Categories > TV > House

Coming Home

by taer_sagheer 0 Reviews

“Well," House says, shifting his weight to his good leg. "This is turning out to be an awkward reunion."

Category: House - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Gregory House,James Wilson - Published: 2010/05/22 - Updated: 2010/05/23 - 2651 words - Complete

Judging by the look on Wilson’s face as he opens the door, Nolan hasn’t spoken to him yet. He’s mildly surprised; he figures Nolan doesn’t buy into the patient-confidentiality crap as much as he lets on, and called to warn Wilson the instant he set foot on the bus to leave.

He has less than a second to react to the growing look of confusion on Wilson’s face; all he can come up with on such short notice is raising his eyebrows and making his lips thin.

“House!” Wilson blurts out, blinking rapidly.

So much for a warm welcome home.

Maybe showing up wasn’t as good an idea as he first thought... On the other hand, he needs the keys to his apartment—unless he wants to round up Foreman and have the lock picked.

“Wilson!” he counters, forcing his voice to sound cheerful, even if the look on his face doesn’t match.

He’s almost forgotten how entertaining it can be to watch Wilson struggle to articulate a reply; his face takes on countless expressions as the wheels in his head turn: shock, confusion, joy, relief, horror.

Finally, more confusion. “Why are you here?”

“Well," House says, shifting his weight to his good leg. "This is turning out to be an awkward reunion."

“No, I mean—why aren’t you…” he swings an arm into the hotel room, finger pointed at the phone, but before he can say anything, House cuts him off.

“At Mayfield?” he finishes, gripping his cane with both hands. He stares at Wilson long and hard, then finally shrugs. “I escaped,” he says with a stony expression. "I'm freeee!"

“Oh, God. House,“ Wilson anxiously rubs his jaw. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

House squints, tilting his head slightly. “It’s not like I haven’t done it before.”

“What?” Wilson’s head shoots up.

“Nothing,” he answers hastily. Apparently, Wilson doesn’t know about his little stunt with Freedom Master. Well, good. One less lecture he'll have to eventually endure.

“You didn’t really, did you?”

“Relax,“ House says, lamely gesturing into the hotel room. While it would be hilarious to have Wilson under the impression that he did in fact escape, he doesn’t want to risk the police showing up to later, stuffing him in the back of a squad car and driving all the way back. “I was just released. I came for my keys.”

“Wow. Yeah, sure, um. Just hold on, lemme find ‘em.” Wilson blinks and shakes his head, as though to clear it, and backs away from the door and wanders off to rifle through a drawer.

House cautiously leans into the doorway, casting a scrutinizing gaze over the room.

The room is decent in size, with a tiny kitchen consisting of a small sink and an even smaller microwave. There’s a bathroom, and a front room/bedroom. Near the window are a small table and two comfortable looking chairs. The curtains are drawn shut; the television is off. House frowns. There are no signs of Wilson in this room. This bothers him.

“Ah, here they are,” Wilson says, and joins him at the door, although he hangs into the keys, curling his fingers around them almost protectively. “I didn’t know you were being released today,” he says softly. “I would have come picked you up.”

House shrugs. “Took the bus.”

Wilson smirks slightly and looks down at his shoes, tossing the keys from one hand to the other.

“I’m... really happy for you, House,” he says suddenly, donning that pathetic, practiced voice that only someone with years of telling people they have only months left to live acquires. It's just another tool, House thinks. First, you get your penlight, then your stethoscope, and then the astounding ability to disconnect and sound annoyingly over-compassionate. The only thing that makes this more pathetic than usual is that he can tell Wilson is being completely genuine.

“Can I have my keys?” House asks uncomfortably, holding his hand out. "If not, I'll just come back later."

“Oh!” Wilson says, chuckling nervously and dropping the keys into the palm of House’s hand. He wipes his hands on the back of his pants. “Sorry.”

“Yep.”

"So…" Wilson eventually trails off, stuffing his hands into his pockets. He looks uncomfortable.

House gets the feeling that, if they were two normal people, he might be expected to leave at this point. He's got a better idea, though.

He twirls the key ring around his finger. “Grab your keys.”

“What? Why?” Wilson raises a finger and points. “I already gave you yours."

"I know."

"Well, what do you need mine for?"

"I don't need them, you do," he answers matter-of-factly.

"Dare I ask again: why?"

"You're gonna give me a ride home."

