Days of Grace
Notes: Written for the hw_fest to prompt #13: AU, Season 2, Episode 19 (House Vs. God) - Wilson tells House that he has decided take a leave of absence and go to Europe with Grace.
Apparently, I'm unable to write short stories! Anyway, thanks go - as usual - to my dear friend Kristina for her invaluable comments and endless patience to brainstorm with me, and to Shenth for agreeing to beta this monster for me, and in record time, too! Without guys like you writers like me would never publish anything!
I'm sorry that the format is a bit screwed up. The emails are actually supposed to show up with a different font and format, but that isn't supported here. I tried to work with what I had and I hope it's still okay Alternatively, you could head over to my writer's journal and read the story in perfect format there: http://www.livejournal.com/community/not_gold/9092.html.
The letter lay on top of the stack of folders on his desk. He had just come back in from the terrace, trying to get into Wilson's office from there after having found the door suspiciously locked. The letter probably had been there before, but he just hadn't paid any attention to it. Cameron usually took care of his mail, so anything important would be brought to his attention. Yet it still lay there, unmoved and unopened, beckoning him to pick it up.
He sat down in his chair and looked at the envelope more closely. It had the PPTH logo in the corner and across it his name was scrawled in the bold, nearly illegible hand that he knew too well. With awakened interest, he picked it up and turned it around, inspecting the other side. There was nothing out of the ordinary to it.
"Oh Jimmy, what are you up to again..." he murmured to himself as he leaned across the desktop to reach for the letter opener that he hardly ever used. Hoping to himself that Wilson hadn't written the entire letter by hand, he slit across the top of the envelope and tossed the opener back on the table.
He pulled the sheet out and noted with relief that most of it was printed. He started reading.
"Dear House," A smile tugged on his lips at the formal address.
When you're reading this, I'll be on a plane. I know you think I have made a terrible mistake by getting involved with Grace and that I've been courting disaster. You're probably right on both accounts, and yet this is something that I need to do. I can't expect you to understand or approve of my decision, but I hope you'll at least respect it as something that I had to do. When I did what I did I took on a responsibility that I intend to fulfill. I won't be back until it's over.
I'm going to Florence with Grace. I just can't let her go like that on her own. I owe that to her, and to myself. I put in a request for a leave of absence with Cuddy and it was granted. Obviously I didn't tell her why exactly I needed it. If she asks you just tell her I didn't tell you before I left. That's the truth, isn't it?
I'm going to write you every day, keep you posted. I haven't abandoned you and I hope you will find it in yourself to forgive me when I return. I have every intention of picking up where we left off if you'll let me.
House stared at the letter for a long time, barely grasping what he had just read. Slowly, comprehension began to filter through the haze of confusion and he felt anger swell up inside of him. His fingers curled, crumbling the previously pristine sheet of paper in to a tight ball. With a roar, he tossed it across the room.
Mechanically, his hand reached into his pocket, taking out the bottle of Vicodin. He shook a pill into his palm, hesitated for a moment, then shook out another one. When he swallowed them down the thought occurred to him that the pills wouldn't dull this kind of pain.
The door to his office opened and Cameron stepped inside, casting him a puzzled look. "I thought I'd heard something," she said, looking around and spotting the crumbled piece of paper. "Are you all right?"
Forcing down his rage, House took a deep breath and nodded. "Of course I am."
"I see you've found the letter. I didn't open it since it seemed personal." She lingered, obviously hoping for some kind of explanation.
"Yes, I did indeed. Paternity lawsuits are so annoying," House replied testily, grabbing his cane as he swung himself out of his chair. He walked over to the ball of paper and stuffed it into his pocket. "Don't you have anything better to do?" he snapped at her. "Go check out the patient and see if it's lupus yet or something."
Cameron recoiled at his misdirected anger, nodded and made a hasty retreat.
House waited another moment, struggling to regain his composure. Then he left the office, hoping he wasn't going to run into Cuddy anytime soon, because he wasn't so sure if he'd be able to cover Wilson's ass just yet.
The day went by in a blur, his mood alternating between anger and disbelief. When he was pouring himself coffee, only half-heartedly listening to Foreman going on about the latest case, he thought about the cheek Wilson had to beat a retreat just like that. Fucking telling him they were okay, only to get into his Volvo, drive down to his little girlfriend's apartment and sweep her off to a trip to Italy.
As he was lining up at the cafeteria, performing the unfamiliar motion of reaching for his wallet as he paid for his steak and fries, he agonized over what could have gotten into Wilson to jeopardize everything for a dying cancer girl. Not only was he putting his job on the line, but more importantly, he was putting at risk everything that had been going on between them in the past six weeks or so, ever since he had put his foot across House's doorstep to move in with him. Everything that still could have happened. Didn't that mean anything?
When he was looking at the x-rays for the latest case, he kept picturing Wilson in the streets of Florence, holding hands with Grace, doing all the touristy things that House couldn't imagine doing himself and yet he envied them for it now. He felt the righteous fury boil up inside of him again as he thought about the missed opportunities that this implicated. Now he'd never be able to go with Wilson on a decadently spontaneous trip through Europe.
On the drive home he briefly debated options of revenge. Tell Cuddy everything about Wilson's breach of ethics, get his cheating ass fired, thrown out of the hospital, never to return. But that would harm him just as much, wouldn't it? He was miserable enough as it was, he didn't need to add to it by ridding himself of Wilson.
Following that, another option had crossed his raging mind. Perhaps he could catch a late night plane and go to Florence himself. Find a quiet inn somewhere, stalk the streets of the Italian tourist trap and see if he would find them wandering around.
What would he do if he saw them? Walk up to Wilson and laugh in his face, tell him that he could stay in good old Italy for all he cared because they were through? Congratulate Grace for snatching Wilson out of his claws and letting her know that she could have him now? Or, perish the thought, beg Wilson to reconsider and spend a romantic vacation with him instead?
When he finally sank onto the couch, mentally exhausted from a day of debating things he really shouldn't concern himself with, he did something really childish: he deleted all of Wilson's favorites from the TiVo. He found that so satisfying that he went around erasing every last trace of the other man from his apartment.
He cleared out the containers of frozen food, prepared ahead of time by Wilson and put in the freezer, neatly portioned so that House would have a nice dinner whenever he felt like having something other than peanut butter and jelly or canned soup. He felt a slight tinge of regret when the last bit of the magnificent pot roast Wilson had made for them disappeared in the trash can.
Then he went through the wardrobe and pulled out all the extra clothes that Wilson had left behind, probably expecting the occasional sleepover following extensive TV nights involving booze. He stuffed them all in a black plastic bag and tied the knot over them tightly, sealing away the faint scent that was still emanating from the clothes.
Going through his CD rack had been a more difficult task, because it seemed as if all of the records brought back a memory involving Wilson one way or the other, the two of them sitting on the couch in peaceful unity, eyes closed, listening to velvety Jazz tunes. Eventually, he ended up picking out three CDs of some cheesy musicals that definitely weren't his and which he had gone through great pains mocking Wilson for, and tossed them in another bag. After a walk through the bookshelf he added a couple of novels to the CDs, tossed magazines from the coffee table along with it and tied up the bag.
In the bathroom, he satisfied his need for closure by unscrewing the cap of the bottle of expensive shampoo that Wilson always used and that he had kept at House's place 'just in case', probably secretly hoping that House would discover it for himself. He poured the fragrant content into the sink and flushed it down with Wilson's home brand aftershave.
After that, the smell of Wilson in his bathroom was so overpowering that he stumbled backwards into his bedroom and dropped on the bed. His head was swimming with memories that definitely weren't welcome now. Hugging the bottle of whiskey he'd been gradually emptying on his cleaning spree, he closed his eyes as the images washed over him.
Exactly when they had made the transition from friendship to sex he wasn't so sure of. It might have been the way Wilson played around absent-mindedly with his fork against his mouth while he was reading the paper during breakfast, dipping it between his lips, licking across it, chewing slowly, the Adam's apple working under the tight collar as he swallowed.
Or maybe it had been the peaceful expression on Wilson's face when he was sleeping, completely unaware of House looming in the darkness, watching him. The endearing way his mouth was opened a bit, making just the slightest snoring sounds that would be pure gold for House to make fun of in the morning, claiming they had kept him up all night.
It could also have been the strange feeling of coming home that had increased the longer Wilson had stayed with him. The quick jump his heart had made in his chest when he had pushed the door to the apartment open, hearing the low murmur of the TV as Wilson had been watching some program, waiting for him with dinner.
Most likely though, it had all started that one time when House had tumbled into the bathroom in the morning, desperately in need to relieve himself from the morning pressure, and he had completely forgotten about Wilson staying with him. His sleepy mind hadn't processed the soft hissing of the shower until he already had been standing in the middle of the bathroom, dick in his hand.
Wilson had turned around in the shower, hands raised to his shampooed head, looking at him like a deer caught in headlights. The water had trickled down his smooth chest, decorating the thick curls between the legs like glittering pearls, running down the most glorious piece of meat he'd seen in a long time.
The thought had startled him the second it had popped into his head and yet he had felt his cock harden in his hand just a little more than the usual morning wood. Wilson had flushed crimson red and turned towards the wall quickly, not really improving the state of House's arousal as he was now looking at an equally glorious piece of ass.
Murmuring an apology, House had fled to his room where he had spent the next couple of minutes willing down his raging erection and reasoning some sense into his body's spontaneous reaction. When Wilson had finally emerged from the bathroom, there had been an uncomfortable tension between them that had lasted for the rest of the day.
Yeah, considering the whole picture that probably had been the exact reason why suddenly House had found himself thinking of nothing else but his best friend's cock for the rest of the day. Whether he had been looking at the unpleasant photo of an infection pinned to the case file, Chase chewing on his pencil, the plate of bland cafeteria ravioli slowly turning cold or the smooth shaft of his cane, it was the image of Wilson's cock that had dominated his thoughts the entire time.
By the time he had returned home, finding a still slightly embarrassed but otherwise composed Wilson on the couch, he had managed to lock those thoughts into the darkest trunks of his memory, together with the recollections of all the meaningless romps through the beds of various college roommates that had suddenly poked at his awareness again.
Yet, over the next few days the trunks had kept bursting opening, spilling suggestions of other interesting ways to spend their after-work hours into his brain at the most inopportune times, soon making it almost impossible for him to focus on work. That must have been the moment when he had decided that a new course of action was in order. Of course it had required some careful planning, but in the end the direct approach seemed to have been the most promising one.
And so it had happened that they had been sitting on the couch together, just chilling out for the weekend over some movie. In time, the movie had turned a little sexy and House had noticed the way Wilson had shifted on the couch, trying to find a more comfortable and less embarrassing position.
"You know," he had said casually, his eyes fixed on the TV screen. "There's this golden rule of roommateship."
"Oh, is there really," Wilson had replied, wary but also curious. "Does it involve giving one's roommate complete access to the fridge and all subsequent food storage? If that's the case, I'm already in the clear."
"No..." House had drawled, sizing Wilson up with a curious eye. "Actually, it dictates that roommates should get their rocks off with each other to get rid of the tension caused by living together on such confined space."
"Very funny, House," Wilson had replied boredly, his hand wandering down to his crotch involuntarily, pulling at the fabric of his pants to adjust himself.
"Oh no, I'm totally serious. As a matter of fact, I've been harboring thoughts of sucking you off for quite a while now."
"You're kidding," Wilson had exclaimed in disbelief, staring at him as if he had grown an extra head.
"Do I look like I am?" had been House's calm reply.
Abruptly, Wilson had gotten up from the couch and looked down at him with probing eyes. "House, if this is some kind of joke..."
"Am I wearing a red nose today, or why is it that why you keep asking me whether I'm trying to be funny?" Casually, he had pulled his legs off the table and moved to the edge of the couch, bringing his face inexorably closer to Wilson's groin.
"This is insane!"
"Maybe it is, but I can still see your cock professing interest."
With flushed cheeks, Wilson had turned around, bringing himself out of House's range. "We shouldn't be talking about this," he had stammered.
"Why not? Do you put up the same kind of fight every time one of your nurses offers you a blowjob?"
Hesitating for a second, Wilson had turned back to him, casting him a wavering look. "That's not the same thing!"
"Of course it's not. I bet I'm much better at it, because I know exactly what feels good."
House had seen the muscles of Wilson's throat working as he had swallowed nervously. Mumbling to himself, Wilson had turned on his heels and walked into the kitchen. A moment later, House had heard the water running while Wilson had started doing the dishes.
Reclining in his seat, House had listened to the clattering of the plates with satisfaction, both over the fact that he had frazzled Wilson like that and that he wouldn't be needing to do the dishes himself anymore later. After a while, the clattering had stopped and there had been an extensive moment of silence in which House had been secretly counting down the seconds until Wilson appeared on the door again, an exasperated expression on his face.
"Is this some kind of test, House? Are you trying to push the boundaries of our friendship again? See how far I'll go? What happens if I fail? Is there some webcam hidden somewhere and if I accept you'll upload it to YouTube and spread the link around in the hospital intranet and I'll never hear the end of it? Are you just trying to yank my chain?"
House had tried to keep the excitement out of his voice as he had asked in return, "Is there a chance that you'll actually accept?"
There had been a stunned silence. Then Wilson had said, "So you really are serious? How long has this been going on? Why do you even want to have sex with me?" He had hesitated. "You do realize I'm not gay, right?"
With a mocking click of his tongue, House had said, "So many questions, Jimmy. Why don't you just come over here and find out yourself?"
Wilson had shaken his head vigorously, raising his hand as if he had been trying to push the idea far away from him. "I... I really need to think about this." With that he had disappeared into the kitchen again and the metallic clang had told House that Wilson was now starting to rearrange the pots and pans as he had been threatening to do for a while now.
Sighing softly to himself, House had thought that he probably had botched that one and there was no chance in hell now that Wilson would agree on doing anything. In a way, he had thought, this had taken care of the problem. At least now he wouldn't have needed to waste his time thinking about this anymore.
But then Wilson had appeared in the door once more, wiping his hands on a kitchen towel. He had looked considerably calmer now. "Fine, let's do it then!" he had said, stunning House into speechlessness. "Let's do it right now. No time to let it stew or to reconsider. And we'll do it all the way. That way you'll have something to be embarrassed about in the morning too."
This time, it had been House who was staring at Wilson in disbelief. "Seriously?"
"Why don't you come over here and find out yourself?" Wilson had mimicked him, a nervous smile on his face.
This had been all the encouragement House had needed and he had lifted himself off the couch and walked across the room to Wilson who had taken an involuntary step backwards, pressing his back against the jamb of the kitchen door.
"And how do we start?" Wilson's voice hadn't been much more than a breathless whisper.
"I think it's the same for everyone," had been the reply and with that House had pressed himself against the other man's body, capturing his mouth in a heated kiss. It had taken Wilson a moment to recover from the shock of the sudden assault, but then he had melted into his embrace, returning the kiss with equal enthusiasm.
House felt his cock harden at the memory of those first precious moments when they had started exploring each other's mouths, slowly, languidly at first, but then with growing passion that had left them both panting and wanting more.
With a moan, House's hand wandered into his pants, past the rubber band of his briefs, where it found his throbbing hardness. He grabbed it tightly as he recalled the events that had taken place in this very bed only a couple of weeks ago. As he squeezed his shaft, he remembered the way Wilson's body had pressed into his own, the way his fist had been clasped around his cock, pretty much as it was now, while he had been pushed onto the mattress under the weight of his best friend.
He still remembered the way Wilson's thrusts had shaken him to the core, had left him begging for more, the tantalizing friction of Wilson's cock sliding in and out of him enough to drive him crazy with lust.
He also remembered the stunned little "Ah..." that had escaped the other man's mouth as he had tensed above him, his body suspended in those sweet seconds before the waves of release crashed above his head, and then the look of utter bliss when it had finally happened and Wilson had sagged against his chest in a boneless heap.
Wilson had still been hard, buried deep inside of him, when his hand had moved down to House's cock, brushed away the hand and taken the erection into his own fist, stroking it to a shuddering orgasm in a matter of seconds. House could still recall the look of greedy pleasure that had hushed across Wilson's features when House's muscles had clenched around him in the throes of his peak, squeezing the last bit of come out of them both.
House bit back a gasp when the memory brought him another climax and he felt it wet against his stomach. Absent-mindedly, he wiped his hand against his shirt, still lost in his thoughts. They had lain in each other's arms afterwards, entangled in the sheets, only slowly regaining their breaths. After a lingering kiss, Wilson had murmured, "Wow... I could go for more of that."
With a roar, House hurled the empty bottle across the room, waiting for the satisfying shatter of glass. It never came. When he lifted his head to inspect the reason for this, he saw that the bottle's impact had been cushioned by the bag of Wilson's clothes. Groaning, House let his head fall back on the pillows. Even in his absence Wilson was keeping his place clean!
The next morning, House ran late for work. As he limped into his office, hung over and miserable, Cuddy already was waiting for him. "Oh please," House groaned, sitting down on his chair carefully, "Can the Spanish Inquisition wait until after lunch?"
Crossing her arms in front of her chest, Cuddy gave him a probing look. "Wow, you're saying please. You really must be feeling terrible. Long night?"
"Yup, what can I say? Viewing internet porn on dial-up can be such a drag."
Ignoring his quip, she said, "I need you to tell me what Wilson is up to."
House put on an innocent face. "What, isn't he in his office yet?"
Cuddy scowled. "Don't play dumb with me, House. You're always the first one to know all the rumors. Granted, usually it's because you're the one who's started them in the first place, but you also seem to have rather effective access to the latest scoop."
With a sigh, House leaned back in his chair. "Well, you're out of luck here, I'm afraid. I know as much as you do. He hasn't clued me in on his idea of this little sabbatical before he decided to skip town. So, I have no idea."
Picking up a paperweight from his desk, Cuddy said casually, "So, he's left town, you say?"
