek. "Oh and Greg…" she stopped before disappearing into the kitchen, "That is a lovely tie."
House looked at Wilson with an intensity that could burn a hole right through him.
"Shut up…" House fidgeted.
"What? It brings out your eyes…" Wilson picked up the tie and rubbed his thumb against the soft blue silk.
"You know how much I hate wearing them." Their gazes met so closely they could feel each other's breath.
"I know." Wilson nodded.
"I look like an idiot…" House tensed up.
Wilson shook his head, "No you don't." He whispered making sure not to lose eye contact with House until his shoulders finally relaxed again. "C'mon…" He signaled him, "…lets go outside."
"What's that noise?" House asked as he did his best to balance his cane on the bumpy soil and patchy grass of the yard.
"Dad needed a new hobby when he retired."
"Should've picked gardening…" House pointed his cane at Wilson, exposing the muddy tip.
"Evidently…" Wilson acknowledged but kept walking. "The back-shed used to be our hang out as kids… they left it the same for years until his retirement…"
The sound of metal clunking echoed through the yard once more.
"And that's when your dad turned it into an S&M dungeon?" House retorted.
"Auto body repair." Wilson corrected. "Lots of his friends own really old cars they couldn't drive for years because they were busy raising kids."
House nodded, "Cars turn into classics… become valuable. Your dad patches them up—shares the profits."
"Pretty much." Wilson winced as the grating sound of something metallic being hammered could once again be heard coming from the old shed.
House allowed his lip to contort into what Wilson could only interpret as a smile;
"Pretty cool." He finally concluded.
The sound of the power saw cutting through the sheet metal came to a screeching halt.
"James? Is that you?" Dan Wilson shouted loudly through his protective gear.
"Well come give your old man a hug and help me out down here!"
Wilson rubbed the back of his head. "Dad, I… I'm wearing a suit and I…"
"I'll do it!" House kneeled right down over the electric saw—his blue silk tie landing right over a fresh grease stain.
"House!" The older Wilson handed him a dust mask and a pair of goggles. "It's great to see you. Hold this piece of sheet metal in place for me."
House nodded and threw Wilson a teasing look to which Wilson replied to by folding his arms over his chest and shaking his head.
Once they were done, Dan brushed the dust off his knees and took off the protective gear; he spotted his son, who was leaning against the wooden island by the door; far away from the grease and power tools. He smiled. Last time he saw James was in a chemo suit in Princeton when Rebecca insisted they visit. No father wants to battle with the incomprehensible thought of outliving his son, and Dan will never forget the look of sheer hopelessness in James's face that day. And yet, as he laid his eyes on his boy this time, he somehow seemed different—not as gaunt, more confident and content.
"Can I hug you now, son of mine? I won't mess up your fancy doctor suit, I promise." He walked toward the door with his arms open. Not waiting for James to reply, he patted his back firmly, "You gained weight." He kept a firm grip of his shoulders, "You… you look good."
Wilson just smiled and gulped nervously, "Yeah… it's good to see you, dad."
Dan turned to House, "What kind of mind game did you play on him on the way here to make him this nervous?"
House shrugged, "It's his natural state of dorkiness…" he teased.
Wilson senior chuckled, "It's okay, James…" he squeezed his sons shoulder and looked him in the eye, "You've been through a lot. Today's about forgetting all that bad stuff and relaxing." He paused to get a good look at his boy, "Welcome home son." He said, wearing a warm smile.
Suddenly a buzzing sound could be heard coming from Dan's pocket. "Excuse me…." He mumbled, lifting one finger to indicate it would only take one moment. He pulled a fancy smart phone out of his pocket and started fiddling with it.
"Dad, are you… texting?" Wilson's eyebrows arched with surprise.
"Ever since your mom and I upgraded to these new smartphone things she's been texting me over everything… and playing slots on her casino app all day…" He said as he kept pushing his fingers on the screen. "Dinner's ready by the way. We should get inside."
Mr. Wilson hurried back to the house so he could help his wife set the table. Wilson and House were a bit behind because of the cane.
