TITEL: Truth Begins in Lies
Part of the Denuo AU
(title shamelessly lifted from a quote from the pilot episode)


RATING: R (maybe very mild NC-17)

PAIRING: House/Wilson

DISCLAIMER: not mine. Wish I could have them, but whoever all owns them, I'm not trying to infringe on anything. All rights are with the creators of the show, the studios, whatever.

The Denuo universe was created by Lara Bee and myself.

Macx's Voice of Warning (aka Authors' Note): English is not my first language; it's German. This is the best I can do. Any mistakes you find in here, collect them and you might win a prize The spell-checker said everything's okay, but you know how trustworthy those thingies are.....

WARNINGS: paranormal element, slash (duh!), violence against oncologists

BETA: thanks to pocketmouse!

It was movie night. Officially declared by Dr. Gregory House, well-known and well-loathed diagnostician and physician at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, and announced to none other than Dr. James Wilson, head of oncology, an hour before the end of the oncologist's shift.

"House, I'm tired," Wilson said, pinching the bridge of his nose and then blinking at a file he had been given by a nurse. "I want to go home, sleep twelve hours..."

"Boring," House sang. "You blew off our last dinner, so it's movie night next? What has the world come to?"

Wilson sighed. Best, and probably only, friend or not... "House..."

"You bring the beer, I sponsor the pizza and the movie. How about it? Puleaze!" There had never been a sorrier sight than House begging, his lower lip sticking out and quivering a little, and the man knew this pretty well, taking advantage of it every time he saw fit.

The tired brown eyes reflected a moment's hesitation, then Wilson just sighed in defeat, giving in to his friend once again. "All right. Eight?"

"You'll be off in an hour!"

"I have paperwork."

"Screw paperwork. Cuddy can live with a little backlog. She's had to live with mine for years."

Wilson grimaced. "Just because you're a slob..."

"Ouch!" House gave him a wounded look. "I'm a genius. We're entitled to some quirks."

"You have more quirks than good traits. Give me an hour."

"And you're on!"

House limped off, a satisfied smile on his face, totally ignoring Wilson shaking his head in partial amusement.


It was exactly an hour later that House was bugging the hell out of everyone in oncology until he had dragged Wilson away from his work. The oncologist barely had time to hang up his coat, then they were already outside and House was heading toward his bike.

He turned when he discovered Wilson had stopped a few feet away.


"I'm not getting on that thing," Wilson declared, eyeing the orange and black vehicle as if it were a rattler only waiting to strike its oblivious victim - namely him.

"It's perfectly safe, scaredy-cat."

Wilson shook his head. "I'm following you by car." And with that he walked over to the parking lot, fishing for his car-keys.

House huffed. "If you can keep up." He donned his helmet and revved the engine.


Of course House was the first to arrive and he had just hung up on the pizza delivery when Wilson walked into his home, glowering.

"Do I want to know how fast you went to get here ahead of me?"

"You were crawling," the older man just shot back good-naturedly. "That car's a snail."

"Your bike's a death trap. You were speeding, too!"

"Aw, no cookie for me? Early beddy-beddy?" House whined with a false, child-like voice. "You're so mean."

"Why do I even bother?" Wilson groused and dumped his coat and scarf.

"Out of the goodness of your heart?" House quipped, not paying any attention to the dark glance it earned him, rummaging in his cupboard instead for the ingredients for a hot beverage.

It had started to snow lightly at the beginning of the week and House knew he would have to mothball the bike soon, take the car once more, but it was still too much fun.

Especially riling up Wilson over it.

He watched as his friend made himself at home while he was heating water for instant cappuccino, then headed to the couch with a steaming mug. House didn't drink the instant stuff, only kept it for his best friend. Toeing off his shoes, Wilson let his head flop back onto the backrest, rubbing his eyes.

House made no comment, but the sight of his friend, so tired and still ready to hold out through a movie night, did something to him that he quickly chased away. Wilson sat up again and blinked at the steaming mug that was directly under his nose before taking it. He sipped at his hot drink and glanced at the DVDs House had put on the table. His brows rose almost comically.

"Are you serious?"

House grinned at him. "I always am."

Wilson groaned.


It was in the middle of "Gone With the Wind, the extended version" that Wilson finally lost the battle against sleep. His head had continually started to droop throughout the movie until it had rested comfortably against House's bony shoulder while Atlanta was going up in flames on the screen. His right hand had flopped to lay on House's good leg, a warm weight against the material of the other man's pants.
House gazed at the hand, stunned, thoughtful, feeling strange. He knew he should remove the hand, should wake Wilson and have him... have him...

He hesitated.

It felt warm and comfortable and... nice... to have the other man so close, shoulder to shoulder, body to body... They hadn't been this close in years. His own hand hovered over the lax one of Wilson, then touched it with a feather-light caress. The younger man didn't wake, simply seemed to settle more solidly against him while the movie went on. Wilson's breath was warm against his shirt.

It had been truly a harrying day, with more than enough work to break the best, but somehow, even despite the strain and the tiredness and the exhaustion, Wilson managed to look his smooth, unruffled, charming, boyishly good-looking self. House envied and hated him for it. He knew he himself was fast approaching sleeping-under-the-bridge looks, and those were his good days.

One hand rubbed over his ever-present stubble. Wilson had complained about it more often than not. It made him look scruffy. House liked scruffy. The more scruffy he was, the less the chance anyone might try to approach him.

At least no one but those who knew him well, and of them, Wilson knew him best.

House felt a soft smile tug at his lips as he withdrew his hand.

* * *

Wilson blinked and felt slightly disoriented when he woke, but only briefly. There was the second of wondering where he was, but then several things settled into his waking mind: he was prone on a couch he knew very well. House's couch. He was covered by a thick blanket, his head lay on a pillow, and the pillow smelled... of House, a part of him whispered. He pushed that thought aside, though part of his body responded to the very idea of being that close again.

The smell of coffee hung in the air and there was the added scent of bacon and eggs.

"Breakfast's done, honey. Come and get it before I throw it away," a voice called from the door and Wilson shook his head in exasperation.

"Only you," he murmured to himself.

He got up and walked sleepily over into the kitchen, his clothes rumpled, his hair mussed. House was at the table, ladling eggs, bacon and whatnot onto the two plates, grinning at him.

"Smells good," Wilson muttered.

"It is good," was the declaration, full of conviction.

Wilson sipped at the coffee, not doubting it. House might have a lot of quirks, but he had a lot of talents, too. And cooking was one of them. Only by chance he glanced out the window and blinked in surprise at the sight of glistening trees and white streets. It had snowed last night; it had snowed a lot.

"So much for the bike," House sighed as he limped to his chair.

"Too bad."

"Oh, you of insincerity and insensitivity," came the theatric reply.

Wilson smiled and took his own seat, not thinking about the rather botched movie night, how House had made him comfortable and how those blue eyes were briefly filled with something other than friendly banter and early morning sarcasm.

Nothing would come out of it.

Nothing at all.

* * *

No one could have seen it coming, but everyone had to deal with the consequences. At Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, it was all hands on deck. Whoever had a medical degree was up and working, whoever had a rudimentary knowledge of first aid was there to help, and whoever could be even remotely used to clean up, to keep notes, files and whatnot, were scurrying around those in white coats.

White coats with blood and other bodily fluids on them. White coats that looked a lot worse for wear, but not as bad as the people wearing them. White coats that covered weary and tired bodies, unable to hide the weary and tired expressions of the medical staff. It had been a long day and it would be a long night.

A truck transporting hazardous chemical waste had lost control, sliding off the road and into not only other cars but also a supermarket. The driver shouldn't even have driven through town; he should have circumvented it as was the law, but he hadn't. For whatever reason he had taken the scenic route, right into the middle of a crowd of people. These people were now here, getting treated for everything from minor scrapes and bruises, to shock, chemical burns, airway troubles, broken bones and finally hallucinations.

The latter was only discovered because of one psychotic episode.

An episode that cost one of those wanting to help dearly.

The ER was filled to the max and patients were distributed all over the clinic. Whoever wanted to get treatment for anything but the chemical waste accident was sent to other hospitals or told to wait, until Dr. Lisa Cuddy finally ordered security to close down the front door and only let those in who had been involved in the accident. This was worse than testing people for meningitis and sending them home after a few pills. This was an all out war on all fronts against all kinds of injuries.

All doctors had been told to drop what could wait and see to their new patients, even House.

The first victim died twenty minutes after the accident, two minutes after she had been brought into PPTH. Her chemical burns had been too severe and the attending doctor only shook his head as he noted the time of death, the nurse covering the body.

In one of the glass-walled treatment and examination rooms a young man was waiting. He had been unable to even give his name, brown eyes dilated, trembling, now starting to sweat. His hands twitched and there was a faintly charged air around him that no one really felt but everyone was uneasy around him. A nurse had hung a tag around his neck, as she did with everyone, detailing what she had been able to find out about him.

Wilson walked into the room and nodded at one of the nurses, sweeping a professional eye over his newest patient.

"Hello. I'm Dr. Wilson. Can you tell me who you are?"

"Hurts..." the man rasped. "Lights... dizzy..." He coughed. "Gonna... gonna...." He blinked and rubbed his palms over his reddened eyes.

Wilson frowned a little. "Sir..." He reached for the tag.

There was no real warning.

Not even a true twitch.

Maybe there was a brief rise of tension, a crackle, but it was barely really there.

Suddenly the sweating man with the now very much crazed expression screamed and launched himself at the surprised physician. Wilson had a split second to react, but it wasn't enough. He felt a charge traveling through his body like nothing he had ever felt before and then he was pushed back. Wilson went flying, colliding hard with the normally sturdy glass wall of the room.

Normal wasn't normal any more as the glass broke under his impact, shattering into a million pieces, and for a moment there was a crackle around his attacker that set off a shock of alarm in the young oncologist.

Wilson connected hard with the floor, shards of glass cutting through his clothes into his skin, though without the coat protecting him it could have been worse. The impact was worsened by the weight on him. Part of his mind screamed that this was safety glass, that it should have shattered into tiny fragments.
It hadn't.

"NO!" the man screeched, spittle flying. "NO!"

Wilson, winded and trying to catch his breath, took another split second to look at this attacker, and reacted on instinct when he saw the hand holding particular large shard coming toward him.

It sliced through the coat, into his skin.

Wilson had no time to feel the pain as the weapon of choice descended again and again. He tried to wrestle with the man, but he was no cop, no security detail, not a trained fighter. He felt the glass bite deep into his hands.

And then he felt it again, the almost-charge to the air around him, and he tried to buck up against the man, tried to get him off. His hands were slick with blood, scrabbling for purchase.

Agony shot through his hand as the glass bit even deeper. Blood flowed freely.

The electrical charges were building up.

Wilson was panting hard, panic rising more and more, and it had nothing to do with a fear for his life.
Not in here, he prayed fervently. Please not in here!

There were screams around him while he fought with the man. There were running footsteps and shouts.

"Stop..." Wilson stammered. "Stop!"

There was only the crazed expression, the sweaty face, lips pulled back over white teeth as the man pushed past his weakening defenses and went for the throat.


House leaned against the wall of the ICU room, drawing a shaky hand over his unshaven face. He felt the bristles scrape over the softer skin of his palm and he scratched it briefly, wondering where he might find a razor, then dismissed the thought immediately. Exhausted blue eyes blinked into the relentless glare of the overhead lights and watched the comings and goings of nursing staff and patients. A glass wall separated him from the crowd, from most of the noise. A glass wall not unlike the one Wilson had been slammed through.

Cuddy was in her office screaming at the people who had installed those walls. This shouldn't have happened. The glass should have held. Even if it shattered, there shouldn't have been shards big enough o harm anyone as badly as they had Wilson.

House transferred his gaze to the other occupant of the room, eyes immediately drawn to the white gauze wrapped around Wilson's throat.

It had been touch and go.

He would never forget the sight of his best -- and probably only -- friend lying on the ground, a shard of glass sticking out the side of his neck, and a raving madman being wrestled off the prone doctor. There was a lot he could push away; it was what doctors did. Never linger on the pain and suffering; always go on and pretend it didn't get to you. House had shut down his emotions a long time ago. Care, worry, compassion... it didn't happen to him when it came to the dozens of patients he treated, seeing faces, hearing stories that didn't interest him unless they were above the average boring sniffle and diarrhea. He took an interest in the life and times of a patient the moment he got involved, but after that, it was superfluous. He didn't get attached, he didn't get involved.

James Wilson on the floor, those large brown eyes even wider, filled with pain, his body trembling with the onset of hypovolemic shock, that was something that would stay with him.

Pushing away from the wall he limped painfully over to the only chair and lowered himself gingerly into it. His leg couldn't decide whether or not it preferred standing to sitting, and even the Vicodin made no difference.

Medical terms swarmed his mind. Active bleeding from Zone II. Hemorrhagic shock.

James Wilson on the stretcher, doctors and nurses swarming around him, and one hand flailed, reaching for where House stood. He had taken the hand, had limped along with the stretcher, amazed at his own speed. Desperate times, desperate measures; that crap. House hadn't even been aware of how fast he had been going to keep up, but now his leg gave back as good as it had gotten.

"Dr. House, let go."

The voice of a nurse, breaking into the intense concentration.

"Dr. House?"

And he had tried to let go of the hand, but it had clamped around his wrist, like a steel vice, like Wilson needed this anchor. The man wasn't even conscious any more.

"Dr. House!"

Finally they had seen his dilemma and helped, forcing Wilson's grip open and then hurrying on to an OR.

House knew he would have bruises.

He raised his hand and regarded the mistreated flesh of the wrist. Yeah, bruises.

IV lines were running into the body of his best friend. A heart monitor had been attached, just in case. Blood loss was fought by transfusions. All the bruises and scrapes were minor compared to the wound in the neck. The shard had doubled as a tamponade until Wilson had been rushed into surgery to get it removed, but the blood loss had been critical. There had been more than one stutter in his heartbeat and House felt his stomach clench at the thought of losing this man.

One hand found the cool, lax one of his friend, the one that had only gotten a superficial cut. Unlike the other, his right hand. It was heavily bandaged and had required a lot of tiny, precise stitches to keep the gaping flesh together. Orthopedics were positive that since there had been no severed tendons, Wilson wouldn't be left with a disability. House could only pray for this, even if he had stopped believing a long time ago.

Wilson was also a fighter. He knew it and Dr. Harvey had attested to it. Operating on a colleague was always terrifying and the worst thing a doctor could think of, and House was glad it had been Harvey and not him. Not that he was allowed to perform surgeries anyway. Autopsies, sure. Surgery, a no-no. His leg might cramp, he might have impairment from his drug addiction... all the fun stuff his leg had brought with it. And he wouldn't have been able to do what Harvey had done anyway. Not his field of expertise.