House kicked his own ass inwardly while he struggled to mask his reaction from Cuddy who was looking at him inquisitively. "Really, Cuddy," he said in a markedly bored tone. "It's not like it takes a genius to figure out that he isn't at home. I'm sure you've tried calling his place, too."
Shit, where was his place now anyway? Wilson most definitely hadn't filed for a formal change of address to cancer chick's place. Goddammit, he really shouldn't be allowed human interaction when he was hung-over.
"No, I haven't," Cuddy said slowly, her eyes still intent on his face. "I figured since last thing I knew was that he'd moved in with you, you'd be able to tell me anything I need to know."
"Well, he hasn't and I don't know. He's moved out, in case you don't know. And no, I don't have his new number yet. He's just moved very recently. Maybe this is what he needed the time out for."
He had managed to bring Cuddy out of balance. It wouldn't take much to make her topple over, so he got up, took her by the arm and led her towards the door. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I really need to start working on my cases. I'm running a little late today and I don't want my boss to find out. Every time she gets pissed off with me it decreases my chances with her to get laid"
House pushed her out of the door and stepped on the brake at the bottom to lock it. He waved at Cuddy who was huffing indignantly before he drew the blinds.
Back at his desk, he started his computer and logged in. He checked his email listlessly, dismissing most messages as not so urgent. Checking the 'Unknown Senders' folder revealed the usual amount of spam which he moved into the trashcan. His eyes narrowed when one particular message caught his attention. The subject of the message was "just arrived". His heart skipped a beat when he saw the reply-to address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a moment, his finger hovered above the delete key. It seemed fitting to just ignore any of Wilson's attempts to keep in touch. It was him after all who had decided to bail out, so he should be the one suffering the consequences. But then he hesitated, thinking that Wilson would never know he'd read the message and he could still suffer while House managed to satisfy his curiosity.
Pleased with this reasoning, House opened the email.
Subject: just arrived
I know you're probably still angry with me. Since you're reading this now I guess you got curious enough to not delete this message right away. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone.
Even though you probably won't feel like talking to me I thought I'd still let you know that we've arrived. The flight was a little delayed, so we arrived at our hotel in the early afternoon. It's a nice hotel close to the center called La Gioconda. Nothing out of the ordinary, but clean and functional.
We were pretty tired from the trip, so we didn't do much for the rest of the afternoon other than getting settled and taking a quick walk across the Piazza. Grace is sleeping now and I'm logged in on my laptop via the hotel's wireless. I didn't have an adapter for the plug at first, but the concierge was nice enough to help me out. Guess that's what you get for not planning ahead.
The flight was long and we had to stop over twice (once in Atlanta and once in Milan). If you're ever thinking about going to Italy, don't use Alitalia. Seriously. This was the most chaotic flight I've ever been on. First they messed up my order for kosher food. Then when I called the flight assistant to complain, nobody arrived for 45 minutes! I ended up chewing on tiny bread rolls, an orange and some strange Mediterranean salad. No idea what the hell that was. I *hope* it was seafood.
The "flight entertainment" was in Italian most of the time, some weird movie I had never heard of. It did have subtitles, but because the projector was messed up it was impossible to read. When I tried to nap, the stewardesses kept bumping into my leg with their juice carts and they woke me twice to see if I really had buckled up. There was some turbulence at some point and several people got sick. All in all not an experience I aim to repeat anytime soon.
It's getting late now and I can hear the people on the street below. Maybe I'll go take a walk again later. I'm not really tired yet, despite the flight. Guess it must be the jetlag.
Hey, did you know that Florence and Philadelphia are sister cities? You'd really think the fucking flight connections would be better there. Why the fuck are they going via Atlanta anyway? Oops, did that trigger the filters? I hope not. Then again... I'm pretty sure you've disabled yours, considering how you love getting all the those porn spam messages. Well, at least now you've got a real person writing dirty words to you.
I hope you're doing okay over there. I would call, but I haven't figured out the "istruzioni" of the phone yet and my cell doesn't work here. Besides, I have a hunch that you wouldn't want to talk to me anyway. Oh, and then there's this problem with the time shift, too. So, four good reasons not to call! Hope email will do.
Talk to you tomorrow!
House stared at the computer screen for a while. Tiny black pixels on luminescent white... traveled far across the Atlantic to mock him. The longer he stared, the angrier he got. Yes, that was just like Jimmy. Eloping with his little girlfriend and then sending him a conversational email about it as if nothing had happened! What did he expect him to do now? Read the amazing adventures of little Jimmy in Pizzaland and write back a cheerful message full of encouragement? Not by a long shot.
His finger struck down on the delete key with determination. A second later he was clicking the trashcan and moved the email over to the private folder. Why destroy evidence when it could come in handy one day? He'd make sure Wilson wouldn't forget this for a long, long time.
The next morning, House found another email by Wilson in his inbox. Almost grudgingly, he hit the enter key to open the message.
Subject: got my email?
I said I'd email every day, so here it is, even though you haven't replied to my last message yet. But then again, I didn't really expect you to. I just hope you're reading this. It somehow gives me a strange feeling of comfort, to know that we're still somewhat connected, even if it seems to be a single-sided thing.
Let's see. We went on our first exploratory walk today. Discovering the historic center and all. I won't bore you with details since I know you're not into this sort of stuff. We looked at the David in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Not the real one, as I was told, but just a copy marking the spot where it originally stood. As I was looking at the statue I immediately had to think of a bunch of snarky comments you would have made about it. One in particular was that for a guy 17 feet tall his cock was pretty pathetic!
What else... mostly touristy stuff. Been to the Santa Maria del Fiore, aka. "Il Duomo", and looked at the frescos inside. Apparently lots of famous artists have contributed to it. Grace knew them all and was telling me about them ad nauseam. I stopped listening at some point. I would have liked to walk up the dome to enjoy the view, but Grace wasn't feeling so well, so we returned to the hotel.
Looks like we'll be checking out the Ponte Vecchio tomorrow. I'm going to buy Cuddy some really cheesy souvenir there, just to get a kick out of her displaying it in her office even though she'll probably hate it.
Guess I should end it here now. Grace just came out of the bathroom and I don't want her to ask me what I'm typing all the time. You can call me a coward, but I just like to think that what is between you and me is just for us and I don't want to discuss this with her. Feel free to disagree.
Going to bed now. Long day. Talk to you soon!
It was another mail that went answered, only be followed by three the next morning.
Okay, I said I understand if you're still mad at me and don't want to talk to me, but it's been days now and I think you've had enough time to steam it off. There are things I want to talk to you about, things that might help you understand a bit better why I've decided to do this. But I can't write about them like that... not when I don't know whether you're getting this at all.
So please, get your head out of your ass already and mail me back!
The next message had been sent a couple of hours after the first one.
Fuck. Cock. Ass.
House stared at the mail for a minute, blinking a couple of times in confusion before opening the next one which had been sent in immediate succession to this one.
Subject: sorry about that
It has occurred to me that I've been using bad language in all of my mails, so I'm testing your filters. Let me know if this is the first message you're getting.
I'll stop now. Sorry about that.
P.S.: Please write back...
Despite himself, House had to laugh.
He spent the rest of the day hovering around his computer, debating what to do now. Part of him wanted to continue ignoring Wilson, but he had to admit that his curiosity had been piqued with Wilson's comment that he had something to talk about. Of course this could just be a trick to manipulate him into answering. Wilson was good at that. But on the other hand he might just be getting his answers finally.
After lunch break where they had fittingly served spaghetti, House sat down in front of his computer again and booted his mail program. His finger hesitated for just another moment before he hit the reply-button.
Subject: Re: sorry about that
Okay, you can stop spamming me now, thank you. I've received all your messages just fine. I just didn't want to talk to you. Thanks for respecting that, btw. You'd think it'd be easier to avoid annoying conversations with exes in the digital age.
Anyway, you said there was something you wanted to talk about. So shoot. I'm really dying to know what you want to tell me, because I will admit it was a bit weird to find out that you've eloped to Europe with your cancer chick literally hours after hopping out of my bed. Maybe I should have guessed something. I've always maintained guilt-ridden sex was the best and you, Jimmy, were spectacular that night.
Oh, and please spare me all those details of your romantic trip through ancient Italy. My doctor has told me to cut down on the sugar.
House sent the message off and spent the rest of the day checking back periodically to see if Wilson had replied yet. Now that he had revealed himself he expected it to pay off. The answer arrived in the late afternoon when he usually would have gone home, but the patient's most recent results had demanded for the entire team to stay in and redo the tests.
When he saw the flagged mail appear in his private folder, he felt his heart bounce in excitement once as he reached for his mouse. The message popped up on his screen.
Subject: it's good to hear from you
I'm glad you've finally decided to write me back. I've been missing you, you know...
I could introduce my mail now with telling you about our trip to the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi, but per your request I won't. Instead, let me get right down to what you're undoubtedly are dying to hear. Or read, whatever.
I know that my sudden departure must have left you feeling angry and confused. I completely understand that. There really are no excuses for what I did, other than that I had no choice. I knew you were mad at me for that thing with Grace. I knew what pissed you off the most about it was that I did this all behind your back and you couldn't tell. I'm sorry for that and this is why I'm trying to be as open as possible now.
You acted as if I had wandered from your bed straight into Grace's. That's not true at all. When did I move in with you? Six weeks ago or so? You think I didn't know Grace already by then? No, before you're hemorrhaging now, it wasn't physical then. She's been my patient for a while then and I felt responsible for her.
This thing between us basically interrupted whatever had been going on between Grace and me and it was a most welcome interruption. You weren't the only one who'd been thinking about that before. It's almost ironic that just two weeks or so after we, you know what, this "Grace thing" happened. We've talked about it, so no need to repeat it all over again. But what was I to do then? I was responsible for her and she needed me.
That is the very reason why I am here now. Grace may be doing better temporarily, but we both know that it won't last very long. I can't just let her go on this trip alone, leave her to die all alone in a foreign country. I just have to be there and I hope you understand that. I told her I'd be there for her and I intent to keep my promise.
Which now brings me to the subject of us. You talk about me as you "ex" already when we didn't even have the chance yet to let this thing take off? A little premature, don't you think? Sure, for the first two weeks it's mostly been sex, fantastic sex, and it definitely felt like more. But how much more? We both need to figure that out.
I know I'm still interested. As a matter of fact, I find myself crave for you as I type this. If you feel the same way, we can explore it together as soon as I return. Until then I think we should use the time to look into ourselves, see what we really want. I know I need to come to terms with this - what did you call it? - functional vampirism. You're probably right. I have a serious fetish for the sick and dying, but I aim to tackle this once and for all here. I'll indulge in it to the fullest while I'm here, I won't hold back, and then hopefully I will be able to let go of it completely.
You should do the same. Are you ready yet for a relationship? Is it really me you want or am I just a cheap alternative to your hookers? I want you to explore yourself. I want you to go on dates. Meet people. Try out others. Get to know them, fuck them, whatever you want. I will never hold you responsible for anything you did while I was in Florence. This is your free pass to sow your wild oats, so to speak. And after that, it'll be just you and me.
See it as... days of grace, if you want (please excuse my terrible pun). See it as the final period before we both get tied down. See if this is what you really want. And if you do, take me back when I return.
Waiting for your answer.
House finished reading the mail. Then he closed the program and shut down the computer. He grabbed his cane, shouldered his backpack, popped a Vicodin and left his office. He ignored Cuddy on his way to the elevator, punched the button for ground floor with the rubber end of his cane and rode it all the way down. He hobbled across the lounge, out of the doors, across the parking lot to his motorcycle.
On his way back home, he ignored two stop signs and overtook a van irresponsibly. He parked his bike in front of his flat, took out his keys and let himself into the apartment. The door closed behind him with a reassuring bang as he kicked it shut with his heel. He leaned against it and let out his breath as if he had been holding it the entire time. He had made it back into the apartment without losing it. This was very good.
He woke up hours later lying halfway on the couch, an empty bottle of bourbon in his hand and a handful of Vicodin scattered across his chest. The room was spinning when he sat up, making him feel nauseated almost instantly. He barely didn't make it to the bathroom in time before expelling a bitter tasting mix of pills, bourbon and bile into the toilet bowl.
Feeling only slightly sobered, he dragged himself into his bedroom where he collapsed on the bed. He desperately wished for sleep, but it wouldn't come. Instead his mind kept replaying Wilson's email word by word. Meet people... try out others... get to know them... fuck them... Well, fuck you, James Wilson!
Once more he felt like destroying something, but there wasn't really anything left in the apartment belonging to Wilson that he could get rid of. His glance fell on the tied up bags of Wilson's clothes still piling up on the floor. Feeling too sick to get up for it, House fished for it with his spare cane that he kept next to the bed.
He clumsily tore open the bag and a load of Wilson's clothes spilled onto the bed and all over him. He picked up a light blue shirt that lay across his chest and suddenly he couldn't remember anymore why he had done this in the first place.
Feeling the soft fabric of the shirt between his fingers, he felt himself invaded by a torrent of memories. Memories of when he had last seen Wilson wear this... Wilson, on his back on this bed, tie loosened and thrown across his shoulder, his cheeks flushed and lips glistening from the incessant kissing.
Their kissing had been angry, almost like a battle and they hadn't talked at all ever since Wilson had entered the apartment, thrown his briefcase to the side and seized House by the t-shirt. House had heard Wilson let himself in with the key that he still had even though he had moved out two weeks ago. He had raised himself off the couch slowly when he had heard the sounds, expecting a guilt-ridden Wilson to come in and try to explain himself.
Instead, House had found himself being pushed into the bookshelf and kissed with abandon. And then there had been a wordless struggle for dominance, each man trying to exert his command over the other one until House had been the victorious one, kneeling over Wilson who had been too worn out and too horny to resist any further.
Looking down on the other man, lying there in front of him like his prize, House had felt a sudden feeling of possessiveness and he had grabbed Wilson's shirt and ripped it open with one violent tug. Wilson had shouted out in surprise, but House had silenced his protest with a ravaging kiss.
With a sigh, House turned the mismatched button of the shirt between his fingers. They had found all but one button afterwards, forcing Wilson to sew a different one back on. He pulled the shirt up and buried his face in it, inhaling the fragrant that was so unmistakably Wilson's.
He had smelled just like that when House had wandered down his body, lapping and licking at every inch of Wilson's exposed skin as if to wipe out the last trace of someone else's touch. Wilson had arched his back, pressed his head into the pillow and bit his fist while House had worked his way down, past the waistband until he had found Wilson's throbbing cock nestled in the folds of his boxer shorts.
He had swallowed Wilson's length greedily, sucking in the swollen flesh, the musky tang and strangled gasps, working on it mercilessly until Wilson had cried out at the peak of his release, clutching House's head in place while he came with an uncontrollable shudder. Afterwards, House had rested his head against Wilson's stomach, still tensing and relaxing from the aftermath of his climax, and he had felt light-headed and satisfied, knowing that he had marked his territory once and for all.
Groaning, House turned in the pile of clothes, pressing his aching erection into the mattress as his fingers curled into the soft layers of cloth. The thought of Wilson experiencing the same thing at this very moment with Grace was driving him insane and he didn't know how he'd ever find his peace of mind again. Luckily though, the mix of alcohol and narcotics was finally doing its job and he drifted into a restless sleep.
Surprisingly, he made it into the office on time the next day. As a matter of fact, he arrived well before everyone else and had his computer turned on even before the coffee machine. He had been far too upset to find a good night's sleep and his dreams had been haunted by images of Wilson in a passionate embrace with the cancer chick. It had made his stomach churn and had caused him to wake up with a racing heart, drenched in sweat.
Now he was sitting on his desk, filled with all the righteous rage and bitter bile that he had accumulated ever since he had read Wilson's proposal and he was ready to pen a fitting reply.
Subject: Re: it's good to hear from you
Well, I am SO glad that you've finally managed to find the one thing that'll give you ultimate sexual satisfaction. God knows you've been hopping through enough beds for that. This must seem like the main prize to you. Not only is she dying of cancer, ensuring that you'll be needed intensively in the not so distant future, but to top it off she's also letting you into her panties!
Is it everything you've ever dreamt of? The slightly chemical smell of her drug-perfumed breath when you lean in to slide into her, making sure to not put your entire weight on her frail, waning body. Does she tell you that she needs to feel you inside of her to know that she's still alive? I bet it turns you on just reading this now, doesn't it?
You've really got some serious issues there, buddy, and I dread the thought of how exactly you intend to indulge in that misguided fetish of yours. I mean, I know the way you like to go crazy in bed and I wonder if her fragile little body will hold the assault. Let's hope it really is the cancer that's killing her in the end.
That said, I really don't think you're in the position to suggest anything concerning my sex life. I bet you're feeling all gracious, generously allowing me to stray while you're over in good old Europe literally banging the life out of your cancer chick. Well, I've got news for you. I don't need your permission to fuck whoever I want. I've had tons of sex before we fucked and I intend to go on doing so.
Sure, I wouldn't have minded continuing with our little trysts; that was definitely faster and more efficient than picking up a random trick at a bar, but since you've taken yourself out of the picture I guess I have to do that again. Since you were so kind to leave one of your credit cards behind I'll just consider myself invited. Good thing the escort service I use accepts American Express.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have patients to attend to that actually have a chance of survival. Not your type, I know.
With an immense feeling of satisfaction, House sent the mail off, closed the program and didn't give the issue any further thought for the rest of the day. He absolutely did not go through a list of people in his mind that he would have wanted to date at some point if he wasn't going to get tied down. He didn't follow a couple of nurses with his eyes as they walked down the corridor, wondering if Wilson already had fucked them and whether he should give it a try, too. And he most definitely didn't look at his fellows any differently than before. To him, the thing was off the table. Completely.
When Wilson's reply arrived in the early afternoon, House only happened to catch it right then because he had just checked his mailbox for the fiftieth time. It had been a slow day after all.