"They text now…" Wilson huffed and shook his head, "Never in my life would I think they would be capable of doing that…"
"Maybe you should've broken the news to them via text since they like it so much…" House retorted. But Wilson wasn't amused. The more they got closer to the house, the more he began dreading this dinner.
They managed to get through appetizers without any mention of the elephant in the room. House, being naturally the avoidant type, brought up the subject of Slot Machine apps for the smartphone to Mrs. Wilson, which led to a whole bunch of happy worthless chatter. It wasn't until Mrs. Wilson excused herself from the table to go get the main course that silence fell upon the table for long enough to snap everyone back to reality.
"So James…" Dan said, taking a sip of wine, "Last time I saw you, you were too sick from chemo to even sit straight…"
Wilson nodded; a sad sunken look took over his eyes.
But his father managed a small smile, "But now I noticed you cleared your plate… you're on your third glass of wine…"
Wilson noticed he was holding the wine glass close to his lips but put it down nervously as his father spoke.
"Now I don't want to jinx anything but if I didn't know any better I w…"
"Dad..." Wilson stopped his father before he could finish. "There is… something, but I wanted…" he cleared his throat nervously and exchanged a quick glance with House, "I wanted mom… all of us here before I…"
But just as he spoke his mother walked in carrying a tray of roast beef.
"Becky, honey!" Dan hollered at her, "Sit— James has something to tell us."
"What is it sweetie, are you feeling alright? You look flushed…" Mrs. Wilson sat down, did as any Jewish mother would do and placed her hand on Wilson's cheek.
"Mom…I…" Wilson swiped his mother's hand gently off his face, "I'm fine… I just had too much to drink, really…"
"He's hammered." House offered his two-cents while downing his own glass. He was determined to lose his sobriety for the remains of the evening.
"House…" Wilson warned through clenched teeth.
House nodded. "But that's beside the point… let the man speak!" he poured himself another glass of wine—wishing it was whiskey.
All eyes were on Wilson.
"Well…" He began, "I actually have happy news for once…" he bit his lip and exchanged looks from his mother, to his father to House—who was looking increasingly drunk.
He took a deep breath, "As you know… I finished my last round of chemo and had a check-up scan done a week ago…"
His parents nodded. His mother looked cautiously optimistic but his father definitely looked like he knew what was coming.
"Well, as of this week… I no longer have cancer." His shoulders jerked a bit, "I am officially in remission."
Dan Wilson slammed a fist on the table; "I knew it!" he let out a bark-like laugh before jumping across the table to hug his son—this time more tightly than before, he was no longer afraid the boy would break.
Being as Wilson was a bit preoccupied by his father, House noticed the tears of joy in Rebecca Wilson's eyes. His gaze accidentally met hers.
"Is he really going to be okay?" She asked him, hoping for reassurance.
House gulped nervously, "It seems like it… there's always a…" he stopped when he noticed the glow in her cheeks. "He's healthy…" House reassured her, "it was important to him that he'd tell you in person."
He left out the part about Wilson actually wanting to tell them something else in person. There would be a time for that, when Wilson decides—just as they agreed.
They retired to the living room where they had coffee and dessert: ice-cream parfaits with a wild berry and a mixed nut topping. Wilson was tapping his foot nervously as he took another sip of his espresso. He noticed House was eyeing the liquor cabinet greedily, and somehow knowing that House was just as nervous as he was made him feel slightly better.
"James honey…" His mothers voice threw Wilson back to reality, "Stop tapping your foot, you're shaking the coffee table."
"Someone had enough espresso for one day…" House chimed in sarcastically.
"Leave the coffee alone and eat your dessert, James…" Wilson's mother said, "…Your ice cream is already melting on your nuts..."
House couldn't help himself and nearly choked on his coffee. He threw Wilson a small apologetic smile to which Wilson just replied by rolling his eyes ever so slightly so his parents wouldn't notice the exchange.
"So House…" Wilson senior stirred his ice cream vigorously with his spoon, "What are you doing these days?"
"You should be asking who not wha…" House began to reply cheekily. But before he could finish, or pretend to, Wilson delivered a swift, rather powerful kick to his shin. House hissed and exchanged venomous looks with Wilson.