There was a twitch in the hand he held and House straightened, ignoring his protesting muscles. Eyes blinked, revealing brown depths that were clouded and far from coherent, and he leaned forward.


Another blink. There was an unspoken question in those eyes and House shifted forward, just a fraction, holding the exhausted, drugged gaze.

"You're safe," he only said.

It was enough, just three little words. Wilson's lips twitched a little, then his eyes slid shut, his consciousness fading into sleep.

House's eyes were on the pale, drawn face, involuntarily wandering back to the gauze around the younger man's neck. He reached out as if to touch, then his fingers curled up and retreated.

A bit more to the left or right and he would have lost Wilson.

He knew the procedure Dr. Harvey had gone through.

"We had to do a lot of damage control," the small, rather stocky surgeon said as he looked at House, who was defiantly not taking a seat. "A first examination showed the bleeding injury on the right side of the common carotid artery. Further search told us that the artery was transected by the glass shard used as a knife. We excised the damaged arterial segment. Further mobilization of the arterial stumps allowed the end-to-end anastomosis."

"What about neurological damage?" House asked tonelessly.

"Too early to tell. We have to wait for Dr. Wilson to regain consciousness. There is also the possibility of vocal cord damage. The penetrating injury was deep, House. If the recurrent laryngeal nerve was damaged..."

"Yes, I know," was all House had replied.

And he did know.

He was a doctor after all.

It had been touch and go as it was, but just a slight shift in the attacker's stance and he would have killed the man who had wanted to help him.

Fate. Chance. Luck.

House had stopped believing in any of them a long time ago, even before his disability. But if none existed, what was this? What had saved James Wilson from death?

He exhaled slowly and leaned back in the chair, watching the sleeping man.

Fate. Chance. Luck.

He didn't care.

One of the few things he still cared about was James Wilson, though. The one and only exception to the rule.

Blue eyes closed in shared pain, in shared exhaustion, and House wanted nothing more than to sleep, but sleep wouldn't come, however tired he was -- because he was worried, because he cared, because this was Wilson.

Can't lose you, he thought.

That line kept repeating itself endlessly. He would not lose this man. Not to such a stupid accident.

* * *

Dr. Lisa Cuddy watched the tall, scruffy looking man in his rather rumpled outfit, leaning against the glass wall of the hospital room where Wilson lay, under constant surveillance by all kinds of machines. House was wearing a pair of old, washed out blue jeans, a black t-shirt with an equally black dress shirt buttoned over it. Untucked, as always. His sneakers looked rather new, though. The only thing that did. Everything else had probably not even been ironed after the last wash. The oncologist had regained consciousness briefly and Harvey had checked him out, but it was too soon to tell. House hadn't left, had barely slept.

The attack had shocked them all, but it had become clear that it had been a chemical gas induced hallucination. Edward Tagana, the victim, had been sedated and woken confused and then horrified when he had remembered what had happened. He had seen a monster in Wilson. He had apologized again and again, wanting to talk to Wilson, but the young man was in no shape to talk to anyone.

Tagana was still being treated for the poisoning, as well as the cuts he sustained from wielding his glass weapon. Stacy was taking care of the legal matters of the attack. Cuddy had tried to send home Cameron, Chase and Foreman, but all three juniors were still at the clinic, even though there was nothing for them to do. Clinic hours were over and there was no new case. Cameron had attempted to talk to House, but she had been verbally pushed away.

The accident scene had been cleaned up, but the wall still needed replacing and many walked past it with grave faces. Wilson was a very well liked doctor and Cuddy herself could attest to the boyish charm, the easy manner the head of oncology had throughout meetings, conversations or board matters and the calming effect he had on other people.

The total opposite of House.

And somehow those two were friends.

Cuddy tilted her head a little as she watched House lean forward and quietly talk to the unconscious man.
Friends. Close and best friends. All the other doctors at the clinic or working at the hospital were giving House a wide berth. His snappish manner, his arrogance, but also his annoying and insulting attitude drove many off after meeting him for the first time. And getting House at his worst was a reason to never want to work with him or call him as a consultant ever again.

But he was her best doctor; his reputation was incredible, his mind a well of knowledge, and his wit... They had had a lot of fights, filled with challenges and that witticism. She liked sparring with House. She would call him a friend if someone asked her to define their relationship, but not like Wilson was a friend.

Best friend.

And now he lay in that hospital bed, fighting to come out of this complete and without any permanent disability.

* * *

Wilson was on liquid foods that didn't strain his injured throat and he had been told to talk as little as possible. Neurological tests had been good. No loss of sensation in any limbs, though the surgery had resulted in vocal cord problems, which were not as bad as feared. Harvey wanted him to let the injuries heal and to not aggravate the wound. Orthopedics was constantly testing the hand and was pleased, too. A small black woman by the name of Janine Baker was Wilson's doctor and House had remarked that he had only met her once before, in a hallway. She looked and acted competent enough.

Wilson's memory of the incident was rather sketchy in some areas, especially flying through the glass wall and fighting for his life, but one thing was burned into his memory. It was the reason why he had tried to contact the only friend he had outside the hospital, actually a friend who wasn't really part of the world that was his job. He had had little luck and asking House about the patient who had attacked him had gotten him a few unsatisfactory answers. Not to mention a round of griping from his best friend about humanity in general and patients in particular.

Working was out of the question and even if he had tried to, he wouldn't have made it out the door. If not for the general weakness he felt, the bouts of shivers, the cold, then for the man with the cane. House was adamant about keeping to the 'doctor's orders', something that made Wilson smile whenever the older man threatened to do something unspeakable to him if he didn't take it easy.

The shivers alone convinced Wilson that it was in his best interest to remain wrapped up in heaps of blankets and buried underneath them in bed. He liked the warmth they gave him. Blood loss was bad and his body was still trying to reacquaint itself with health; a tedious and rather long process. He had been released from the hospital two days after he had regained consciousness. He had to check in daily. House made sure he was on time -- by telling him in no uncertain terms that Wilson was to stay at his place. If he still had wife number three he wouldn't have made the offer. As it was, Julie was somewhere House didn't care to bother knowing about, which meant no one to take care of the injured man. The younger doctor hadn't argued much, mainly because he had been unable to talk. His exhaustion and need for sleep, as well as his inability to use one hand, had made help necessary anyway. So why not just accept what could not be changed?

House had given him the guest room, ushering him into bed and telling him to stay there or else.

You'd make a great nurse Wilson scribbled onto his ever-present note pad with his left hand.

His scribble was close to chicken scratch on a good day, but House had mastered `doctor handwriting' in his first year in medical school, and he had quickly adapted to the desperate communication attempts.

Now he grimaced and limped over, mug of tea in hand, and held it out to his 'patient'.

"Drink before it starts spawning ice bergs," he muttered.

Wilson smiled. 'Thank you,' he mouthed as he took it, his right hand clumsy, the left stinging from the pulling cuts.

"Shut up," House groused.

It got him another smile, but Wilson obeyed.

Dr. Harvey had told him in detail about the damage, about the risks, about the long-term effects. There was swelling that needed to go down. There was pain that needed to be fought. There was the real chance of James Wilson losing his voice or ending up with impaired speech. House had listened to it all, had asked his questions, had demanded the surgery report and whatever else there was. Cuddy hadn't even tried to argue with him. Her compassionate gaze had nearly driven him up the hospital walls.

"Pain? Cramps? Nausea? Drowsiness?"

Wilson shook his head to each question. "Fine," he whispered, which earned him a lethal glare.

"Shut up, Jimmy. And take your medication." House swallowed his own Vicodin, grinning smugly. "Good for the soul."

Wilson obediently took the prescription medication and House watched him fall asleep not soon after. His eyes rested on the sleeping man, taking in the pain-marked features, the lines of stress in the too young face. Wilson never looked his age, even under the most dire circumstances. He looked young; too young for being the head of oncology. Too young to see death so often with his patients.

Too young...

House gritted his teeth. Too young for House to think about something he had tried to beat to death for years. Something that came up again and again, that wanted to be let out and finally breathe and live. But it wasn't worth risking what they had already shared.

The young man had a rather shy smile and a rather nice body. House tilted his head, looking into a pair of chocolate brown eyes that held an interesting spark. House smirked and checked out the slender body in front of him. Seems this party hadn't been such a bad idea after all.

Approaching the guy was easy. He hadn't lost sight of the young man throughout the entire dead boring party and more often than not he found those dark eyes on him, too, doing interesting things to his libido. Gregory House knew exactly what he wanted when he saw it, and he definitely wasn't shy in getting it.

And right now he wanted to get his hands on one gorgeous bod with eyes you could drown in.

"Want some mustard, too?"

Brown eyes met his with confusion. "Huh?"

"You were eyeing me the entire time as if I was you favorite hot dog. Not that I mind, I *am* hot. Want some mustard?"

"Are you kidding?" The rather nice voice rose a little.

House grinned, the kid actually was sputtering. "Nope. I never kid. Well, sometimes I do. Kids, I mean. So, your place or mine?"

"Ex-cuse me??" Blushing, too. Nice.

"Oh, you're right. This is a party after all, so why not enjoy everything it has to offer. Saw a nice cozy walk-in closet... no? Bathroom? My, you're picky. Okay, what about the kitchen?"

For all the protests and blushing, the younger man wasn't really too averse to his advances. In the end they found a deserted bathroom. And House got to get his hands on the soft skin of that gorgeous body.

They parted with a short kiss after a down and dirty handjob session which left both parties satisfied and, at least for House, with a little pang of regret. Not that he regretted what they had just done, but that he wouldn't see that man again any time soon. If at all.

But the ways of life sometimes are unpredictable.

A week later House went to a wedding - well, was dragged by Stacy was more like it.

He almost dropped his glass when he recognized the groom.

That had been ten years ago.

Ten years of having someone who didn't back down, shy away or turn his back on him weren't worth one moment of stupidity. Nine years of one more casual encounter that was put into a drawer in the back of their minds, never to be taken seriously.

Times were changing though.

And the close call had rattled House more than he would ever confess to. Maybe it was time...

* * *

Wilson moved restlessly in his sleep, the lines of pain deepening and turning into more than physical pain. They were recollections of something nightmarish, now transformed into images his sleeping mind tried to deal with. Fingers clutched at the blankets, the pillow, whatever, and he murmured something. He didn't wake, he didn't sit up crying out and seeking some kind of hold or help, he just went through the nightmares and finally quieted down a little, though deep sleep didn't come any more. In the morning he was tired, remembering some disconnected images, all of blood and violence and pain.

He didn't say anything to House and if House saw the remnants, he didn't pressure Wilson into talking.

They drove into the hospital to get the wounds checked out, both silent. Wilson on a forced silence, House looking brooding and in no mood for small talk.

* * *

House hadn't been there for the first nightmare, but he had seen the result in the morning. He hadn't commented on the dark circles under Wilson's eyes or the apparent lack of sleep, but he kept a very close eyes on his friend.. Returning home from the brief visit to the hospital, he wished could have been invisible throughout. Of course Cuddy had descended on him like a vulture on rotting flesh. She must have a spider sense for when he was around. She found him with unerring accuracy. Her questions had luckily not been about clinic hours but about Wilson, though she had Harvey at her beck and call and could demand reports from him. Still she chose to make House's life miserable instead.

Then there had been Cameron's compassionate inquiries, Foreman's brief nod, and Chase's confused looks. God, how he hated human interaction. He had warded off Cameron with a few words that had probably hurt her more than they had been meant to, smirked at Foreman and ignored Chase.

Harvey had been in a good mood, had liked the development in Wilson's progress, which was a lot better than expected, and House shut up about the nightmares. Nothing like a nightmare to call for a shrink, and he knew about those. If Wilson wanted to talk, even without speaking, he would be there to listen.

And he would watch.

So when Wilson dozed off again in the afternoon after a heap of medications and some soup, House slipped into the room to watch.

He studied the pale face, the face he knew so well, drinking in the vulnerability. His hand twitched to reach out and caress the smooth skin, wipe away the lines, but he didn't move. Like a voyeur, he gazed at his best friend and committed everything, even the smallest dimple, to memory. A drowning man in the desert, he mused. His dry spell had been so long, so hard, and he wanted it to end, while also fighting any notion of being vulnerable himself again.

Emotions got in the way, like patients got in the way of a diagnosis.

After an hour, the dreams began.

House limped over to the bed, looking at the dreaming man. Bad dreams. Very bad. Wilson's hands twitched, as if trying to rise, to defend, and the bandages were trapping him. His hands couldn't curl up very much. A barely audible whimper escaped the injured man, sending House into action more quickly than any cry could have. He sank slowly, almost painfully, to the mattress and a bony, long-fingered hand found its way into the tousled hair. Long strands slid through his fingers with the caress and almost instantly Wilson leaned into it, making a new noise, one not associated with bad dreams.

"I'm here, Jimmy."

It was enough. Those little words. The body relaxed and Wilson's breathing became slow, even, more like sleep than nightmares.
House continued his caresses, smoothing his hand over the lines of the brow, then finally pulled away. He rose stiffly, abruptly, leaving the room with angry steps that only reminded him he needed to dose up again.

What am I doing?

He felt like a rat on a sinking ship, but with no way of leaving.

He was trying to convince himself he had just tried to comfort an injured friend, but all the while the bastard inside him gleefully informed him that he had thought about something else, too. He had recalled moments of intimacy from the past, stolen moments, breaking his own promises and oh so many rules.

Wilson had just gone through a horrible experience, he had been hurt badly, might be saddled with a worse disability than a bum leg, and he, House, was actually putting the moves on him in his sleep. Comforting, he had called it. Whose comfort was it to touch a sleeping man like this?

He ground his teeth and viciously grabbed the Vicodin bottle, swallowing two.

Their affairs had been in the past and in the last five years there had been no moves in that direction. Ever since the infarction House had pulled away. Wilson hadn't let him, had dug in, had refused to give up, but the friendship of before had morphed into something horribly twisted and what had developed and could have been beautiful, had withered and died.

House leaned back, letting his head drop until he was staring at the ceiling, his lined face full of anger and hope and disgust and conflicting emotions of a softer kind.

James Wilson was here now, in his house, injured, needy, vulnerable. And he was thinking about things long past. Why? Because Julie was gone now, as was Stacy. They were both free, at the same moment, and the infarction, while a big part of his life, wasn't the obstacle of five years ago.

