Categories > TV > House

Essential Lies

by Macx_Larabee 0 reviews

Paranormal AU. There is a way to heal some of the damage done by the infarction, but is House willing to go through the pain? And is Wilson?

Category: House - Rating: R - Genres: Angst - Characters: Gregory House, James Wilson - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2006-11-05 - Updated: 2006-11-05 - 16549 words - Complete

Essential Lies TITEL: Essential Lies
Part of the Denuo AU
AUTHOR: Macx and Lara Bee
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. More stories from different shows can be found here:
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!)

Some lines taken from 'Need to Know' and twisted around a bit to work with our little AU.

The pain was bad.
Like a blade drawing over his skin, cutting into his muscles, severing nerves and muscle fibers, right down to the bone. It was tearing him apart, leaving him open and screaming, cramping and whimpering, begging for relief.
"Son of a bitch!"
Curses flew from his mouth as he curled up on the bed, his hands around his right thigh.
Like a bullet wound. Nerve endings aflame, burning, searing with agony, and no relief. Whatever he did, no relief.
"Give me something!" he cried.
"You know we can't."
He had started to hate that voice. So calm and warm and reassuring. So damned pain-free and young and and and... he hated it. He despised it.
Blue eyes, red-rimmed and teary, flashed. It should have been a murderous flare, but it was just a weak plea.
"Something..." he whispered.
Hands touched him and there was a tingle of warmth flowing through him. Calming him, but the pain stayed.
"The drug has to leave your system before we can begin," the voice said. "You know it."
Of course he did. He was a doctor. He knew detox. He had done it before, but back then it was to win himself a month of freedom from clinic duty. This time... this time it was for himself. It was to survive, to live...
Dr. Gregory House let his eyes roll back, closed them, breath hissing between his teeth.
He hated this. He hated himself. He hated Wilson. He hated them all.
It was one of those normal days. Monday, too. He hated Mondays. Especially after Sundays spent doing nothing in particular. Having fun at home, playing video games, watching TV, reading, and having Wilson around for cuddles, kisses and conversation, not to mention sexual satisfaction. Dr. Gregory House could think of many reasons not to be in on Monday, but his very own conscience in form of this particular James Wilson had made sure they were on time.
It had gotten him a knowing smile from Cuddy, a cheerful good morning from Cameron, a smirk from Chase - quickly hidden - and that look from Foreman that told him his junior was all but happy about the continued sexual relationship between two male department heads. Well, screw him.
Then again, not that way. That made House shudder.
So on a Monday morning, after a very nice weekend, he suddenly found himself with a visitor.
"Dr. House?"
House gave the visitor a once-over, eyes narrowing. "You again. Wrong floor. Pediatrics is two floors down."
"I sent you my application again."
"How nice. My answer is still the same. Bye."
"I can help you."
The blue-green eyes in the narrow face were serious. It was a young face, too young to belong to the person he was trying to kick out of his office.
House studied the young man; Curtis Foxworth. He was applying for a temporary internship and had already mailed in all the papers. While his resume was impressive and he had only straight A grades, House didn't want someone else on the team. Three were enough. He had no time for baby-sitting another student. Foxworth had been insistent, though. Very insistent. He had come to the hospital before, asked for him, had been in his office. House had kicked him out.
Still, the kid came back again and again.
House had had stalkers before. Well, one. A patient who had, in the end, managed to get him interested. Foxworth wasn't of interest to him. Too young, too convinced of himself, too much a pain in the ass.
"Not interested," he growled.
"You should be."
"I'm not. And that's your final warning before I kick you out of the office with this." He held up the cane.
Foxworth smiled. House wondered how old the boy was exactly. He didn't look any older than eighteen, if at all. Looks could be deceiving, papers could lie, but House was pretty sure he wasn't twenty-one yet.
The blue-green eyes seemed to scan him, then came to rest on his thigh. "I know who you are, Dr. House. I can see the pain and I know it takes a lot from you. Your life, your abilities..."
That had him freeze. The little...
"What the fuck are you going on about?"
"You're a Diagnostic. I'm a Healer. I think we can find a way to help both of us. I need field experience; you need relief."
House stared at him. His brain was registering the words, but he had trouble making the connection. Here was someone throwing around terms that spoke clearly of his knowledge of the paranormal...
Foxworth smiled. "You can check my background if you want to."
"Don't need to. I have your application. I don't need your help. This," House said and gestured at his bad leg, "is permanent. You can't work magic."
He was playing along. Either he had the boy wrong, or he was the real thing and then it would get interesting.
The younger man smiled. "No, I can't. But I can take away the pain."
House rattled the Vicodin bottle. "Already on it. Thanks. You're too late. Bye again." He turned away.
"Dr. House."
And then there was a hand, touching his thigh. It was a moment of intimacy, a warmth flooding through his injured leg, and then there was...
House knew he was staring. His mouth was open, he had been about to push the obnoxious kid away, but he couldn't. He could just enjoy, feel, relax into the warmth, and suddenly he was sitting. Foxworth had guided him down, gently, carefully, his young face serious and full of concentration.
No pain.
No pain at all.
He was still very much aware that the bad leg was weaker, due to the muscle loss, but there weren't any pain signals coming through. It was better than after Vicodin. Vicodin numbed him, but it was never total relief. Nothing but a good dose of morphine could do that.
"W-what did you do?" he rasped.
Foxworth straightened, his hand sliding from his thigh.
"I'm a Healer," he repeated his earlier words. "We can take pain away for a while."
"Not forever," he managed, his hand shakily touching his damaged thigh.
No pain. None. It was so... new.... This didn't feel like morphine or Vicodin. This was total bliss.
"No. We can ease pain. We can reduce pain. We can heal some damage. We cannot regrow what was lost. In your case, we could reduce the pain to a level where you would only need normal pain pills if it gets bad, like when you push too hard, stand on your leg too long. We can't give you the muscle back, Dr. House, but we can help."
Foxworth sat back against the desk. "Like I said, I'm offering a trade. Let me work here, learn from you and your team, and in turn I'll help you."
"There must be others you can bug," was the gruff reply as House tried to collect himself.
His leg felt so pleasantly pain-free, he wanted to cry.
"You are the best."
"Blessing. You could be so much more," Foxworth continued. "You are a Diagnostic. The Vicodin neutralizes you."
"You don't know if my body will ever recover from that," House said quietly.
"No, but isn't it worth a try?"
House wanted to get up, pace, walk away from the Healer, but he couldn't. He was afraid that the moment he moved that leg, the pain would be back.
Part of him yelled to kick out the kid, make him leave, but there was also his natural curiosity.
"You looked for me," he said softly.
"I'm looking for a teacher." Foxworth smiled a little. "I might be a Healer, but like everyone else we have to learn. I have to study."
"With me."
"What database am I in?" House asked pointedly.
"None. As a diagnostician you are known world-wide. You are renowned. And you are a paranormal. You are like me, a Healer, just of a different kind. You are a Diagnostic."
"I don't function any more."
"Which is why I offer this in exchange for the internship." Foxworth looked serious. "I know you wouldn't take me otherwise, but maybe..."
"You think you can buy your way in?"
The door to his office opened and the closed blinds rattled a little. House almost laughed as James Wilson pushed into the room, looking a bit worried, just like he always did when he picked up on something or other so strong from House that the empath couldn't but come here.
"You've got company," Wilson only said.
Brown eyes scanned over Foxworth, a mild frown appearing on the smooth forehead.
"Dr. Wilson, meet Curtis Foxworth. Healer."
House enjoyed the brief flash of shock on his lover's face, followed by one of keen interest. House liked shocking people in general, even when it was the person closest to him in his miserable life.
"Dr. Wilson," Foxworth greeted him.
"You're a Healer? You're..."
"Young, yes, I know. I've been active since I was ten. I was an early starter." Foxworth smiled.
"Yes, very impressive," House muttered dismissively. "I still don't believe you're so good at heart to trade one for the other. Now spill, kid. Or leave."
Wilson's brows climbed a little. "Trade?"