Wilson senior licked his spoon and stared at the two.
"Sorry…" House reacted quickly, "Leg cramp…"
Wilson nodded, indicating it was a nice save, but House was tired of beating around the bush and sighed irritably; signaling Wilson there isn't going to be any better time to rip the metaphorical Band-Aid.
"Umm…" Wilson cleared his throat nervously as his foot began to shake again. "Actually mom… dad… there is…" he coughed into his fist, "one more thing I came here to talk to you about."
Dan Wilson chuckled, "What is it?" he turned to House, "Did he get married again because I swear this boy… he never knew how to pick a woman!"
House looked down at his feet and was finding it hard to suppress his chuckles.
"…Always jumping the gun!" Dan continued, "Most men dread relationships but you…" he pointed a finger at his son jokingly, "You're a relationship over achiever!"
Wilson's cheeks turned slightly red and House, still biting his tongue and trying not to laugh, was in no position to help him. He shook his head, "I didn't get married."
Even his mother exhaled a sigh of relief. No one was ready for a fourth Mrs. James Wilson.
"Well what is it then?" His father urged, "My desert is melting waiting for you!" he laughed, "You already gave us the best news a parent could ask for, son… then why so nervous all of a sudden? You would think tha…"
"I'm gay, dad." Wilson jumped right into it. His mother dropped her spoon, his father was just staring at him—still frozen mid-sentence, and House? House slouched deeper into his seat in a feeble attempt to disappear completely.
Wilson nodded and sighed in relief.
"What do you mean you're gay?" His father asked, "Is this a joke? You're 47! You've been married three times! Look what you're doing to your poor mother!" He gestured with both hands towards his wife who tried to pick up her coffee but found her hands were too shaky.
"It's a good joke, I'll admit…" Dan chuckled in disbelief, "But can you come clean so your mom can have some coffee?"
Wilson shrugged and shook his head.
"House!" Dan called, and House's shoulders jerked nervously— causing him to spill some of his coffee on the blue tie. "Is he yanking my chain?" Dan asked.
"Actually…" House sat his mug down on the coffee table, "It's my chain h…"
"No!" Wilson panicked and flailed his arms at House. He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, "No metaphors… House… please…."
"Oh god…" All eyes were on Rebecca Wilson now. And Wilson panicked, as he knew what was happening.
"You…" she pointed at her son, "And you…" and then at House.
"She's smart…" House said, sounding more light and relieved now that the cat was out of the bag. "I bet that's who you get it from." He smiled at Wilson who did not appear as relieved as he was. Understandable since he wasn't nearly as drunk.
"House…" Wilson warned, "Sober up."
"You mean you're faggots?!"
"Dan Wilson!" Rebecca screeched, "It's not acceptable to use the "f" word anymore!" she added in a hissed whisper.
"What do you want me to call them, woman?!" Dan's face appeared red with rage, "Gays? Homos? Fruitcakes?" He pointed an angry finger directly at House, "I liked you..." he snarled.
"Now stop it! Leave them alone!" Mrs. Wilson commanded her husband. But emotions seemed to be running too high.
"So tell me…" Dan began to ask as he got up from his seat, "…which one of you takes it in the ass when y…."
"Dad!" Both Wilson and his mother hollered simultaneously.
"Don't 'Dan' me!" he told his wife, accidentally spilling his dessert in the midst of his rage. "You gave me sons!" he screamed, "And now look at us… One son's a fruit, the other's a nut!" He kicked the spilled dessert cup on the ground, "Even this stupid parfait thing has fruits and nuts! It's like a karmatic…" he scrambled with his words, "…faggot dessert!"
"Dan! That word!"
"Fine!" he hollered, exiting the room. "Feygele!" he hissed under his breath before slamming the door behind him.
Wilson looked down at House, who pulled out an orange Vicodin bottle from his pocket, "You know things just got real when you're non-practicing Jewish father pulls out the Yiddish…" he growled and threw two pills down his throat.