But was Wilson interested at all? Wasn't this just House's desperation, his need to get past his own pain, which was smothering him? Because he was ready to confess that he needed something... Someone... And he had falsely believed it to be Stacy Warner. He had fought to rekindle what they had had, hurting their relationship even more than before.


Old fool. Stupid and old and damaged and burned and wasted.

House ran a tired hand over his scruffy features, feeling the scrape of his beard. He had stopped taking care of himself after the disability had set in. He didn't care, it didn't matter, and he loved antagonizing people even more than before. Annoyance was one thing, this was another. This was deliberate. He wanted people antagonized, to leave him alone.

It had never worked with Wilson.

"Damn," he whispered, rubbing his forehead vigorously. "Damn, damn, damn..."

He wanted to drown himself in alcohol, in drugs, in pain, in everything but those emotions that tried to take over a perfectly bad life.
Instead of drowning, House decided on doing something more to his liking: he switched on the TV and watched a rerun of General Hospital, followed by another rerun of an old A-Team episode that usually helped relax him. Still, his mind refused to blank completely on the subject of the man currently sleeping innocently in his guest room.

Near-loss somehow clears the mind, and muddles it in the process.

Never had he been so confused about James Wilson and his role in House's life.

* * *

Five more days passed and Wilson was getting better. He saw Dr. Harvey daily and his progress was faster than the other doctor had thought.

"House must be a better nurse than I gave him credit for," Harvey had remarked, ignoring that the man he was talking about was standing in the same room.

Wilson had rolled his eyes, House had only made faces behind Harvey's back, his remarks filled with their usual sarcasm.

The oncologist was allowed to talk as long as he didn't strain himself, and his voice was scratchy, rough and it hurt more often than not.

House still watched him, still kept track of each twitch, each line of pain, each flash of discomfort. Soups were fine, but solids were another discomfort, sometimes even pain. So House had stocked up on soups and easily swallowed food like mashed potatoes and yoghurt. Wilson complained, mostly silently, but he ate it.

House had cut back his clinic duty, but Cuddy hadn't let him off the hook completely. Foreman, Cameron and Chase had taken over most of his hours, Cameron even sending a Get Well card. It sat on the piano, glaring at House, who was somehow despising it for no good reason.

"Drink?" House wanted to know as they settled down for some movies. Wilson had convinced him to watch the Back to the Future Trilogy with him, but only under the condition that House got to choose the next set of movies to watch..

"Coffee?" Wilson rasped hopefully.

"Nope. Tea or juices or water."

Wilson tried his puppy dog eyes, but House just glared again.

House felt the insane wish to either strangle the man or simply grab him and kiss him breathless. He tried to chase the thought away, but it kept nagging at his mind, driving him on.

Nine years, he reminded himself. Nine years of a very strong friendship. Nine years with only three incidents of fumblings and stumblings. Only three times, in between marriages. Never serious, never like this...

This? This ... what?

"House?" came the rough question.

Shit, shit, shit... He was old enough to have a manner of control over this.

Nine years!

"Tea," he only remarked and turned to make a mug for his best friend.

Best friend, he repeated. Nothing else.

House released a breath he hadn't even noticed holding.

This wasn't worth the risk. Never. There was also the fact that he shied away from such close, emotional contact. He hadn't been touched in years and he hated himself for his disability, his misery, and he was miserable because of the misery. Happiness was for other people.

Wilson meant his happiness.


Or not.

He couldn't decide.

He returned to his guest, carrying a mug of tea. Wilson lay on the couch, one arm resting on his stomach, the gray shirt hiding little of the slender form, and the other was thrown over his head, covering his eyes. House was probably the only person who knew that James Wilson also owned scruffy t-shirts, old jeans and baggy sweaters. The hospital and clinic only saw the well-dressed doctor, but House had the honor of seeing the private man, too.

It wasn't like this was the first time he had seen Wilson on his couch, but never had these thoughts been so persistent.

Intense blue eyes never left Wilson's face as House came closer, carrying a mug of tea. He was given a smile, warm and so very much James Wilson, his stomach clenched again. This time not from worry or fear. It was something different and something he felt every single time that smile was directed at him.

Wilson sipped at his tea, those brown eyes never leaving him. There was a lot unspoken between them; had always been. It was one reason their strange friendship worked. House didn't have to put everything into words, Wilson could read him, and he could mostly read the other man. As much as House hated to be an open book, it was a good thing when it came to his best friend.

Best friend. Only friend. More.

Three times only. Between marriages. Between wives. Three times, but those were always there in a way neither man could truly express but was very much aware of.

House was unclear as to where they were at the moment. After another marriage, after Julie, after he himself had finally dealt with Stacy's presence in his life once again. He couldn't be what he had been before, he couldn't be the man James Wilson had gotten to know nine years ago. That part had died with him, in those long moments when he had been dead on the hospital bed. He wasn't the Gregory House of so long ago, and Wilson knew that.

The tension between them grew and Wilson shifted a little uneasily.

"This isn't like back then," House said softly.

"I know," came the equally soft but more painful reply.

And this wasn't happening. So many things inside him shied away from ever falling so badly again, for trusting in another person on such a personal level, of letting someone see him as he was now. Without shields. Not that Wilson didn't know what lay underneath the scruffy outfit. He had seen the scars, but House himself loathed them, hated his bad leg, hated himself for hating it. He had never tried to deal with his problems, he had just pushed them away. He had fought off everyone coming close, teeth and claws.

Everyone had left.

Not James Wilson.

House reached out and ever-so-gently cupped the still-bandaged neck, surprised at his own his boldness. His eyes never left Wilson's, keeping him pinned like a butterfly to a piece of wood, while those intensely expressive eyes with their liquid brown depths captured him in turn. His hand rested lightly on the injured neck, his thumb stroking over the familiar fabric of white gauze.

The moment seemed to stretch into eternity and finally House looked away, feeling his inner voice screech at his own cowardice. He made moves to rise, but a surprisingly strong hand clamped down on his left forearm.


Wilson's voice was hoarse, painful, and the single word caused pain. Visible pain.

"Stop talking."

"Greg... please..."

There was excruciating desperation there.

"What part of 'stop talking' didn't you understand?" he snapped.

Wilson opened his mouth, then closed it again. House stared angrily at him.

"Who said you could talk anyway?" he demanded. "I'm your doctor and I expressly forbade you to open that mouth!"

"You started it," Wilson whispered, ignoring the rule and earning another lethal glare.

"Yeah, well, and if you don't shut up I might do something you will regret."

There was a brief smile. "But you did it before."

Talking was by now, even in those brief sentences, taking a toll.

Yes, he had done it before. Then he had become a cripple.

The brown eyes flicked away, then hesitantly met his again. There was a strange kind of resolution in there, a question, a need to know, and this vulnerability that House had only ever seen after yet another failed marriage. It was this pain of a man who tried hard and couldn't manage to have success anywhere outside the hospital. He dated, he went out with nurses and staff, but nothing ever worked.

And why had they worked? Why had their strange relationship managed to survive all these ups and downs? Why not any of the others?

House could ask himself the same question, though after Stacy he had given up on any kind of relationship issues. It just wasn't worth it. That he had given up on human contact in turn hadn't bothered him much.
Stacy had been betrayal of the worst kind. Sure, he had survived, but she had taken more than a piece of muscle from him. There was a connection between them that Wilson didn't know about, that no one knew, and few people ever experienced. She had been a trusted person, someone he had shared secrets with, who had understood because she was part of that world, and she had betrayed him.

When would Wilson do the same?

He pushed that thought aside. Wilson wasn't like Stacy, and he wasn't like House either.

"I'm not leaving," House finally said.

Hope flickered. It was almost House's undoing.

"Relax, Jimmy," he murmured in an uncharacteristic show of soft emotions.

Wilson's eyes reflected his answer and he smiled slightly.

House pushed himself painfully to his feet, his leg protesting. He needed a Vicodin.

And probably a cold shower.

* * *

Ever since that moment, the tension between the two men grew exponentially from day to day. Wilson was quiet, something he was supposed to be anyway, and he rarely met House's eyes. House himself was more withdrawn, actually following Wilson's written `order' to go to work, and he made the lives of everyone miserable that day. More miserable than normal anyway.

"What have you done lately?"

The question ran through his head and he growled at it. He wasn't some kind of terminal cancer kid and he didn't have to justify his decisions.

"She might outlive you."

A little kid that was terminally ill had a better life than him? Not fucking likely! But she probably had, a tiny voice teased and taunted.

His mood didn't change when he went back to work, almost on time every day, for the next week.

He had to fend off Cameron with a few harsh remarks, Foreman didn't so much as react, and Chase only showed mild confusion. Cuddy was drawn between anger and curiosity, but her anger mostly won over the other emotions.

"I don't know what crawled up your ass, House, but you either kill it or I'll do it for you," had been her harsh remark the last time they had butted heads.

House had snapped back, a verbal volleyball that had her blood pressure up and her hissing fit doubling, until she had kicked him over to the clinic to do some hours. He had done so, reluctantly, and the nurses had quickly found that he was in a very foul mood.

Something had to give, and something gave.

It was Wilson.

House came home from PPTH, only to find his guest fully dressed, his few things packed, and ready to leave. He looked from the still too pale but very determined face of his best friend to the packed things. It really wasn't much, a few shirts, pants, underwear. House had grabbed some random clothes from Wilson's place a while back and he had never gone back for more. Wilson hadn't requested them either.

"Going on vacation?" he quipped.

Wilson just shot him a look and shouldered the bag.

"You're not leaving."

"I'm fine," Wilson rasped. "I can take care of myself."

House grabbed the injured hand, raising it to the grimace on Wilson's face. "That's not taking care of yourself. That's being unable to even take a shower unaided!"

"I did just fine here."

"No, you didn't."

Wilson tried to remove his arm, but House held on tight. "It's time to go," he finally said.

"I'm not running some kind of time-share event, am I?"

"House, just let me go."

House looked into the brown eyes and saw something that startled him. It was a tiredness that was far from physical, and it was a defeat he had never seen there before.

"No," he repeated, voice changing into a much more intense tone.

"Then tell me what's going on!" Wilson exploded. "You've been pissy all week! Your... your behavior... your manner... and that thing between us..."

House let him go and limped past him, his mood changing abruptly.

"House!" Wilson exclaimed.

"Go if you want to. Don't blame me if you can't even make yourself a decent sandwich."

"We had take-out and microwave food the last days!" Wilson shot back. "I can still dial!"

"And you're still here."

Wilson hissed a curse under his breath and dumped the bag, walking after his friend.

"What is wrong with you?"

"I'm a bastard, don't you already know it? I just had to work on catching up with my weekly quota of People Annoyed and People Aggravated, not to mention Boring Patients Driven To Suing Me!"

"And where am I in that calculation?" Wilson wanted to know.

House stopped short, glaring at him in real anger. "You're the one who wants to leave and who I will kick out with a cane stuck in a very dark place if he doesn't go!"

"Hm, and I always thought I was just your best friend," Wilson shot back. "I see I climbed the ladder."

The blue eyes were filled with shifting emotions. Things were changing too fast. House was trying to hold on, but he was being swept away by events.

His mind once again flashed back to that moment ten years ago. The party, the moment he had laid eyes on an attractive young man with impossibly brown eyes, those high cheekbones, and longish hair. He had looked so smooth and neat, House had felt the need to mess up that appearance. Oh, and he had. A week later they had been officially introduced and Stacy had turned out to be Wilson's friend.

In the weeks and months and years to come, House had gotten to know Wilson, Wilson had gotten to know House, and Stacy had been happy about them becoming such good friends. Nothing had happened between them on a more personal level until the first divorce. Wilson had ended up with him on the couch, both men drinking and eating greasy food, watching a game, and somehow somewhere between the second and fourth quarter, House had given Wilson the blowjob of his life.

They didn't talk about it, didn't mention it, were just best friends once more, and James got into his second marriage with House as his best man. He also came to him for another round of drunken sports night when wife number two left. This time Wilson had reciprocated, both men ending up still very much dressed but a mess and spent on the floor.

The infarction happened not long after Wilson's third panicky flight into yet another marriage, this time with Julie. The infarction had changed everything.

"House, this has to stop!" Wilson's angry voice now pulled him back out of his thoughts.

"It will help if you leave," was the immediate answer and House limped into the kitchen.

Wilson followed, determined, like a dog after a bone.

"You're still here," House repeated as he opened the fridge and peered inside, closing the door after finding nothing worth his while. He wasn't hungry, he wasn't thirsty, he was just tired of it all. He knew he was about to lose something precious, something unique, and the moment Wilson took him up on the order, his life would change.

"Yes, I am," Wilson answered levelly.

"I thought you were fine on your own." He turned and came up sharp against the shorter man. "And you're in my way."

He tried to push past the other, but Wilson placed a hand onto his shirt-clad chest, his good hand, and pushed him against the fridge.

Hard brown eyes bore into him, and then Wilson was suddenly completely in his face. Totally. With no space left between them. Lips against lips.

House might claim that this wasn't him, that the person now leaning forward to meet that intimate contact was someone else, but for the very first time since his disability, maybe even before then, he was sure that this was Greg House, not someone else.

The kiss, as kisses went, wasn't the angels singing, bells ringing kind of kiss. It wasn't fumbling or stumbling. It wasn't perfect or breath-stealing. It was a contact of lips on lips, and it was the beginning and the completion of events that had started so long ago. It was a kiss that became another kiss, and another, that transformed from close-mouthed to tongue-involved, and only when Wilson made a brief sound of discomfort did House snap back to reality.

Reality was James Wilson in his arms, his cane lying on the floor where it had fallen after he had taken a hold of the other man, and he was looking into a flushed face, warm eyes, framed by tousled hair. Both were breathing hard. Wilson's features reflected the rising pain for abused neck and throat muscles.
No words were spoken. House reached up and ran explorative fingers over the smooth skin.

"You never kissed me before," he finally broke the silence.

"I did."

"Not like this."

Wilson grinned boyishly. "No, not like this."

Those kisses had been hard and demanding, sometimes too rough to be called a loving contact. It had been hunger and pain and desperation.

House buried his hand in the t-shirt, liking the feel of the fabric, the warmth from skin. Their lips crushed together again, beard stubble scraping against shaven skin, and House growled with the rising tension between them. A tension of another kind. Wilson was by now fully leaning against him, trapping him against the fridge, and he was giving as good as he got.

He hadn't forgotten how to kiss. And Wilson was a very good kisser, but House knew that he wasn't so sloppy either.