*

They exchange awkward small talk, mostly initiated by Wilson, and House can't help but wonder if Wilson is making up for lost time, or if he's trying to hide something. Or avoid something.

House thumps his cane repeatedly against the floorboards of the car. He can tell by the slight twitch in the corner of Wilson's eye that it's beginning to wear on his nerves.

Wilson seems to sense the building tension.

“Foreman’s actually not doing that bad a job,” he says, trying to sound reassuring.

As disappointed as House is to hear that Foreman hasn’t crumbled under the weight of being The Big Boss in his absence, it’s the last thing on his mind at the moment. He smacks his lips together loudly and looks down at his cane, saying as casually as he can, “you hung up on me.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he can see the white begin to spread across Wilson's knuckles as he grips the steering wheel. He clears his throat and shifts in his seat, the seat belt making it a difficult task.

“Is that some sort of radical new therapy?” he asks coldly.

“House…”

House takes this opportunity to turn to him.

Wilson sighs and stares at the red traffic light. His grip on the wheel loosens, and he spreads his hands palm down over it, as if mentally laying things out so that they'll make more sense when he says them. “I was just trying to help, okay? Just… Don’t. Please don't.”

The light turns green and House redirects his attention to the windshield.

“Okay,” he says plainly.

Wilson continues driving.

*

By the time they pull up to the curb, sarcasm has worked it's way back into their conversations. House smirks as he climbs out of the car; for them it's not just a coping mechanism.

He uses his key to unlock the door, Wilson following behind. He flicks the switch on the wall and the both of them wince at the explosion of light. He can see dust particles floating in the air. He frowns and looks over his shoulder at Wilson, who blinks innocently, shrugging lightly.

He squints and glances around, then limps the front room, examining his belongings. Nothing seems to be out of place. The dust isn't as bad as he expected, but he does notice a thin layer collected on the lid of his piano.

Thankfully, the fall is closed; the keys are safe.

"You didn't dust?" he asks without any kind of preamble.

Wilson snorts.

"Sorry," he says sarcastically. “How inconsiderate of me, not dropping my chemo cases to come dust for you.”

Rolling his eyes, House makes rounds. The front room seems to be in order, so he heads to the kitchen, calling, "did you clean the fridge out?"

Wilson appears behind him, saying almost proudly, "that I did do."

House ignores him and limps by. He heads to his bedroom, where he strips the blankets and sheets off the bed and lays down new ones. When he makes his way back into the front room, Wilson is sitting on the couch, still in his trench coat, looking stiff and uncomfortable.

He doesn’t even think the words, they just come: “wanna order out?”

It's a small gesture on his part, but Wilson accepts.

"Sure," he says.

He feels as though their entire friendship has just been one long meal, but isn't sure where else to go from here. He really would like to reacquaint himself with his old bed, too, but can't help but feel that Wilson should stick around a little longer. And so, he impatiently paces the apartment, throwing open windows and wiping down his television screen while Wilson calls in their order.

Twenty-some minutes later, the two of them are slouching on the sofa, dining on burgers wrapped in greasy, see-through paper. The television volume is on low, and the conversation is piecemeal at best, but it's fitting.

"You must've been bored to tears with no one to torment," Wilson remarks around a mouthful of food.

"Right, because no one but you is worthy of my manipulation." He rolls his his eyes. "I found new people to torment. And by the way, you have no idea what I had to go through to get that phone card."

"Hopefully nothing that involved a heavyset guy with 'Bubba' tattooed across his knuckles," Wilson says casually.

House pauses. The muscles in his thigh spasm slightly. He frowns.

At first, it was strange not having Wilson only an arms length away, ready to spring into action—or stop him from springing into action—at the drop of a hat. He grew bored of having no one to talk to or scheme with, no one to be the recipient of his puzzles and clues. In short, he missed his friend—his only friend at the time—and he didn't like it.

After the incident over the phone, he learned to put Wilson out of his mind, to not associate him with Mayfield at all. He feels as though Mayfield is a part of his life that he can't share with Wilson. Sure, he can tell him stories about how he tried to turn Ward 6 upside down, or about his hyperactive roommate, but this is something that’s his and his alone. Wilson wasn’t there. In a way, Wilson didn’t exist in Mayfield. He isn’t sure why, but a part of him wants to keep it that way.

"I was in a mental hospital, not a prison." The glowering seems to shut Wilson up. "And anyway, it was more like what my roommates face had to go through."