Subject: Re: Re: it's good to hear from you
I had expected that you'd react in such a way and I accept it, because I know it is me who's ultimately in the wrong. I also expected your cutting words and caustic snark, although I will admit they hit home pretty effectively. Congratulations.
So you want to do the guilt thing and load all that on top of me? Sure, go ahead. I'm a Jew, I do guilt well. But you won't manage to make me feel guilty for giving Grace what she needs. We both know she's dying and I'll be there for her and make her happy during her final days. Make from it what you want.
Either way, it doesn't really matter whether you accept my proposal or not, because this is what I'll be doing one way or the other. If I end up losing you because of it I'll probably regret this for the rest of my life, but I would make the same choices all over again if given a second chance. Right now, Grace needs me more than you need me or I need you. We both have to accept that.
Anyway, I hope you'll make use of the time you've been given, to give our relationship a chance. If you don't, then you'll just remember me and Grace together every time you look at me until you won't be able to stand it anymore. I've seen this look on other people's faces often enough to know how it usually ends. I don't want to see that on yours...
House stared at the mail for a long time, fluctuating between anger, pity and remorse. Part of him was angry with Wilson and his obvious attempt to manipulate him, but an even greater part was angry with himself for letting it work.
Crazy as it may seem, he understood Wilson's motivation, the feeling of responsibility, and even though he thought Wilson was an idiot for it House knew why he just couldn't walk away. It upset him that Wilson once more put his idea of loyalty above everything else, even above what he wanted for himself. He was willing to sacrifice them both for it.
Even more frustrating was the thought that no matter what he did, he'd walk out of this with a limp. A figurative one in this case. He knew Wilson was right. If he ignored the issue altogether it would come back to haunt them sooner or later. Even now the thought of Wilson in passionate embrace with Grace was driving him crazy. So if he didn't manage to distract himself from the issue, trouble was bound to be ahead.
He was still brooding over the message when Cuddy stuck her head into the office and interrupted his train of thought.
"I still need those papers signed before the end of the day, House," she said, already turning to leave again. He watched the sway of her hips as she turned around and a sudden idea struck him.
"Hey, what are you doing tonight?" he blurted out before he could stop himself.
Cuddy froze, then slowly turned and gave him a sizing look. "Why are you asking me this, House?
House lifted his hands in defense. "Hey, can't a guy try some casual conversation with his boss?"
"Well I don't know. Last time I told you I was meeting some girls from my sports club for a movie night you ended up sending us male strippers non-stop, so I'm a little cautious about just how much information is safe with you."
House chuckled at the memory of this. He had forced the entire group of women to relocate to an undisclosed location since the strippers had just kept ringing at the door, trying to stage fake arrests and ripping their clothes off.
When he saw Cuddy's eyes narrow to slits, he quickly forced the smile off his face and said, "Oh come on, Lisa, that was just a one time thing. The strippers at least. I thought you girls had a lot of fun with Dr. Doodles, the clown doctor." When her frown intensified, he quickly added, "Seriously, I was just asking since... well, it's a Friday and we both have nothing better to... So, I thought maybe you want to go out?"
The wary expression didn't leave her face. "How do you know I've got nothing better to do on a Friday night?"
House scoffed. "I know you've signed up for on-call duty on Saturday. That doesn't suggest a hot date waiting to whisk you away for a weekend getaway including hot baths, late night walks on the beach and romantic dinners by the fireplace."
Cuddy crossed her arms in front of her chest. "You're checking out my roster?"
"Well, duh. I need to know when you're not in so I know when I can bring my wheelbarrow to steal office supplies."
A smile flickered across her face.
"You see, with Wilson being gone for a week already I'm in serious need for a change of scene. It has occurred to me that we both have never actually been on a date before, so I thought maybe it's time we change that. What do you say? A nice movie, then dinner somewhere, talk about the old days... hm?"
Cuddy bit her lip.
"It's just a dinner. I'm not asking you to marry me, or anything."
That made her laugh and it seemed to drain the tension out of the situation. She relaxed and nodded. "Oh, fine, why not. But I'm warning you, House." She leaned over his desk, granting him a spectacular view down her cleavage. "If you drag me off to some seedy porn theater or strip club and call that a date I'll make sure you'll only get patients with exploding diarrhea and projectile vomiting during your extra-long clinic duty next week!"
Tearing his eyes away from her plunging neckline, he forced a carefree smile on. "Excellent. I'll pick you up at seven?"
"Seven sounds good." She walked back to the door slowly, no doubt putting emphasis on her rolling hips now that she knew she had House's attention. "But I'll drive. My tight-fitting skirts don't go well with motorcycles."
House swallowed thickly. "I figured as much."
The evening with Cuddy had been surprisingly nice. They had gone to a film noir double feature together where House had spent most of the time imagining Wilson's comments, given his affinity for the classics. He had enjoyed Cuddy's thoughtful comments anyhow and managed to counter them with something equally intelligent most of the time when he hadn't been distracted by the curve of her breasts hiding beneath that enticing v-line which he could have sworn had been even more buxom than usual.
Afterwards, they had gone to a little Italian restaurant that Cuddy had suggested and House had barely been able to hide his displeasure with that particular choice. Out of protest, he had ordered steak then and tried to eat it as American as he could, earning himself skeptical looks from several people.
When Cuddy had brushed her brown locks back, exposing a shimmering patch of creamy skin, House had felt a tug in his stomach for the first time and for a brief moment he had wondered if perhaps Wilson's idea hadn't been so bad after all. But soon he had realized that the gesture merely reminded him of the way Wilson liked to rub the back of his neck every time he didn't know what to say and his excitement had quickly drained away.
They had talked of utterly mundane things. Since they usually weren't talking like that, it had been interesting to learn about her passion for gardening and her favorite kind of music, but all in all it had seemed more like a chat among colleagues, rather than a date.
On the drive back to her house, he had tried to think of ways to remedy that, ways that would finally turn this into a date instead of just dinner and a movie. And the only way he had been able to think of was lean in when she had started thanking him for the pleasant evening and cover her mouth with his.
So here he was, his lips pressed against Cuddy's in an almost chaste way, feeling like a High School boy giving his first clumsy kiss. Inwardly chiding himself for starting this all wrong, he reached up and gently cupped Cuddy's face with one hand, tilting her head a little to the side so he could match that motion and deepen the kiss.
He heard her sigh softly and relax a little into his touch which he considered a small victory. He probed with his tongue, gently beckoning to be let inside. When Cuddy opened her mouth, he slipped past her lush lips, brushing across the perfect rows of her teeth.
The thought struck him that he really should get an appointment with his dentist. It was time for a check-up again. He usually didn't like seeing dentists since that was one aspect of the medical trade he wasn't completely and 100% familiar with and that was so strange. But check-ups were important if you wanted to maintain...
Cuddy's sigh yanked him back into reality. Holy shit, he was kissing Cuddy and wondering about his next dentist appointment at the same time! That definitely wasn't good. To counteract that, he deepened the kiss with insistence, pushing his tongue in deeper, scooping through the warm cavity of her mouth.
His mouth moved across her lips and he couldn't help but think that kissing someone wearing lipstick was a bit weird because it somehow always ended up being messy. She tasted nice and feminine and so very different from Wilson who often had a slightly sweet taste to him from the gumdrops he was always sucking on when reading files. Come to think of it, that different taste probably was just the oregano that had been on her shellfish...
God, now he was thinking of Wilson's gumdrops and shellfish!
Ambitiously, he reached into her hair and pulled her deeper into the kiss. He caught a whiff of her shampoo and briefly wondered if she had changed it recently, because last time he had noticed that it had been a little sweeter and not so heavy on the coconut oil...
He felt the slightest bit of resistance and pulled back immediately. As he looked into her face he noted passively that neither of their breaths had really quickened.
"House..." Cuddy began softly, increasing the pressure of her hand against his shoulder to push him further away.
He gladly followed her request and sat back in the car seat. "I know. It didn't feel right, eh?" He cast her a sidelong glance and saw her nod. With a sigh, he rubbed across his face, feeling tired all of a sudden. He heard her open the door and get out of the car.
Without looking at her he could tell that Cuddy was feeling just as awkward as he did. He followed her outside. "Can we just pretend it never happened?" He said as they walked towards her front door. "Let's just blame it on the Italian wine."
The leaves of the birch tree partly obscuring the street light above cast a freckled shadow on her pretty face as she smiled and nodded. "That sounds good. Italy does the craziest things to you." If she noticed the way he tensed up at her comment she must have ignored it, because she just leaned and breathed an amicable kiss on his cheek. "Thanks for the nice evening, House."
"Hey, my pleasure." He gave Cuddy's chest a pointed look and added, "I'd kiss the two of you goodnight as well, but I don't think your host would appreciate it." He was rewarded with a laugh.
House stared at the door for a while after Cuddy had disappeared through it. Then he walked towards his motorcycle slowly, wondering why he felt like a kid who'd just learned that school had been cancelled. If he could, he probably would have skipped and jumped. Instead, he twirled his cane thoughtfully before snapping it into the holder on his bike.
He took the long way home, letting the cool night wind soothe his troubled mind.
He felt slightly silly the next day as he limped out of elevator in the early afternoon, walking past the hospital staff who cast him strange looks, no doubt wondering what must have gotten into him to show up on a Saturday without an acute case at hand. The feeling of foolishness intensified when he ran into Cameron in the office who was busy with some weekend-unrelated task.
"Don't you ever go home?" he said to her in a mix of annoyance and grudging acknowledgement.
Cameron blushed while she shouldered her backpack, getting ready to leave. "There's this one letter I had meant to answer yesterday and I had forgotten. I remembered it last night. I figured before I spend the rest of the weekend agonizing over it I might as well come in quick and get it over with." She gave him an insecure smile. "I guess you find that stupid, letting this ruin my weekend."
He could relate to this a lot more than she probably expected. He had spent a good portion of this Saturday trying to reason himself out of going in just to email until he had given up. Still he said, "Of course. I'm just here because I've left my sauna club membership card somewhere on my desk. A weekend isn't complete without a relaxing Thai massage."
With satisfaction, House watched Cameron's blush deepen as she mumbled "Well, I hope you find it," and fled from the office. He plopped into his chair and booted his computer. As expected, Wilson hadn't replied yet. He clicked "compose" and waited for a blank message to pop up.
Subject: date with Cuddy
It might interest you that I happened to go on a date with Cuddy yesterday. Before you get all smug, it had nothing to do with your "indecent proposal", thank you. Cuddy had been short of one date unexpectedly and begged me to go with her so her movie tickets wouldn't go to waste. Being the gentleman that I am, I accepted. You would have liked the movies. Scarlet Street and Lady of Shanghai.
The date was nice. We had dinner afterwards. Nothing noteworthy happened, really. It was more like an after work thing between colleagues. Guess that was to be expected. I mean, it's Cuddy! She was quite a looker that evening, but it just didn't click.
Although I will admit that I tried to grope her a bit before I dropped her off. I figured it wouldn't hurt trying. Worst case she'd kick me in the nads (which she didn't btw). But it had about the same appeal as kissing your mother (not *yours*, moron. Yours kinda hot actually...). I mean, it was nice and I'll probably never get this close to her breasts again, but... nope. That one was a dud.
Guess your theory doesn't quite work out. Why should I try to date people when I'm just not interested? This "thing" between us, as you keep calling it, just happened. I could have done without it and I don't see any benefit in trying to force something like that to happen again with someone else. Food for thoughts.
Gotta go now. Patient emergency.
House hit "Send" and got up to go to grab a coffee. He told himself that it was unrealistic to expect a reply right away, but there was no harm in waiting at least a bit. At the coffee machine he was reminded of the weekend as nobody had thought of making coffee. With a twinge of annoyance, he took the elevator to the cafeteria and got his coffee there instead.
When he limped back into the office, he saw the "Incoming Mail" announcement blinking on the screen. He opened the message.
Subject: Re: date with Cuddy
I didn't think you'd mail on a weekend, but I thought I give it a try while Grace is taking her evening swim in the hotel pool. And there you are! Talk about good timing.
I'm glad you decided to give it a try at least. You don't have to expect the results to be amazing right away. You haven't been on a date since... I don't even know when you went on your last real date - Cameron excluded, of course. So it's natural to be a little insecure about these things. It'll come in time, don't worry.
I still think you should keep on trying. Don't give up just yet. And don't stress yourself with rushing through a lot of dates at once. I don't have to sleep with Grace every night either. You'll thank me for it later, believe me. I know what it feels like to be with someone and keep wondering how it'd be to be with someone else. I really don't want this to happen between us.
Since we're on the subject of giving updates on each other's lives. I took Grace to the theater last night. She really enjoyed it. La Traviata. Classic. It never fails to work on chicks. She was reduced to a crying heap afterwards and I practically had to carry her back to the hotel.
Afterwards, she was really clingy, if you know what I mean. Comfort sex is always the best, especially when the girl is distraught over something really pointless like some sad movie or opera. Then you can shine like a hero without actually having to do anything, other than making them come. I've had the best sex with Julie after we got home from watching Moulin Rouge. Grace is a little different there, of course. She's always somewhat sad and subdued, so it's a real challenge to get her out of that mood.
Anyway, enough of that. Do you ever think of me when you go to bed? I know I do. Remember that one time on the couch when I went down on you for the first time? I often think about that... You're the first guy I ever did that with and I don't think I ever want to experience this with anyone else. It was special, don't you think?
Sometimes I think Grace wants me to go down on her, the way she presses her thighs against my side when she's in the mood. But I pretend to not notice. It's not that I mind usually, but... it's just too close now. If I can't be with you right now I want to at least be able to close my eyes and dwell on the memories.
Okay, I've really managed to turn myself on now, haha. Gotta go.
House's jaw was hurting by the time he had finished reading the mail, so hard had he been clenching it. He wasn't that delusional to think that Wilson and Grace weren't having sex still, but reading it like this was a completely different thing. It made his stomach twist.
Suddenly he felt like such an idiot for pining after Wilson like that, holding himself back on the account of a misguided sense of fidelity that was so obviously not shared. And to make matters worse, Wilson had to refer to such a moment of intimacy they had shared, as if to mock it and sully the memory of it.
It had been the fifth time or so when they had been together like that. It had started out the usual way with them making out on the couch, the TV providing a soundtrack in background that proved that they hadn't sat down there for the sole purpose of initiating sex.
House had enjoyed the lazy kisses without a purpose, the occasional necking and idle touches. His leg had been hurting all evening and it had felt so soothing to just give himself into Wilson's skilful hands. When Wilson had gotten up from the couch and stood in front of him, blocking his view to the screen and tugging at his hands, House had resisted at first, unwilling to relinquish his relatively pain-free position on the couch.
He still recalled the predatory smile that had swept across Wilson's face as he had dropped to his knees and reached for House's buckle. It hadn't been the first blowjob he had received, of course, but something had been different then.
Maybe it had been the almost voyeuristic pleasure he had felt when he had looked down and found his glance held by Wilson's intense brown eyes, never taking his eyes off him while his head had moved slowly along his length. Or maybe it had been the surprising strength with which Wilson had held his hips in place or the faint chafe of a stubble against his thigh or the deep, masculine sighs that had matched his so perfectly. Whatever it had been, it had made it special.
Wilson referring to this in such a context felt like a slap in the face. Without bothering to shut down the computer properly, House hit the power-button and got up.
On the drive back home he still felt angry and no amount of reckless driving could change that. His anger didn't really intensify nor did it fade. Instead, it shifted and turned into a cold brooding. Once more the need for revenge surged up, but it was extinguished by a feeling of utter lethargy and hopelessness. What could he possibly do to exact revenge?
Back at the apartment, he tried to watch TV, but his mind just kept going over the same thing, over and over again until he felt like screaming. His glance fell on the cordless phone on the coffee table. In situations like this he'd typically call up Wilson to vent. He couldn't do that now, could he, and he had no one else to call. Usually, he let his answering machine take care of his calls. The only times he ever really used the phone was to order delivery.
Now there was a thought.
When the doorbell rang, House answered by merely turning the knob and leaving the door slightly ajar. He trusted for his visitor to come in as he limped back to his warm spot on the couch. When he heard the door close he turned on his seat and looked at the arrival. A slender woman with curly brown hair walked into the room, revealing a short skirt with over-knee boots and a too low cut top as she shrugged out of her coat. She was chewing on some bubble gum while she looked around, mildly interested.
"Are you new?" House asked.
The young woman nodded. "They said you didn't leave any specifics on who you wanted and I was available. It's Saturday night after all."
House didn't reply, just tilted his head to the side, watching her.
The scrutiny must have made her feel a little self-conscious, because she started chewing on her gum faster, more erratically. "On my way out Mona asked me to tell you she's glad to know you're still around. You haven't called in a while."
House shrugged. "I know. There was no need. I've been dating seriously for a bit." He motioned her to come over.
The girl complied and stepped in front of the couch. "And? It's over now?"
House relaxed in his seat and glanced up at her dispassionately. "Not that it's any of your business, but no. Just out of town."
"Ah, okay." A smile spread on her face that appeared decidedly too young as she leaned in. "You're wrong there, though," she said huskily. "That's exactly my business, honey." She gave him a look that she probably considered sexy. "So, how do you want me and where?"
House hesitated for a second, still wrestling with his inner demons. Then he said softly, "Your mouth. Right here."
"All right," she replied without showing any form of reaction as she sank to her knees. "Need some foreplay?"
"Nah." House waved with his hand dismissively. "Just get right down to it. We're on the clock after all."
The girl - it just occurred to him that he'd never asked for her name - nodded and began working on his pants. She unzipped his fly and reached into his briefs, taking out his cock. It was only half-erect, but it slowly sprang to attention as she began rubbing it. She reached behind her - God knew where she had pockets on that tight costume she was wearing - and produced a condom which she took out of the wrapper and rolled onto his erection.
House looked away in disgust when he saw her take out her gum and stick it behind her ear. A moment later he felt her hot mouth engulf his length. Letting out a shuddering breath, House closed his eyes and tried to relax. This wasn't the first time he was doing something like this, so it shouldn't be so difficult to get off.