Finally they came up for air, panting. House's hands were resting on the soft material of the washed-out jeans, holding them very close together. His fingers played their own little melody as they caressed the firm behind.

"Oh shit," Wilson whispered, clawing at the already rumpled light blue shirt.

He closed his eyes, trying to even out his breathing, trying to actually breathe.

House gazed at his best friend, the man who had suddenly become so much more. Well, not suddenly. Nothing had ever been sudden in their relationship. This development had peaked now.

He ran his hands over James' body. It was wonderful, intoxicating, and it was bittersweet. It was purely Wilson in his openness, his silky feel, where he brushed over exposed skin, his delightful warmth, and it was his pain and desperation and own damaged soul. Three divorces, countless affairs, and such a need that House briefly wondered at his own insanity to take on something he was still dealing with, or ignoring, himself. The scent of his once-again lover invaded his senses, made him crave more, made it crave it for a long, long time. Like he had already craved it.

Wilson moaned softly, a noise House had heard before, a sound from deep within his throat. He arched into House's exploring touch, leaned into the lips ghosting over his skin. House wanted to nibble at the smooth neck, but the bandage kept him from doing anything there, and he was careful not to strain his lover's healing wounds.

His hands slid under the t-shirt, encountering more of that intoxicating skin and Wilson was like a cat seeking attention.

"So sensitive," House murmured. "Had any sex lately, Jimmy?"

A weak laugh escaped the other man, followed by a wince. "I love your romantic talk."

"Hm, one of my strengths. Wait till I talk dirty."

More kisses were traded, tongues and teeth meeting with growing force, until House pulled back, noticing the renewed winces.

"House!" Wilson protested.

"No whining. Your throat muscles won't take this for very long, and I'm done with the nursing part."


"Too excited." House leered. "Know the one where the nurse falls for the cute and handsome doctor?"

Brown eyes sparkled. "Cute? You think I'm cute?"

House studied the still too drawn and pale face. He knew he had put a lot of those lines there with his behavior. "Well, with a little make-up and maybe a cucumber mask... But if all else fails, we can hide you under a paper bag."

Wilson grimaced. "How did we get from cute and handsome to hiding my face under a bag?"

"You tell me," was the reply, coupled with a grin.

"Hm, we better discuss the nurse part, too. I thought you made a good one. Just the outfit doesn't match."

"Ever the fashion critic. Not everyone owns a wardrobe full of ties only."

Wilson grumbled about the age-old taunt. "You like my ties."

"Some of them," House conceded. "But your wives had the worst taste."

Wilson's eyebrows rose. "That from the man who hasn't worn a tie in ages."

"Have too," the older man pouted, and his mouth pulled into an appropriate expression, which made him look almost too comical for words.

Wilson chuckled. "Cameron doesn't count. And you couldn't even remember how to tie a decent knot."

"Ah, that was a clever ploy to get you to do it for me."

"Too bad I didn't fall for it."

Blue eyes softened a little. There was still the spark of arousal there, but nothing imminent, nothing like the `don't think just fuck' emotions of before.

"Yeah, too bad. For such a brilliant kid, you're slow on the uptake, Boy Wonder."

Wilson gave him a mock glare. He was in no way up to anything in the sexual department. The meds were responsible for exhausting him, his throat hurt, his still bandaged hand was an issue, too, and House had no intention at all to make him worse again.

They had time.

He brushed their lips together again.

"As much as I like this," House rumbled, "I'd prefer the couch."

"Getting old?" Wilson teased.

House swatted him on the butt. Wilson smiled seductively and pushed away from the slender man. House almost groaned at the sight of a very ravaged looking James Wilson walking into the living room. He quickly limped after him.

Damn his intentions to wait! he groused as his eyes fell on the butter-soft jeans stretching to enticingly tight in just the right places.

Wilson gave a little eeep of protest as he was pulled onto the couch, but the sound was quickly swallowed in a deep kiss. House wasn't planning on much, but the kisses were too tasty to let them pass.

Somehow Wilson ended up underneath him, looking even more rumpled, even more debauched without even being so, and House smiled wolfishly.

"What?" Wilson demanded, a bit snappishly because of the look.

"Nothing. I just figured out what my favorite sight of you is." House's smile grew. "Aside from the no-clothes-on one, that is."


Wilson reached up and buried one hand in the graying hair. "I think I like the view from here just fine, too. You planning on doing something about it?"

"About what?"

"Being all hot and bothered?"

House chuckled. "I can perform while pumped up with pain meds just fine, but I'm not so sure about you, Dr. Wilson."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

He ran a teasing hand over the fly, feeling a slight stirring. "Those pain meds are really messing with your libido, my friend, and while I'd love to fuck you blind and senseless, I'd like you to enjoy it, too."

"How very thoughtful."

House smiled again. "I can be."

Wilson caressed him, that hand gentle and tender as it ran through his hair. "I know," he said softly, emotions shining in his eyes.

House shied away from them, cursing his momentary lapse, but then he just concentrated on his lover, tasting the skin he hadn't touched for years. It was like water for a drowning man, though he had never felt he had missed it.

His teeth scraped over the smooth neck and left a mark that had Wilson hitch a breath. He was going to leave a hickey and House didn't care. Even if his lover decided to go to work tomorrow, or wear an open-neck sweater, he didn't give a flying shit.

"I take it you want me to stay then," Wilson breathed, voice shaking.

"I'm not done with you yet."

"Good to hear."

House clamped down on that tasty mouth and silenced him, aside from the low key moans and sighs.

The sex had happened already in the past. Fast, sometimes rough, always quick and dirty, and the time for the softer emotions was now. He wasn't really soft emotions material any more, but he had had them with Stacy, and he had been able to express them. With Wilson he would have to relearn.

* * *

Three months after the attack House had his world turned around once again. Wilson's voice was completely back, his words no longer raw and painful to himself or those listening to him. He might tire out his voice after talking too much, but Harvey had reassured him that this was to be expected. There were no side-effects and House was convinced the little problems would heal as well. Wilson had returned to work a few days ago and jumped right into the backlog. His hand was still a little stiffer than he was used to and he was in extensive rehab for that. Being the head of oncology meant he had to catch up a lot and then there were all the nurses fawning over him, welcoming him back.

"Nothing's changed," House had remarked gruffly after the first day.

Wilson's reply had been non-verbal, that slight raise of eyebrows, that quick smile, and House knew he was busted. Had always been around the other man.


Wilson was still staying at his place, he was still sleeping in his bed every night, and they were still fighting over the morning paper, the bathroom, TV, and food. Change and no change at all.

There had been no talk about moving in together. Wilson had his apartment, the one he had rented after yet another divorce when he and Julie had sold the house. She had moved back to her hometown, he had stayed, of course.

House had just limped back from an unsatisfactory lunch at the cafeteria, one without Wilson to trade sarcasm with, when he found himself waylaid by Stacy.

"My horoscope was right. Unpleasantness finds its way into your life today."

She grimaced. "Charming as ever. We need to talk." And with that she threw open the door to her office and walked inside.

House frowned, then went after her, slamming the door shut. "About?"

"I talked to Edward Tagana today."


"If I said one of your clinic patients, would you even remember what he had?"

He rolled his eyes. "He wasn't one of mine. I'd remember a name like that."

"Like what?" she taunted.

"Like someone who comes in for a paper-cut and a nosebleed, and leaves to sue me for malpractice."

Stacy crossed her arms in front of her chest, eyes darkening a little. "He's someone who came in to be treated for inhaling hazardous chemicals and threw Wilson through the glass wall."

House tensed and his eyes hardened. "What? He gonna sue Jimmy for malpractice?" he asked acidly.

"No, he came to apologize for losing control of his abilities and nearly killing an ally."

Several things happened at once in House's brain, but only one word managed to stumble over his lips. "Wilson?!"

Stacy's brows rose. "Okay, so I take it you didn't know Tagana's a magic-user."

"Do I look like I did?"

"Well, no. Anyway, Ed is a paranormal. He's a witch. Not very powerful, but the hallucinogenic effect had him unload all his power at once into Wilson."

"Who's an ally..." House managed, finally leaning against the wall in shock.

Allies were defined by the fact that they had no paranormal powers, that they were humans who knew about the other world and helped everyone who needed their help. Whether it was to hide, to gain something, to seek shelter, or to deliver messages. Allies had covered up what should never fall into the wrong hands. They were aide and confidant, fighter and social worker, all for paranormals; for those with small powers, those with incredible abilities, and those who were paranormal because of a sickness, like vampires.

And James Wilson was an ally! Like Stacy... And he, House, was now in a relationship with him. Like he had been with Stacy.

Betrayal raised its ugly head.

Like after waking from the coma and finding out what Stacy had done, but even more so.

"You didn't know?" Stacy asked, surprised.

"No, I didn't!"


He glared at his ex.
Stacy was silent for a moment, clearly searching for words. "I didn't know either until Ed told me," she finally confessed, but she still appeared puzzled. "I thought you knew, the two of you being so close..."

House's knuckles were almost white as his hands clenched around the head of the cane. A million thoughts raced through his head, ahead of them all the darkness of betrayal.

James Wilson was an ally. And he probably knew about House. He had known and never told him. What was he? A watchdog? But paranormals had no leaders, no watchers, no groups. They existed among those humans without the paranormal gene and allies stepped in when there was the danger of someone finding out about them, their world, their special status.

Pain blossomed and he bit down. It wasn't any physical pain at all. Nothing Vicodin could dull.

He stood up jerkily and turned to leave.


Her voice stopped him and her tone was ringing his alarm bells.

"Don't do anything foolish."

"Would I ever?" he only asked.

"Yes, you would." Stacy's features were compassionate and hard in one. "Wilson..."

"Is an ally. I understood that part."

And he kept it a secret from me, knowing what I am!

He shut the door loudly after him.

Outside, he just limped down the corridor, unseeing, absorbed in his wild thoughts.

Wilson was an ally.

Like Stacy.

And House had never known. A tiny voice reminded him that he had never paid much attention to the world of the paranormal, even when he had still been an active part of it, before he had lost himself in his anger and pain and the drugs. But the voice lost to the anger, the betrayal, and the emotional pain.

Another voice tried to convince him that Wilson might not know about him after all. Why would he play such a charade? If he knew about House's status, he would have explained and told him about his own. Being a good friend and an ally...

... was like being a lover and an ally, House growled to himself. In the end it would bring pain.

But now Wilson was all three of those.

It would be agony.

* * *

"How many witches come down with cancer?"

The question had come out of the blue and Wilson stopped right in the middle of trying to make a dent into his paperwork, something he had been working on for days now, and he looked into the clear blue eyes of his best friend and now lover. House's face gave nothing away, but the intensity of the expression... it told him everything. And it told him he hadn't misheard anything.

"Rarely one," he answered, as if the question had been the most normal in the world.

"Ever treated one?"

"Not personally, no."

"So you being an oncologist wasn't the reason you became an ally."

Wilson focused completely on House now, ignoring the work on his computer. There was still no change of expression, just that intense stare.

"No, it wasn't," he replied honestly.

House studied him like he would one of his special patients, the ones that didn't bore him, the ones that made him become interested. Wilson wondered what kind of differential diagnosis this might be. He almost smiled.

"You never told me," House only said.

"You never asked."

"And that's the lamest reply. Very stereotypical."

"And you hate stereotypical. It bores you."

The eyes were harder now, almost icy. Wilson frowned mildly at that change.

"How long?" House wanted to know.

"Since my birth, actually. My parents are allies."

Another change in demeanor. House was growing distant.

"You asking these questions means you know about the paranormal." Wilson leaned slightly forward. "What are you, Greg?"

House almost sneered. "Right to the heart. Not even assuming I'm an ally, too."

"If you were, we wouldn't be here."

"So right. But we are here and I'm not one of you. I'm on the other side."

"There are no sides," Wilson said softly.

"There are. You were my watchdog before and after Stacy, hm? It would figure."

"Before and after...?" Wilson trailed off, then realization hit him and he shook his head. "Stacy? I never knew. And I didn't know about you either, House. Never."

His usually so unflappable self was slightly fraying now.

"Why?" the older man demanded. "You allies know everything about every single one of us, right?" He had almost shouted.

"House..." Wilson sighed and ran a hand through his hair. It tousled a little. "I didn't know about you, honestly. Allies aren't told about paranormals around them. It's you guys who are told about us, who know some contacts. That's how it works."

The glare was by now even colder.

"And I never was your watch-dog. We don't do that. We assist you, help you when you need us, but we don't control you."

"Hah!" House rammed the cane onto the floor. "And you want me to believe you?"

"I want you to trust me."

"I trusted once. I was betrayed."

Wilson gazed at his oldest and best friend; a paranormal. Part of him wanted to know what he was, what powers he had, what he could do. Another part was cringing in shared pain.

"Stacy," he only murmured. Did she know about you right from the start?"


"And still she made the decision..."

"Yes!" The glare was that of a glacier about to freeze Wilson. "She knew! She fucking knew! And she did it anyway instead of waiting!"

"You were holding out for a healer?" Wilson inquired, voice soft. It was the voice he used on terminal patients, and on distraught relatives. It was soothing and calm and very, very gentle.

House drew a shaky breath. "I didn't know if anyone could help me, but I needed to know about that last option. Maybe it was foolish, maybe it was a chance. She destroyed that. She said she'd ask for help, see if she could find someone..."

"And did she?"

"We didn't talk about it after I woke."

Wilson rose and walked around the desk. Instead of approaching House, he just settled back against the sturdy piece of wood, gazing at his lover.

"She betrayed you on more than one level," he finally said.

House didn't answer, he glared at the hapless floor, but it was a weak glare, one out of power. It was an old pain.

"Greg, I never watched you."

"No? No ogling, no staring at my ass? I could have sworn I felt those hot little looks."

Wilson sighed. "Aside from the obvious."

"Ah, so you did watch me. Naughty."

"You want me to tell you about my daydreams, too?"

House leered. "Now there's a nice way to pass a few hours."


"We would have to try out what you were dreaming of."

"Of course." Wilson grinned a little, then grew serious once more. "I never watched you as an ally, Greg. Never. Even if I had known who and what you are, I wouldn't have. My role is to help. Who would I be watching you for anyway? I don't report to anyone."

Those blue eyes were suddenly on him and Wilson let them penetrate his own, let House see what he needed to. He so badly wanted to know about his friend. So very, very badly.

House finally limped a few steps over to the chair and sank painfully onto it. He took out the Vicodin and swallowed two pills. Wilson wondered if it was truly good for him.

"Don't give me that look," came the tired but still acidic comment.

"Which one would you prefer then?"