"Yeah…" Wilson sighed. This night was turning out to be mentally exhausting. "Mom?" He turned to face his mother, whose eyes were watery with unshed tears. She placed an unsteady hand on her son's cheek, "Oh, baby…" she said with a shaky voice, "After everything you've been through this year... Having you here… not… losing you like…" her voice began to hitch, "… like we lost Danny to Schizophrenia…" she tried to fight back the tears.
"Mom…" Wilson handed his mother a handkerchief, "Danny's okay… I'm okay."
She sniffled and looked up at her son, "He loves you… so much." Her voiced hitched, "… your father… he's just… he wants you to be happy…"
"He wants him to not be broken…" House interrupted—making both Wilson and his mother turn their heads.
"This is not about happiness... You're sleeping with me…" he pointed at Wilson, "Your other brother's a loon…"
"House…" Wilson warned—he placed a hand on his mothers shoulder.
"What?" House croaked defensively, "He said so himself! You're a fruit, your brother's a nut… this isn't about your happiness—he's bummed his sperm malfunctioned!"
"That's not true!" Rebecca protested, "He loves you boys… I know he does."
"Whatever helps you sleep at night…" House shrugged.
"House!" Wilson snapped. But he quickly turned to his mother. "He… He has a point though…"
Both Mrs. Wilson and House reacted.
Wilson sighed, "In a very Housian… misguided… completely emotionally stunted and screwed up kind of way… he still has a point..." he paused for a beat before nodding to himself. "I gotta go talk to dad." He walked out the door without even looking back.
House and Mrs. Wilson exchanged looks.
"I am not emotionally stunted…" House pretended to be hurt, "I am a very… caring lover…" he placed one hand directly on his heart.
Surprisingly, Rebecca smiled and even let out a chuckle between her leftover sniffles.
"Now about that liquor cabinet…" House's blue eyes trailed to the other side of the room.
Rebecca nodded, "I could use a drink…"
"Dad…?" Wilson found his father sitting on a bench by the outdoor shed, smoking a cigarette and fiddling with his phone.
Dan lifted his head up from the phone, his expression now reading more exhaustion then anger. "Hey, James…" he said, sounding defeated. He patted the available seat on the bench next to him—inviting Wilson to take a seat. He then proceeded to fiddle with the phone.
"What are you doing?" Wilson asked cautiously.
"Ahh.." Dan grunted with frustration, "I'm trying to get a hold of Michael… but he's not answering. So I'm just going to leave him an angry text if I can manage to type more then one word an hour on this small screen."
"Maybe your fingers are too big and the screen size is just fine…" Wilson offered.
"Don't be a smartass, James…" Dan seemed to be lost in a memory for a moment—a smile began to creep onto his face. "Heh…" he huffed. "I used to tell you that a lot when you were a kid." He now turned slightly to the left to face his son, "As a joke I mean… you were so smart…"
Wilson pressed his lips and tried not to smile.
"You would come up with these great stories to convince Danny he had to eat." Dan continued, "Your mother and I would try for days and he would just… scream or force himself sick…" He shook his head; "And Michael would get mad and get resentful because when Danny got into a fit we'd have to miss his baseball games…" He sighed a weary sigh only a father could manage. "But you…" he waved his finger in a very Wilsonian manner, "You'd stay calm, you would watch TV and be so quiet and when the time was just right… and I don't know how you knew… but you always did, that's when you would invite Danny to come sit by you."
Wilson bit his lip, "I remember that…" he nodded.
Dan shook his head and finally let out a full-hearted laugh, "You were so stinkin' cute…" he continued, "You'd tell him stories about what dinosaurs ate and insist with him that… that even 'Time-Lords' had to eat..." Dan paused. He looked warmly at his son and squeezed his shoulder. "You'd fix in thirty minutes what your mother and I couldn't for weeks… and I would look at your mother… and I would tell her; 'Becky… our son is a smartass…' and she would laugh and the color would come back to her face after weeks of worry over Danny and feeling guilty over Michael…"
Dan sighed, now looking at his phone again.
"Did Michael text you back?" Wilson peeked at the phone.