Her motions were slow and even, just the right speed for excitement to build up. She obviously knew what she was doing. And yet it didn't seem quite right. The room was annoyingly silent, and soon the sound of her calm breathing, the occasional sucking sound and the squeak of latex on skin began to tear on his nerves.
Feeling frustrated with himself, he briefly wondered how he could have his dick in a sexy woman's mouth and actually feel bored. He looked down and found her eyes on him, watching for some kind of reaction from him that would hint her towards his preferences. For some reason, that look annoyed him and he closed his eyes again to shut it out.
After a couple of more minutes of trying to find at least some pleasure in getting sucked, he decided to give her a hint since she was quite obviously trying out different techniques to find out which one was working on him. He gave a half-hearted sigh when she licked across the head of his cock, hoping she'd get it.
Immediately, she started working on the head more and House felt the slightest tickle of pleasure course through him. He tried to encourage her more by faking another moan just so he'd finally be able to come.
With a sinking feeling of defeat, he thought that he'd never needed to do that with Wilson. He'd always known what he liked. He was a natural at finding just the right spots to lick and nibble, used just the right amount of pressure and suction to... No! He wasn't going to think about Wilson now. It didn't matter that for the first time since this had started, he actually felt turned on.
Her hair tickled his stomach and yanked him out of the mood again. He looked down at her bobbing head and noticed her glance to the side, checking out her watch. He groaned inwardly.
"Could you... could you tie your hair back?" he interrupted her hoarsely. At her confused look, he offered to explain, "My lover's hair is short, too."
She barely missed a beat before she nodded. "Sure." She took the hair band from her wrist and used it to tie her hair back. Then she grabbed his cock again and began pumping it with her fist while she closed her mouth over the head again, sucking on it.
Closing his eyes once more, House gave into his fantasies and pretended it was Wilson going down on him, imagined his hands in the silky brown hair as the head moved up and down in his lap with just the right speed. He thought of Wilson's gentle fingers reaching down to cup his balls, rolling them around as he guided his cock deeply into his mouth...
With a strangled gasp, House came. He felt the mouth pull away, the hand move up and down his length rapidly as he spilled himself into the condom. After that, he felt exhausted, empty and defeated.
It took him a moment to recover. When he opened his eyes, he saw the girl hover near the front door where she reapplied her lipstick.
The pain in his leg was stronger than usual as House lifted himself off the couch with a groan. He tucked himself back in and limped over to the girl. He couldn't bear looking at her as he reached for his wallet and took out the money.
"You don't look like a guy who's just gotten his dick sucked for forty minutes," she commented dryly while she slid the money into her bra.
"I know. Not your fault," he mumbled as he hobbled towards the door.
The girl walked out. She turned at the doorstep. "You know... you should just let her know that you like getting head."
House hesitated before raising his eyes to look at her. "He knows... and he's fantastic at it."
A look of surprise appeared on her face before it was replaced with a knowing smile. "Lucky guy. You shouldn't let that one get away."
House just closed the door on her.
It appeared to him as if he had been staring at this mail for hours now, which was probably true. He had basically started writing it first thing in the morning after entering the office, getting coffee and quickly rushing through the case update with the team. Now, three coffees, a run to the kiosk for chocolate, a patient crash and a quick bicker with Cuddy later he still hadn't quite finished it.
It was just sitting in his outbox and for some reason House couldn't bring himself to send it. Maybe he had had too much time mulling things over during the most depressing Sunday he had spent in a while.
He had hardly managed to get out of bed and even then his activity had been limited to dragging himself off the couch into the kitchen and back again, with brief intermissions for bathroom breaks. He usually wasn't the one to indulge in self-loathing, and yet... how could he not?
Every time he thought about it he wanted to smash his head into the desk to wipe out the memory of it. And then when that feeling passed he felt angry with himself for being such a pussy. It wasn't like he hadn't known what he had been doing. He'd done it on purpose and somehow that made everything all the worse, leaving him feeling dirty and remorseful.
Yet his mail didn't reflect that at all and this probably was the reason why he was so reluctant to send it. It didn't feel right to lie like that.
He let his eyes wander across the mail once more.
Subject: I scored
So glad to hear that at least you are getting some, apparently. I hope you're using condoms since, in case you forgot your girlfriend's recent upgrade from cancer chick to herpes chick. After all, your entire Italy trip is courtesy to that pesky little virus.
Either way, I've finally gotten some, too. After the date with Cuddy I was left feeling a little frustrated that evening, so I decided to take advantage of your generous invitation and gave my favorite escort service a call.
I know, probably not what you had in mind when you said I should go around dating people, but I assume hot hookers are off the menu as well once this quaint little experience is over, so I figured I might as well make use of that liberty while I still can.
You know what they say, nobody blows like a hooker about to get paid. I can definitely vouch for that. After all your talk about going down on dying girlfriends and what not I was in the mood for some hot mouth action. As usual, they delivered. The girl they sent me was new. I didn't even need to say anything. She went straight for the main course and blew me away. Quite literally.
So I guess I have to issue an apology. Your idea was definitely great. Without it I probably wouldn't have thought about calling the escort service again anytime soon and I never would have discovered this artist in the blowjob department. I'm definitely keeping her number for lonely days.
Just reading these lines made him cringe. He had written them to hurt and he knew they wouldn't miss their aim. Should he really send this? Once he did, his transgression would forever be on the record. But then again, what were the options? It's not like the memory of it would fade anytime soon and somehow he'd rather get it off his chest than carry it around with him.
Perhaps it would even give Wilson a taste of his own medicine. See what it felt like to be told about the sexual exploits of someone when you secretly wished for them to be in your bed instead.
With new resolve, he sent the message off. When the "message sent" dialogue popped up, he felt another twitch of regret, but he fought it down.
He forced himself to about his daily business, trying not to think about Wilson's predictable reaction to this. When Wilson still hadn't replied by four, House stopped expecting an answer for the day.
That only made it all the more surprising when he saw a message waiting in his inbox just as he was about to shut the computer down for the day.
Subject: Re: I scored
Glad things are working out so well for you. You're right, I didn't exactly have a hooker in mind, but I said you can do whatever you want, so I'll stand by my word. Allow me to return the sentiment with the condoms though. I considered that a given and didn't think it needed special mentioning.
I've decided to take Grace on a short trip to Pisa today. I'm tired of this hotel, of the endless trips to museums and the Renaissance art. I'm probably going to return late or maybe we'll spend the night in a hotel there. Haven't decided yet. Either way, don't expect any mail from me for a day or two.
No signature. That was always a clear indicator that Wilson was upset. For a brief moment, House felt remorseful again, but then he reminded himself of why they were even going through this issue at all. He had every right to do whatever he wanted. Wilson should have considered this first before springing his crazy scheme on him. Now it was time that he faced the consequences.
True to his prediction, Wilson didn't write on Tuesday and neither did House. There was nothing to add. Even though he hated to admit it, House caught himself thinking about Wilson several times during the day, wondering what he was doing now, hoping it wasn't what he feared it was. Every time that thought crossed his mind, his anger flared up and he ended up wishing the goddamn Leaning Tower would topple over and squash them.
When on Wednesday there still was no mail, House was starting to get frustrated. He had no energy left inside of him to pursue any more possible dates. The past week had been more social interaction than he could stomach. Yet he couldn't stop his mind from wandering across the Atlantic to Italy every time he didn't specifically watch out for it not to.
After a particularly tormenting session of picturing Wilson and the cancer chick in their own version of the Kama Sutra, he decided to cut the race and skip right to the part where he'd write about it to Wilson. He figured Wilson would never know that he hadn't bothered to actually see anyone and would be satisfied with his demonstration of good will.
So he ended up composing an email about his sexy double date with two naughty nurses from pediatrics, borrowing elements from a kinky story he'd just read and embellishing them with details from his own fantasy. A three-way romp through the beds of the hospital staff would definitely garner him the respect of Dr. James Wilson, oncologist and hobby gynecologist.
He managed to ride on that high for the rest of the day, imagining Wilson's stunned face when he'd read the juicy tale involving silk scarves, whipped cream and a studded leather bra. He tried to repeat this experience the next morning, fabricating the account of a random encounter with a licentious widow in a bar he never frequented, but as he was typing away he began to think just how absurd all of this was.
In the end, he deleted the draft and silently cursed himself for even sending the first mail of that kind. He was only digging himself into a hole. The mere thought of nurses considering a date with him was preposterous and Wilson probably knew that. But who else was left then? Fact was, if he continued to embellish his fictitious conquests the feeling of frustration inside of him would only increase.
As much as he hated to admit it, Wilson was right. Sitting around here, being bored and frustrated while Wilson was merrily touring the Old Continent with his girlfriend was poison for his soul. If he wanted them to even have the tiniest chance of ever getting back together again, he'd need to put some serious effort into this.
He let his glance wander around, idly considering his options. He didn't feel like going to bars and pretending to be nice to random women in hopes of finding one drunk enough to go with him. That only left the hospital as a hunting ground. So the nurses were out and Cuddy obviously wasn't dating material, no matter how foxy she was.
Who else... Dr. Lindberg from radiology? She was obviously bored with being single and she seemed to show a certain interest in him, but it wasn't returned. House worried he'd never get rid of her if he even asked her out for a coffee. Anybody he could think of was either happily single or desperately looking, and neither seemed very suitable.
His fingers were twitching to start a differential on the PPTH dating market, but he forbade himself to give in to this impulse. This was getting ridiculous. It couldn't be that hard to find one more date! Just one, then he could at least feel like he had actually tried and let it be.
But who? The straight forward, head-on approach hadn't done him a lot of good so far. It had given him an awkward date with his boss and a grudge blowjob that he'd rather forget about. Wasn't there a way to get one date that he would feel good about, like it had been a true success?
The door to the conference room opened and his team walked in, laughing and talking to each other. Ever since the case had been solved and the patient was rapidly recovering, there wasn't a lot for them to do for them and House didn't feel like looking for extra work, since actions like that had the habit of creating a whole lot more work. So better enjoy the easygoing while it was possible.
Rubbing his chin thoughtfully, he gave the gang a good look over. He'd already been on a date with Cameron and he wasn't too keen on repeating yet another awkward situation like that. For pointless chatting about work and the weather he could call his mother and if he wanted to feel like a gawkish schoolboy again he could call all his exes and ask them why exactly they decided to stop dating him.
No thanks. His dignity had already suffered enough with his most recent lover running off with someone else. He didn't need to add to it by repeating a date he already knew wasn't going to work out.
His look wandered over to Foreman and he cringed inwardly. That felt like asking your son out to the prom. Not to mention the fact that Foreman would probably have his hide at the mere mention of a date.
Now Chase, on the other hand... House's eyes moved on to the pretty blonde who was chewing on his pen with a wide grin on his face while he listened to something Cameron said. Why hadn't he considered Chase yet? He was young, pretty, of ambiguous sexual orientation and obviously smitten with him. It was almost too easy.
With a predatory smile, House got up and walked into the conference room. The crew immediately snapped to attention and looked at him expectantly, waiting for instructions. That was a little awkward, since he didn't exactly mean to propose in front of everyone.
So he looked at the clock on the wall pointedly and said, "Today's a slow day. Why don't you take an extra long lunch break and enjoy the sunny weather?" At the collectively confused look shot back at him he added, "Okay, let me rephrase that. I'm going to take an extra long lunch break and if you guys keep hanging around in the office looking unoccupied Cuddy will eventually catch on and find something for us to do. So I'd like to avoid that by dispersing."
When nobody reacted, he rolled his eyes and made a shooing motion with his hand. "Move along, children. It's okay!"
Foreman looked at Cameron, shrugged, then grabbed his clipboard and got up. Cameron followed suit. House almost couldn't believe his luck when Chase stayed behind, taking his time to get his backpack. He then stretched lazily and got up.
When he was at the door, House called him back casually. "Oh Chase, before I forget. You're having lunch with me now."
Chase froze mid-motion and turned back at him. "What?"
House shrugged. "With Wilson being gone for almost two weeks now I'm getting bored with always eating alone. I could use some company."
"Uh, and why me?"
"You're the only one of the team I haven't been having meals with yet and I strive to broaden my horizon. You only truly know a person when you know how they eat their food."
Chase blushed furiously. "What about Foreman?"
Rolling his eyes inwardly, House walked towards the younger man, grabbed him by the elbow and led him out of the office. "I've seen him eat an egg salad sandwich right after I hired him. That was enough. Now let's go."
In the evening, House sat on his couch, watching some show without actually much paying attention to it. He had a lot of things to consider. Surprisingly, lunch with Chase had turned out to be a rather pleasant affair. Maybe they didn't have a lot in common and it wasn't like he was really interested in anything Chase had to say, but he'd found himself listening anyhow, in a fatherly sort of way, enduring the details of the other one's day.
And then there had been the undeniable pleasure of simply watching Chase eat, they way he picked out the perfect pieces of the chicken salad as he was talking, loading his fork with it before savoring it with closed eyes. Then the inevitable blush when he opened them again, seeing House's eyes on him, watching him.
House hadn't bothered to memorize all the details of what Chase had told him, but he had found out enough. He had heard the stories about Chase's time in the catholic seminary, the determination to become a doctor, his adventures in med school, but most importantly, he had drawn clues from it. They had been subtle, but they had been there.
There was a very good chance that Chase wouldn't be adverse to his advances and House was planning on taking full advantage of it starting tomorrow. Perhaps if he took his time to woo this one carefully, he'd actually have the sense of achievement he so badly needed.
The next day, House smoothed the way for his conquest by forgoing his usual mockery and disregard of Chase's suggestions during their morning rounds. He had tried to be subtle about it so that the team wouldn't be alarmed immediately. Instead, he had managed to make a soft glow of smugness appear on Chase's face that had lasted for the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon, softening him for his attack.
He found Chase in the lab, doing a series of tests that Cuddy had ordered them to do to confirm a diagnosis that was so perfectly obvious. He watched him work for a couple of minutes quietly before alerting the young man to his presence. It had the desired effect of startling Chase into a state of acute alertness.
"God, House! Do you need to stalk up on me like that?" he exclaimed, his hand twitching towards his chest in an overly dramatic effect that he managed to stop just in time to avoid House's ridicule.
"Of course not, but it's amusing nonetheless to see you shriek like a cheerleader setting eyes on her naked quarterback boyfriend for the first time," House replied casually, walking into the darkened room.
"Glad I'm so entertaining to you," Chase mumbled and turned back to the table to look into the microscope.
"You have no idea..."
Chase looked up again at the quiet comment, shooting House a wary glance. His look wandered to his hand, just now noticing the file he was holding. "Is there anything you need me to do?"
"Yes, actually there is," House said casually, approaching the table and dropping the file on it. When Chase reached out to grab it, House stopped him with the handle of his cane. "Ah-ah-ah! You don't want to spoil the surprise, do you?"
Frowning, Chase drew back his hand. "Okay?"
"Inside you'll find all the necessary information on the case and the results of the ordered tests. I want you to check them, see if everything's in the clear, possibly redo some tests where you deem it appropriate."
"Okay." Chase nodded, obviously waiting for more information. When none came, he added, "Uh, so... what am I testing for?"
Chase blinked. "What?"
Chuckling, House got ready to leave. He turned at the door. "Oh, come on, Chase, be a little creative. Just imagine what kind of tests you'd want to have run on someone you're going out with. Health issues, various STDs... you know, the full work-up. You might need to take a complete sexual history, too, but that might be difficult since the patient isn't known to be that talkative."
"No problem." Since House wasn't there to stop him anymore, Chase reached for the file once more and opened it. The stunned look on his face was priceless when he read it. "You?" Chase exclaimed. "You want me to check your test results?"
House feigned innocence. "Why of course. It's only fair since you and I are going to go out this Saturday."
"Oh." Chase didn't react at all for a moment. Then the confused expression slipped off his face and made way for a shy smile.
Taking the lack of protest as a positive sign, House turned to leave.
"House!" Chase called out to him before he could close the door. "Don't you want to see my test results in return then?"
House smiled wickedly. "Don't worry about that, Chase. I've already run a full blood screen on you with the blood you gave at the Dr. A. Cula Donation Drive last week. I know you're clean."
With that he closed the lab door, shutting out Chase's answer, and walked off.
On Friday morning, House was still pleased with himself, seeing how his invitation had both shaken and thrilled Chase, all at the same time. Unlike Cameron, he didn't drop hints in the presence of the others, he didn't even react to him any differently than he usually would. But there was this air of contentment about him now that left House wondering whether it had been such a good idea to ask Chase out after all. He seemed just a tad bit too happy for comfort. But it was too late to do anything about that now.
His last bit of doubt was dispelled when he went to check his emails and found mail by Wilson in his inbox. House hesitated for a moment before opening it, wondering what kind of message he'd find now. Would Wilson gush about the amazing trip they'd had? Maybe the trip had been utterly romantic and without the constant contact to House Wilson was completely smitten with his little woman now. Sure, Grace wasn't a lasting competition, and yet House found the thought upsetting.
Working up some courage, he opened the message.
Subject: back from Pisa
Just letting you know that we're back. I won't bore you with details about the trip, but there isn't a lot to tell anyway. Guess we both weren't really feeling up for anymore sightseeing so we spent most of our time sitting in cafes and looking at the Leaning Tower.
Listen, I wanted to apologize. I reacted poorly in my last mail and I've been feeling bad about that. You did exactly what I suggested and it really shouldn't have bothered me like that. I guess I was a little jealous, I have to admit. I'm sorry about that.
I hope that didn't discourage you from continuing. I still think it would be good for us. Now I know what you must feel like when you read about Grace and me. I really didn't expect it to hurt like that.
I miss you... I wish I was home again, wish I could have lunch with you, go back to your place after work, just hang out, watch a baseball game and have a good American lager beer.