"The one where you're seconds away from doing the nasty with me." There was a hint of slyness to those lips.

Wilson chuckled a little. "I bet you would."

"So ask." House leaned back, head tilted to stare at the ceiling. "Ask about me. Differential diagnosis of Dr. Gregory House, paranormal."

"I'm not going to guess."

House snapped his head back and smirked. "You call my differential diagnosis guess-work, Dr. Wilson?"

"Nine times out of ten."

"You wound me."

"It's a compliment. You usually get it right in the end."

"Ten times out of nine."

Wilson smiled. "Don't let it go to your head."

"Who? Me?" House managed one of those innocent looks that fooled no one and were usually nullified by the gleam in the sharp eyes.

Greg House was a lot more than met the eye. His outside didn't reflect the intellect inside the scruffy shell. He was quick, sharp-witted and he knew his medicine. Even in medical school he had been among the best of the best. Wilson had admired this in his friend, admired the leaps he could make, the knowledge he could dredge up out of a corner of his mind. It was fascinating to watch him in motion, or even in silence, contemplating a complex problem. Easy was boring. And House easily got bored. He wanted and needed the complex and mind-boggling; the more the better. It was what made him tick, had always made him tick.

A mind like a knife, a tongue to match it, and a genius in his own way no one could yet match. That was Gregory House. It defined him, made him what he was, and he was damned good and knew it.

"So, what are you?" Wilson finally asked. "You're not a magic-user. Magic is volatile. With you, I would have seen an explosion by now."

House grinned. "Oh, ye of little faith."

"You aren't."

"Point for you. I'm not. Go on, doctor. List the symptoms."

Wilson rested his hands on the edge of the desk, curling his fingers around it as he leaned back. His long legs were stretched out. Brown eyes studied his lover.

"So, no witch, wizard or warlock, or any kind of category of those. It excludes clairvoyance, empathy and the like. You can't be a vampire or werewolf either."


"Full moon doesn't affect you."

"I could be an old wolf. Older ones can control it."

"Not full moon. They have to change then. I didn't have a furball with me when we made out that one full moon night."

House grin was smug. "Yes, that kind of proves it. Why not a vampire?"

"You do go out in sunlight. And before you bring up the point of age, I know resistance comes with age, but you never once shied away. Not even centuries of age make you that immune or willing to actually spend a lot of time in a deadly environment. You also tan."

"All right. Still going strong here. More?"

Wilson chuckled. "So we are with the Sidhe descendents. Triggers, Buffers, Seekers... the like. Are you?" Because those abilities couldn't be seen.


"But you're Sidhe?"

"Descendant, yes." House leaned forward, hands curled over the head of his cane, the blue eyes intense again. "Want to guess again?"

"There are dozens of variations in that gene. You could be about almost everything."

"But I'm only one."

"Greg... tell me."

"Actually, there's no name for it," House replied, smirking.

Wilson's brows rose. "No? What did Stacy call you?"

"Before or after we split?"


House shrugged. "She didn't know."

"What are your abilities?"

The older man just looked at him for a while, then, "Why should I trust you?"

"I'm your best friend. Actually your only friend. I've known you at your worst and I'm still trying to get to know you at your best, if I ever find that. I've been your lover for almost as long, and I think we redefined that status, don't you?"

"You think that's enough for me to trust?"

"Did you trust me before?" Wilson shot back.

House was silent. "I'd like to think I did," he finally said.

"Did you?" Wilson insisted.

Blue eyes met deep brown ones. "I'm not good with trust."

Wilson pushed away from the desk and came to stand before his lover. "No, you aren't, but you must trust me to tell me that you're a paranormal already."

"You're an ally. You can't betray me."

"You trust in that knowledge."

House inhaled sharply, then eased his features into a bland expression. "Yes, maybe I have to. Even if I don't want to."

"Even if you don't want allies," Wilson added softly. "Why else would you hide?"

"I'm not hiding."

"You are. You hide behind normality."

"Maybe I am normal. Maybe I don't have such great powers."

Those dark eyes were full of emotions House hated.

"And don't look at me like one of your cueballs."

"You're not terminally ill, Greg. You're different. Tell me."

House leaned back, playing with the cane, then looked around the office. "You get the beer, I'll order take-out, and we have this life-changing conversation somewhere else." He pushed to his feet with the help of the cane. "Don't be late."

Wilson watched him go, smiling a little to himself. "I won't," he promised.

* * *

Gregory House hadn't known about his paranormal heritage until the day he had been accidentally triggered in medical school. His parents had no idea about the paranormal world and if it hadn't been for the shocked Trigger, who hadn't even tried to activate his heritage, he would have continued his life ignorant of all of this. But he had been triggered and he had been introduced to the wonders and problems of being so very much different.

His ability was to 'sense' what was wrong with someone if he was a) close enough and b) spent enough time with a patient. Usually a few hours were enough for him to get acquainted with the problems. House learned to differentiate between what was good and what was bad in a human system. He also worked on telling apart paranormals and humans, since the paranormal gene could influence the resistance, aversion or reception of certain illnesses. The ability couldn't increase his knowledge. He still had to learn about medicine, but his intellect and quick uptake on things took care of that.

That he wasn't a people person was a drawback. He didn't like speaking with patients, being around them, because, as he always liked to put it: everybody lied. Medically speaking there was no one better than him to detect the problem and make a diagnosis. Socially he was an ass.

Wilson played with the almost empty beer bottle in his hands and looked at his lover. Blue eyes met his gaze calmly.

"You're a Diagnostic," Wilson only said.

An eyebrow rose. "That's diagnostician to you, Dr. Wilson."

"No, I mean what you are as a paranormal."

House frowned, eyes narrowing. "Met me before?"

"No. Let's just say I have a lot of unused theoretical knowledge. There's a lot of that floating around."

"About unknown Sidhe descendants like a Diagnostic." It wasn't even a question.

It was strangely funny that his chosen profession coincided with what he was, according to James Wilson.

"Actually, you're the first I've heard about in our century. I think there were a few scattered IDs a few hundred years ago. Why did Stacy never try to ID you?"

"No idea," House murmured. "Maybe 'love' clouded it all." He made a little gesture to brush that notion off as too funny if it were true. "And you know how it ended."

Badly, Wilson thought, feeling empathic. Very, very badly. He had known Stacy before he had met House, and Stacy had been the one to introduce them. James had never ever even suspected that Stacy worked as an ally, too. It wasn't like it was a real job. Some allies were never called upon in their lives, others were deeply involved. Wilson himself had parents and grand-parents involved in the world of the paranormal; he was in deep. He kept track of things, especially about the Nexus, the CSI team in Salt Lake and the one in Las Vegas. He wasn't very deeply involved, but he knew someone on that team, worked with him, and through that he had a closer eye on things than others. News about other allies wasn't given. He couldn't have possibly known about Stacy.

"Something changed after that, didn't it?" he asked softly, chasing his thoughts aside.

House gave a wry laugh. "Something? Everything. I'm a cripple."

"Not paranormally."

"How would you know?" House snapped.

Wilson was silent for a moment, then put the bottle down with a soft clank. "Removing muscle tissue doesn't change who you are in this world, Greg. You are still able to do what you have always done."

"I can't."


House took out his Vicodin and held the bottle between thumb and forefinger. Wilson's brows twitched up a little.

"The drugs?"

"The drugs. Dull my senses. Fun stuff, really. Not that I need them anymore. The senses, that is. Not the drugs. The drugs I need. A monkey can do what Cuddy wants me to do."

"A monkey isn't a trained doctor with a reputation that makes this hospital renowned," Wilson argued.

"I thought it was Cuddy's charming personality."

"It can't be yours, House."


"And you're a brilliant diagnostician. Your patients live because of it. You could do more using your abilities!"

House took a bite of Chinese and smirked around the prawn. "No abilities, remember? Good drugs, great high, wonderfully dull senses."

"If you reduced the Vicodin..."

"Been there, done that, didn't work. Withdrawal and all. Bad things happened. Very bad things." House attacked the noodles. "Cuddy wants me manageable, so it's the drugs."

"If you were serious about it, you could work out a way to reduce the drugs, work on rehab, and being a paranormal you have access to something else."

House's eyes narrowed. "What? Magic? No thanks."

"Why?" Wilson wanted to know.

"Because I'm done with them."

"Magic-users or the paranormal?"

"The former doesn't exclude the latter, but the latter includes all of the above and more, right?" House's voice was falsely bright. "And I don't need anyone messing around with my body. I do that just fine. I'm done with hoping."

"Are we done, too?"

That brought him up short and the intense eyes narrowed more. "We?"

"House, I'm an ally. I'm part of a world you no longer want to even know. You withdrew, you drug yourself not only to manage the pain, for which there are alternatives, but also to dull your other senses. You feel betrayed by allies because of Stacy, yet here we are. Where are we in this? Where am I?"

"Yes, where are you, Jimmy?" he echoed softly.

"Here. With you."

House looked at him, expression unreadable, eyes slightly darker than before. "Are you really?"

Wilson bit back a sigh. He had never held it against Stacy that she had left House. They had had a wonderful friendship from afar, nothing more. She had frequently asked about House and he had answered. Wilson knew she still loved him, that House loved her, but the 'in love' was missing. They had been good for each other, almost perfect, but lies and pain and drugs had changed that.

Now... now he didn't know if he should start hating what she had done, the damage she had inflicted. Not just as an ex, but as an ally. House was a paranormal. Some never needed an ally in their life at all, but House did. As screwed up as he was, as bitter and self-hating and sarcastic and cynical and... the list went on. He needed people, even if he denied it, and he needed them badly.

"I think you have to decide that on your own, Greg," he said softly. "To trust me or not to trust me. You either just see what you hate in me, or you can accept both sides. There's not just one any more."

House was silent, just staring at the table.

The silence was broken by the shrill alert from Wilson's beeper. He looked at it and immediately rose.

"Convenient," House remarked without malice.

"Having patients going conveniently critical to avoid further discussion is your style, House, not mine." Wilson shrugged into his jacket. "Just... use the time."

House didn't reply and the oncologist was out of the house a moment later.


Greg House sat in silence and near darkness in his home, staring at the piano, eyes distant. He had emptied another can of soda, eaten the last slice of rather cold and greasy Chinese, and he had let his thoughts wander.

But wherever they went, they found nothing but fear of another betrayal, fear of trusting so deeply again and getting not only burned, but turned to ashes. James Wilson was already very deep in his life, had always been, no matter what other relationships they had been in. Was there even a way to turn his back on his oldest friend?

Not without consequences. And those were worse than a possible betrayal, weren't they?

House ran a hand through his unruly hair.

He and Wilson had danced around their relationship for years. He had watched him marry and divorce one wife after another, had tried his own luck with a relationship, and both had failed on all accounts.

Maybe this was a last chance.

Maybe it was foolish to even believe in last chances.

House finally dozed off in his chair, only to wake to the agony of his leg and a cramped neck. He swallowed his Vicodin, his curse and relief in one.

Like James, he thought. A curse, a relief, a need, and his anchor. For so many years. He had been at his side, unwavering even in the worst storm of cynicism, sarcasm and weariness of life. James had survived him. No one else had.

* * *

Wilson didn't make it home and House had breakfast alone.

Home, he mused. Wilson had lived here just a few months and he already thought that this was the man's home. Maybe he had spent the night at his apartment, giving House room to think. Not that it had helped. He wasn't anywhere close to a solution.

So he took his bike to work, driving the long route to maybe clear his head through some speed, but that only made him blank his mind to the minimum. No thoughts, just feeling the rush of the power he wielded while driving.

At the clinic, he was first ambushed by Cuddy, who held her usual speech of clinic hours, patients and his not being there, which he countered with something he didn't even remember. He then proceeded to his office, where he was ambushed again, this time by the Three Musketeers. Foreman, Cameron and Chase were going on about a new, interesting case and House finally tore himself away from his private problems to listen to them. Cough, nausea, dizziness, crackling sound in the patient's lungs. Patient also presented with a rash and stool problems.

Well, surprise there. It was boring. Figure that. Hah.

He let Cameron argue on the side of this being their job, being doctors, then listened to Chase pitch in, but his interest only got piqued when Foreman threw in a few anomalies in the patient's history and current condition. Family history of lung problems, none associated with cancer, and the patient wasn't a smoker. There was also the negative allergy test and the high amount of white blood cells. Too high, even for someone with an infection.

Oh well. Might as well do something to chase away a few hours, maybe circumvent clinic duty.

He set his team to work, chasing them to hunt for clues, while he stared at the whiteboard, clearing his
mind of everything but the medical problem at hand. His leg twitched a little in pain, reminding him Vicodin time was coming up, and he cursed and felt relief in one.

Another curse, another relief, another need. Like Wilson.

Angrily, he pushed that aside.

Tamara Vernon-Vanderbilt. Who had advised her on taking both names? he mused snidely.

So, on to what was bugging poor Tamara.

* * *

Stacy had watched the changes between House and Wilson with anticipation and apprehension. House knew about Wilson's status as a paranormal ally, and she knew the relationship between the two men had started to change drastically in the last weeks. They had been close before, but now... now there was an addition she had secretly feared when she had been House's girlfriend, and which she had hoped to see after coming back into the life of her ex. She had suspected that House wasn't averse to being with men, and she had been the one to introduce the two men, but there had never been any indications that they had done the nasty throughout those final years.

But now they had come together. The man who could drive saints to suicide and the man who had more patience than any saint probably ever had. Stacy had seen them argue, but never with malice, never with real temper, never with the same sarcasm and cynicism House used on others. Wilson was a steady rock in the turbulent sea that was Greg House.

The truth was driving them apart now. Stacy knew she had been the instigator, unwillingly, unknowingly, and she wanted to help. But House didn't trust her any more and her only ally in this had always been Wilson, who was now the one she wanted to help.

She had seen Wilson come to work, looking harried, pale, as if the last month had left more than the visible traces, the scars. The nurses were fawning over him, smiling, and he was trying to uphold his charming image, but in secret moments she could see the pain.

Something had happened. Something bad.

"James?" she asked and almost startled the man.

He was clutching a coffee mug, staring out the window into the rainy day. The snow of earlier had disappeared again and forecasts only told of rain. They would have snow back soon once more, though.
Now he turned and Stacy winced at the expression that quickly disappeared when he saw her. He was struggling with this. Badly. She had known the other man before ever meeting House and they had been good friends, sharing a relationship that had never turned into a sexual one, though she hadn't been adverse to the boyish good looks. Stacy still considered him a good friend and she wanted to see him happy.

"I guess he took it badly," she said softly.

