House leaned back in his chair and swung his legs onto his desk. He picked up a paperweight, idly studying it while rolling the facts of the case around in his mind. As soon as the diagnosis formed in his mind, he lost interest. Let the team deal with it. They'd figure it out sooner or later.
He sighed. Now that the mystery was solved, the pain in his leg returned to the forefront of his mind. He reached into his pocket and brought out a Vicodin bottle. Damn. Empty. He looked in his desk drawers and found two more, both equally as empty. He opened a book on a nearby shelf and took the bottle he had stashed there, nestled in the hollow he had made in the pages. Empty. He let out a long, frustrated breath that hissed through his teeth, demonstrating the extent of his pain to the empty office. He tilted his head back and tried to focus his mind on something else. He felt very irritated.
Then there was a knock on the door. He looked up. Salvation.
Dr James Wilson stood in the doorway, a slight smile on his face.
"And how are we today, Dr House?" he said, with that kind of easy doctor charm both his patients and his lovers seemed to fall for time and time again.
House rolled his eyes and was about to deliver a cutting remark when -
"Is that a pill bottle in your hand?"
"Might be." Wilson was being coy.
"Vicodin, by any chance?"
House was sure it was. The Vicodin he was craving for right now. Best not to upset Wilson then.
House smiled inwardly. People were always trying to make him into a "better person". Turns out he didn't need love to be nice, he needed pills.
"Are you going to give me them, or am i going to have to beg?"
Wilson smiled. "You know you take too many as it is."
House feigned sincerity. "Oh, but i promise i'll be good. Pwetty pwetty pwease with a chewwy on top."
Wilson tossed him the pills. House rolled his eyes.
"Works every time."
"I know. How could i say no to a grown man imitating a schoolgirl?"
"Well, if you want next time i'll wear the uniform - might make it a bit more realistic for you."
Wilson walked away, chuckling to himself, in slight disbelief. Somehow House always got what he wanted. From his team, from Cuddy, from him. No-one can resist a witty cripple.
And House was nothing if not witty. It was that kind of high-level banter that kept Wilson on his toes, the stimulating conversation interspersed throughout his day that made his job just about bearable. Sometimes Wilson wondered why he had even got into oncology. Sometimes he thought he wouldn't even make it through the day, when it had got to the third time he'd had to tell somebody they were dying, and it was a kid, and their world fell apart, and not just theirs, their parents' too, and sometimes even Wilson's.
Wilson would have left long ago if it wasn't for the other times. The times when the cancer went into recession and never came back, the looks on people's faces after all the long months of suffering, to be set free...and sometimes suffering brought out the best in people. Families re-united, friendships rekindled, the bravery and courage and humanity he saw everyday in all of his patients. And, of course there was House.
But the problem with this situation was, even the good times were as emotionally draining as the bad ones. And House. He was the most draining of all. His friendship with House had almost lost him his job a couple of times, had certainly been a strain on his marriages, and he'd even lied to an officer of the law for him. All this, and he wasn't even sure that the man liked him back. Wilson had always suspected House had a soft spot for him, and he was House's only friend, yet, House being House, any friendly feelings were left unsaid, to drift through the atmosphere without being expressed. House was emotionally unavailable, a loner, who let almost nobody in. Wilson knew how lucky he was to even be this close to him. Even Stacy had felt alienated by him.
Wilson sighed, as he walked into his office and sat down. House was...an enigma. Even after this many years, everything they'd been through...Vogler, Tritter, Wilson's many women...he was still the ultimate mystery.
Despite this, House had always seemed to sure of himself, so outwardly confident, that people who knew him less well might fall for it and miss the inner mystery. Tritter had been quick to label House as a drugged-up junkie, an uncaring jerk, a two-dimensional character who he could easily take down. But Wilson knew differently. And he also knew that he and House were much alike, even though on the surface they couldn't be more different. People were quick to label him as the doctor who cared, the charming, loveable oncologist who never let anything get him down, the sensitive, patient guy whose patients thanked him even as he told them they were dying.
House was the only one who knew differently, knew the real Wilson. The Wilson behind the mask that everyone else saw and failed to look beyond. The Wilson that nursed his sorrows with a glass of whisky, that fell to pieces every time he had to tell a child they had cancer, that destroyed every relationship he had ever had. Every relationship except one. Wilson and House have stayed friends through everything.
And now Wilson was more confused than ever. His friendship with House had been just about the only stable thing in his life for the past few years at least, yet it was the very thing he was now forced to call into question. House was...House. It hurt his head to think about him as anything else.
But lately...things were changing. Emotions were rising inside of him, feelings he'd never felt before. Nowadays when their fingers touched by accident, their legs brushed as they walked side by side, it sent electricity up his spine. He had started to notice just how handsome House was, in a gruff, curmudgeonly sort of way. Those piercing blue eyes, those lips, so often used to deliver a remark equal parts devastating and spot on, and, very rarely, used to break into a genuine smile. Oh, when House smiled like that. Or even better, when he laughed.
Wilson rubbed his eyes. He was going insane. He wasn't supposed to feel like this. He was a red-blooded heterosexual male...or at least he'd thought so. House was turning his life upside down. It was just like House to be so difficult.