I'm tired of wine, of any kind of food that involves either pizza or pasta, waiters who rip me off, and people who talk loudly on the cell wherever they go. I'm tired of museums, weird Italian TV shows, radio stations that play hymns and sermons all day long, rubble that's supposedly historic, crazy drivers and pedestrian lights that are green for only the quarter of a second. I just wish I was home...
Talk to you soon I hope.
House let out his breath which he apparently had started to hold somewhere in the middle of the mail. Reading this had made him feel all funny inside. It felt good to see Wilson admit all this. It almost made him want to write back, "I miss you too, Jimmy. Please come home." But only almost. He wasn't done yet. But knowing Wilson felt that way did give him a sense of satisfaction.
He noticed a second mail by Wilson sent shortly after the first one. He opened it.
Subject: Re: naughty nurses
I probably should have checked my mails before writing you back. That would have given my last mail more substance, I'm sure!
Anyway, I'm glad to see that you're still trying even though I wasn't there to encourage and remind you. I read your details of your date with the nurses with great interest. What a surprise that Nurse Mel from pediatrics seems to have gotten a sex change. Last time I checked "she" was a "he"...
I was especially fascinated to read that at seventy-two Ruth still seems to be getting it on. Who would have thought that she had it in her? But I always knew you had a thing for old chicks. And I could have sworn she went into retirement three months ago... You learn a new thing every day. ;-)
Even though he had been busted, the mail made House grin. So Wilson had seen through his thinly veiled attempt to fool him. Come to think of it, that had been to be expected. Nobody knew the nurses as well as Wilson did and House hadn't really bothered to do any research. He'd have to keep that in mind next time he tried something like this.
Still grinning, House went back to the first mail and clicked "reply".
Subject: Re: back from Pisa
Okay, okay, you caught me. I must have confused a couple of things there. Vicodin, whiskey and late night porn do the weirdest things to your memory. But you'll be pleased to hear that I'm actually trying now. As a matter of fact, I've spent the last couple of days wooing someone to make sure that the date, which is scheduled to take place tonight, is going to be a success.
Took me a while, but I've finally figured that you actually need to make an effort and try to be nice to someone in order to bed them. Hey, how was I to know? It always worked just fine with you without the wining and dining part. So I've actually put some effort into listening to the conversation, paying for lunch, that sort of thing. I always knew that I'd benefit from observing your preying techniques some day.
So, wish me luck! If all goes well my bedpost will have another notch in the morning, maybe with options for more, and then we'll be able to put this deplorable thing behind us. Then we can just agree for every time you fuck Grace I'll get a shot at Chase. Hey, that rhymes even.
Oh right, the date is with Chase, in case I forgot to mention.
Btw. I miss you too.
House looked at the mail he had written. After a moment's hesitation he deleted the last line. Then he sent it off.
It was afternoon when the reply came. Even though he had no intention of mailing Wilson again before Monday, he still had secretly hoped to receive an answer before the end of the day.
Subject: Re: Re: back from Pisa
Wow... good to know you're making such progress, I suppose. I didn't think Chase was your type. Well... I hope you have fun. Got anything planned in particular? Just make sure to keep me updated, okay?
With a roguish smile, House closed the email program and shut down the computer.
A sound at the door made him look up. Chase was standing there, dressed in street clothes, his messenger bag thrown over his shoulder. "I was just about to leave," he said after a brief pause where he'd looked around the office as if to check that nobody else was there. "So, about tomorrow... when are we going to meet?"
The way he had said that made it seem as if part of him expected House to laugh and announce that Chase had fallen for the prank. It made the snarky remark disappear, that had already sat at the tip of his tongue. Instead he asked, "Are you free in the afternoon?"
Chase looked surprised. "Uh, sure. I don't have anything else planned."
"Excellent. Then I'm going to pick you up at three at your apartment. Casual clothes will do." He could tell by the way Chase cast him a final, sizing look before leaving that the other man was wondering whether he was going to drag him off to some paintball tournament or mud wrestling event. He made it a point not to dispel those concerns.
The pub House had picked out for them to dine at was called Kangaroos X-ing and almost certainly won the prize for the worst accumulation of stereotypes one could imagine. Part of the reason why House had picked an Australian pub was the fact that he had wanted to see Chase's reaction to the overload of cheesy clichs.
He had not been disappointed when they had entered the pub and immediately had been faced with a stuffed kiwi and crocodile at the entrance. The entire place had been decked with pictures of the Australian Outback, silly warning signs and fake plants to give the appeal of some desert outpost.
When they had taken their seats a waiter looking like the Crocodile Hunter had stepped up to them and greeted them with a cheerful "G'day mate!" which had elicited another eye roll from Chase. They had placed their orders, Chase adamantly preventing him from ordering Foster's and asking for a Black Swan instead. Then he had excused himself to the bathroom.
While House was waiting for Chase's returned, he amused himself with looking around, gleefully imaging the torture this must be for the other man. When Chase finally returned, he slipped into his seat at the other side of the booth and said with a look of exasperation, "They have a bloody kookaburra on loop in the damn restroom which looks like an Outback shithouse."
"You should imagine my suffering! They've just played 'Land Down Under' for the third time in a row or so."
An answer was prevented when the waiter arrived with the food. Chase laughed at the look on House's face when he stared at the burger in front of him.
"Good lord," House exclaimed as he turned the plate, looking at the humungous construction loaded with all sorts of vegetables from all sides. "Is there any beef hidden in that pile?"
"If you look carefully. It's probably hidden under the beetroot and the fried egg," Chase said with an amused twinkle in his eyes as he unfolded his napkin.
House shuddered demonstratively. "I should have suspected something when you suggested I order the Australian Deluxe."
Chase gave him a careless shrug. "Hey, it was your idea that we go to the Aussie pub and you asked for my advice. You should try it, it's great."
"Since I'm paying for it you bet I will. That's something that doesn't happen so often after all."
Looking down at his plate, Chase said, "I can pay for my meal, if..."
"Don't be absurd. It's my date, my treat." House grabbed the huge burger and looked at it skeptically. "Okay, how am I going to eat it?"
"Like everyone does. In installments. That's your only chance unless you want to end up needing a shower and possibly a trip to the ER with lockjaw."
House scoffed at this. "Hah. Eating hamburgers with knife and fork is something for you Aussie ponces. I'm going to eat this the American way." Fully aware of Chase's eyes on him, House opened his mouth wide and tried to get any portion of the hamburger into his mouth which turned out to be quite impossible.
He tried to squeeze down a bit to make it fit, but the result was that pink stuff from the beets started dripping over his fingers, making them slippery and sticky. A moment later, the hamburger literally exploded onto the plate.
Chase burst out in laughter while House stared at the mess in dismay.
"Hey, there's the beef!" House exclaimed after he was finished poking through the pile with his fork. "And... a slice of pineapple. Yuck."
"Guess you have to eat it the poncey way with knife and fork now," Chase teased. Taking his first forkful of food, he closed his eyes for a moment, savoring the taste. "Mmmh, I haven't had prawns in ages. It almost tastes like they make them at home."
"Just like mom used to make," House threw in casually while cutting his burger into neat mouth-sized pieces. When he got no response he looked up and caught Chase's pained look which he masked as soon as he noticed House's eyes on him and realization hit him. For a second he actually debated apologizing for the thoughtless remark but dismissed it almost instantly. Instead he said, "Or the High School lunch line ladies! Ah, the fond memories of Greta with the Girdle."
When Chase laughed softly at his remark House felt a sense of relief. The day had progressed so well and he would have hated to ruin it now by evoking unpleasant memories.
House had picked up Chase, being only marginally late. They then had gone to an exhibition which had been on its last day in town, showcasing Medical Horrors of the 19th Century. He had actually planned on going there with Wilson, but since things had turned out the way they had Chase had been a worthy replacement, displaying appropriate enthusiasm for the various wax models detailing gruesome medical procedures.
"Why do you call those prawns anyway," House picked up the conversation again. "What's wrong with shrimps?"
Swallowing down his bite, Chase looked at him as if he'd grown an extra head. "Because a shrimp is a tiny saltwater crustacean, small, wriggly and wormlike. You wouldn't eat that. At least not in Australia."
House rolled his eyes. "Silly Australians. Hanging upside down like that all the time must have made you all wrong in the head." He took another swig from his bottled beer. "At least your choice of beer leaves nothing to be desired."
"Yeah, couldn't let you order some mule piss like Foster's. There's nothing like good Australian beer." He lifted his bottle and clicked it with House's. "Cheers."
Suddenly House felt the ridiculous urge to add something to the defense of the American beer industry, so he said, "Hey now, Coors isn't half bad either."
A mischievous twinkle appeared in Chase's eyes. "You know what they say. American beer is like having sex in a canoe." At House's confused look he added, "Both is fucking close to water."
Maybe it was the second round of beer they already had been through or maybe it was the relaxed atmosphere, but despite himself, House had to fall into Chase's laugh.
"So," House said casually as he was half-way through the burger. "Tell me some more about your time in the seminary."
Chase finished chewing and swallowed down before wiping his mouth gracefully with the napkin. "What else do you want to know?"
"Well, you... in that seminary, all alone, only boys... I could imagine that was pretty frustrating for your sex life."
Chase coughed into his bottle of beer. He put it down and wiped his mouth. "I was fourteen!"
"So?" House shrugged and continued to pick on his burger. "I know I had plenty of sex when I was fourteen. Not necessarily with other people... but still."
Opening his eyes wide in shock, Chase quickly looked around to make sure nobody else was in earshot. "House!"
"What, there's nothing wrong with an expertly performed handjob. Or do you have a problem with that?"
Blushing furiously, Chase hissed, "No, but I don't think this is the place we should be discussing this sort of thing!"
"So you'd prefer a more private setting?" House asked innocently.
Smiling smugly, House took another sip from his beer. "I can live with that."
For the remainder of the meal they chatted about casual things, a fact House was sure Chase appreciated. When Chase suggested they should order a Tim Tam Slam for dessert, House cast him a suspicious look and asked, "You're not trying to pull a Crocodile Dundee on me, are you? Make me eat something terribly gross only to laugh at me for obliging."
Chase gave him an innocent smile that made his stomach tingle in an odd way. "Don't worry, you'll love it. Besides, no self-respecting Australian would rely on Hoges for an accurate portrayal of the Aussie culture."
"You and self-respect? Now those are two words I'd never thought to hear in one sentence."
Grimacing at him, Chase waved for the waiter to place his order.
A couple of minutes later two coffees arrived together with a plate of box-shaped chocolate biscuits. House looked at it skeptically. "Okay. And what's the idea now?"
"The idea is..." Chase said, reaching for one biscuit and holding then between two fingers. "That you take one of these Tim Tams and bite off the opposing corners. Like so." He stuck it between his teeth and demonstrated how to do it. "Then you stick it into your coffee and suck it through the biscuit, getting the most delicious coffee imbued with chocolate, caramel and biscuit wafer flavoring."
He bowed his head over the cup and began to suck slowly. House started at him, transfixed. When the biscuit started to get soggy in his hand, Chase quickly slipped it into his mouth and ate it. He noticed House's hungry stare and blushed, covering his chocolate smudged mouth with one hand.
When he had finished eating the biscuit down, he said, "Well, this is how you do it."
House could think of about a million ways to put those lips to better use. Quickly banishing that thought, he said, "I think I'll pass. I prefer my coffee without the bobbing chunks and gunk."
Chase just shrugged at his rejection and began to lick his fingers clean of the chocolate in slow, deliberate moves that made House suspect that he did that on purpose. This impression was solidified by the way Chase's glance held his.
Breaking the contact, House grabbed his coffee and downed most of it in one gulp. When he was done finishing the rest of it in sips, he found Chase sitting there, looking at him expectantly. Apparently he was wondering whether the evening was over now or not. To be entirely honest, House didn't know either.
"Maybe we should leave," House suggested, receiving an affirmative nod from the other man.
After paying the bill with the ridiculously stereotyped waiter, they stepped outside. The air was a little chilly and House could sense Chase shudder next to him, pulling his jacket tighter around his slender body.
"So...you want me to take you back home now?" House asked, not sure what else to say.
Chase cut him a sidelong glance and said, "I don't know. What do you want to do?"
There were a couple of things he could think of, but would he have the courage to follow through with them? Suddenly he felt as inept as a High School kid again and he thought with a twinge of irony that he could have had the same thing with Cameron. But then again, he thought, there was one thing that was different.
"This," he muttered. With that he spun around, swept Chase into his arms and pressed him against the wall, devouring his mouth in a passionate kiss.
The other man tensed beneath him and for a terrible moment of uncertainty House wasn't so sure whether it was in shock or surprise, but when he felt Chase's arms come up and latch onto his shoulders, pulling him deeper into the kiss all his doubts disappeared.
Chase moaned and melted into his embrace, returning the kiss with the hungry fervor of youth. His lips were soft and tasted of the chocolate he hadn't quite managed to remove earlier.
When House delved deeper into the other man's mouth he found the faint taste of coffee and a tongue that wasn't willing to just let him explore casually. Instead it engaged him in a fierce battle, meeting his with every motion until House had to pull back to gasp for air. Panting too, Chase put his head against House's shoulder, barely able to suppress the shudders that went through his body.
"I want you to take me to your place," Chase whispered.
Fighting down a surge of anxiety, Houses nodded wordlessly and pulled Chase along.
When the door to his apartment closed, House wondered what was going to happen now. He wasn't familiar with this sort of situation and it filled him with apprehension. He slipped Chase a furtive glance as he shrugged out of his jacket. The younger man didn't look like he was expecting to be led into the bedroom immediately. Instead, he was just looking around curiously, obviously thrilled to be in his apartment.
"Want to give me your jacket?" House asked gruffly, cringing inwardly at the way it must have come across. Luckily, Chase didn't seem to have taken offense since he just took off his jacket and handed it to him while he continued his visual exploration of the living room.
Limping over to the closet, House put away both their jackets. After a full day on his feet he was starting to feel the effect on his thigh. He craved for his warm spot on the couch. Instead he asked, "Do you want a drink?"
"Sure! I'll have what you're having," Chase said from across the room where he was looking at the Chick Webb poster behind the piano.
House nodded and hobbled over to the mantelpiece where he kept a bottle of Jim Beam. He filled two fingers each into two glasses and handed one to Chase. "Bourbon straight. The perfect way to end the day."
Chase thanked him and nipped at his drink. Judged by the look on his face, he obviously wasn't used to drinking bourbon. If his pride hadn't forbidden him to he probably would have gasped for air. Instead, he cleared his throat and looked to the side.
Chuckling to himself, House took a generous gulp from his glass and walked over to the couch, easing himself into the soft cushion with a sigh. Grimacing at the pain, he put his leg on the table in front of him.
"Is your leg okay?" Chase asked after a moment's hesitation.
Somehow this concern for his leg annoyed him. It was okay when it was Wilson who asked but he felt as if it was nobody else's business. "Yeah, it's fine," he growled, reaching into his pocket for the bottle of Vicodin.
Chase turned his back while he downed a pill, continuing to explore his apartment. House watched him as he walked past the bookshelf slowly, letting his gaze wander across the rows of books. House found the perusal slightly disconcerting and for a moment his mind was racing, wondering if there were any embarrassing books stowed away there. But nothing seemed to catch Chase's interest as he moved on to look at the art prints on the wall.
"So, do you like what you see?" House asked in an attempt to breach the awkward silence.
Chase blushed a little when he turned to look at him. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be curious."
House replied with a dismissive shrug. "It's okay. I just thought there are better things to do than enjoy a tour through he Muse de House."
A curious sparkle appeared in Chase's eyes. "Such as?"
Another shrug. "Don't know. Indulge in boozing, watch corny movies on the tube, talk about things... the usual." Things he'd do with Wilson now.
A small smile appeared on Chase's lips. "Okay." He walked over to the couch and sat down next to House.
The feeling of awkwardness increased. Somehow he didn't know what to do at all now. Without wanting to, House found himself draw comparisons to being with Wilson again and it occurred to him how there was never a moment of awkwardness with Wilson. Somehow he always instinctively knew what they were going to do, whether it was watch a movie, make food or have sex. It just came naturally. It just didn't seem right to sit so close to Chase.
House saw him take another sip from his bourbon out of the corner of his eyes. "So, do you go home with other men a lot?" he blurted out.
Chase choked into his drink and started coughing until his eyes were tearing up. Drawing a shuddering breath, he looked at him. "What?"
Suddenly House felt really silly. "That didn't come out right." He felt like knocking his face into the table. He just had no idea how to have a casual conversation. "Forget it. I was just trying to find something to talk about."
Without replying at first, Chase gave him a long sizing glance. Then he said with a faint smile, "Why don't you just say what you meant to say then?"
House took a steadying breath. "What I meant to say is that you rather seem at ease with following somebody home after dinner. So I was wondering, does it happen a lot?"
The smile turned into a grin. "What you really mean to ask is whether I'm the kind who has casual sex with people on the first date, and specifically, whether these people are men."
Surprised by the bluntness, House just nodded. "Yeah, something like that."
"And you're asking this because ..." Chase looked at him quizzically. "... you want to calculate your odds of whether you're going to get laid tonight or not."
Refusing to be embarrassed by this, House put on a neutral expression and said, "It's always good to know your odds."
"Oh, definitely," Chase agreed in the same conversational tone. A moment later he had turned in his seat, grabbed House by the lapels and pulled him into another heated kiss that was hard, fast and unrelenting. When their lips parted noisily, Chase whispered, "Does that help your calculations?"
Still reeling, House bought himself some time before needing to answer by licking his lips which were tingling now. Then he said, "That's already a good indication." With a sigh, he added, "However, that's not the only thing that needs to be taken into account."
Chase looked surprised. "Oh? What else is there?"
Deciding on the direct approach, House said, "I'm seeing someone."
"Oh..." Chase's hands dropped away from his shirt.
"We've decided on a relationship break."