"Kinda. I never knew about either of you two in that regard."

She closed the door and walked into the semi-dark office. The slump to his shoulders was the only sign that Wilson wasn't on top of the game. He was physically fine again, but the emotional pain had just started.

"It's not something you tell everyone. Aside from House I never met another paranormal, and I discovered his abilities by accident."

He nodded. Like Stacy, Wilson knew that allies didn't carry membership cards or were listed in some kind of directory. Vampires were up to speed on allies, but all other paranormals were sometimes very much left to their own devices. That had started to change with the events set into motion throughout the Nexus and Salt Lake, but Princeton was a far cry from that. Here, information like that was non-existent.

"It's good to know that there is another ally here," Stacy tried again.

Wilson shrugged and nursed his coffee.

"House needs an ally."

"What for?" was the almost too soft question.

"His abilities..."

"Are dulled by the drugs. And he hasn't used them in ages."

Stacy was silent. "I didn't know," she murmured.

Another shrug. "It's not like he would actually use them here. Even if he did, like he did before, he wouldn't really stand out. He's a genius without them, too."

Too true. There was no one else like Gregory House. She had always admired his mind, his endless knowledge on all things medical, and she had soon after meeting him come to love even more about him. Much of that had withered and almost died after the infarction.

"But he needs you as a friend, too."

"If he can ever trust me again. I didn't know he was a paranormal, and he didn't know I'm an ally, and there is no logical reason why either of us should have known about the other at all, but the feeling is still there. He feels cheated." Wilson sighed a little and bumped his shoulder against the wall as he gazed out of the window again. "Trust is a big issue for him. I lost that trust, Stacy."

Because of her, Stacy thought. She had hurt House. She had damaged him for the future, and it all fell back on Wilson.

"James... I'm sorry."

He smiled, the boyish expression brief and fleeting. "It's not your fault, Stacy."

Not this, she thought she heard him add without him saying it. Everything else was another matter.

"I want to help."

"Then don't talk to him, don't mention this, and if he comes to you, don't bring it up. It's something we have to go through, one way or the other."

She swallowed, then nodded. "If you need me, just to talk, or something..."

He gave her another smile. "Thanks."

She wanted to talk to James about House the paranormal, about what she knew, but now was not the time. There was a raw emotional wound, and it hurt badly.

I'm so sorry, she thought and left, walking until she was at her car, surprised how she had come to be here. With a last look back at the hospital, Stacy Warner went home to her husband, her life, trying to forget the lonely figure she had left behind.

* * *

He stood at the whiteboard, the 'only I get to write on it' whiteboard, doodling. At least it looked like doodling to him as he wrote out five words.






They looked familiar and they sounded familiar, and he had worked with them countless times, from medical school to cases in the here and now.

He crossed out Denial.

He was through denial, be it his condition or his... condition. He had been in denial about a lot of things, like his paranormal ability. He had been in denial about being this freak, about being able to sense illness after a prolonged exposure to the patient in question. He had had to train his senses, but after a while he had been able to switch them on and off.

And he had been in denial about his leg.

His hand strayed to the old injury and he winced as it made itself known.

He was also past Anger. At least on the paranormal level. The other... he wouldn't go there.

Bargaining had never been much of a phase. What was there to bargain about? He had a gene that redefined him as a human being. In the beginning he had been interested in just what made a paranormal a paranormal. Sidhe descendants like him were nothing like the race of people that had died out millennia ago, a race that had mixed with humans deliberately because at the time of the cave people, the Cro Magnon had started to come out as the dominant species and the Sidhe had had two choices: die out or mix their genetic material with humans. They had done the latter.

One of the much, much later results was Gregory House. Yes, he was human. His ancestral history simply included Sidhe. The paranormal gene usually lay dormant until the right lines crossed, so to speak. Then the really strong ones came out.

His parents weren't paranormal, neither were his grandparents, but somewhere there had to be a strong line to bring out the best and the worst in him, he mused. The one who had jumpstarted him had been such a descendant, too, a Trigger. Triggers had no powers except to trigger a magically inclined person.

House sighed.

Yeah, bargaining had been out of the question here, and it was out of the question now with his relationship concerning James Wilson. There was nothing to bargain about. Wilson was so many things, nothing could be renegotiated. He needed him as a friend and a lover, he needed him as a confidant, a sparring partner, a colleague.... And maybe, one day in the future, he might need him as an ally.

So that brought him to Depression.

Depression and aggression and everything in that pot. Depression had made him push Wilson away, like he had pushed at Stacy. He had lost track of the paranormal, he had hated it all, he had wanted to be left alone. It all came down to one big melting pot of vile stuff that bubbled up again and again.

He was a paranormal.

He had lost use of his leg, his girl-friend, his abilities, his life, and now he was about to lose his best friend, his new lover, and a man who he needed so badly he had been in denial about that, too.


The word glared at him.


He was a cripple. His leg would never get better. He was a drug addict who had a pain problem. He accepted he had a problem with trust. Stacy had taught him more than anyone before that to trust no one was right, that everybody lied, that it wasn't worth it.

But he needed to trust Wilson.

Accept what Wilson was. He could accept the part of the lover; they had been together before and it felt so right. It felt like he lived in those moments.

Could he accept that the man he loved was an ally, connected to a world he had wanted to forget?

He didn't know.

* * *

"Greg is a paranormal?"

Rose Wilson sounded intrigued, shocked and slightly mystified in one.

James gave a tiny laugh, almost desperate. "Yes, a Diagnostic. He told me. I never even suspected, Mom."

"And Stacy is an ally? That's incredible news, James. So what will you do?"



Rose's voice was harder now, that of a mother taking no crap. Wilson had no idea how much his mother knew about them, but from the few times House had run into his parents, maybe she had picked something up.

"House will have to make his decision. He can't ignore me being an ally, and I can't ignore that he's a paranormal."

"So you run."


"Isn't that what you're doing, dear?"

"No! I love my job, I will stay at the hospital."

Rose's voice softened a little. "And what will it be like for either of you if his decision is against the two of you."

Wilson rested his head against the back of the couch chair. "I don't know, Mom."

"You can't erase what you feel, James. You can't run from that, too."

"I'm not running, Mom. And I'll still be there for him."

Wilson felt pain blossom in his chest at the thought of not being there, of leaving his best friend alone. Whatever happened, he wouldn't just turn his back on him. House had been burned so badly by Stacy, being his friend and lover and an ally he trusted. Wilson wouldn't do the same to him. He said as much to his mother.

Rose's smile was almost audible. "You love him, dear."

He bit his lower lip. "Yes."

"And you can finally confess to it."

"You're not shocked?"

"I was more shocked about you running blindly into a third marriage. To me and your father it felt like panic. Was it panic?"

He closed his eyes and exhaled sharply. "You never gave me a clue, Mom," he finally said, ignoring the last question because the answer was a strappingly healthy `yes'

"I'm your mother, James Wilson, but you're old enough to make decisions about your life on your own. Would you have listened to me?"

"You knew I loved a man?" he persisted.

"It was quite evident, my dear," was Rose's easy answer.

Wilson groaned softly. Great!

"And to answer your question, it was the way Greg watched you, the way you looked at him, but you never looked at each other the same moment. You were through with your second marriage and Greg was involved with Stacy. Now you're both free."

"Not really. Now something else stands between us."

"You're not Stacy, James. You're an ally, but so are thousands upon thousands of others."

"We're talking about only one of those thousands. Me."

"And Greg loves you. Give him time to come to terms with all those revelations, like you need the time to deal with it, too," his mother said calmly. "The emotions between the two of you are very strong."

Wilson smiled a little. "Are you sure you didn't have grandpa rub off on you just a little bit?"

Rose chuckled. "You don't need to be a latent empath to know this. I'm your mother, dear. Mothers know."

"Yeah. Thanks, Mom. Say Hi to the others."

"And you try to make some time for your family on Hanukah And bring Greg along. Your grandmother misses having someone to verbally spar with."

He laughed. "I'll try to convince him."

Wilson hung up, feeling emotionally a lot better. As usual when he talked to his mother. She might not have inherited any paranormal powers and even his grandfather was only a very weakly talented empath. Maybe a few generations in the future the gene would kick in again, but not with Wilson. It wasn't like he wanted to be paranormal. It was easier being human and an ally.

Pushing to his feet, tired beyond belief and in bad need of sleep, the oncologist decided on a shower and some sleep. He got as far as the shower, but sleep was denied to him as his phone rang and he was called back to the hospital because of an emergency.

* * *

Stacy drummed her fingers on the desk, staring at the phone like it was some alien bug about to bite her. In a way it was because she had to make a decision, call or not call. She knew she had to, but deep down inside she wished there was another way. She had a duty as an ally, and in the last five years a lot had changed.

As it had in the last few weeks.

Stacy had talked to a tired and rather dejected looking Wilson, who had tried to brush off her concern and had told her he was fine. He obviously wasn't. She had listened to the little things he had said, ally-to-ally talk, complete confidence, and she had just filed the term used to describe House's paranormal abilities away.

A Diagnostic.

She had never heard of them.

House had never been very deeply involved in the paranormal world, but Stacy had been and still was. As an ally she was a passive member of this other world, but as a lawyer and a friend to someone deeply involved in the Nexus she had access to information that other allies couldn't even imagine. She knew what was happening in Salt Lake and Las Vegas, recently in New York and San Francisco, even branching out across the globe.

Stacy picked up the phone and dialed, listening to the ring tone, tense. After a moment the phone was picked up and she forced cheerfulness into her voice.

"It's Stacy. Hello, Vin."

She smiled at his greeting.

"Yes, it's good to hear you, too. I'm back in Plainsboro... No, we're not back together again. I'm married, Vin, and you know it... Yes... Oh please, no!... Actually... there have been developments..."

* * *

House had taken his bike for a long and fast ride, something Wilson would have a fit over if he knew. And as usual, House wouldn't tell him.

The ride had helped clear his head like it hadn't for a while. He had gone to the limit, taken chances, but the thrill and the adrenaline rush had wiped away a few darker things. They weren't gone, but they didn't impede his thought process any more.

James Wilson had changed from being his best friend and colleague, to an ally, lover and friend, as well as colleague. The lover part had been inevitable. They had fought against it for so long, something had had to give, and nearly losing the man he was emotionally so attached to had changed House in turn. Now he was part of the paranormal aspect as well.

House wanted to forget that he was any part of that in any way. He had lost interest in his paranormal side with the infarction. He had never even tried to see if his abilities were still working; the drugs dulled them so much, they barely existed any more. Sometimes there was a little twitter along the edge of his senses, but it was as crippled as him. And throughout the week of withdrawal he had been too busy not throwing up or curling into a ball of misery to notice any change in it.

Wilson hadn't even mentioned helping House in that regard. Then again, allies were passive. They only got active when a paranormal asked them, and House was far from asking. He had never asked for help, and the only time he had trusted in an ally to assist him, Stacy had used her position to 'save' him. Okay, so even if she hadn't been an ally back then, her status as his partner had given her the power to make this fateful decision. And okay, yes, he might have died or would have killed himself because of the pain.

Sitting on the machine, he looked out over the unremarkable landscape around him, listened to the sound of the motorway not far from his position. His breath clouded a little in the onset of winter. Soon he would feel the aches more pronouncedly than ever.

Getting old, he mused. Old and even more a bastard than before. Old and needy for companionship so badly that he was actually thinking about trusting once more.

Stacy had gone behind his back more than once, but they had finally hit a common ground they could work decently with. For as long as it lasted.

House revved the engine again and tore off his parking spot into the traffic, dodging a few cars until he had a clear ride and gunned for more speed.

* * *

Four days and several arguments with Cuddy about menial things later, House was giving his team a run for their money, had thrown away several ideas they had had, a dozen wrong diagnoses, had pushed the patient through MRI, CAT, ultrasound and several clinical tests on her blood, urine and other bodily fluids, but they were none the wiser. House decided on a lunch break and walked into the cafeteria, scanning for Wilson, but no such luck.


He grabbed a bag of chips, then set out for oncology, where he was informed that Dr. Wilson had spent the night with a terminal patient who was still hanging on by a thread, and was probably in his office.
Bad luck there as well. His secretary told House that Dr. Wilson was in surgery and wasn't expected for a while. House felt his mood decline and limped back to his own office to give the trio hell for no other reason than not having seen or talked to Wilson for days.

So strange.

Despite the revelations, despite his feelings, he still was drawn to his best friend. Lover. Ally. All of it. Wrapped in one neat, handsome package with so many extras. House knew that having Wilson in all these three capacities was more than a lucky draw, more than fate, it was... more than he probably was entitled to.
How often had he snapped or snarked at Wilson in the time they had known each other? How often had he ripped into him, hurt him inadvertently, and always, always, he had been there again. Not because he was a masochist. James Wilson was not that brave. But he was a friend. His only one. Every other doctor was giving him a wide berth, the nurses didn't like working with the attitude, and the patients... dear god, patients. Yes, those... Bane of a doctor's existence.

House still remembered their early days of a growing friendship, his snide remarks, his teasing and taunting, and the acid comments about the neat look and especially the tie. Wilson hadn't fled. He had returned and he had bantered with him, had given as good as he got, and even the eye rolls of disgust never meant an end to his coming back. Their friendship had started an unusual way, with trading insults or witticisms, until the insults faded and the wit remained, underlined with going for drinks, games, dinners, being best man at the second wedding and so on.

"Dr. House?" Cameron's quizzical voice drew him out of his thoughts.

He had been staring at the whiteboard with its two final diagnoses, seeing the words but thinking something else. But House wouldn't be House if his brain wasn't working on several levels.

"Cyclophosphamide," he only said.

"That's for vasculitis!" Foreman argued.

"Well done, Dr. Foreman. It is."

"It isn't vasculitis!"

"If it is, we should try Azathioprine first," Chase tried.

"Why?" House challenged.

"It's less powerful and generally safer."

House frowned, displeasure on his features. "Haven't I taught you anything? Safer? You want safer, go work for some boring small town clinic. We hit this with Cyclophosphamide, monitor her blood count, then get her on the Azathioprine."

"It isn't vasculitis!" Foreman tried again.

"I say it is. Now Shoo. Go. Do some doctoring." House made shooing motions.

Foreman stayed behind as Chase and Cameron left. "You're playing with lives again, House," he said darkly.

"No, I'm following our diagnosis. You know the game, Foreman. If A doesn't work, try B. If B doesn't work, try C. Or skip C because you think it's a no-no, too, and go straight for D."

"Cyclophosphamide treatment was plan A. We're not going forward, we're going back."