"I'm offering Dr. House my services as a Healer. You were an ally, Dr. Wilson. You know what Healers can do. While the muscle is gone and can't be regrown, not even by magic, we can take care of the constant pain. It would be an arduous procedure, but we can teach the nerves to stop sending the pain signals, to accept the dead tissue. Too much strain on the leg would still result in pain, but not so debilitating, no longer crippling you. And you wouldn't need the Vicodin, Dr. House."
Wilson stared at the kid.
"My words," House quipped at his lover's speechless shock.
"W-why? Why come here and offer this?" Wilson asked. "House isn't known."
"He is," Foxworth begged to differ once more. "As a diagnostician he is famous and as a Diagnostic he has been noticed. You were active once," Foxworth turned to House.
"So what? You want to reactivate me? For what?"
The kid looked at him, expression serious. "Don't tell me you don't miss it."
"I don't!"
Foxworth had a fine smile on his lips. "You had these powers; you worked with them. You miss them and you drowned your misery in painkillers and more misery. I want to offer you something for letting me learn. I know you don't need another junior, but just a few weeks would help me so much in my education. You made yourself clear that you don't accept anyone, but maybe I can give you something valuable in return."
"So you resort to bribery? Blackmail?" House listed. "Temptation?"
"No. Just an offer."
Wilson had his hands on his hips, the so typical pose for his restlessness, his annoyance, his helplessness. House wondered if and what Wilson picked up from their guest. The empathy wasn't strong; it was instinctual and low level. Mostly it was fixing on House, but Wilson also reacted to distressed patients and their relatives, calming them with his inherent ability.
"You want a job and that's why you offer to heal House?" he finally asked.
"In a nutshell, yes."
"And you think I'll take the offer?" House asked.
"I don' know. Will you?"
"How old are you?" House suddenly demanded.
Foxworth hesitated, then his shoulders squared a little. "Fifteen."
Wilson's mouth hung open in renewed shock and House almost laughed.
"Fifteen? You gotta be kidding me!" He swiveled the chair away from the kid. "Leave."
"Dr. House."
"I said out!"
Foxworth nodded. "Okay." He placed a card on the table. "Call me."
And with that he walked past Wilson and out the door.
"I don't believe it," the oncologist whispered.
"That he's fifteen? Looks a bit older, but not by much. Could have fooled me for a minute."
"No. That he's a healer," his lover added.
"You better do. Kid can work magic." House stroked lightly over his still so pleasantly pain-free leg.
"He... he sedated the nerves?"
"Yep. Feels great."
Wilson came over and stared at his leg as if it was an alien thing.
"Don't jinx it," House quipped.
"No pain at all?"
Wilson squatted down all of a sudden and his hand came to rest on the injured thigh. House tensed for a moment, then relaxed, feeling his lover's gentle touch. It was explorative, not arousing, careful and painless.
"Want me to drop my pants, doctor?"
That got him a quirky little smile. "You wish."
"Hm, actually, yes, I do."
"Yep, it is." House waggled his eyebrows.
Wilson grimaced a little, his exploring hands putting a fraction more pressure on the damaged muscle. Still, it felt okay.
"I have an idea what to do while it lasts," House huskily.
Brown eyes met blue ones and Wilson didn't need to be an empath to pick up on what was going through House.
"It's not even lunch time," he argued. "We can't leave."
"Broom closet?"
That got him a very expressive grimace and Wilson got up, but before he could move, House had snatched his tie and was pulling him into a quick, hard kiss.
"Greg," he managed.
House was so very much tempted to blow all their rules to hell and just take his lover somewhere mostly private, bend him over the next convenient piece of furniture and sate his needs, but he knew Wilson wouldn't let it go that far.
House released the tie and smiled a little. "Lunch?" he finally said.
Wilson straightened, looking deliciously flustered. "Uhm, okay..."
"We need to talk," the older man added, pushing himself up.
For a moment they stood very close together, then Wilson took that important step back that had them out of each other's very intimate proximity.
Wilson's expression was serious. "Okay," he said again.
It was a small crowd going for food. House and Wilson had chosen one of the outside tables, away from others, giving them privacy. It was a nice day, sunny, warm, perfect bike weather. House let the sun warm his leg, still marveling at how long the pain-free relief lasted, though according to Wilson the Former Ally, the pain would return soon. Healers used their ability to manipulate energy flow to help ease pain, numb a section of the body, or even start healing wounds. They couldn't perform miracles and usually only helped the body along to heal itself.
"So what will you do?" Wilson asked, playing with the straw of his soda cup.
"About what?"
"The offer."
"I'm not for sale."
Wilson's brows rose.
"The kid's offering me salvation for having him stay here a few weeks?" House asked, laughing in disbelief. "He's fifteen, Jimmy. He might be a whiz kid in every sense of the word, but that's a little hard to believe."
"What if he is that selfless?"
"No one is."
"He might be."
"Oh? All paranormals are saints? I missed that memo."
Wilson gave him That Look and picked at some fries. House reached over and stole his own share.
"He's a minor," he growled.
"He'll have adult supervision."
House raised his eyebrows and gestured with a fry. "You, my moral conscience, tells me it's okay to have a teenager hang around the sick and dying?"
"First, I'm not your moral conscience," Wilson shot back. "That's Cameron."
"How could I forget?"
"And second, he is a Healer. He has been around worse than what you have since he developed his powers."
"And now he wants to play in my sandbox."
"He wants to learn. You can be a great teacher, House."
House was silent.
"Will you think about it?" Wilson finally asked.
"I could check Foxworth's background," his lover offered. "I have contacts. I could find out how much there is to his offer. He's young. He doesn't have the experience to do something like this."
Blue eyes narrowed a little, but House didn't comment.
"If it is the real deal, would you do it?" Wilson wanted to know.
"I don't know, Jimmy," he said honestly. "I don't know."
For the next few days, neither man breached that particular topic again. Wilson was doing his background checks, House was busy with a new case. Irene Brown, a woman in her mid-thirties, unable to keep anything down. Whatever she ate, she threw up. She was losing weight, had to be hooked up to an IV, and she was fading in and out of consciousness. While House kept his mind occupied with Irene throughout work, he couldn't deny the interest he had in Foxworth when he was at home.
Wilson was talking to a lot of people on the phone and it was the first time he got to see his lover working as an ally so up close and personal. While he was officially a paranormal, James Wilson had ally friends and he did what he had done all his life. It came naturally. He even called his parents, who in turn knew other people.
That's how they came to know more about not only Curtis Foxworth, but also someone called Tim Sunkeeper. He was apparently running a rehab clinic in San Diego and was an accredited Healer, known by many allies and other paranormals. And the more they, especially House, got to know, the more conflicted his feelings became.
And his mood kept changing abruptly. His juniors were putting it down to his leg or Stacy leaving, but Wilson knew better. It was the information, the possibility that there was help.
The problem was, House didn't talk about.
Until everything came to an explosive confrontation. A very explosive confrontation that shook House's foundation and let walls crumble.

"Why are you so stubborn?" Wilson sighed.
"Stubborn? Me?" House echoed, swallowing a Vicodin. "I'm not stubborn!"
Wilson's expression begged to differ.
House got up and limped to the fridge, getting himself a beer. He knew his lover disapproved of the alcohol right after a pill, but he couldn't care less.
"Where was he eight years ago?" he demanded.
"What?" Wilson shook his head in disbelief. "He's fifteen, House! Where do you think he was eight years ago? And even if there had been a Healer after the infarction, there's nothing he could have done."
"How do you know?" was the snarl.
"Because Healers can't revive dead flesh! They can't regrow muscles! They can help a body recover faster, they can smooth out tangled energy lines, remove negative energy - which you have enough of! - and they can heal an aura, but they can't perform miracles!"
House's eyes were flashing now.
"I know you were holding out for one," Wilson tried to calm him. "I knew you had hope, but if Foxworth or anyone else of his kind would have responded... you'd still have a bad leg, House."
The emotions were all over the place. Even without being a mid or high level empath, Wilson could feel them now. He was reading enough from the bursts to realize what was going on and he gave a laugh of disbelief.