"Nah…" Dan said dismissively, "Michael's too busy being a smug bastard to call his father back…"
Wilson shrugged; "At least he's… not a fruit… or a nut…" he raised his eyebrows.
"Him and Caroline are getting a divorce you know…" Dan pointed out, "To treat a nice woman like Caroline the way he does… you have to be all kinds of nuts!"
They laughed for a good few seconds before Dan seemed to fall into thought again.
"You know…" He pondered, "When you got sick…" he paused and took a deep breath, "… It devastated me. I mean first Danny and then you…"
"Dad…" Wilson cut him off, "It's okay…"
"You always say that, you always dismiss yourself…" Dan continued, "It's not okay, James… I'm old… I'm as healthy as a horse… but my boys…"
"It's not your fault…"
"But it is…" Dan nodded, "Everything that happens to you is a personal blow to me. I didn't want my boys to get sick… I don't want my boy…"
"… To be a faggot?" Wilson raised an eyebrow.
Dan pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a moan, "You're mother's right. That's a horrible word." He looked back at Wilson; "I just wanted you to have it perfect! You're a doctor; you're more handsome then I ever was… I wanted you to get married and have beautiful smartass children!"
"I'm in my late 40's… I doubt it's in my cards anyway, dad…" Wilson pointed out.
"I know… I know…" Dan nodded, "I just… If I could take this whole year away from you and do it instead…" he looked at his son with pleading eyes, "I just wanted you to be happy… you know?"
"I know…" Wilson looked down and licked his lips nervously, "But… but I am happy now… dad." He looked up, "House has always been around…" he shrugged, "He keeps me…" he couldn't suppress his smile any longer, "… interested… and…"
"The son of a bitch makes you happy, don't he?"
Wilson nodded, "Very happy."
"And then he had the audacity to go on and order pie!" House was thoroughly buzzed from the hard liquor and was just finishing up telling Wilson's mom the tale of her son's conquer of "The-Big-One" 70-ounce steak.
Drink still in hand, Rebecca laughed, "He was always a good eater."
"Good cook too…" House noted, pouring himself and Mrs. Wilson another drink.
Just then Wilson and his father walked through the door.
"House…" Dan Wilson folded his arms and looked straight at him, "a word?"
House nodded and pushed the sofa's armrest to help him bounce back to his feet. He walked towards the older Wilson and stood right in front of him.
"Yeah?" He asked.
But no "words" came. Instead Dan Wilson delivered one swift punch straight to House's left cheek. House fell back to the couch and looked up at Dan with a "what-the-hell" kind of look.
"I like you!" Dan said firmly, "You be good to my son, you messed up fruitcake son of a bitch!" He pointed his finger at House.
House rubbed his jaw, "Will do…" he nodded.
Dan replied with his own firm nod before turning away and walking out of the room.
Wilson rushed to House's side and offered a hand, which House gladly took. He helped him up to his feet and inspected his cheek—nothing too bad.
House winced, "So we cool?" he growled.
Wilson sighed, "Yeah… we cool."
"We're gonna need to stop somewhere on the way home to get you some ice for that…" Wilson pointed out while driving.
"Wouldn't be necessary if the Wilson clan didn't have an overwhelming compulsion to punching me in the face."
"You would be surprised but that went really well!"
"Oh really?" House said with pretend excitement, "Well, for your face maybe…"
"We still need to tell your mother and Thomas…" Wilson teased.
"Send them a text." House reached for the radio and switched it on; he had enough talking tonight to last him for the next year.
As soon as the radio came on, Wilson gasped with happiness.
"Rainbow… rainbow… rainbow…"
"I'm changing the station." House said quickly.
"No!" Wilson reached for House's arm to stop him. "I love this song."
"I know…" House acknowledged, "That's why I'm changing it." But it was too late.
"To buy you a rainbow…" – "A rainbow!"
"To fit on your finnnnger…" Wilson pointed at House more theatrically then necessary.
"Kill me now." House growled.
"After I've gone and… bought you the rainbow…"
"I'll go out and I'll…. Buy you the mooooooon!"
Song used in final scene:
I'll buy you a rainbow by Russ Hamilton.