House smirked. "I never said it's a working system for everything. Sometimes we need to be flexible. Are you flexible, Dr. Foreman?"

The reply was a disgusted look and Foreman left. House breathed a sigh of relief and limped to his office, swallowing a Vicodin as he settled into his chair. He had a dozen or more new emails, which he ignored. He finally limped over to Wilson's office, which he found empty. So he beeped him.

Five pages later there was still no reply and House took the next step, calling the secretary who did all of Wilson's dictations, Judy or something. She told him there had been complications with the surgery and Wilson was still in there.

House glanced at his clock. It was four already. Time to go home, but he didn't feel like leaving. He had done that the last few days, going home to an empty house, an empty bed, and the nagging feeling that, while it had been his life for five long and lonely years, he could change that.

But Wilson was evading him. Wherever House was, Wilson wasn't, and even when he saw the younger man, it was only in passing. Chase had remarked on it once. Just once. House's expression had forbidden discussing the topic of Wilson's lack of presence around House for the future.

House wanted to talk to his lover, his ally, and he wanted him home tonight. Leaving Wilson to his own devices meant he might go to the apartment again and again, and not stay with House unless House made the first move.

By six he had checked on Judy five more times until she had told him she was going home and he better develop some patience. Surgeries, especially complicated ones, took time, as he knew. House had paid the cafeteria another visit, got a very bad coffee, which he still drank just for the caffeine and the bad taste, which did give him a kick after all.

With nothing else to do, he went to sit in Wilson's office, only to be intercepted by Cuddy again.

"I'm not paying your overtime," the smaller woman told him sharply.

"I'm not putting in for it, so don't get your pretty panties in a twist."

"House, what are you still doing here?"

"What does it look like, Dr. Cuddy?"

"You skulking around the hall and harassing innocent people."

"Oh, you wound me. I've been here for eight years and you still can't tell apart my skulk from my 'hanging around'."

"General Hospital isn't on, there is no case, you actually do still have a home, I assume, so why are you here?"

House just ignored her and continued his fast limp toward Wilson's office. Cuddy followed him, shutting the door in her wake.

"Ah, damn, you're still here," House remarked as he turned. "And here I thought you were a bad coffee hallucination."

"What happened between you and Wilson?" Cuddy demanded, hands on her hips.

House frowned. "Come again?"

"Stop playing, House. I have eyes. I noticed."

His brows rose in mock shock. "You have eyes? I never would have thought. All that cleavage does divert the attention from your face a lot."

"House." She inhaled deeply. "What did Wilson do to piss you off so badly?"

"I'm not pissed off. I'm annoyed," he added at her expression.

"At Wilson."


Now her brows rose in disbelief. "First you spend almost every hour of your free time, and your clinic time I might add, with him, he lives at your home for how many weeks, and now, in the last few days, you've been evading each other!"

"We're not evading each other!" House snapped.

"Well, it does look a lot like it!"

"Then get glasses! You're not my mother, you're not our chaperone, and you're damn well not qualified to look into our lives!"

Cuddy's eyes narrowed and a sly look appeared on her face. "Your lives? Your lives as... what?"

House drew back. "Why, Dr. Cuddy, such personal inquiries. I thought you knew already. You have seen it." He made a wiggly motion with his fingers.

"I saw enough and it makes me happy and sad in one. Happy for you that you finally have something akin to a relationship outside this hospital, though what you have here doesn't really fall into the category of relationships."

House tilted his head quizzically.

"And I'm sad for the pain Wilson will go through because of your insensitivity," she added.

He smiled a little. "You don't even know what this is about, do you, Cuddy? You're poking in the dark, maybe waiting for me to start opening up and crying over something you wouldn't understand. Maybe I'm happy, maybe Wilson is sad, but it's none of your business."

"It's my business if you make him miserable enough not to do his job. The man just went through trauma! He doesn't need you to add to it!" she almost yelled.

"And no talk about how wrong it is, the two of us? How it shouldn't better be the two of us?" He gestured at Cuddy and himself with a leer. "Why, I never thought you to be so liberal."

"House, I don't care who you sleep with."

"Well, you care enough to think about who might be happy and who might be the loser, if there is such a thing."

"With you?"

"Now you wound me personally." He clutched at his heart, but her words cut something inside him for real.

"As if that was even possible! But Wilson is vulnerable, especially now, he doesn't need you stringing him on and then dropping him like he isn't worth a dime. He's your best friend, not your whore!""
House was silently looking at her until she whirled around on her heels and stalked out of the office.

"No, he isn't," he murmured into the emptiness.

Wilson had never been his whore. He was by far more, and now he was far more with a twist.


An exhausted James came in an hour later, face reflecting the strain of the last hours and maybe even the last days. Brown eyes that were a mirror to his soul right now met blue ones that gave nothing away.

"Wrong office," the oncologist only said.

"Nope. Exactly where I was wanting to be."

"Please don't tell me you're thinking about changing specialties."

"I wouldn't dream of it."

"There must be a god after all."

The light banter felt good.

"Saved a life?" House asked, sounding chipper.


"Then again, you're an oncologist. It's more like easing the passing."

Wilson ran a hand through his no longer so neat hair. He looked rumpled, House noticed. Wilson never looked rumpled. Always neat and clean and so very, very adorably handsome in his tie and shirt and slacks. There were some outfits House secretly liked seeing him in, though he had never told him. At least not in any way a normal person would compliment the other on what he was wearing. He had made it clear in his own, not so charming way.

"What do you want, House?"


There was a moment of surprise, then Wilson shook his head. "Not tonight."

"It's on me."

"I'll take a rain check."

House pushed to his feet and came over to where his lover had hung up his lab coat. There was a slump to his shoulders, a tiredness so bone deep, it wasn't just the surgery. Wilson was an oncologist and as such knew about loss. He had lost more patients than had them survive the cancer, and it was a fact that his chosen profession dealt with death and the diagnosis of more death on a daily basis. Still, he had persevered in his field of medicine, had made it to head of the department in record time, and was the secret boy wonder of oncology. His bedside manner was that of a gentleman. He was calming and soothing on the patients and their relatives, and House knew his lover had chosen correctly in his field. He liked to make fun of Wilson being the big time specialist, narrowing his field while House himself was the diagnostician who had such a broad spectrum of knowledge. It was always in jest. He knew just how good his friend was.

"Why?" he asked now.

Wilson sighed wearily and turned. "I don't need dinner from you to make the words easier."

"What words?"

"Your decision."

"How do you know I came to one?"

Another tired sigh. "House, we've known each other almost ten years. With you that means it's a record. Even Stacy you only managed five years and she was your girlfriend. You were about to pop the question."

House tensed a little.

"You came here, to my office, waiting for hours, after your time in the clinic was up and you could go home. You came to a decision, House."

"Me waiting here gave that away?"

"Yes. So stop pretending and tell me. This is it and it's not pretty. So spill and we can all go back to pretending again."

House studied the pale features and noticed lack of sleep. Not much, but he did. Doctors were notorious for sleeping little and working a lot sometimes. But Wilson hadn't slept for days. He wanted to reach out and smooth those lines.

"I'm not going back," House said softly.

Wilson frowned.

"I made up my mind and I'm not going back to ignoring what we have. I trust you, James."

Wilson's eyes widened and the breath caught briefly in his throat. "W-what?"

"I hate repeating myself. It's a waste of perfectly good time and air when you heard me already."

"You just like that decided that you trust me?"

"No, not just like that. I always did. Funny, hm? Like you said, us being friends as we are is a record. Being fuck buddies now and then was a bonus."

The pale features tensed a little. "I see."

"And I think it's high time to face that we're past that and that my trust in you as an ally is without question," House went on. He leaned forward on his cane, invading the other man's private space. "I can't be what I once was, Jimmy. I can't go back to being the wonder doctor. The leg changed that. But I want what we started."

"As fuck buddies?" Wilson whispered, their faces so close House felt every breath.

"You know I get bored easily," was the hoarse reply.

"All the hookers can't satisfy you?"

House shrugged. "Bored, bored, bored."

"What if you get bored of me?" Wilson challenged.

The blue eyes were serious. "I haven't after ten years."

"It's not the same." Brown eyes remained full of challenge.

"Maybe. It's a puzzle."

"And you love puzzles."

House was silent, gazing at the other man. Three marriages. Three attempts to straighten out his life, so to speak. No pun intended. Three failures. House thought he had made the right diagnosis, had drawn the correct conclusion.

"What if you get bored?" the younger doctor asked again.

"What if you do?" House challenged in turn.

Wilson actually drew back, stunned. "What?"

"You're the one with three marriages on his slate. You're the handsome guy from oncology who turns women's heads. You're the guy I see with another woman every other week." House raised his brows. "As much as it hurts to confess to it, you're younger, better looking, and a babe magnet. And you have a commitment problem."


"Ah!" He raised a finger. "Don't even try to deny it."

"My marriages were all doomed from the start. Number one failed because we both married under the wrong assumptions. Number two was shot to hell because..." He sighed. "Because I had already met someone I felt more for than just friendly feelings. And number three... it was just the same failure as all the others. My way of running away. I want to stop running, Greg."

"From what? Your gay side?"

"No. Maybe I've been trying to deny the bi side inside me. What about you?"

"I don't label things black or white."

Wilson looked at him, silent.

"So, back to the original question, Doc," House said. "What are you running from?"


"That's not hard. I'm on a disadvantage." House solemnly raised the cane.

Wilson only gazed silently at him.

House's expression was thoughtful. The lines on his face were deeper than normal, those eyes penetrating and unreadable.

"You ran from a sarcastic, rude, annoying, irresponsible drug-addict. Good idea."

"No. It wasn't."

"How about the arrogant, manipulative son-of-a-bitch? Or the confident ass who's always right?"

"Not always right."

House snorted. "Don't judge me by the mistakes of the Scooby gang." He tilted his head a little. "You want this old wreck? You want the life-worn, bitter addict?"

"I want you."


"For wanting you?"

"Yes." House closed the little distance again. "You could have so much more."

"I'm not greedy."

"Settling for what you can get and not what you might have? Smart man."

"I've been told so," Wilson answered.

"Still an idiot. For waiting so long."

"Maybe I wasn't ready. Maybe you weren't."

"You mean nothing like a near-death experience or seeing your best friend lying in his own blood to jolt the emotional hurricane?" House asked sarcastically.

"Something like it."

"We're past the first kiss and sneaking away throughout breaks."

Wilson rolled his eyes. "We never did that."

"We could have," was the sly reply.

"And we're not going to start it either."

"Aww... I was looking forward to that. You are such a party-pooper."

The hands on the hips pose told House the level of friendly annoyance. Just the gesture was enough to tell him his lover was on the right track, out of the swamp of despairing feelings.

"I'd like to try the next step."

Wilson tilted his head. "There is a next step?"


"And if we fail?"

"We go to plan G."

Wilson gave a weak laugh. "When did we skip the other letters?"

"When did I say I was working by the alphabet?" House quipped.

A kiss silenced whatever the younger man was about to say. It was a hesitant kiss, filled with probing and questions, and Wilson's hands were only carefully curling into House's shirt tails.

"Come home, Jimmy," House murmured when they parted.

Because he was falling and he needed Wilson to be with him. He was falling more than he had ever thought. The emotion had always been there and it had persisted throughout the years, through trials and errors. House couldn't say what he felt because saying it destroyed the sacred feeling he had about it.

Hands on his waist steadied him, took his weight off his leg as he still rested against the lithe form he knew so well.

"Home?" Wilson echoed.

House was silent for a moment, face serious, not a muscle twitching. He knew what he was implying here, what he was asking for. He had been alone for five years, Wilson had just divorced. He was a bastard, Wilson was... Wilson.

They would probably kill each other.

"My place," he said softly nevertheless. Imminent death aside, this was the best that had ever happened to him revelation-wise. "You can keep yours if you want. It might get a little cramped now and then."

Another breathless laugh. "Like when we get into a lover's fight?"

"We always fight."

Wilson pursed his lips. "You're moving awfully fast."

House grinned. "Want to make it a race? I bet I can out-limp you."

"You think?"

"I got a cane and I'm a bastard. You do the math."

The oncologist chuckled. The next kiss was soft and deep, and Wilson held him tightly.

"Test trial," he finally said. "We test living together."

"No difference to what we already have. How many times did you crash on my couch? How often have we had dinner, games, fun? Monster Nights come to mind."

Wilson smiled. "Yeah. But this is different. We are different now."

"Older, wiser, crankier," House quipped, but only half-joking. His fingers raked over the shorter hair at Wilson's temple. "I want to try this, Jimmy. Really try this."

Wilson was silent for a moment, then just nodded his agreement. "Okay," he murmured.

House grinned broadly. "Great. Now, who's up for pizza and beer?"

* * *

It was a leisurely Saturday morning with neither of them either on call or having clinic duty. House rarely slept in. He woke to the pain in his leg, swallowed a Vicodin or two, and normally limped off to a shower or to just have an unhealthy amount of coffee. Now he had discovered a new leisure activity on lazy mornings: James watching. Wilson slept in his bed, totally relaxed, the lines of before by now eased and barely visible any more. He would watch him wake, smile at the sleepy, sometimes drowsy expression, and wonder when he had become so mushy.


Until they had finally found together now, neither had seen the other man totally naked before. Their prior encounters had been quick and dirty, rough little collisions of body against body, hands on straining hardness, and clawing at each other for release. Neither man had taken his clothes off either before or after. It had been a revelation to House to see James naked, to run his hands over the whole body, feel the warm skin and the muscles underneath.

Today, the morning had started with a nice blowjob and some heavy necking and petting. Wilson was quite talented with that mouth, which had House wonder if those rumors about the nurses included the male staff as well, or if James had stepped out of line outside hospital grounds, too. With someone of the male persuasion.

It was before midday that someone rang. House opened the door and looked at the rather thin, olive-skinned man. He had longish, gleaming black hair and was wearing a simple turtleneck sweater and jeans. To House he looked around thirty, with no sign of gray yet.

"Whatever you're selling, I'm not buying," he snapped.

"I'm not here to sell anything, Dr. House."

"Goody-bye then."

"I want to talk to Dr. Wilson," the man called hurriedly, hand against the closing door.

"Take the hand away or lose it," House demanded, voice cold and unfriendly.


"See the name?" House asked acidly and gestured at the little plaque next to the door bell. "It's says `House', not `Wilson'. Wrong home."

"I know Dr. Wilson is here. Stacy told me."

House froze. How dare she...!

"I'm Edward Tagana," the man added carefully.

House's rage grew. "Leave."