"I get it," he said, shaking his head. "You don't want to accept Foxworth's offer because you've got to be miserable!"
Now the emotions flared more. "That kind of psycho-crap help get your patients through the long nights? Or is it just for you? Tough love make you feel good? Helping people feel their pain?" House banged the cane hard against the fire place. "I can feel my pain just fine! Stop being so god-damned empathic!"
"I can't!" Wilson shot back. "I am what I am!"
"So am I!"
"No! You're not who you are! You don't like yourself. But you do admire yourself. It's all you've got, so you cling to it. You're so afraid if you change, you'll lose what makes you special. Being miserable doesn't make you better than anybody else, House. It just makes you miserable."
House was close to lashing out, but he had never physically hit Wilson and he wouldn't do now.
"Tell you what, House! You have already changed!" James went on. "You have changed for the better! Have you noticed how much less Vicodin you need? Have you noticed how you let me in? Have you noticed how human contact with your team changed you? You are changing! You can't stop the process!"
"What? Want to force me into treatment?"
"No!" Wilson cried. "No... no, I could never force you. Greg, I watched you break off rehab... without ever giving it a try. I watched you run from the pain, but you always took it with you. You nearly destroyed yourself, but you're still clinging to hope. You want this... and you hate yourself for it."
House's emotions flared and if he had been more clear-headed he would have seen the wince. Wilson was pale, eyes slightly dilated, and he was radiating tension.
"Why don't you just shut up and stop trying to control my life!" House yelled.
It was almost like a physical blow and Wilson swallowed hard.
"I don't care what kind of Samaritan he is! He just comes in, offering the perfect gift!"
"And it's real! I checked. He wants to help!"
"For a price."
"Yeah, right! His price is to suffer you as his teacher!" Wilson shot back, hands on his hips. "Great! Everybody's dream!"
Blue eyes flared more. "You have no idea..."
"What it is like to live with the pain? No, I don't! I can't even imagine. But I lived with your pain for the past eight years, House! I want to help you, but you push help away! You want to be miserable, so you are miserable!"
This time the cane struck the vase next to the fireplace and it shattered. The sound was loud, crashing down on them, making Wilson flinch. For a moment he stared at the vase, then at House, who was breathing hard, eyes wild.
Without another word, he turned and left the apartment.
House stumbled back, leaning against the wall, breath coming in short gasps. His leg flared, spasmning, the pain a wild reminder of the abuse the leg had taken, and he automatically fumbled for the Vicodin bottle. He popped two pills into his mouth, swallowing them dry. His head thumped back against the wall.
Shit, ran through his head. Shit...
In the end he managed to get over to the couch chair and collapsed painfully into it. His teeth were gritted against the spasms, his eyes screwed shut, and his right hand was clawing at the damaged muscle.
Wilson had nowhere to go, no one to talk to. He wasn't about to call his parents - god, now that would be embarrassing. And Stacy wouldn't have been an option, even if she were still here.
This hadn't been a lover's quarrel. This had been another typical fight with House over him being himself: a stubborn bastard, an ass, an abrasive son-of-a-bitch --
-- who he loved. Despite all his bad traits, he loved him.
Wilson laughed weakly. Such a masochist. Such an idiot. Clingy, needy, and ready to take the abuse.
It hadn't been their first argument, it wouldn't be their last. Unlike the other times they had argued over oh-so-many things, oh-so-different, sometimes useless things, it was about something paranormal and very intimate. This was about an offer to help House with the pain. He would never be able to have his leg back, but he could be free of most of the pain. And he wanted him to be free of the debilitating pain, get rid of his drug addiction.
With no a particular place to go, Wilson had bought a pack of beer and taken his thinking to his own apartment, glad that he still had it. It was a last resort to go if all else failed.
But this wasn't a normal failure. This had been an all-out explosion and House venting.
Venting good.
Venting at him.
Nothing new there. Mostly the target was Cuddy or one of the three Scoobies, but Wilson found himself to be the verbal punching ball on a few occasions, too. He knew where it came from and he knew how to take it, but this time it had become very personal.
Like twice before.
House was hurting, he was trapped, he knew he was with his back against the wall, and he was lashing out at the person closest to him.
With three beers gone, Wilson dragged himself into bed. He tossed and turned, leaving often because of the call of nature, and when he finally found sleep, it wasn't very restful.
When Lisa Cuddy had found out about the relationship between House and Wilson, she hadn't been as shocked as many would probably think. It was a natural progression from what the two men already shared. She had no idea how James Wilson actually managed to be House's best friend, but she was glad she had him as an ally when it came to the most obnoxious doctor she had ever employed.
Yes, she had been perfectly aware of who she was hiring, and she had done it on purpose. She recognized the genius and the man who needed the daily challenge. She had purposefully decided to employ a man who drove everyone else up the wall, and she loved the challenge he represented in turn.
Now she was watching yet another fall-out, one she had seen about a year ago already, but then it had been a lot more pronounced. This looked more like a harsh quarrel, probably House's fault, and it would take a few days for their resident mad genius to calm down enough to see the error of his ways.
Cuddy grimaced. Then again, House never did see any errors in any of his ways.
So she watched as Wilson went about his job, looking tense and distant. He was his professional self, but he rarely smiled when he was outside an examination room, and House was more of a bastard than ever.
"Lover's quarrel," Foreman muttered, grimacing. "Wish he'd leave his private life at home."
Chase looked up from the journal he was reading. "Like you left your saleswoman at home?"
Foreman gave him a dark look. "That was different."
"Yeah, she only tried to get into your pants in a completely professional way. She was about to close a sale. She wanted to get close to the boss and she used you for it."
"I'm not the one who used a stoned colleague to get his rocks off!" Foreman snapped back.
Cameron glared at him from over the rims of her glasses. "Grow up, Foreman. You've had this massive chip on your shoulder ever since you found out about them being an item. What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing's wrong with me! They are wrong!"
"You are homophobic," Chase said quietly, face closed off.
Foreman shook his head. "You don't understand."
"No, actually, I don't," Chase agreed, leaning forward. "Explain it to me."
"He's difficult enough to deal with, but with Wilson and their openly flaunted relationship..."
"He's happier," Cameron interrupted. "He's more relaxed, too. It's good for him. Tell me something, Foreman, if this was Stacy or some other woman, would you still bitch?"
He frowned at her.
"But it's not a woman, Cameron," Chase told her, still glaring at Foreman, "it's a man. It's Wilson. They don't kiss, Foreman. They don't hold hands. They don't make out in the hallways, they don't go all doe-eyed around each other. If House hadn't told us, you wouldn't know!"
Foreman opened his mouth to argue, but Chase cut him off sharply.
"You're a homophobe."
"I'm not!"
"You're not what?" House interrupted their discussion, limping into the room. "Black? Juvenile convict? Bane of my existence?"
Foreman grimaced and turned around, making himself a cup of coffee. House smirked, then looked at the other two. Cameron looked angry, Chase just deeply disturbed. Cameron finally rose and went to the computer, shoulders stiff, and checked for emails. Chase turned back to his journal and House limped into his office, closing the door. Chase raised his eyes from the article and looked at Foreman.
"Don't," the neurologist growled and left.
Chase's expression was shuttered, closed-off, and there were shadows in his eyes. He forced himself to return to the article but found it couldn't hold his interest. He checked the time and decided to go to the clinic early.
He had to take his mind off things.
Wilson found himself driving to House's place almost on automatic. After the first night alone in his own place, he missed his lover. James Wilson wasn't meant to be alone; he needed people. Maybe it was the empath in him, maybe it was just James. Maybe it was why he had walked from one marriage into the next, never hesitating, always a new woman at his side.
So he walked into the apartment, taking in the almost dark living room, the lonely light burning on the desk, and the TV running some inane program. House was on the old couch, leg stretched out on a footrest that was just as old, a glass of amber liquid next to him on the table. He didn't look up, but Wilson knew he had been noticed.
He shed the coat and hung it up, then toed off his shoes. Wilson walked almost silently into the kitchen, not needing any lights, and took a soda out of the fridge. He then returned to the living room and grabbed a pillow, throwing it onto the floor. He settled down and leaned back against the couch.