"What did you do to his face?"
"Let's just say it wasn't pretty." House sighs and lumbers to his feet, grabbing his cane. "Be back."

"Where're you going?"

There is an undertone of urgency in Wilson's voice, one House does not like.

House jerks his head toward his bedroom. He makes a conscious effort to keep his hand away from his thigh. He feels as though his face is pinched, though, and does his best look annoyed. "Gotta pee. Wanna come with? We could make it our first post-institutionalization bonding session."

"No thanks," Wilson says, appearing disinterested. "I'm good."

He feels as though he’s being watched. He begins his search by quickly scoping the walls and ceiling for unusual holes or cracks; cameras or microphones he knows aren’t there. He tries to tell himself he shouldn't be so paranoid—he's just curious to see what's still left to find. He's not going to take anything, and no one ever got readmitted to a mental hospital for checking the medicine cabinet, which is completely empty, he notes with a frown. His super-secret stash in the plastic baggy taped under the toilet bowl tank is gone, too. Whoever raided his apartment after he left was crafty. He’d restocked after the Tritter incident, although he’d started using different spots. Just in case.

It looks as though Wilson really turned the place upside down and inside out after he left.

He doesn't know whether to be angry, or relieved.

On his way back to the front room, he pauses to investigate his closet. Nothing. He's taken far too much time, and decides to only check one more hiding spot before heading back. Bingo. He wraps his fingers around the pill bottle tightly, swallowing thickly as he brings it up and rattles it, watching a handful of little white pills dance around.

Without a second thought, he slips the bottle into his side pocket.

*

The coffee table is littered burger wrappers and stray fries that didn't make it into anyone's stomach. Both men are sprawled out on the couch, eyes heavy lidded. Conversation has dwindled down to a few random comments about commercials. The night is coming to a close.

House's grip on the remote tightens. He can hear the plastic creak in his hand. Wilson doesn't seem to notice.

"Thanks," he says under his breath.

Wilson looks at him, confused. "Huh?"

House shoots him an icy glare.

"I'm trying to thank you," he says as obnoxiously as he can.

"Oh," Wilson says dumbly. He blinks a couple of times and settles back into the sofa. He doesn't seem to know what to say. "You're welcome."

"Idiot," House mumbles, changing the channel. He shifts slightly and then freezes; he holds his breath and waits. Surely, Wilson has to hear the pills rattling around in his pocket.

"Can I know what you're thanking me for?" Wilson asks a while later. "To be fair, it was a really vague 'thank you.'" He waits a beat then holds his hands up, as if to say, 'never mind. I can deal with a non-specific thank you. I think it's the first thank you I've ever gotten from you.'

"For hanging up," House replies tacitly. "And…" He shrugs a shoulder.

"You're welcome," Wilson repeats. "It... It really means a lot to me that you—"

Oh, no, now he's done it. Wilson looks like he's about to launch into a heartfelt speech.

"Wilson," House warns.

"House—"

"Hey, Doctor Phil," He taunts. He slips his hand into his pocket and wraps it around the bottle. "Shut up or go home."

Wilson holds his hands up defensively. "All right, okay! Sheesh."

Things quiet down again and both men pretend to watch the screen in silence. However, the quiet isn’t enough to stave off the feeling of warmth between them, so he grits his teeth and reaches his hand into his pocket.

"Oh, and by the way: if you're planning on leaving me up shit creek," House says, tossing the pill bottle onto the sofa between the two of them a while later, "make sure to take away the paddle."

"You don't want them?" Wilson asks quietly. He sounds more surprised than anything.

"Of course I want them!" House snaps. "I'm an addict."

"A recovering addict," Wilson points out. "You didn't keep them."

"I wanted to."

"But you didn't."

"I was going to," House admits sullenly.

Wilson catches his gaze and holds it. "But you didn't."

The next couple of hours pass quicker than House expects, and before long, he's curled up in his bed, grimacing and rubbing his thigh. Wilson is fast asleep on the couch; he can still hear the low roar of the television. Wilson claims he's too tired to drive home. House knows that's not why he's staying. He should be annoyed, and he is, but he has other things on his mind. Despite the pain, he smiles slightly.

One thump-step-limp at a time, he thinks to himself, sighing and burying his face into his pillow.

He suddenly realizes how quiet it is.

He hates to admit it—he really hates to admit it—but he almost misses the sound of Alvie rapping himself to sleep. His bed is too comfortable, it's too quiet, and his leg still hurts.

It's going to be a long night.
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