"Dr. House, please..."

"This is private property. Leave now!"

"I just want..."

"What part of `leave' didn't you understand?!" he demanded, clutching the cane as if he was about to use it as a weapon.

"What's going on?" a new voice asked and the door was pushed open wider.

Wilson locked eyes with Tagana and frowned a little, then smiled. "Edward Tagana?"

Tagana nodded carefully, still glancing at House. "Yes. Dr. Wilson, I came by to talk."

"Nothing to talk about," House growled.

"House, please!" Wilson hissed.

"He's not setting foot in here!"

Wilson's eyes flashed, then he grabbed his coat and pushed past his lover. "It's a nice day for a walk."

Tagana shot confused looks between them, rooted to the spot. "I don't want to make any trouble any more than I already have. Please... you don't have to leave. If Dr. House feels I'm intruding I'll go."

"You're not intruding and while this is Dr. House's apartment, the street is free territory," Wilson snapped, glaring at House.

The older man rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Oh stop being childish."

"Who is?" Wilson challenged.

Blue eyes met brown ones and finally House limped into his home, leaving the door open. "Knock yourself out," he only muttered.

Wilson glared for a moment, then went back inside. He closed the door. House looked about ready to explode with anger as he limped away from them, but he stayed close enough to peripherally spy on the situation.

Tagana shifted uncertainly. "Listen, I really just wanted to apologize. I didn't come to antagonize Dr. House..."

Wilson shot a look at the man who was pointedly ignoring them. "Don't think about it, Ed. How are you?"

Tagana was slightly taken aback. "Uh, I'm fine. I came to ask about you, Dr. Wilson. I... I threw you through a glass wall. I never meant to hurt you."

There was a snort from House, but Wilson ignored him. "I know that. Circumstances, that's all. I'm fine again."

"It could have been worse!" the magic-user argued.

"Hear, hear," House muttered loudly.

Wilson rolled his eyes. "Yes, it could have, but it wasn't."

Tagana sighed. "I never had much power to begin with, but this somehow let it accumulate and... you were my victim. And because of the magic, the glass didn't shatter as it should... it cut you..."

Wilson wasn't very knowledgeable on what magic did to the molecular structure of objects, but Tagana's had changed the safety glass, had made it easy to shatter. It had shattered into large pieces instead of smaller, more harmless ones. Cuddy was still having fits over it and the representative from the company that manufactured those see-through walls had its own over the strange behavior of a normally so safe wall.

"Ed, it's okay. Coffee?" he offered.

"Out of it," House could be heard.

Wilson sighed. "We can still go to the coffee place around the corner," he added loudly.
House stuck his head into the room, blue eyes awash with anger and barely suppressed other negative emotions.

"Greg, grow up!" Wilson only told him.

"I've got go anyway," Tagana said hurriedly.

"No need. Water fine?"

Tagana nodded hesitantly and soon held a glass of water and was sitting on the couch.

"Do you live here?" the oncologist wanted to know.

"Yes. I wish I had known you're an ally, Dr. Wilson."

"Wilson smiled. "Call me James. And even if you had known at the time, you wouldn't have been able to change anything. Your perceptions of reality were altered. You saw something terrible. Well, for the future, we might hear of each other again."

"Not if I can help it," came the voice out of nowhere.


"He's right, you know. I shouldn't contact you any more."

Wilson stared at him, aghast. "I'm an ally. You can fall back on me any time, Ed. You know that."

Tagana glanced into the general direction where House had disappeared into the adjoining kitchen and was most likely listening.

"He has nothing to do with what I am," James added firmly.

"He is your partner."

"Yes, but he's not my boss. I'm an ally and my duty to you is not influenced by my private liaisons."

There was another huff with a loud muttering from the kitchen.

Tagana sighed. "Still..."

"If you need me, call or come by," Wilson repeated firmly.


The conversation drifted off into personal things, into Tagana's powers, Wilson's status, everything. James asked about the magic-user, interested in all kinds of things about him, got to know about his family and friends, and he answered Tagana's questions about himself. Out of the corners of his eyes he saw House drift back into the room, keeping back, but listening.

It was past noon when Tagana finally left, still apprehensive when it came to House. Wilson turned from closing the door and leaned against it, arms crossed, looking at the scruffy countenance of his lover. House shot back an innocent smile.

"You are impossible, you know that?"

"What?" House asked, spreading his arms wide.

"Tagana is a fellow paranormal and what happened was an accident."

"Says him."


The older man leaned back with a tired sigh. "Yeah, yeah. He's sorry, you're fine with it, so what?"

"So what are you pouting about?" Wilson approached the seated man.

"I'm not pouting. Puppies pout."

"You've been at your most annoying. And while you're not a puppy, more like a rabid wolf, you are pouting quite well."

House hooked a finger into the waistband of Wilson's pants when the man was close enough and pulled him to stand between his spread legs.

"I do not pout, Dr. Wilson. I'm only pissed at the guts of the man."

"I feel like a broken record, but: he couldn't do anything about it. It was an accident."

House pulled again and Wilson lost his balance, almost falling onto the seated man. There was a growing heat in the blue eyes.

"Can we forget about this?" Wilson pleaded.

"Not likely," House growled and began to work on ridding the younger man of the shirt.

Wilson gasped as his lover immediately attacked a soft spot. House grinned triumphantly.

"But we can forget about Tagana and only concentrate on this," he added slyly.


"I take that as agreement."

Wilson tore off the shirt and gave the other man free access to the smooth planes of his upper body, which House took advantage of.

* * *

House studied the naked man with him in bed. They did that a lot, lying together, running hands over the other's skin, and House found he was slowly getting addicted to a different kind of drug: human contact in the form of James Wilson. Earlier encounters had never held such depths and it was only growing. He was afraid and looking forward to it in one.

Scars had remained of the terrible injuries. The one on the neck was thin but long, and a sign of what had occurred months ago. It was a pinkish white against the tanned neck and House ran explorative finger tips over the mark, drawing a little hitched breath out of the man sharing his bed with him. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss against the scar, letting his tongue bathe it briefly before drawing back and looking into those brown eyes.

He had only once had this closeness; with Stacy. She had seen this in him; no one else had touched him since then. The sarcastic remarks about hookers only deflected the more personal inquiries into his sex life, and his father's remark about bringing home some `babes' had only managed to remind him how empty everything had become.

Wilson was silent as he watched him, then wrapped a hand around his neck and drew House into a kiss. Slow, deep, expressing so much without talking.

No words.

It defined their relationship so well. No words needed. Sometimes House used words anyway, words that spoke of their connection, of what was uniquely between them, and he heard his lover echo them.

He let a hand slide up the naked side, following the gentle curve of the ribs and splaying his fingers across the smooth, well-defined chest. Wilson carded his fingers into his slightly graying hair, caressing him in turn.

"Tell me about your work for the Nexus," House murmured.

It had come up a few weeks ago. House had had no idea about anything like the Nexus even existing and it had been a shock to hear about it. A world-wide information network. It boggled the mind, especially knowing that paranormals weren't bound to form groups. Aside from vampires, who had communities, it was everyone for himself. That some very different paranormals had bound together as allies, so to speak, investigating into their heritage and forming a safety net to help others, was brand new and unheard of.

House was interested.

Very interested.

"I'm not working for the Nexus," Wilson answered, never stopping his caress.

"You have contacts."

"I talk to Dr. Jackson now and then. His research into vampirism is what launched my own research a few years back."

"Cancer and other deadly illnesses in humans and paranormals."

He had yet to read a single word from Wilson's work, but his lover had mentioned a few things.

The younger man nodded. "Paranormals are rarely coming down with any of them and there has to be a reason. Even if you're a vampire and near-immortal, you're still human. Your DNA is still human."

"Must be a dietary thing," House mumbled, brain not yet jumpstarting.

"I thought so, too, but it isn't. The little difference in their genetic make-up that makes them vampires, that `infection', is what keeps them from being afflicted with all kinds of normal human illnesses. They have never heard of Alzheimers or any kind of illness that might hit us with old age, and vampires get very old. Magic-users hardly ever have a sniffle."

House pushed himself up a little. "But they can be influenced by chemical spills," he reminded him, voice slightly harder.

"Exactly." Wilson reached up and traced the lines on the thin face. "And drugs can dull their senses."

The blue eyes closed off. "I'm not going to be an guinea pig."

Wilson sat up and grabbed House's arm before the other man had a chance to get off the bed, faster than his bad leg usually allowed him to.

"Greg, wait, no! I'm not using you! My research... it's what I do in my free time using only past events. I'm not running clinical trials or anything like it." He tightened his hold. "Please."

House stared at him, trust issues rampaging through him. The ugly voice was back, demanding to know if all this had been an elaborate ploy to get him into the clutches of some mad scientist. Then again, James Wilson didn't fit the description at all.

"You're a lot more to me than just another fact in my research," the oncologist added.

"But my detox experience could help you."

Wilson was silent for a moment, then shrugged. "If you share voluntarily, yes, maybe."

"Doctors should never get involved with patients."

A weak smile. "Too late. And I'm not treating you. You couldn't afford me anyway."

House held the brown eyes, still fighting the matter of trust and love. He finally relaxed, but he didn't lay back down. Wilson just settled next to him, silent.

"Do you really think this will work?" he finally asked, breaking the heavy silence.

House didn't look at him. His eyes were on his badly scarred thigh, one hand splaying over the ugly marks. These were the outside marks of his inner wounds, and these wounds were breaking open again and again. He couldn't trust easily.

But he trusted Wilson, didn't he?

House closed his eyes.

He had trusted so often. He had so many people who said they cared. All that ever happened was pain and disappointment. Even his own parents.

"He told me I don't know how lucky I am," he said softly, out of the blue.

House couldn't see Wilson's reaction, but in a way he was very well able to imagine it. Those caring eyes, the lines around his mouth deepening briefly in confusion, a mild frown.

"My Dad," House elaborated, voice softening into his serious-serious voice, the one that made Wilson nervous on a good day, he knew. "He thinks I'm miserable. I think he's right. I never felt lucky. I felt cheated."

There was only the sound of another person's breathing, nothing else.

"I still do. With every little good thing, there is a whomping big bad thing attached to it."

Now there was a sigh and House opened his eyes. Wilson looked suddenly drawn again.


"How whomping big is the bad thing attached to your research?"

"Insane hours, idiotic mumblings, late nights, bad weekends," Wilson told him levelly. "Do you really think I want you as a guinea pig? No! No way in hell, House! Too much maintenance."

House's eyebrows rose again.

Silence descended again. Wilson rose and walked over to where his sweat pants and shirt lay haphazardly on a chair and slipped into them. The mood had clearly been broken and House was trying to determine where to take this. He got up with the help of the foot-end of the bed and hobbled over to grab his own things. Dressing was a bit more of a feat, but he finally limped after Wilson, who was in the kitchen, looking for something to drink.

"Too much maintenance?" House demanded, picking up the conversation as if there had never been an awkward silence.

Wilson shot a look over his shoulder. "Yep."

House huffed. "That's not fair. I'm the easiest guy to be around with!"

"Right!" Wilson opened a soda as he gave him a disbelieving look.

House leaned against the door jamb. "Show me your stuff."

"I think you just saw it."

"Oh, you!" A theatrical eye-roll. "I meant the research."

Wilson drank some more soda. "Interested?"

"Madly in love with the researcher and trying to suck up to him."

It got him a brief smile. "You are interested," Wilson just stated.

"So what? Might pass an hour or two. There's nothing on TV, I'm out of soap magazines, and the books are boring."

Wilson studied him for a moment. "So you trust me?"

"I think we established that already."

"Hm, if it only always were so easy."

He walked over to the younger man, crowding against him, pushing Wilson to lean against the kitchen sink.

"I trust you, James Wilson," House repeated, eyes and whole demeanor serious. "Completely."

Again he was studied, thoroughly. "O-kay," Wilson finally said slowly. "Can I get that in writing before it comes up again and hits me in the face?"

"Ye of little faith," House murmured.

"I have a lot of faith in you. I have to have it. Look at what crap I let you get away with and still come back."

"That's masochism, not faith."

Wilson gave him that patented look of exasperation and amused tolerance.

House closed the last distance and held those intense eyes. "This is between us. No one else."

"It always was."

"I'm not talking about the sex."

"Neither am I."

House smirked. "Too bad."


"I like threesomes," came the whine.

"You never had them."

"They read hot on the internet."

Wilson dug his fingers into the bright red t-shirt, holding him. "Your fantasies of Carmen Electra or Angelina Jolie aside... I am your ally, Greg House. And I'm your lover. And I'm a scientist."

"And I'm a manipulative bastard. So?"

Wilson brushed their lips together. "I might be everything, but I can keep the individuals apart. You are not my guinea pig. You never will be."

And they were back full circle where they had started this conversation.

"Good. I hate needles."

Wilson chuckled a little and was about to draw back, but House caught him again.

"Who said you can stop?" House growled and claimed his lips again, deepening the kiss.

The younger man hummed softly.

"So you're interested?" he asked after some more kisses.


"I'm not talking about the sex, House."

"How disappointing. Get me interested in something else besides that, then we'll talk about a deal."

The oncologist's hand snaked down south and stroked over the slight arousal he found there. House batted at the sneaky hand. Wilson grinned boyishly.

"Sex as a bargaining chip. Dr. Wilson, I'm not as shocked as you might think I am," House drawled. "You have a reputation."

Wilson nuzzled a soft spot at House's collar bone. "Have to live up to it."

His hand was caught. "If you want to bargain, then how about you show me your files and I'll show you what I can do?" came the leer.

"I already know what you can do."

"Even I still have my secrets. Certified genius secrets."

There was the annoying sound of a beeper going off. Wilson grabbed his from the table and glanced at the brief notification. He was on call and they needed him.

"Mood-breaker," House muttered.

"It's our job."

"Your job," House corrected his lover. "Mine's to keep Cuddy's blood-pressure up and the Scooby Gang busy. You have the easy life here."

Wilson's lips quirked into a brief smile. "Sure." He gave him a quick kiss and went back into the bedroom, only to come out fifteen minutes later, showered and dressed impeccably for work. "Later. Don't stay up on my account."

House grimaced. "I'm not the wife, Jimmy. I don't do late nights waiting for the husband, just read him the riot act."

"I know. And I thank god for that. You'd look terrible in a skirt and apron."

"For you, I'd wear it," came the quip.

Wilson chuckled and took his car keys, waving his good-bye.

House smiled as the door closed, then limped into the bathroom for his own shower. General Hospital was on a rerun this weekend and he planned to catch it.