Silence prevailed, with just the low volume of the TV interrupting.
House zapped through some of the channels, then settled on a sci-fi program and they watched some supernatural plot unfold as someone was chasing a shape-changer who was killing people. By the end of the program, Wilson's left shoulder was almost touching the stretched out leg.
"It won't give me back my leg," House suddenly said quietly.
"No," Wilson agreed, fingers sliding over the cool aluminum of the now empty soda can.
"Then why?"
Wilson twisted his head and briefly looked at him, the brown eyes bottomless. "It would free you. No more pain. No more pills."
"I like my pills."
"You depend on them. You hate depending."
House was silent.
"But you like being special," Wilson went on, voice faraway, thoughtful. "You like being different. You still would be, Greg. Because no one will know about what happened. No one would ever know the pain's gone."

House frowned. He had never thought about that. The offer and the possible outcome had overshadowed all that. Having a Healer take a shot at his leg wasn't something he could officially tell Cuddy. Suddenly taking no Vicodin would also arouse suspicion. So... if he did this, no one would ever know it.
No one.
"What if the pain's not gone?" he wanted to know.
"Then you didn't lose anything either."
House reached for the brown head and ran his fingers gently through the soft strands. Wilson leaned into the caress, eyes closing. House smiled, his finger tips ghosting over the warm skin at the neck. He explored every inch and by the end he had his lover almost purring.
"I'm not sure I can do this," House finally confessed.
Wilson was silent, head leaning against his leg, but he didn't feel any discomfort. House was relaxing. He wondered if this was the empath soothing him or just the familiarity of Wilson with him.
"I couldn't do rehab either," he murmured.
"It's not rehab. It's not talking about your pain, about your disability."
House's hand stilled. "I know."
"Then why do you fight it?"
"On principle?"
Wilson twisted his head around once more, dislodging the hand. "House," he chastised softly.
House grimaced.
Wilson got up and onto the couch, kneeling next to his lover. House studied him, the young, handsome face with the interesting cheekbones. Those brown eyes that had fascinated him from the beginning. Wilson had his hair shorter now, but sometimes he let it grow out, and House loved to play with the longer strands.
Wilson stroked a hand over the stubbled cheek, cupping it, looking into the blue eyes.
"It's a chance," he only said. "An offer."
"I know."
"But you have to fight it on principle? You need to be miserable on principle?" There was a bit more force behind that question now.
"I don't know," he said softly.
"I've been with you all the way, Greg," the younger man said. "I've been there for all the pain and the anger and the hatred and the denial. Always. I can't force you into anything, but I can tell you that I wish you would give it a chance."
"And have some wet-behind-the-ears kid hang at my shirt tails for the next three months?"
Wilson chuckled. "A small price to pay."
"Huh. You don't have to suffer the kid genius."
"I have to suffer you."
House leaned forward and caught the treacherous mouth, kissing him. "You, Jimmy, are a masochist."
"Probably. And I love you. That helps through the dark hours."
House's hand was lightly curled around Wilson's neck. "You trust Foxworth?"
House gave him a skeptical look. "Just like that?"
"You're too naïve for this world, Jimmy."
"No, I checked his background. He's the real thing. I called Nathan and he knows Tim Sunkeeper, Foxworth's mentor and teacher."
House was silent, gazing at the man he loved, taking in the serious, somber mood, and he saw the need in those expressive eyes to help, to make House understand.
"Cuddy will have a fit," he murmured.
Wilson smiled. "No, she'll actually throw a party."
House grimaced. Wilson leaned forward and kissed him again.
"Thank you."
"Don't thank me right now," he rumbled. "I'm not there yet."
"Thank you for at least making an effort."
He kissed him again, pulling him closer, and Wilson carefully straddled his lap, keeping his weight on his knees. House slipped his hands under the firm butt, supporting his lover a little as they kissed.
"When will you tell Cuddy?" Wilson murmured, looking down at him.
House caressed the lean sides of the nicely muscular torso. "Why?" he growled.
"I wanna be there when you do."
House only grinned devilishly.
Dr. Lisa Cuddy stared at House as if he had just come from an alien ship, grown a second head, and declared his undying love for Dr. Allison Cameron.
"Cute way of catching flies," House commented. "But they might be deterred by the cleavage."
He pointedly looked at the open blouse that revealed just too much to be completely business-like.
"You want what?" Cuddy finally exclaimed.
"Time off."
"For rehab? You're going to rehab?"
"You sound like a broken record, Cuddy. Not a good trait for the dean of medicine."
"The last time you tried rehab, which was eight years ago, House, you didn't even complete your first session!"
"This is a completely new kind of rehab."
"What? They tie you down and gag you?"
"Oh, kinky," he sang. "You really should consider a second job. I heard Lady Fiona has a spot open."
"House! You don't do rehab!"
"I do now."
She straightened, her arms crossed in front of her chest. "Is this a joke? Getting back at me for whatever it is I pissed you off with this time? Clinic hours? Lame cases?"
"Nope. Just rehab. Haven't you been preaching to me for years to do something about the pain?" House spread his arms. "Well, I am now."
"How did Wilson do it?" she demanded.
House frowned in mock confusion. "Wilson?"
"I can think of only one person who might be able to convince you, but seeing the way you treat his advice, and him, I'm still not past wondering how the two of you could ever be a couple." She shook her head.
"So, do I get my time? You said you would give it to me, Cuddy."
"Yes, I did," she said slowly. "The moment I have the official papers and proof."
"I want proof, House."
"You don't trust me?" he whined.
House pulled a face, looking like a pouting kid. "No fair." He turned and limped out, grumbling to himself.
"So?" Wilson asked, meeting him halfway to the elevator.
House jabbed with his cane at the button. "She wants proof."
"Smart woman."
He glared at his lover. Wilson just quirked a corner of his mouth.
"I'll call Foxworth."
Wilson shot him a quizzical look. "Don't tell me you're calling it off."
"Nope. The kid wants to be tortured by me? He can fork over the papers."
Wilson smiled more. "Not a problem."
They got off on the fourth floor, talking amiably, and entered Diagnostics. Wilson had a cup of coffee with the others as Foreman detailed the new case, and House rolled his eyes a little. Wilson smirked behind his mug, then headed off to his own patients.
Twenty-four hours later Cuddy had the written confirmation from the San Diego Physical Rehab Center. Cuddy was reading and rereading it, then picked up the phone and called them. House just shook his head, waited for her to finish, then shot her an expectant look.
"I don't know when you hit your head in the shower and decided you can be a different person, but congrats, Dr. House. In three months, you will be on rehab."
He grinned. "I can't slip in the shower," House replied. "I have my very own human crutch to keep me... upright." He gave her a suggestive leer.
Cuddy rolled her eyes. "Grow up!"
"Never gonna happen."
"Well, since we have that one settled, there's the little matter of some Curtis Foxworth applying for a three months internship." She raised an eyebrow. "Seems like you already approved of him. What is going on with you, House?"
"Young love?" he tried, looking innocent.
Cuddy sighed deeply. "So you want to have this kid around before you go into rehab?"
"You need a new whipping boy?"
"Yeah, Chase has all grown up. He's no fun any longer. And Cameron goes all girly on me. Foreman's never been fun at all." He sighed dramatically. "I need fresh blood."
Cuddy shrugged. "You got it. You'll have him for three months. No wriggling out of it early."
"No, Mom."
House left the office, grinning to himself, in a perfectly good mood.
"Everyone, listen up!" House called as he limped into Diagnostics. "This is Curtis Foxworth," he introduced the young man following him. "He's going to be my boy-toy for the next three months."
"W-what?" Chase stuttered, looking at the new intern in shock.
"Since you lost my interest, Chase, I had to replace you with someone younger," House quipped. "But don't worry. He'll suffer as you do."
Cameron walked over and held out her hand, smiling. "Hey. I'm Dr. Cameron. Welcome."
Foxworth shook her hand. "Thank you."
"Since when do you take on interns?" Foreman wanted to know, giving House a suspicious look.
House poured hot water into his mug, letting the tea bag float.