Wilson knew there was no point in trying to suppress these feelings. He'd tried that already, for the past few weeks, maybe even months. He would just have to acknowledge them, deal with them, and try to move on. Wilson considered seeing a therapist. It might work. Or it might not. And if he really was gay...no amount of therapy would change that. The thing he wanted most of all was the one thing he absolutely could not do. Telling House would do nobody any good. Wilson was fairly sure House didn't feel the same way, and telling House would probably mean the rest of the hospital knowing, and endless, merciless teasing. Oh, and it might just ruin their friendship. No, telling House was definitely out of the question.
But he wanted him so badly. So very badly. He had to see House now. Just to see his face. Talk to him. See those lips move, those eyes twinkle. Wilson glanced up at the clock. Almost the end of the work day. He could probably go round to House's place afterwards, like he usually did.
That was the thing that was killing him the most. House and Wilson were so close...maybe not emotionally, but Wilson was the only one House would let "take care" of him. And even then House would rather die than admit that was what Wilson was doing. Come over, cook dinner, tidy the place up, administer pain medication...of course, House didn't need taking care of at all. Although, Wilson had to admit, he needed House as much as House needed him. The reason he was round at House's place so much was because, really, he had nowhere else to go. His relationships with women were transient, even his marriages never lasted, something which he knew, even on the wedding day. He didn't like being alone. And, recently, he'd not just wanted to be around people, he'd wanted to be around one person specifically, for whatever reason. But being around House...it turned Wilson upside-down, it made his heart beat twice as fast, his skin sweat, his hands tremble...it was crazy. Wilson felt like a lovesick teenager, and he hated it.
Wilson got up with a sigh, and walked down the corridor. He stopped at House's office and looked it. House was getting up, in that laboured, painful way he always did, one hand clutching at his cane and the other on the desk, wincing a little. Wilson was overcome with sympathy, an emotion House couldn't stand. Best not to help him. House walked, as best as he could, towards the door.
"Hey. You coming?"
"Sure. Why not."
House and Wilson walked side by side down the hospital corridor, in relative silence. House's leg was paining him more than usual, and Wilson...well, Wilson had other things on his mind.
They reached the car park, both getting into Wilson's car and driving, uneventfully and, for the most part, silently, to House's place, in the kind of silent agreement borne from continual habit.
They reached the door, House shoving the key in the lock and turning, then throwing his weight against the door to open it. Wilson followed behind, allowing himself a look of concern when House wasn't watching. House stumbled onto the couch and lay down, letting out a long breath. Wilson went to the kitchen and returned with a glass of water.
"What's this?" House said uncertainly.
Wilson laughed. "Water, House. Remember? That wet thing people occasionally drink instead of alcohol?"
Wilson rolled his eyes.
"Get me alcohol."
Wilson walked back to the kitchen. He had known House long enough to stop expecting a polite request, to stop expecting the occasional 'please' or 'thank you'.
Wilson returned moments later with a tumbler of scotch, and placed it down on the coffee table in front of House. House reached out, took the glass and poured the whole lot down his throat in one go. Well, he never was one for etiquette.
Then he held out his hand expectantly.
"What do you want, House?" Wilson said, a little irritated.
Wilson took a deep breath. "House, you're a doctor. You should know alcohol and pills don't mix."
"You're no fun."
"House", Wilson began, then stopped. There was no point trying to argue. "Just no."
Wilson took a few steps in the direction of the kitchen to prepare something that vaguely looked like food when House called him back.
"What is it House?" he said, in a tone he didn't usually use, part irritated, part frustrated, part resigned to the rudeness of the man that was Gregory House.
House looked up at him, this time in a way Wilson couldn't remember him ever looking before. Then, with absolute honesty, he said, "It hurts."
Wilson let out a long, sad sigh. "House, i can't let you. It's dangerous."
House closed his eyes and looked pained.
Wilson knew what he had to do. He took a few steps forward and crouched down beside the sofa. He eased off House's shoes. He put his hands to House's belt buckle and started to undo it.
"Wilson?" House said, surprised and amused.
"Shut up House. It's for your own good." Wilson slid House's trousers down and took them off. His eyes rested on the scar tissue of House's leg, ugly and sad.
Wilson put his hands on it, and started massaging it gently. House let out a sigh of relief. Wilson worked his fingers carefully up and down the damaged leg, dissipating the pain through his soft, skilled fingers.
If someone were to think Wilson was enjoying this, they would be wrong. It was killing him, being so close to House, touching him, seeing the look on his face, eyes closed as the pain was gradually assuaged, but he did it anyway. Because House needed it. This was probably the first time all day the pain had faded, the massage doing what numerous Vicodin pills couldn't.
After fifteen minutes of gentle massage, Wilson stopped and stood up. The atmosphere was awkward for a moment.
"Thanks", House said quietly.
Wilson looked at House lying on the couch, the expression on his face, his trousers lying in a crumpled heap on the floor. So unlike House, and yet so like him. The sight was at once beautiful and heartbreaking.
Wilson walked, with measured paces, to the kitchen. Then he collapsed against the counter. He fumbled for a glass, turning the tap on and filling it with water. He felt numb.
It was a favour for a friend, only a favour for a friend and nothing more, he repeated over and over in his head. He could hear the noises of the television from the living room. Obviously House wasn't bothered by what had just occurred. But the truth of it was, it wasn't just a favour for a friend. It was House. Trusting Wilson enough to touch him, to make the pain go away, if only for a little while. House exposing a vulnerability Wilson was sure he had never exposed before.
Even if House would never feel the same way, a new level had just been opened up in their friendship. That should be enough for him, but it wasn't.
Wilson knew it never would be.
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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.