"Oh!" Chase's face lit up. "So you've both agreed on seeing other people to see if your relationship has a strong enough foundation to build a lasting future on."
This surprised House and he suspected it showed on his face. "Yes, actually."
"And that's the reason why you asked me out."
That little knowing half-smile crept back on Chase's features. "Well... I suppose I could help you with that."
House laughed dryly in response. "Oh, so you mean if I fuck you I'll finally get the answers I've been looking for?"
Chase shrugged. "You could. Did it work so far?"
"No... so far it's been a freaking disaster."
"Why do you think that was so?"
House thought about the question for a moment. Then he sighed and said, "Because no matter what I do, I always think of..." He stopped, somehow not wanting to finish the sentence.
Chase nodded knowingly, looking at him with the strangest expression. "I know how that is," he said wistfully. Then he added a little more cheerfully, "Well, I for one won't mind if you think of someone else while we're doing it."
Casting him a curious glance, House asked, "Why, because you'll be doing the same?"
Slowly, Chase shook his head. "No... this time I won't need to."
This time, House managed to mask his surprise. He couldn't think of a proper way to reply to that, so he just acknowledged it with his silence. Pensively, he put the glass to his lips and let the auburn liquid trickle across his tongue, felt it burn pleasantly on its way down. He let a couple of moments pass that way.
Then he turned his head and looked at Chase evenly. "So, do you want to do this?"
He could see the excitement hush across Chase's face and the way he willed it down with a brave swallow. "If you're up to it," the younger man said in a markedly composed voice that made House grin inwardly.
"What kind of things do you do?"
Chase thought about it for a moment. Then he said seriously, "I won't hurt you."
"Oh?" House raised his eyebrows mockingly. "But I thought you're into that sort of thing."
"Only when the other one likes the pain," Chase replied.
"What makes you think I don't?" House asked challengingly.
Chase grinned. "Your Vicodin habit suggests otherwise."
This broke the tension of the moment and House chuckled softly. "Fine, then no whips and ball gags. But what else?"
"I'm okay with getting fucked," Chase said unceremoniously. "I expect safe sex. I can give you head, if you like, and I don't mind receiving it if I didn't come during sex. Other than that I'm fine with anything."
House could feel his pants get a little tighter at hearing Chase talk about sex so matter-of-factly. Unabashedly, he reached between his legs and cupped his growing erection with one hand, rubbing it absent-mindedly. He noticed Chase's eyes flicker towards his crotch, a flush of excitement slowly rising on the other man's cheeks as he watched the slow movements of his hand.
"What about you?" Chase said breathlessly.
"You'll figure out soon enough." Seeing Chase's docile nod in reply made him sneer. "Aren't we a romantic bunch," he commented dryly.
Chase licked his lips as he shifted in his seat. "Well, that's not what this is about, is it?"
"I suppose not." House grabbed Chase's shoulder and pulled him close, pressing his mouth against the other man's full lips and kissing him soundly. Chase signed and moved in closer. When he put his weight on House's thigh wrong, House pulled back with a pained gasp.
"I'm sorry!" Chase murmured, shifting his weight and moving back into the kiss, this time taking great care to avoid House's leg. By the time their lips parted, Chase's hand had wandered under the hem of House's shirt, touching the hot skin there.
"Wanna do it here?" Chase whispered against his mouth.
"Let's move to the bedroom," House replied, pulling the younger man up with him. He moved Chase backwards towards his bedroom, not ceasing the kisses as he opened the door with one fumbling hand, pushed Chase inside and kicked the door shut with his heel.
He didn't give the other man time to look around. Instead, he shoved him gently against the chest and made him fall backwards on the bed.
Chase landed on the soft mattress with a bounce. He propped himself up on his elbows, casually pushing an unruly strand of his sandy colored hair out of his face as he looked up at House with hungry eyes.
"Take off your clothes," House growled, looking down at the young man sprawled out in front of him.
"Wow, we really are getting right down to it, aren't we?" Chase said teasingly, reaching for the buttons of his shirt anyhow.
House stepped back from the bed, retreating into the darkness of the room as he watched Chase shed his shirt, unbutton his jeans and peel them off. When Chase hooked his thumbs into the band of his briefs, House began discarding his own clothes in the cover of the shadows.
He slid onto the bed next to Chase who was naked now, pressing his body to the other man's side. Chase made no attempt to turn to him but instead just twisted his head to look at him from his lying position.
"You don't want me to look at you, do you," Chase stated, running a casual finger along House's arm which he had thrown across the other man's stomach possessively.
"No," was House's simple reply, holding the younger man's gaze with steady eyes. He leaned in to kiss Chase again before he could say another thing. When he felt the other man relax, he ran his hand down his body, past the protruding hipbone to his thighs.
Deepening the kiss, he parted Chase's legs and put his hand there, feeling the eager erection pulse against the palm of his hand. He pressed down tentatively, rubbing the slick head against the other man's stomach with the ball of his hand.
Chase pulled his mouth away from the kiss to release a moan, his eyes fixed on him, wide and longing. "Oh God, let me touch you..." he groaned, making no attempt to reach out for him.
Ignoring him, House moved downwards, running his stubbled chin across the tender skin of Chase's neck, licking and nipping here and there until he found a perky nipple and fastened his mouth over it. Chase cried out in pleasure when he began sucking on it, grazing it with his teeth.
Chase's hands shot up, his fingers lacing through House's hair, but they were caught again and pressed back against the bed while House continued to explore the younger man's lean chest.
As he rubbed his lips across the smooth skin he couldn't help but notice the difference to Wilson's. Chase's skin was softer, smoother, but it was missing the heady, intoxicating scent that Wilson's emanated and that House found so addicting.
When he touched Chase it elicited an immediate response from the other man, leaving no doubt that his administrations were welcome. With Wilson the response was a lot more quiet, more subtle and yet it never left him wondering whether he was doing the right thing. With Wilson, he just knew.
Or perhaps it was just the fact that he even managed to think all this that made it so different. Whenever he was in bed with Wilson it was as if his mind just shut off, leaving nothing but their bodies in his consciousness. It was a state he craved for as it was the repose of mind he so badly needed.
Another one of Chase's moans pulled him out of his musing and he forced himself to pay attention to the man in his bed. He slipped halfway on top of him, feeling the throbbing cock press against his stomach as he strained to reach into the drawer of the bedside table to take out the bottle of lube and a condom.
He tossed both next to the lying man while he pushed himself up and settled himself between the opened legs. As he reached for Chase's cock once more an image flickered through his mind. It was just an fleeting image and yet it was enough to make him halt.
"Are you okay?" Chase asked.
"Yeah..." House mumbled, rubbing the other man's cock absent-mindedly. He reached up with his other hand to rub across his face, hoping that it'd clear his thoughts. Instead, the image returned, this time more clearly than before. It was Wilson, lying on the bed just like Chase did now, looking up to him with his warm eyes, welcoming him.
House leaned in to close is mouth over Wilson's, kissing him deeply while the other man's hands went around his waist, pulling him closer. There were just the sounds of kissing and heavy breathing, the occasional hitched breath when a touch was especially pleasurable. It was only natural to run his fingers down their bodies, slip them into the crease that was so eager to receive him...
"House?" The voice didn't match and it yanked him out of his reverie. He looked down on Chase, trying to reconcile the images in his mind with those on his bed. But as his hand dropped between his legs he felt that his own erection had waned, his cock pressing flaccidly against the other man's backside.
"Is everything okay?" Chase asked, alarmed by House's sudden stillness. House felt the humiliation rise in his stomach like bile when he saw Chase's glance resting on his deflated cock, comprehension dawning in his eyes. "It's okay!" Chase was quick to assure, too quick for it to work.
House sat back on his heels. "I... I don't know," he muttered, feeling defeated. Slowly, it became clear to him that he wouldn't be doing anything tonight. Not with the vision of Wilson hovering above this bed, dominating his very soul. Wilson's plan had ultimately failed. Or maybe it had succeeded? Suddenly he knew with overwhelming clarity that Wilson was the only one he wanted.
Scrambling to his elbows, Chase looked at him, the self-confident ease drained from his face. He looked like a boy who had been told that Santa Claus didn't exist. "I could help you with..." he motioned towards his crotch, but House shook his head slowly.
"No... that won't work."
Chase pressed his lips together defiantly. "Is it the pills?" he asked, a desperate tone in his voice.
Again, House shook his head. "No... it's... sudden on-set monogamy, I suppose."
Chase didn't say anything for a while. Then a ripple when through his body and he sat up abruptly. "I should go," he choked out as he swung his legs off the bed.
"Wait!" House said, grabbed the other hand's wrist to keep him from getting up.
"Please..." Chase whispered softly, barely audibly. "This is humiliating enough as is. No need to enforce it by talking it to death. Just let me go."
Tugging at the other man's arm, House forced him back onto the bed. "Hey now. As far as I know I'm the one with the erectile dysfunction." He pushed Chase against the shoulders until he was lying in the same position as before. "If anyone should be disappointed it's me, because you're obviously not giving me any credit here." He grinned at the look of confusion flickering across the other man's face. "I said I'd fuck you, didn't I? Who says I need a hot throbbing piece of manmeat for that?"
He could tell from the confusion on Chase's face that he still didn't know what to make of this, but his curiosity was piqued enough to stop trying to get away.
Languidly, House brushed his hands across the lying man's chest, tweaking the nipples gently as he moved past them, then rubbed across the taut stomach. Chase's breath quickened as he watched House's idle exploration of his body, but he made no attempt to participate in any way, just waiting curiously for his next move.
Leaning in, House reached for the lube and flicked the lid open with his thumb. Aware of the other man's eyes on him, he squeezed a moderate dollop onto his hand. He snapped the bottle shut again and put it away, then slowly rubbed the lube between his hands, warming it to his body temperature.
When he was satisfied with the consistency, he wiped his left hand clean on the sheet while he moved the right hand down to Chase's cock, grabbing it tightly. Surprised by the sudden contact, the younger man's hips bucked, pushing against House's thighs and loin. Using the movement to his advantage, House grabbed Chase by the hips and pulled him even closer until his behind was resting on his thighs.
Content with the set-up, House's hand slowly began moving, rubbing along the length of Chase's cock in even strokes. He felt Chase respond to it and quickly put a steadying hand on his hips to keep him in place and force him to accept the deliberate slowness of his ministrations.
"I told you there's nothing wrong with an expertly performed handjob..." he murmured, watching Chase's face closely for response. He could tell the other man was frustrated with the speed, but he was also aroused, the subtle leak of pre-come adding to the slickness of the lube bearing witness to that.
When House performed a special twist with his wrist that he knew never failed its effect, Chase bit back a cry of lust, his eyelids fluttering shut as pleasure began to take over, overriding his need to watch.
House picked that moment to speed up with his strokes, now needing more force to steady Chase's hips against his body as the young man was starting to buck wildly, responding to each stroke with a thrust of his pelvis. Chase was getting rather vocal now, moaning unabashedly with every rub of his fist.
As he was looking down on the other man, sandy hair fanned out on the bed and cheeks flushed with excitement, lost in his own ecstasy, House couldn't help but think that he'd never seen anything so beautiful in his entire life. This impression was reinforced when Chase's body suddenly went rigid, a strange mix of pleasure and pain painted across his handsome features before he threw his head back in a voiceless scream as he found his release.
House found himself moaning too as he let the pulsating cock slide into his fist, the warmth of the other man's peak spilling through his fingers. He rubbed his other hand across Chase's stomach in slow circles, feeling the muscle spasms of the aftermath of his climax.
Since Chase was still basking in the afterglow, House shifted to grab a discarded shirt from the floor to wipe off his hand and Chase's stomach, then he scooted up, stretching out next to the other man. With unexpected tenderness, he brushed a wet strand of hair out of Chase's face before leaning in to capture his mouth in a deep kiss.
It took Chase a moment before he managed to reach up and pull House's head deeper into the kiss, returning it with devotion. After a couple of slow kisses when their lips parted, Chase was still panting as he looked up to House with amazed eyes. House returned the glance seriously and he could see by the way the glimmer in Chase's eyes faded that he knew that this was the end now.
Withdrawing his hand slowly, Chase shuffled to the side, sitting up with a regretful sigh. "Well, that was amazing," he said lightly, unable to keep the sadness out of it completely. "I guess I should leave now though. I don't think you're the kind who likes to cuddle up with one-night-stands."
House had moved to the end of the bed now, resting his back against the headboard. He didn't know what to reply to that since part of him was grateful that Chase was offering such an uncomplicated exit strategy. "You can stay for a while, if you want," he offered anyhow.
Chase shook his head. "No... I think it's better if I just leave now and we won't talk about this again. Let's just notch this one up to one crazy drunken night."
"If that's easier for you?"
After a moment of hesitation, Chase nodded. "Yeah, I think it is." For a moment, he looked terribly forlorn.
Sighing softly, House motioned for the other man to come closer. Chase complied and sat down next to him, turning to face him. House reached out for him and pulled him close. After a gentle kiss, he said, "I'm sorry."
Chase laughed without mirth. "For what? For being in love with Dr. Wilson?"
House froze. He let his hand drop from the younger man's shoulder. "How..."
A shrug. "It's obvious. Not only by watching the two of you together, but also observing the way you've been acting ever since Dr. Wilson took his leave of absence. Of course that could have meant that Wilson ran off with your girlfriend or something, but then there's the fact that we're both here right now which suggests that you don't mind doing these things with men."
Apparently finding amusement in House's confoundedness, Chase went on. "There's a baseball mitt on the floor behind the chair at the bookshelf. You don't play baseball as far as I know, but Dr. Wilson does and the fact that he left his mitt here suggests that he likes spending his free time with you."
He pointed behind them. "Oh, and then there's Dr. Wilson's tie that's hanging down the nightstand lamp over there which you probably just forgot. Not to mention the shirts that you'd never be caught dead in and that are scattered all over the bedroom floor."
"I was trying to get rid of them..." House tried to explain meekly.
Chase gave him a sad smile. "Don't. Either you two get back together, in which case you'll need them, or you won't and in which case you'll want them." He got up and grabbed his own clothes, putting them on slowly.
House watched the young man get dressed, his mind still racing from what he'd just heard. When Chase was almost done and turned to him he forced himself to snap out of it and said, "Shall I take you back to your apartment?"
Closing the last buttons of his shirt, Chase shook his head. "No, I'll take a cab."
"Then let me at least call one for you." House reached for the phone on the beside table. After talking to the taxi service he hung up and said, "It'll be there in fifteen minutes." For a moment he thought how on earth they were going to bridge those awkward minutes.
Chase must have had similar thoughts since he said, "And you're sure you don't want me to blow you while we wait?"
The thought of his cock sliding past Chase's full lips sent a tingle of arousal down his spine, yet House shook his head gently. "Positive."
"Well, I hope Dr. Wilson appreciates this kind of loyalty," Chase said with a sigh and exited the bedroom, leaving House to get dressed alone.
When House joined the other man in the living room five minutes later, he found him sitting on the couch, finishing his drink pensively. He got up when he saw House in the doorway. "Listen, I..." House began awkwardly when Chase stopped in front of him.
"You're not going to apologize again, are you?" Chase looked at him calmly.
Feeling busted, House shook his head anyhow. "No, I was just..."
"Look, there's nothing to be sorry for. You..." Chase took a deep breath. "You gave me a glimpse of what could have been and it'll be enough for me to last. So stop feeling sorry. I'm happy." A small smile lit up his face. "Besides, after knowing what you can do with your hands I dread to think what you'd do with your entire body. Maybe it's a good thing we didn't go all the way."
House let out a soft laugh. It was interrupted when Chase stepped up to him and closed his mouth with a gentle, almost timid kiss. He didn't really return it, but Chase didn't seem to expect him to anyway.
When Chase pulled back, he almost looked like his own self again, the vulnerable impression erased from his face. "Thank you," he said softly.
The doorbell prevented a reply. Without another word, just nodding a good-bye, Chase held his glance one last time before disappearing through the front door.
After Chase was gone, House leaned against the wall, his knees suddenly feeling weak. He felt a leaden tiredness weighing down on him. Slowly, he walked into the kitchen and got himself a glass of water from the tab. As he drank it his eyes fell on the counter where Steve was bustling around in his cage.
Following a whim, House put the glass aside, opened the cage and gently lifted Steve out of it. Feeling the rat's soft fur against the skin of his neck was strangely soothing and he stroked Steve for a couple of minutes thoughtfully before putting him back into his cage.
Then he switched off all the lights and went back to the bedroom. Looking around with resignation he thought that he'd need to change the sheets tomorrow, or definitely before Wilson got back, and he probably should start cleaning up some too. It would be weird to explain to Wilson why he'd been sleeping on a pile of his clothes for the past two weeks.
But for now his bedroom could stay the way it was. With a tired sigh, House eased himself onto the mattress and let his thoughts wander off.
Some time later, he used his cane to fish for the shirt he'd used earlier to clean them both off. With a twinge of remorse he realized that he'd used one of Wilson's shirts for it. He brought the cloth to his face and sniffed it, sucking in a strange mix of Chase and Wilson. The scent was somewhat arousing and House felt his cock stir. He fell asleep with images of making love to two beautiful men.
When House entered his office on Monday he immediately made a dash for his computer. He had made it a point to not come in on Sunday since he had needed the time to clear his thoughts and he hadn't wanted to come in on two weekends in a row since that would have roused suspicion quickly. Of course he had also wanted to let Wilson stew a bit longer, but that had just been a side effect.
So he had spent most of his Sunday brooding until he had succumbed and started picking up the bedroom, putting all the clothes that had been beyond salvation into the hamper and folding the others back up neatly in a way Wilson hopefully wouldn't find suspicious before putting them back into the closet. He had felt oddly at peace as he had taken Wilson's things out of the plastic bag again and put them back on their usual spots. He was ready now.
After the computer had finished booting and House opened his mailbox he was immediately greeted by a series of emails from Wilson. He opened the first one.