"Since someone thought it might be another way to make me miserable. Apparently three of you isn't enough. I've gotta baby-sit. Probably has a dad with too much money, too."
He shot a challenging look at Chase, who studiously ignored him.
"So, what do we have for our newcomer?"
Foreman gave him another suspicious look.
"Don't worry," House said sotto voce. "I haven't dumped my personal plaything. I can multi-task just fine. Just don't let Wilson know or he might want a three-some."
With an expression of disgust, Foreman turned away. House smiled brightly and sipped at the tea, surveying his battle field. Cameron quickly gave him a rundown of their latest case and he noticed how Foxworth listened and made notes.
Let the kid earn his money. He would certainly give him a run for it.
This would be so much fun.
House was impressed by his 'trainee'. Foxworth, for all his youth, was a very serious person, a very competent doctor, but he lacked in the field of patient-doctor interaction. Not that House was a prime example of how it should be. He had Cameron and Chase and Foreman for those parts. He just watched, took notes on the paranormal, and he found himself more and more interested in the kid.
Sometimes they talked; never long, but long enough for House to learn a little more about the young man. It was also time enough to see the difference between a Diagnostic and a Healer.
"You never talked to one of us?" Foxworth asked while they shared a cup of coffee in the otherwise silent meeting room.
"No," House answered. "I was Triggered. I taught myself."
Foxworth nodded. "Impressive."
House stirred his coffee. "Not so much."
"You think you could learn more?"
House didn't say anything. He hadn't thought about his potential for a long, long time. He had pushed the paranormal aside and had let his own drive and talent do the work for him. Being what he was... it was a passion. He needed to do this; he needed to let his mind work on these puzzles, as Wilson had often remarked on.
"You could learn," Foxworth added quietly.
He smiled wryly, almost grimacing. "Can't teach an old dog new tricks."
The younger man tilted his head. "Everyone can learn. We learn every day. You never stop. The moment you stop, you die. I think you want to live, Dr. House."
Foxworth placed his empty mug into the sink. Their eyes met, then the kid left. House remained behind, a thoughtful expression on his face.
Lying on the bed, bathed in sweat, shaking, House cursed Foxworth and his own inability to let fascinating and interesting things go by. Detox was a slow process; painful, too. House had all the symptoms of Vicodin withdrawal and as a doctor he knew there was more to come. Nausea and vomiting, irritability, cold flashes, sweating, bone pain, panic attacks, watery eyes, and even the insomnia. He didn't know how long he had been here already.
He hated it. He wanted out. He wanted back to Princeton, forget about the stupid deal. Foxworth had had his three months of internship; he shouldn't care less about whether or not House got his treatment or not.
Moaning softly, wishing for something, anything else, to take away the agony, he cursed whoever came to mind.
Stacy, for making him love her. For abandoning him when he needed her the most.
His parents, for raising him the way they had.
Cuddy, for her cooperation in Stacy's coup to remove his leg muscle.
Cameron, for being so damned caring.
Foreman, for being the pain in the ass he was more often than not.
Chase, for having great hair and a rich Dad.
Wilson. Jimmy. For everything. For loving him, for caring, for making him do this. For being an ally. For being an empath. Just everything.
"Hate you," he whispered, tears leaking from his watery eyes. "Hateyouhateyouhateyou."
It took a week to get the Vicodin out of his system. By the end of the week, House was ready to kill for a pain pill.
"How do you feel?"
He glared at his 'keeper', Tim Sunkeeper. The man was about House's age, a Native American. He was a Healer, living outside San Diego, and he had a small clinic. Foxworth had been there, too, but House had only seen him twice.
"How do you think I feel?" he spat.
Sunkeeper smiled. "I think I know. It was necessary, Dr. House. Now that the opiate is out of your system, we can begin."
He held out his hand and House glared more, but he took it in the end. His body was simply too weak. The moment they touched, House felt something course through him, flushing his system, and his eyes closed involuntarily. He gasped softly, his muscles quivering a little, and then he felt a little push.
"Follow me, Dr. House."
His eyes snapped open and he blinked. He was on his own two feet, feeling somewhat better than a minute ago, and Sunkeeper was holding out the cane to him.
He took it.
"What did you do?"
"Gave you a brief respite. Come."
"Cool powers," he murmured, limping stiffly after the man.
Sunkeeper smiled briefly. "It won't last. Now we will begin the healing."
With the absence of House from the clinic, several things had happened. Cuddy was yelling a lot less, but she didn't look happier about it. Clinic hours had been divided among House's juniors, who did what they were told, but looked less happy about a respite from their abrasive boss than anyone would have guessed. Foreman had taken over Diagnostics, working the cases coming in, but he wasn't House. He wasn't of the same caliber and Cuddy knew it. Still, there was a department of Diagnostic Medicine, so it had to earn its money. Foreman did a great job at billing and paperwork and case reviews. Within a month there had been more insurance billings going out than in the last five years. Still... something was missing.
James Wilson watched the whole development from the outside. He spent less and less time with Cameron, Chase and Foreman, especially Foreman since there had been some harsh disagreements after the first week when it came to consults, and after that Wilson didn't so much as set foot into Diagnostics any more. Chase had come to him for a consult once, a young boy who had cancer, and the case had been transferred into oncology. Nothing else had happened.
It wasn't that anyone at the hospital missed House; not openly - never openly. But there was a gap, a dark space where he had been, and nothing and no one could fill it.
Wilson felt the hole in his life as well. He stayed at House's apartment, the familiar and warm space; not his cold and impersonal home. The first week without his lover and best friend he had followed his normal routine. After that he had started to work overtime, stay late, come in early, trying to lose himself in work.
For the first time in twelve years he was completely alone. No wife; no House. For the first time in twelve years there was no one around him and for Wilson, who was a people person, it was hell. Sure, there were the others, but that didn't hold up to what it had been like before House had gone to San Diego.
Of course, Cameron tried to help. It was almost as if she was empathic, too. She was trying to be a friend, but he was pushing her away. Wilson was the empath and he felt her good Samaritan intentions from a mile away. It was grating on his nerves. So was Foreman, actually. Whatever chip was on his shoulder, and it most likely had something to do with the relationship between House and Wilson, it had gotten worse throughout time. It was burning on a small flame, seen by few, but it was burning. And one day it might erupt. Wilson couldn't deal with that, so he dealt with other things.
Patients. Relatives. Helping people. He drowned in those case files, kept impossible hours, and only because he exhausted himself at work did he fall asleep at all.
There was an emotional hole in his life. A House-shaped hole.
I'm so pathetic, he thought as he sat on the couch, staring unseeingly at the TV. He didn't even know what program was running.
He was worried about House. He wanted to know how he was doing. His lover was undergoing a procedure that might change his whole life, that might launch his paranormal abilities once more, and Wilson couldn't be part of the process.
"You are an empath," Sunkeeper had told him over the phone. "Even if you are low level, you will feel his pain and his hate and his fear. Those will be strong emotions, some directed at you."
"At me?"
"He is in pain, James. He will feel that pain turn into agony, and he will blame those he loves for it. He blamed his prior lover and she left."
"Stacy decided on the surgery behind his back," Wilson had argued. "This is his own decision."
"And he will still direct his negative energy at others. His own body is filled with it. He will seek an outlet. And he will overwhelm and even hurt you if you are too close. I ask you to stay away until we call you."
And that was that.
So Wilson was here, in Plainsboro, alone and feeling cold. He sighed softly.
Get a grip!
In twelve years there had never been such a long period of absence. Vacations had been no longer than a week or two. Otherwise they had seen each other at the hospital on a daily basis and spent time together most of the week after work.
Now there was no House. Knowing he was almost emotionally linked to this man made it even worse.
He had no idea how House was faring, what he was doing, and if this was proving to be helpful. He was forced to wait alone, with no one to call - aside from his parents. He had informed them about what was going to happen the day after House had left for San Diego.
Wilson might just spend a weekend in Sundance, Wyoming, with his parents, just to get his mind off things, though he doubted that would work. But it was worth a try.
The new nurse had arrived two months before House had left for his rehab, and by now Wilson had his hands full. Not because she was a particularly pretty thing who had the hots for him. No, she was an ambitious young woman with a heart of gold who wanted to help everyone. She had reminded him of Cameron when she had arrived at Princeton-Plainsboro for her first day. This eagerness to help, this complete immersion into cases, and this emotional attachment to terminal patients.
So now, after the most recent death of one of her patients, she was breaking apart. Wilson suspected relationship problems, too. She had mentioned a boyfriend several times and he had apparently dumped her.
Taking care of distraught personnel was part and parcel of being in charge. So he tried to talk with her, calm her down, listened to her problems, and finally recommended she might look into pediatrics. She was good with children, but oncology wasn't her department.
Her smile was brilliant, her eyes teary, and she made an offer to have dinner.
Wilson declined politely.

Driving home that evening, he almost laughed at himself.
It was the first time he had turned down a dinner invitation from a beautiful woman while he was between wives. But then again, he wasn't. Between wives, that is. He had slid into another relationship and he felt no need to stray. It was so strange; and actually funny. House couldn't be compared to any woman, or man, he had ever slept with or married. He was just House.
Wilson shook his head and parked the car, then got out and walked into the quiet apartment.
Another night alone.
House didn't know what he hated more: the teas, the food or the wheel chair.
"Now that we removed the opiates from your body, we have to cleanse it of the natural poisons, too," Sunkeeper had explained, and in came the teas.
Herbal teas, too.
House wanted his coffee or black teas back. He wanted his fries and burgers and unhealthy foods, but the healer would have none of it. For Sunkeeper to work his magic, House's body needed to be prepared.
"Healers work with the energy lines in your body," the man had told him, "with your charka and your energy centers. Without the cleansing I cannot determine where to start."
"The leg might be a good idea."
That had gotten him a smile.
"Your leg is part of the whole. While it is the main problem, your whole body has suffered."
So he was on a special diet. Not to lose weight but to regenerate his body's energy field. His aura. Everything.
Foxworth had been there in the beginning, working with him, explaining things, and House was again reminded how young the kid was. He might be a Healer, but he was also no better than Cameron or Chase, or even Foreman. Still learning, still filled with so much theoretical knowledge and no hands-on experience, and not ready to go off the beaten path.
A week into his 'cleansing', which also had massages, acupuncture and aroma therapy sessions -- which were really, really good and a bliss, though House would never confess to it -- Sunkeeper had started on his leg.
Really started on his leg.
"We will attempt to rewire the nervous system in your leg," he had said before that fateful day. "For that we will work with your nerves. It will be painful. Excruciatingly so. Since we do not delight in torture, I will deaden the nerves in your thigh, effectively shutting your brain off from the damaged part. You will be completely numb in that area. You will feel your lower leg and foot, but the thigh muscles will be paralyzed and effectively gone."
And in came the wheel chair, his only way of getting anywhere now that the leg was just a dead weight. Well, partially dead. He could still feel his lower half.
House had refused the chair. He had spent a day in bed sulking. He had tried crutches and failed. And finally he had relented and accepted he was truly dependent on that thrice-damned chair.
Wilson had decided to use the time without his lover to work on his abilities as an empath. He consciously tried to detect emotions in others and he consciously tried to blend into the background, go unnoticed. It was how he was the witness of Cuddy demanding of Foreman what he was planning to do about his latest patients.
Two women had been brought in, both in a bad condition, unconscious, bleeding on the inside, and one had gone into cardiac arrest. The other was on life-support and declining, but for neither the team had an answer. There was no diagnosis that fit either two and Chase had called on Wilson for a consult because he thought it was a tumor when Cuddy had come in. She hadn't even seen him, taking no notice of the silent figure leaning against the kitchen counter and drinking his coffee, and he had tried to sort through the emotional output, but it was hard.
Wilson was a low level empath, but strong emotions directed at him hurt. Angry patients or relatives never felt such single-minded hatred. They were angry at the world and sought an outlet. He just sensed their turmoil and could react to it, soothe the ruffled emotions, calm the stormy seas. So Foreman's very direct negative emotions hit Wilson more than any dying patient.
Then there was House. Greg House's emotions were intense, too, but in a totally different way. Wilson knew he was attached to House in an emotional way no one could ever understand. It was more than love; it was something on a deeper level.
When Cuddy had gone, Foreman's expression was dark and Wilson didn't need to be a mind-reader to know what was going on with him. He had left unobtrusively, no one taking notice.
It was also throughout that time of his 'training' that he noticed someone very specific: Chase. Something was going on with the intensivist and it was hard getting a read on that.
His attempts to work with his abilities were interrupted by his normal work load and for a few days he was swamped with referrals and consult requests, and at a board meeting Cuddy reported that a business man had made a considerable donation, requesting to remain anonymous. When Wilson read the name of the city the donor came from, he picked up the phone and dialed.
Three hours later he had confirmed the surprising fact that Ezra Standish had made the donation, and he was reeling a little. Wow...

Twenty-four hours later, one of the two patients under Foreman's care was diagnosed with a permanent mental disability from the lack of oxygen after her cardiac arrest. Cuddy had another fit and the team was running around like headless chickens. It took them another day to finally make the right diagnosis and save the second woman from the same fate.
'The Red Door' was an English Pub style establishment. Small, lots of wood, live music on most nights, a plasma TV in one corner, some sports magazines among the newspapers freely scattered on the tables, and very good beer on tap. Wilson had discovered the place years ago, almost right after moving to Plainsboro, and it was a place to hang out where no one from the usual doctor and nurse crowd could be found. Doctors usually went to the more 'in' places, the more expensive 'see me here' places.
Wilson didn't want to be seen.
He didn't want to talk to anyone either.
It was why he ended up talking to the only one who always ignored those signs, rare as they were in Dr. James Wilson, and started up the conversation.
"Lovers fight? Or did you dump him?"
Wilson didn't really need to look up to know who was talking to him, but he did it anyway. Elias Jona Gabriel McGreth, owner of The Red Door, part-time bartender, part-time agony aunt, part-time ally, and part-time whatever you needed him to do. He was clearly of Irish descent, with his red hair, freckled face and broad smile, but he denied any Irish genes in his family. Eli was the heart and soul of this place, a man who knew everyone in Plainsboro, the general area, maybe even the whole county, if not the State, and who had contacts from down in the gutters to the top brass of whatever office existed.
He was a fantastic contact in case of a problem and Wilson had relied on his information several times before, whenever it wasn't a medical problem, and Eli had always come through. McGreth was also one of the people who knew that Wilson had realized his paranormal abilities and was off the official ally list in the area.
"No," Wilson now answered.
"You look like shit, James. They either work you too hard or he does."
Wilson smiled wryly. "Neither nor."
Eli leaned forward, his blue eyes piercing. "You do look bad," he reiterated, tone of voice changing from jovial to much more serious. "And I know you're empathic, so it's either him or the world in general."
"And you're cryptic."
Wilson sighed and sipped at his beer. It was good. Really, really good. He let his eyes travel over the thin crowd of the evening. That would change soon, the later hours always a guarantee for a throng of people, most of them paranormal or allies.
"House is in San Diego."
Eli dropped the towel and skirted around the bar counter, gesturing at his actual bartender to take over. He was having serious business here. Sitting on the chair that marked the end of the bar, Eli gave Wilson his full attention.
So Wilson talked. He didn't know why - maybe the bartender image was true and people talked to them much more than to their best friends. Eli listened, asking few questions, and Wilson found himself unwinding a little. Still, the aching feeling of loss didn't change.
"It's stupid," the oncologist finally growled. "It's utterly stupid!"
"No, it's not. You're an empath. You miss him. It's natural."
"I'm not strong enough to..." Wilson gestured helplessly.
"You are when it comes to Greg House, my friend." Eli smiled slightly. "You two are an item. You're a couple, lovers, a mated pair."
Wilson grimaced. "We're not a pair of exotic animals!"
"No, you're not," Eli agreed. "You're just very close. Always have been. You and him match. The odd couple with grossly different personalities on the outside. To anyone who doesn't know you it's a total disaster waiting to happen, but it hasn't happened. You are fitting. Not seamlessly, not without problems, but what relationship is that perfect? Not even life-partners can say that about themselves, and I've known one such pairing in my time."