Subject: Any news?
I guess you didn't go in on Saturday this time. I didn't really expect you to anyway. It's the big day after all, isn't it? What are your plans for Chase? Dinner and a movie? Heh, of course it doesn't make sense that I'm asking you all this since you won't be reading this until after the fact.
I have to admit I was a little surprised when you said you'd be going out with Chase. I mean, we've both joked about his ambiguous sexuality and his perchance of landing in bed with colleagues before, but I didn't think you'd consider him dating material. But on second thought, it makes sense. He's young, slender, pretty, sensual lips, lithe body... probably great in bed... Oh God, please don't fall in love with him!
House's heart was thumping in his chest by the time he had finished reading the mail. It felt incredibly good to know that Wilson was worried about him falling in love with Chase. It meant that Wilson was jealous and that coming from a notorious philanderer just had to mean something.
He opened the next mail which had been sent a couple of hours later on the same day.
Since I'm not really expecting you to mail me back any time soon I'm going to just write a quick message to keep you up to date. I took Grace to the hospital yesterday afternoon. She hasn't been doing so well lately, so I insisted that we drive in and have a couple of tests run. Looks like her tumor's remission has stopped and it's growing again. Grace is back on her pain medication, but because the dosage has to be stronger now she's not feeling well. I'm going to take her back in on Monday for more tests.
Closing the mail again, House thought about what he'd just read for a moment. He wasn't so sure how he felt about this. His emotions were too conflicted to really pinpoint them, so he moved on to the next mail.
Subject: How was the date?
So... it's late Saturday evening here which means... Oh crap, wait, it means you're probably still ON the date. The damn time shift is so confusing. Oh God... maybe you're doing it this very minute! You'll have to give me a detailed report, you hear me? Unlike you I want to know everything. I think that's only fair. After all I want to know what you'll be fantasizing about later.
I should probably go to bed, but I find it hard to rest. Upsetting thoughts are keeping me awake. Grace is sleeping now but she wasn't doing well at all earlier. Her body isn't used to her medication anymore and she's been throwing up a lot. I don't think it'll last very much longer...
Oh well, I hope you're having a great time. Really, I do.
House found himself smiling a little. He still hadn't decided what he was going to tell Wilson about the date. He opened the next message.
It's Sunday now. Well after the date, I hope. Unless... Okay, not thinking about that. You'll remember to tell me how it was, right?
Things are getting kind of boring here. Not a lot of things to do on a Sunday and Grace isn't up for anything. I understand that of course. I'm trying to make her as comfortable as I can. I've called her brother to give him an update on her situation. When I called he thought I was going to tell him his sister died. That was a little awkward.
Not much else to tell. Still missing you. Dreaming about kissing you, making love to you... I hate to admit it, but I don't know how I'll take it if you tell me after all this that you don't want me in your life anymore. That's keeping me up at night, too.
That was the last message Wilson had sent. House stared at it for a long time, unable to really grasp the way he was feeling right now. It felt strange that now that he finally was at peace with himself and with this "thing" Wilson seemed to fall apart, no longer certain of his grand scheme. The term of poetic justice came to mind, but for now it just made him ridiculously happy.
He opened an all new message and began typing.
Subject: The Date!
Looks like you really were bored this weekend (with the exception of those complications with Grace which I'm sorry about btw). Well, I for one wasn't bored. I had a great time with Chase. Since you asked, here's the full report.
We went to see the exhibition of Medical Horrors of the 19th Century. I really wanted to go see it with you, but it was nice with Chase anyhow. Afterwards we went to an Australian pub. Chase was funny, adorable and absolutely seductive. When I watched him suck his coffee through a biscuit I wanted to drag him to the restroom and take him right there. We kissed in front of the pub and his lips tasted like chocolate.
I took him back to my place where we talked a little and decided on some casual sex with no strings attached. He was fully understanding of my situation. You'd be surprised how perceptive he is in these matters.
I took him to my bed and caressed every inch of his body. I kissed his lips and was really turned on, ready to fuck his brains out. However, when I was about to I couldn't get it up. I bet you find that really funny now. Ha-ha.
Anyway, since I didn't want to leave the poor guy with a hard-on like that I gave him one of my special handjobs which I think you appreciate too. He definitely enjoyed it. When he came he was a beautiful sight. He left soon after and I spent the rest of the weekend alone.
There, are you happy now? This is exactly what happened.
I think this experiment is all but over. I for one have figured out what I need to know. Now it's your turn. We'll talk about this when you get back.
After he'd sent the mail off, House limped into the conference room and poured himself some coffee. It was still early so he'd have at least half an hour before the team would start trickling in. He decided to spend the time surfing joke sites on the net.
When twenty minutes later the door opened and Cameron came in, House barely acknowledged it with a nod. He knew she'd start working through the mail first anyway. Soon after, Foreman strutted in, tossing an issue of Forbes on the table while taking off his coat. He heard them talk to each other in soft voices, probably sharing the details of their weekends with each other.
For a moment House amused himself with the idea of adding his own stories to the conversation, probably shocking them both into an aneurysm. It probably wouldn't so much be the fact that Chase had ended up sleeping with someone yet again, but rather that this someone had been their boss. Oh, the look on their faces would be delicious.
Still he decided against it. Part of him wanted to avoid the endless comments that would no doubt ensue. Not to mention the very probable complications of him having sex with one of his fellows, even though he probably would have been able to talk himself out of those. But another part of him wanted to keep the memory for himself, so he vowed to himself to abstain from any insinuation whatsoever. Now he only hoped Chase would see it the same way.
He soon got his answer when the door opened again and Chase walked in, casually taking off his messenger bag and putting it on a free chair. As he was taking off his jacket, his glance wandered over to House's office briefly and their eyes connected across the room.
If House had expected some kind of acknowledgement, something that would have hinted at what had happened between them, he was sorely disappointed. Chase barely nodded his usual good morning nod before focusing his attention on Cameron who had walked up to him with some kind of paperwork.
Shrugging, House directed his attention back at the level of Need For Speed which he was going to lose anyway.
Wilson didn't write back that day. House didn't think much about it, assuming that Wilson needed some time to digest his email. Or maybe he was worried about what kind of conclusion he'd reached. Too bad for him, he'd have to wait until he got back to get the verdict either way.
That night, House got home late, ordered pizza and watched all the episodes of The O.C. he had TiVo'd. He fell asleep a couple of times while watching, but it didn't really seem to harm the plot. Around 2 AM he dragged himself into bed, now with a fresh sheet and void of scattered shirts, and fell asleep in his clothes.
He arrived late at the office the next day, but since there wasn't any mail waiting for him in his inbox anyway he didn't feel like he had missed anything. He spent the rest of the day dodging Cuddy who obviously had something important to talk about with him and riding Foreman about finally finding him an interesting case for him.
When there still was no mail on Wednesday, House reached the conclusion that Wilson either was too occupied to mail back, or maybe he'd lost his online connection - along with his ability to pick up a phone and call - , or he had decided to cease all contact until they could talk face to face again. Either way, House stopped expecting mails.
This of course opened a whole new dilemma for him since now he was out of ways to pass the time. Binge boozing and irresponsible prescription drug combinations just didn't cut it anymore and calling the escort service for company wasn't an option either. He was through with meaningless sex. Of course he could always spend his time playing video games or tickling the piano keys, but even that had lost its appeal for some reason.
So he did something he'd never thought he'd do: he actually signed up for extra clinic hours. The obvious reason for doing that had been that he'd work off the hours he was still owing faster, but the actual one was that he just couldn't find any other way to keep his mind occupied and from going crazy from the weirdest things.
Like on a particularly nasty episode he had envisioned Wilson and Grace walking hand in hand into Il Duomo, requesting a special marriage permit to celebrate the fact that somehow the Italian air had done wonders on the cancer which was now in complete remission. The vision had been complete with them embarking on a romantic honeymoon to Venice, finding a cozy cottage somewhere on the countryside and then growing old together in movie fast forward with a sleuth of children popping up around them. It had been very scary.
It was early Friday morning when the phone finally rang. It yanked House out of a fantastic dream involving Cameron Diaz and copious amounts of vanilla pudding so it took him a moment to focus and realize the disruptive noise was the phone. He fumbled for it in the darkness, knocking over an open bottle of pills in the process, sending them skidding all across the floor.
He picked up with a curse.
"Uh... I'm sorry, did I wake you up?" Wilson's voice sounded distant and empty.
Clutching the phone tighter to his ear, House rose into a sitting position. He flicked a quick glance at the alarm clock and grimaced. "It's 4:30, Phileas."
"I'm sorry," Wilson repeated. The line went quiet, just the faint hissing of a long-distance connection between them.
"Don't worry," House said after a while. "I have Ann Coulter's latest book to help me go back to sleep in no time." The comment didn't result in the usual laugh that House would have expected. Instead, there was more silence.
With the pose putting uncomfortable strain on his thigh, House shifted around, switching the phone to the other ear in the process. That way, he almost missed the next thing Wilson said.
"Grace is dead."
House froze for a second. "What?"
A sigh of exasperation could be heard on the other side. "Don't make me say it again. It's over."
What did you say in situation like this? House never knew. "Okay," he said.
Another stretch of silence.
"So, when are you coming home?"
"I've..." Wilson sighed. Every single word seemed to cause him pain. "I've called her brother... He's making the arrangements. It's... it's in his hands now." House could hear Wilson rub his hand across his face. "I'm taking the next available flight. I'll arrive Saturday at 8:43 PM at Philadelphia International."
"I'll be there," House said before he even had the chance to think about it. He heard Wilson exhale in relief on the other end.
"Don't mention it." House waited for Wilson to say something else, but instead he heard the click of the line being cut, followed by the dial tone.
House walked into the arrival area of the airport shortly after nine o'clock. It's not like he had tried to be late on purpose, but somehow everything seemed to have decided to work against him that day.
The Friday had been surprisingly easygoing with clinic duty offering a couple of interesting, but not too longwinded cases he had been able to take care off without needing to deal with the hordes of coughing and sniffling kids that always seemed to populate the waiting rooms close to weekends, because that's when the parents finally paid attention to their kids. He'd called it an early day and returned to the apartment to give it a last look-over, preparing everything for Wilson's arrival.
Saturday morning still had seemed harmless at first, too. He had slept in, then enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in front of the TV with some of the foodstuffs he had bought the day before in expectation of Wilson's cooking. It had been a nice and quiet morning.
But then things had gone downhill fast. First, the doorbell had rung and some overweight guy with a Brooklyn accent had informed him that they needed to turn off the water for the entire house since the guy upstairs needed some plumbing fixed and House hadn't even had the chance to shower yet.
Then his beeper had gone off, calling him in for an emergency with an alleged case of Hirschsprung's disease which turned out to a common gastroenteritis instead. That hadn't kept the patient from vomiting all over his shirt though.
With his apartment's water cut off, House had had no choice but to shower in the staff's changing room, scrubbing his body with medicinal soap for lack of options. Of course he hadn't thought to bring in clothes to change, so he had been forced to grab one of Wilson's shirts which he kept in the closet in his office.
By the time he had managed to get everything done, it had already been half past eight, so he had had barely time to grab snack from the vending machine, find Wilson's spare keys in his office and then locate his car in the garage.
He had had no time to double-check the route to the airport, so of course he'd taken the I-95 in the wrong direction first. An accident on Bartram Avenue had delayed him further and then when he had finally pulled into the parking garage at the airport he'd realized that he hadn't brought his disabled parking badge, so he had been forced to cruise around for a parking space for another ten minutes.
When he had finally parked and gotten out of his car, he'd banged his thigh on a stray trolley and missed the elevator down, delaying him for another five minutes. It was around that time that he had realized that he didn't even know the flight number or terminal, so he had spent another five minutes perusing the Arrival tables to find a flight matching the arrival time, only to find that it had landed twenty minutes ago.
Now as he limped into the area bustling with people handling their baggage, hugging each other and chatting, he felt irritated, sweaty and in pain. Downing an emergency pill from his jeans pocket, he scanned the arrival area.
"I was just about to call a cab," a familiar voice rang out behind him.
House spun around. Wilson rose from his seat, surrounded by his blue Samsonite and black carry-on bag. He looked exhausted with his hair in disarray and dark shadows under his eyes. He didn't smile, but House could see the warmth in Wilson's brown eyes which he suddenly realized he'd missed so dearly.
"Yeah... sorry. Traffic was murder," House offered as an explanation, not really feeling like getting into detail. He noticed Wilson's look flicker to his jacket which he had unzipped during his marathon through the airport hallways.
"Are you wearing one of my shirts?" Wilson asked, nonplussed.
House groaned inwardly. "Long story."
Shouldering his bag, Wilson said with a faint smile, "Guess we've got something to talk about on the ride back then."
They didn't talk much on the ride back home. Reluctantly, House had offered his account of the events which had led to his lateness and strange apparel. Wilson had laughed in response and for a moment everything had seemed normal. But then the space had expanded between them and House hadn't known how to fill it. So they had completed the rest of the drive in silence.
Back in Princeton, House parked in front of his apartment and walked around the car to open the trunk. Wilson appeared next to him, looking hesitant for a moment. Then he said, "No, leave the baggage in the car."
House shot him a surprised glance. "Don't you need your stuff?"
Wilson sighed. "I... think it's best if I take a room in a hotel for now."
Hoping the disappointment didn't show on his face, House nodded curtly. "Okay." He hesitated. "But you know that my door is always open, right?" House wanted to whack himself for saying such a cheesy line.
Burying his hands in his pocket, Wilson scraped his heel across the asphalt once. "I know... I just..."
Sparing Wilson the trouble of explaining, House took a step back from the trunk and handed Wilson the key. "I'll see you around then, I guess," he said. He lingered for another moment, seeing as Wilson did the same.
"Yes..." Wilson replied. He turned towards the car and House felt cheated out of the great reunion that he had secretly expected. But then Wilson stopped mid-motion, the key dangling loosely between his fingers.
"Jimmy?" House asked.
Wilson didn't turn around at first. He just stood there, staring out in front of him. Then he suddenly spun around, almost colliding with House who had stepped behind him. His arms went around House's body to steady him and then their lips met in a short but sweet kiss. It was over before House had a chance to react.
"I'll see you tomorrow," Wilson whispered firmly. Then he got into his car and drove off, leaving a stunned House behind.
As House watched the car disappear around the corner, the feeling of disappointment reared up once more. Bent on not letting that faze him, he took the two steps up to his front door and let himself in.
He went straight for the kitchen to grab a beer from the fridge. His eyes fell on the colorful bunch of flowers he had picked up on whim at that street merchant the other day. He grabbed it and tossed it into the trashcan.
Washing down a Vicodin with his beer, he limped straight to his bedroom, kicking off his shoes on his way through the hall. He dropped the rest of his clothes as he approached the bed until only his briefs and the shirt were left. He finished off the beer, put the bottle haphazardly on a stack of books on the night table and rolled up in bed.
As he waited for sleep to come, tormenting questions were spinning in his mind. Why had Wilson been so distanced? Which conclusions had he reached while he had watched his girlfriend die and was there still room for him, for them, in his life now? Merciful sleep stopped him from trying to find the answers that nobody but Wilson could give him.
The scent of freshly brewed coffee rose House from his sleep. He was awake immediately. As he swung his legs out of bed, he heard the clinking of plates coming from the kitchen. Warily, he left his bedroom and padded down the hallway, cautiously peeking around the corner once he reached it.
He found Wilson move around in the kitchen, carrying a plate with toast. As if he had sensed his presence, Wilson looked up and smiled when he spotted him. "Good morning," he said.
Frowning, House looked at the evidence of prepared breakfast in front of him. "I seem to remember that you drove off to take a hotel room last night."
Wilson sighed. "I just needed some time to think." He scanned House. "Okay, you're sleeping in my shirt. This is getting creepy now," he commented dryly.
House looked down on himself and realized he was still wearing the shirt he had taken from Wilson's office the other day. "Uh... I just didn't feel like changing last night when I got to bed," he said, feeling slightly embarrassed.
Pouring coffee into a mug, Wilson shot him a reproachful glance. "That's a bad habit, you know that."
Refusing to say anything in reply to that, House took the coffee and took a deep gulp. His tongue rejoiced at the taste. Somehow Wilson's coffee always tasted better.
"Your place is less of a chaos than I would have expected," Wilson continued, unfazed by his silence. He motioned towards the cupboards. "There's food in the storage, fresh produce in the fridge..." He dropped his hand. "Looks like you didn't miss me at all."
House could have sworn he'd heard a hint of sadness in Wilson's statement. Circling the mug with his hands, he looked into the black liquid, watching the little foamy island spin. He wanted to say that it wasn't true, but somehow it wouldn't leave his mouth. He took another sip from his coffee.
"I've gotten the last bits of my things from Grace's apartment. I left the key there, as arranged with her brother. Good thing that most of my stuff is in storage anyway." He handed House a slice of toast with peanut butter. When he took it without a word, Wilson sighed in exasperation. "Aren't you going to say anything?"
Standing there with the toast in one hand and the coffee mug in the other, House felt incredibly vulnerable for a moment. "I'm still waiting for the good parts," he said before biting off a piece of the toast.
Wilson rolled his eyes at him and starting drinking his own coffee.
House took the moment of silence to look around the kitchen island, noting with satisfaction that Wilson had brought croissants and fresh tangerines. But as the silence dragged on, he started to feel it weighing down on him as well. "So, when are you going to say the important bits?" he asked, chewing on his toast slowly.
House swallowed. "Well, for example which great wisdoms you have brought home from your journey of self-discovery. Any noteworthy revelations, insights I should know about? Are you a better man now?"
Wilson stared at him thoughtfully for a moment. "I could be saying the same. You said in your last mail that you've reached some conclusions. Now I'm dying to know what they are. How was your romp through the beds of the hospital staff and what did you find out about yourself while you stroked your handsome employee to orgasm?"