Wilson scrubbed a hand over his face. He felt tired. "I hate this."
"It's no dependency," Eli told him, translating the three words into what they meant. "You just came out. Paranormally," he added with a grin at the glare in the brown eyes. "You're just getting into the whole thing. Now part of you is gone, you worry about him, want to know how he is, and you can't even just go there."
"So I'm here, talking to you, getting drunk."
"On very good beer," Eli said cheerfully.
Wilson couldn't argue with that.

He took a cab home. He had come by cab to begin with. The apartment didn't feel any less empty, any less warm. Wilson tried to ignore this emptiness, something that was far more than just physical, and switched on the TV.
He fell asleep on the couch, waking in the middle of the night and stumbling to bed.

The next morning he was back to work, looking his usual smooth and controlled self, but he was only fooling those who didn't know him - and himself.
House finally called his lover. The first week he had been too out of it to think straight and Sunkeeper had advised him not to call. At the time he had had only a 'fuck off' for him, cursing the staff and everyone around. The nursing staff was nice and patient enough, and they also knew to keep any sharp or blunt objects away from House as he went through the detoxing process.
With his body now free of the chemical painkillers and the other poisons washing out of him, House felt better than he would ever confess to. He still abhorred the herbal tea and he missed the coffee, but the food was okay, and the massages had him in heaven. He complied with the physical therapy and he had gotten used to the wheel chair. It was fun to get around in. At least more fun that having to drag a useless leg with him on crutches.
House called home after his latest Ayuverdic massage therapy.
Wilson sounded calm. Too calm. And too somber. House frowned a little. "Hey," he answered back. "So, how's life with Cuddy?"
"Just life." House could imagine the shrug.
"Where are you?"
"At home, Greg."
House rolled his eyes. "I know that, smart guy. I called my own number. You picked up. I can still do the math, even without the drugs to keep me happy."
There was a moment of silence, then the vital question: "How are you?"
"Good. Four weeks of hell, and eight more to go. Detox was lovely."
Another silence.
"Tell me," Wilson prompted softly after a moment.
House did. He told him of the place, of the people, of the pain. And of the procedures ahead.
"Got me in a wheelchair," he groused.
"Better than falling."
He chuckled. "Yeah. No one here to make races with either. Boring."
"Right." He heard the smile in Wilson's voice. Still, his lover sounded subdued.
"Tell me about the cases," House demanded.
Wilson complied, giving him a good overview of the cases currently in his department. It was amazing how a man who was head of oncology still managed to read into case files from another department. Interesting. Very telling.
"Tell me about you," House finally said softly.
Silence again. Then, "I'm fine, Greg."
"Not lying."
"You are and I'm calling you on it."
There was a soft sigh, some fidgeting. "It's stupid," Wilson murmured.
"Spill, Jimmy."
Another silence.
"I miss you."
House felt something tingle through him and he smiled a little. "Corny," he commented roughly.
"Yeah. Forget it."
"Jimmy?" he called.
"Same here."
Wilson laughed weakly. "Corny," he echoed the earlier sentiment.
"And if you tell anyone, I'll deny it."
"I know." There was a moment of silence. "I know it's stupid, and maybe it's the paranormal in me, but I miss more than your bad bedside manners and bastard attitude. It's... probably the empath," Wilson trailed off.
"Tell me."
"It's stupid."
"Tell me, Jimmy." And the diagnostician in him was spinning his wheel.
"It's like a dark hole, Greg," was the hesitant answer. "I know, stupid."
"Not if the empath in you is reacting to you missing me and trying to connect to something that's gone," House replied matter-of-factly.
Like his brain trying to move a missing muscle, the nerve endings sending back nothing but pain instead.
"Yeah," Wilson muttered. "Maybe. Or I'm just an over-emotional ass."
House chuckled. "Or that."
Their conversation drifted off to different topics, none touching that brief moment of vulnerability and openness. House wouldn't forget about it, though. His mind would keep on going over that little revelation and he knew he wouldn't stop until he knew what it was - emotions or abilities.
"How are you holding up, honey?"
Wilson rolled his eyes at his mother's question. "I'm fine, Mom. Really. It's not like we're joined at the hip."
"No, it's just that you're an empath and have always been kind of fixated on Greg's emotions. You react to him, Jamie. Now he's gone and you know his healing will be painful. You want to be there for him, but you can't."
How he hated to be psycho-analyzed by his mother. It was probably from her that he got the same tendency when it came to House. His lover accused him of it often enough.
"Mom..." he groaned.
"Jamie, you have to face that paranormal element in you. You know how your grandfather is emotionally linked to your grandmother. With you and Greg, that bond is strengthened and fed by Greg's pain, your need to help, and his subconscious leaning toward you."
Yes, Rose Wilson should have gone into psycho-analysis. She would have made a fortune.
"I'm fine," he repeated.
"If you say so, dear."
He tried to steer the conversation away from House and himself, but it kept coming back to it. His mother wanted to know how Greg was, if there was progress. He told her what he knew. Only when Rose was satisfied did she allow him to ask about Martin, about his sister-in-law, his niece and nephew, the whole family.
It helped to pass two hours.
It was after eight weeks of mud packs and therapy that Wilson flew in from New York for a long weekend. House was still immobilized in the wheel chair, his leg numbed. He was waiting out front of the small clinic, enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, when the cab pulled into the u-turn in front of the white-washed building.
Seeing James Wilson, dressed in casual jeans, a long-sleeved, hooded t-shirt, carrying a travel bag did several things to House, but he kept them all bottled up inside. He waited for his lover to pay the cabby, shoulder his bag and walk up to him.
"Looking good," Wilson greeted him, smiling.
And he looked worn. House had been the one going through hell, but Wilson showed it on the outside more than anyone.
"Great beach, great babes," House just commented.
"Uh-huh. I can just see you lying on the beach all day. So you."
"Exactly. Don't even have a tan line." He gave Wilson a suggestive leer.
"I can see that hasn't suffered."
"It never does. Actually, with all the Vicodin out of the system, it's rather chipper."
Brown eyes warmed a little, emotions blatantly visible inside.
"So, how's home?"
"Same old. Foreman's took control over Diagnostics."
"He'll be sorry when I come back and the animal crackers are empty," House grumbled.
Wilson chuckled and nodded at the chair, silently offering help. House gave him a glare and deftly maneuvered his current mode of transport around. He waggled his eyebrows.
The whole clinic was on the same floor, making it easier for the disabled. House's room was with a view of the ocean and a nice little terrace.
House waited until they were in his room, the door closed behind them, before he grabbed Wilson's sweater and pulled the younger man close. His lover bent down and their lips met, hungry and eager and so desperate. Wilson stumbled and grabbed for a hold, catching himself on the wheel chair's back. He almost slipped.
Blue eyes, aflame and filled with need, met liquid brown ones.
They ended up on the bed, Wilson subconsciously sliding into a position as to not bump against the bad leg, but House stopped him.
"No sensation," he whispered. "Dead."
Wilson swallowed and his hand lightly touched the old injury.
"No pain," House murmured, holding the carefully quizzical gaze. "None at all."
His hands sneaked under the clothes, felt warm skin, felt familiar planes, and Wilson's breathy encouragement was enough to forget about so many things just for now.
It was two hours later, freshly showered and changed into equally fresh clothes that James Wilson met Tim Sunkeeper in person for the first time. The Healer was smiling knowingly at the younger man and Wilson looked slightly caught. They had talked on the phone before, several times, and Wilson had a good idea on the man's background.
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Dr. Wilson." They shook hands.
"Likewise. Greg looks good."
"His healing is progressing. I believe we'll be done in another month."
"Tell me about it," Wilson requested.
Sunkeeper nodded. "Follow me."
They settled in the office, alone for now, since House was at therapy. What followed was a detailed explanation as to what the Healer was trying to do, how much success he had had so far, and what to expect.
"We will remove the block we put into Greg's leg soon. He will get sensation back into his thigh and hopefully no pain."