Feeling his cheeks flush a little at the memory, House said with a defiant note in his voice. "I want you to say it first though."
"Why should I say it first?" Wilson exclaimed.
House shrugged. "It was your idea after all. We've only gone through this because of you, so I think I have the right to preserve at least that last shred of my dignity."
Wilson crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Oh, you mean so you can change sides in case I'm saying something else?" When House didn't say anything in reply, he suggested, "We could say it at the same time."
Getting annoyed with Wilson's delaying tactics, House shouted, "Don't be ridiculous. Just spit it out already!"
Slumping his shoulders in defeat, Wilson sighed. "Fine..." He took a strengthening breath and looked House firmly into the eye. "I really want this. Us. During those past weeks I have come to realize quite a few things." He hesitated for a moment. "One of them is that I want this thing we've got... I want it to happen. Maybe more than I've ever wanted anything else in my life."
House released a long breath and leaned against the counter, weakened with relief.
Noting his response, Wilson gave him a small smile. "There are so many things I want to do. I'd like to start by focusing all my needs to nurture and coddle solely on you now, if you don't mind."
Trying to keep the emotion out of his voice but failing miserably, House said softly, "Not at all." Then he added more firmly, "As a matter of fact, you can start right away by slicing me up one of those tangerines."
Wilson laughed. "Not quite what I had in mind, but okay." He took one of the tangerines and started peeling it. House watched him pick the fibers off the flesh, then separate the slices and put them on a plate. Wilson offered the plate to him, but instead of taking it, House opened his mouth.
Rolling his eyes with a grin, Wilson stepped closer and placed one tangerine slice into House's mouth.
"So, does that mean that you and me... there's potential?" House asked casually as he chewed.
Wilson released a shuddering breath. "God, House..." He put the plate aside and put both hands on House's shoulders, looking him deeply into the eyes. "What I'm saying is that I'm ready to commit to you, completely. If you'll still have me, that is."
Basking in the look of insecurity in Wilson's eyes, House took a moment to chew down the rest of the tangerine slowly before wrapping his arms loosely around Wilson's waist, pulling him close. "That is fortunate," he murmured close to the other man's mouth. "Because I happen to have reached a similar conclusion."
"What, that The O.C. is only half as funny when it's been dubbed into Italian?"
"Yes, that and that I can't imagine what we've got with anybody else. I've tried it out, I've looked around... and I've reached one startling conclusion."
"And that would be?" Wilson's breath tickled against his chin.
Sighing, House placed a tender kiss on the other man's lips. "Not only have you made me gay for you, you've also made me not gay for anybody else." At Wilson's confused look, he chuckled. "You know Cuddy. She's a babe, but somehow she just didn't do it for me. When I was in bed with Chase and had that unfortunate bedroom malfunction, it wasn't because Chase wasn't hot or turning me on. It was because I just couldn't help but think about doing these things with you."
House could see the look of smugness spread on Wilson's face, but he didn't care. "You've ruined me for everybody else. So you better own up to your responsibility. As an act of fairness I think you should give me lots of sex anytime that I want from now on, considering I haven't really had a single fulfilling experience over those past three weeks."
"Not counting the blowjob from the hooker," Wilson threw in casually.
"No, that one doesn't count. It was awful," House replied spontaneously. When he saw the gleam of triumph in Wilson's eyes, he added grudgingly, "Let's not talk about that one, please. I shouldn't have..."
Wilson leaned in quickly for another kiss. "It's in the past. Let's talk about the future now." He started opening the buttons of House's shirt. "So why don't you start by taking off my shirt and then we go to your bedroom and start negotiating about just how much sex you'd consider 'lots'..."
"Hmm... that sounds good," House sighed, enjoying the feeling of Wilson's hands on his body. But as his chest was slowly revealed, a nagging thought became louder and louder in his mind and he put a halting hand on top of Wilson's groping fingers. "There's one more thing we need to talk about first, though."
Wilson looked up to him, arousal clouding his brown eyes while his hand was still playing with his chest. "Mmh? What else?"
Pushing Wilson gently away by the shoulders, House said, "Whereas I'm usually all for using sex as a means to avoid annoying conversations I think in this case we still need to talk about this last one and then we'll never mention it again."
Sobering, Wilson dropped his hands. "Fine. Let's talk about Grace then." He turned around, leaning with his back against the kitchen island. "During the past weeks I've come to realize quite a few things. Not just about us, but also about myself. What I've experienced... it has changed me."
He didn't look at House as he spoke, very softly. "I've seen people die before, have accompanied on their road to death, tried to make them as comfortable about it as possible. But this time it was different. It was closer, more personal. And in a way this is what I'd wanted. I wanted to see how I'd deal with this, how I'd feel of the person was close to me. And now I know. It's not as great as I thought it'd be." He sighed again, rubbing his hand across his face. "After a while, I've started to feel disgusted with myself. With taking advantage of this situation for my own personal satisfaction..."
Turning around, Wilson returned House's even look. "I won't lie, I enjoyed being the focus of all her attention, of being the only one who could make her feel better. It was great to know that I was doing a good thing, making her... her final days as pleasant as possible. It was important. And still... after a while I just got bored with it all."
Sadness crept in his voice as he continued. "It was terrible to realize that I was getting bored with something that usually should have been a dream come true for me. It wasn't so much her fault but mine. I gave her everything I had until I was empty and then she still needed more. More than I could give."
His voice broke and he paused to compose himself. "But I held up my end of the bargain," he whispered softly. "I was with her till she died. I held her hand when she drifted off and I was there when the EKG flatlined. I'm free now."
House looked at him for a while. Then he asked quietly, "So, are you done with this now?"
Wilson gave a shaky laugh and nodded. "Yes, I'm done."
"No more needy girlfriends and dying patients that will whisk you away from my side past your usual office hours?"
Another nod. "No more."
"No unfinished business, issues left to deal with, extra baggage..."
This time, Wilson didn't say anything anymore, just nodded weakly. Suddenly he froze mid-motion and clasped his hand over his mouth, stifling a sob. A shudder rocked his shoulders as he was struggling for his composure.
House watched him closely, waiting for Wilson's final reply. When it didn't come and he just stood there, locked in a silent combat with his inner demons, House put a comforting hand on the other man's shoulder.
This gesture seemed to have snapped Wilson's self-control like a brittle twig and he threw himself into House's arms, pressing his face against his shoulder. "I'm sad," he choked out.
Although House had expected some kind of outburst, he still felt a little at a loss now. "I know," he said softly, rubbing one hand slowly across Wilson's back. He felt another shiver rake through his body.
"I'm sorry..." Wilson whispered after a while as he pulled back, his eyes gleaming with uncried tears.
"At least I know you're human now," House replied, letting his hands drop down casually on the other man's hips.
Wilson laughed. Then he sobered abruptly and looked at House. "I love you," he said. He must have noticed the stunned look on House's face, because he added quickly, "You don't have to say anything in reply. Just..." He took a step towards him and sealed his lips with a kiss.
House sighed gratefully and wrapped his arms around Wilson's body, pulling him closer.
They kissed idly for a while, simply enjoying having the other one close. But soon House noticed the subtle changes in Wilson's behavior, the quickened breath, the urgent pulls and encouraging sighs, and felt his body respond. He pressed his hips tightly against Wilson's to show him the extent of his arousal.
Wilson pulled back and looked at him hungrily.
"Oh-oh..." House said teasingly. "Maybe I spoke too soon. Right now you very much look like you're about to sink your teeth into my flesh."
"Oh, I could definitely unleash my unholy desires on you," Wilson replied huskily. "But it's not exactly your blood I'd like to suck right now."
House shuddered at the unspoken promise. "Perhaps we should take this to the bedroom then."
"That sounds like a good idea." Wilson took him by the hand and led him along. In the bedroom, he immediately sat down on the bed and reached out for House who evaded him smoothly.
"I've got different plans," House murmured and pushed Wilson back on the bed. He silenced the protest with a kiss while he began working on the fly of Wilson's pants, slid open the zipper and reached inside to take his cock into a firm grasp.
Wilson moaned into the kiss and pushed his hips against House's fist. His moan turned into a surprised cry when House pulled away, moved down his body and took his cock into his mouth without an introduction.
"God, House!" Wilson arched his back when House let his tongue flicker across the swollen head of his member. "Don't... ah... don't you think we're rushing things? Shouldn't we at least get undressed?" he asked between pants.
House pulled away and grinned up at the other man. "You're welcome to shed your clothes. I've got my hands - and mouth - full down here." Then he sucked Wilson's erection back into his mouth, working on it mercilessly.
Soon, Wilson's hand dug into his hair, trying to push him away. "House... House, stop, I'm going to come! Ah..."
Plucking the hand out of his hair, House pushed it up until it was resting right next to Wilson's head. He was about to pull his own hand back, when Wilson turned his face and captured one of his fingers between his teeth, biting down on it.
Moaning in surprise at the pain, House refused to let that distract him from his efforts and he clung onto Wilson's hips, continuing to work his cock with his mouth until the other man came with a loud groan. His teeth's clasp on his finger intensified for a second as the convulsions of his climax shook him, but then he relaxed and let go of House's finger.
Sighing inwardly with relief, House continued suckling gently until Wilson's cock was soft and spent and slid from his mouth. He briefly checked out the bite mark on his left ring finger before moving upward to kiss Wilson.
The other man was still breathing heavily when House pulled away to look down on his flushed face.
"Why did you make me come?" Wilson asked between pants, half accusingly, half dreamily.
House smiled and rubbed a thumb across Wilson's moist cheek. "I thought that was the idea of giving head."
Wilson laughed shakily. "Well, there's this crazy thing called foreplay, in case you haven't heard."
Leaning in for another quick kiss, House said, "You seemed like you needed a quick release to get your mind off things. Besides, you think just because you've gotten your rocks off now we're done? No way, Jos. It's been three weeks. I still got plenty of activities planned for us."
He flopped on his back and took off his briefs in one fluent motion, tossing them carelessly to the side. "For starters, you're going to fuck me now."
Wilson pushed himself up on his elbows and looked at House as if he'd grown an extra head. "But, House, I've just..."
Unbuttoning the shirt and shrugging out of it, House exclaimed, "Oh, ye of little faith... Why do people always think that fucking means moving your cock inside someone else's body until you come? There are so many ways..."
Wilson shot him a fiery glance. "Well, I'm glad you've done such extensive studies! And ew!"
"Don't be such a pussy and get over here." House gave his erection a seductive stroke. "Now is the time to drop your pants, by the way."
After a moment's hesitation, Wilson slid off the bed and started taking off his clothes under House's hungry stare. By the time the last article of his clothing fell, House had finished rolling on a condom and was now rubbing lube onto his cock with slow, deliberate movements.
"Time to get in the saddle, cowboy."
Wilson laughed softly as he got on the bed and straddled House's hips. "If I had known this was your great plan we could have saved ourselves a lot of talking." He grabbed House's cock and brushed a bit of lube off it which he used to prepare himself.
Watching him do this almost took more self-control than House was able to fake. He forced himself to keep his hands off Wilson by crossing them casually behind his head. "Oh, don't worry. You'll definitely be the one who's doing all the work. I intend to just lie here and enjoy the view."
"We'll see how far you go with that resolution," Wilson said with a mocking smile while he slowly eased himself onto House's cock. He released his breath once he was fully sheathed and just sat like this with closed eyes, getting used to the feel and occasionally rocking his hips a little bit.
"How about a little more hip action?" House asked through gritted teeth when Wilson still didn't move after a while.
Wilson opened his eyes and gave House an amused look. "Hey, you said it was my turn so you'll need to contend yourself with my pace."
"Yeah, until I flip you over and fuck you through the mattress," House growled, but didn't do anything to interfere. His discontent was soon swept away when Wilson lifted his hips and started the first thrusts with smooth ease.
House groaned gratefully and moved his hands down to dig them into the sheets in order to keep himself from grabbing Wilson's hips and driving himself faster into his warmth. He didn't want to betray just how turned on he was by the sight of Wilson's lithe body moving on top of him.
After a short while, House gave up on his resolve to not get involved and reached out for Wilson's hips, only to find his hands captured by the other man's and pressed against his own chest.
Wilson gave him a slow smile as he leaned in to kiss House passionately.
With a snarl, House freed his hands, pulled them out from between their bodies and clasped them around Wilson's body, fusing it against his chest as he began thrusting upwards to meet the maddening roll of Wilson's hips.
Wilson moaned into his mouth and his face slipped sideways, coming to rest in the moist bend of his neck. "Oh God, House..." His hands went around House's shoulder and he intensified their union as he clung on, his muffled moans vibrating against House's skin.
"I don't... remember you being... so vocal," House panted into Wilson's ear.
"Shut up," Wilson moaned as he rose to his hands, grinding himself into House's cock hard and fast.
As he watched the passion distort Wilson's handsome features, House felt the brush of his newly awakened erection against his stomach. With a grin, House grabbed it and began stroking it in time with Wilson's powerful thrusts. "See? I told you this would work," he murmured triumphantly when he heard Wilson bite back a gasp.
Soon, Wilson was arching his back, his entire body stiffening above him. A strangled cry rose from his chest and House felt the evidence of Wilson's climax warm and wet on his stomach. Squeezing the twitching erection tightly, his other hand dug into Wilson's hips and held it in place as he drove upwards one last time before finding his own release with a satisfied groan.
Wilson's body went slack and molded against his chest. House wrapped his arms around the other man's exhausted form and closed his eyes, waiting for his breathing to slowly return to normal.
After a seemingly endless while, Wilson slid off his body, slick with sweat and come and rolled to the side, reaching for the Vicodin bottle on the nightstand. He shook one pill out of the container and slipped it into House's mouth..
House swallowed the pill gratefully. "You're only doing this so we can go for another round later," he accused Wilson teasingly.
Pushing himself up on one elbow, Wilson grinned. "Of course. My nurturing instincts are inherently selfish, didn't you know that?" Rubbing his face into the stubble of House's cheek, he pressed a kiss on his chin and murmured, "Besides, I love your docile mood caused by Vicodin mixed with post-coital bliss."
Smiling softly, House ran his hand idly across Wilson's arm. His glance fell on the bite mark and he lifted his hand to inspect it. "Didn't think you were into biting," he said casually, turning his hand.
Blushing, Wilson murmured, "I'm sorry."
"A little lower and I could have cracked a wedding band joke."
Wilson leaned in with a chuckle.
They kissed for a long time, hands casually exploring the other one's body in the twilight of the darkened bedroom. When his lips started feeling sore from all the kissing, House asked Wilson to prepare some lunch for them while he went to take a shower. Ten minutes into the shower, Wilson joined him and another make-out session followed which ended in House coming against Wilson's stomach and the spaghetti boiling to a mush in the kitchen.
The rest of the day was spent alternating between talking, laughing and sex. They both knew that once real life caught up with them, the days free of care were over and they'd soon fall back into their old patterns, so they tried to make the most of it now. But something was different now. For the first time in years House felt at peace.
As it slowly turned dark outside, they were sitting on the couch together in perfect harmony, watching one of Wilson's film noir DVDs which he had had in his car. A couple of moderately edible sandwiches that House has slapped together were sitting half-eaten on a plate on the table. House's hand was resting casually in Wilson's lap, their fingers entwined in a way House would always deny if asked about, while Wilson's hand was playing with the back of House's neck.
"So, you're moving back in," House said, his eyes glued to the TV. It wasn't really a question.
"Yeah," Wilson replied impassively. He turned to look at House. "I'm not going to sleep on the couch though."
House shrugged. "I didn't think you were."
Satisfied, Wilson nodded and turned his attention back to the movie. "You'll need to clear out some space for me in the closet," he said after a while.
"I've already moved in most of your stuff that you've left here."
Wilson shot him a surprised look, then he nodded with a smile.
When the movie was over, Wilson got up and stretched with a yawn. "I'm going to bed, if you don't mind. Jetlag's a bitch sometimes." He leaned in and brushed House's mouth with a tender kiss, then grabbed his bag from the hall and walked into the bedroom.
House listened to him unpack his things into the closet, heard the clinking of different body care products being lined up on the shelf in the bathroom and he imagined his toothbrush and Vicodin bottle being moved to the side to make room for Wilson's stuff. He waited for half an hour after the sounds had stopped before getting up and walking into the bedroom.
He saw Wilson curled up on the bed in the soft light filtering in from the living room. He was lying on the right side of the bed, as he usually did when they shared it, knowing that getting out on the left side was easier for House's thigh. Wilson sighed softly when the mattress sagged under House's weight as he slipped under the covers.
Pulling the other man close to his chest, House closed his eyes. He had no intention of sleeping yet. He just wanted to enjoy this. He felt Wilson press a sleepy kiss against his arm and smiled.
Then he thought about the night ahead of him, of numb limbs and stolen blankets, disruptive snores and annoying coughs, of beepers and alarm clocks going off at the wrong time, blow dryers buzzing in the morning, occupied showers when he needed to leave early and arguments about his clothes lying around.
He predicted fights about his poker nights, his days of silence when he was busy thinking, his inability to remember important dates and his reckless driving, drinking and Vicodin dosage. He imagined the evenings together in front of the TV in dull monotony with nothing exciting ever happening except the occasional brush of a hand which led to kisses and making out.
They would spend the rest of their days like that, tumbling around between camaraderie, togetherness, wanting to tear each other's throats out, watching movies, going to sports events, annoying the hell out of each other, knowing what the other was thinking without saying a word, ranting about work and TV shows, playing pranks and having spectacular sex.
And he was okay with that.
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Legal Disclaimer: The authors published here make no claims on the ownership of Dr. Gregory House and the other fictional residents of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Like the television show House (and quite possibly Dr. Wilson's pocket protector), they are the property of NBC/Universal, David Shore and undoubtedly other individuals of whom I am only peripherally aware. The fan fiction authors published here receive no monetary benefit from their work and intend no copyright infringement nor slight to the actual owners. We love the characters and we love the show, otherwise we wouldn't be here.