"Hopefully," Wilson echoed quietly.
"We have worked with severe cases before, Dr. Wilson," Sunkeeper said calmly. "In Greg's case, we have a missing piece of muscle, lots of scar tissue, and nerves that send back pain constantly. His brain doesn't know there is a piece of thigh missing because most of it is still there, so when he moves, the signal gets there to move the muscle, too. A muscle that was removed a long time ago. What we are trying to do is tell the brain to accept the scar tissue as a normal part of the body, and to cut off the nerves sending the signals back to the brain."
"You numb the area."
"Not completely. Only a small part. The area where the scar is. He will have no pain sensation there. It's a small price to pay, I believe." Sunkeeper smiled a little. "If all works out as we believe it can be, then Greg will be able to live without painkillers unless he abuses the leg by walking around too much on it. His pain sensation will be normal, so accidental contact of the leg with anything will not debilitate him. He will have the same pain sensitivity you have, for example."
Wilson nodded slowly. "I'm hoping," he said softly.
"So is he."
Brown eyes met equally dark ones and the Healer gave him a reassuring smile.
"Greg wants this as much as you do, Dr. Wilson. He might not show it, but it will free him in many ways. He will have to hide, but being a paranormal, hiding it part of all our lives." Sunkeeper tilted his head. "So tell me, how are you holding up?"
"I'm good."
Sunkeeper's expression begged to differ.
"Now I'm good," Wilson amended.
"I know I asked a lot when I told you to not come along, but as an empath, especially one developing just now, it would be a total overload. Even if you are low level. Your connection to your partner would floor your abilities the moment he starts projecting." Sunkeeper's eyes were serious now. "You are mostly fixated on Greg. I suspect your powers came slowly online. You were always around him, always there for him, and you naturally logged onto him. You helped subconsciously, and you grew accustomed to him. So the moment he lashes out, he would hit you hard and fast."
"I understand." Wilson studied the table, then looked at the older man once more. "When will you remove the block?"
"After you are gone."
"Because of the possible failure? The pain?"
"Exactly. We can't shield you, Dr. Wilson. We can only send you away."
Wilson sighed. "Okay."
"You have the weekend to yourselves," Sunkeeper added with a fine smile. "No therapy, no treatments. Go and have a look around downtown, go to the beach, whatever you want."
Wilson rose with the Healer and smiled as well. "Thanks."
And with that he went back to House's room to wait for him to return. They had a whole weekend and he didn't have to be back to work until Tuesday morning.
They had redone him completely. Treating the leg, Sunkeeper and his staff had also attacked other problematic areas. His limping had put a huge strain on his back and shoulder muscles, as well as on his bones. So the massages had worked out not just a few knots, they had straightened out whatever else had been wrong in his energy lines, as the Healer had explained.
So now his shoulders were looser, his back was no longer a brick wall, and his leg...
The scar was numb. No feeling at all. House didn't sense the fabric of the pants sliding over the skin, nor his hand putting pressure on the ugly mark. His fingers explored the uneven, rough patch. He had lived with the scar for so many years, had tried to avoid looking at it in the beginning, and had come to accept the ugliness in the end.
Now there was no sensation any more. No pain, no tickles, no cold, no warmth, nothing. The surrounding skin transmitted signals just fine, but this part... nothing. He could stick a needle in it and not scream in pain.
His remaining thigh muscles worked and he could move his leg just as well as prior to the healing. He still needed the cane, he was still a cripple, but he was no longer shackled by the pills.
House had no idea what to say to Tim Sunkeeper when he was released from the clinic and allowed to go home. He had looked at the man who had put him through so much, given him more than anyone could ever imagine, and when the Healer had smiled, House had only nodded. Three months had given him a vague understanding of the man, of what this meant, what he had done.
Wilson had picked him up from the airport, still too pale and drawn, looking so lonely and like a lost puppy.
"Welcome home," he had only said, keeping his distance, both not touching.
House wanted so much to just take him into his arms and kiss him. It was a notion probably echoed by his lover, but it had to wait.
A whole long, long ride home.
An almost silent ride home.
The private welcome wasn't a rowdy sex session in the double bed. It was even a bit awkward. Wilson visibly wanted to touch him, hug him, be close, and House just stood rooted to the spot in his apartment.
His clean apartment.
That bad.
Wilson had apparently either employed a squad of cleaning ladies who had upended his home with vigor. Or his lover had cleaned all of it himself. If the latter was true, and House suspected it was, then it had been bad.
Three months alone, aside from the one weekend where they had tried to catch up to matters and had been unable to express even half of what they felt.
Wilson had to be scaling empathic walls inside his rather perceptive brain.
And here he stood, looking lost, fidgeting, brown eyes reflecting all that loneliness and need. House gazed into those eyes and suddenly Wilson was there, in his arms, and they were kissing.
It was almost chaste, but so very sensuous nonetheless. House read more than he wanted to in the tense frame of the younger man.
"Curse of the empath," he murmured against one temple.
Wilson shuddered. "Maybe." He squeezed his eyes shut, drawing deep breaths.
"Foreman gave you hell?"
That had Wilson tense even more. "W-what?"
"I noticed his tendency to lash out at you when I'm not around," House told him quietly. "He has a problem."
"Yeah. Us. But it's no worse than ever. I can deal with it."
As a human being, maybe. As an empath Wilson was even more receptive to the negative thoughts directed at him. Foreman might not know what he was doing, but he did it with a vengeance. He was aiming negativity at someone who was reacting to it on a paranormal level.
"Cameron try to get into your pants?" House teased, steering away from the much heavier discussion of Wilson and empathy and attachment and painfulness.
He grinned devilishly. "Cuddy? Huh, now there's food for thought..."
"No," Wilson repeated, the word more like a growl.
"Okay... Chase then?"
When there was no reply, House blinked.
"Chase?" he prodded.
Silence again.
"Oh, don't tell me you did the nasty with Chase out of despair?" he exclaimed. "Chase? You did Chase?" The blue eyes sparkled. "Was he good?"
His lover gave him the Look and walked over to the couch where he plopped down.
"Grow up! I've been training my abilities. At least I tried," Wilson finally told him. "I picked up a few things, but nothing clear. I'm not that good. But something's going on with Chase, especially every time Foreman goes on about the two of us."
"Aussie thing?"
Wilson rolled his eyes. "What's an 'Aussie thing'?"
"No idea, you tell me. You're the mind-reader."
"I don't read minds. I pick up on emotional shifts."
House shrugged and joined him on the old couch. "Same difference. So, what's going on?"
Wilson slid closer automatically, into House's embrace, and the older man let him. It felt good to feel Wilson again, to have him in his arms, and he liked to play over the clothes hiding his lover's body from him.
"Don't know," Wilson murmured.
House was silent, contemplating, thinking. It wasn't that he hadn't noticed the few times Chase had appeared... concerned? No, not concerned. It was something different. Like a bad memory.
Huh. Strange. While House liked to tease the intensivist about his hair, his cute little butt, his good looks, he hadn't figured him to be either bi or gay. No, that wasn't it. It was something else.
"All right," he broke the silence. "Now what?"
Wilson blinked at him. "Now what?" he echoed.
"You're paranormal, I'm a paranormal... do we get some fuzzy faced familiar next?"
Wilson chuckled. "Not every paranormal has a familiar. They tend to go to those they believe need them. You don't need a familiar. You've got your ego. And I don't need a familiar. I've got you. You're high enough maintenance already."
"Meow, Jimmy," House purred. "Scratch my belly."
A warm hand complied and stroked over his t-shirt clad stomach.
"And with your luck," Wilson murmured sleepily, "you'd get a snake."
House shuddered a little. "At least I wouldn't be talking to birds."
Wilson yawned. "There's that."
"Liar," House replied fondly.
He watched as Wilson fell asleep on the couch, using him as a human pillow, and a tender smile crossed his lips. House didn't care one way or the other about a familiar. There was little he really cared about and one of the most precious things was currently curled up beside him, snoring softly.
He smiled more.
Yeah, that was enough.
The day after his return, they had begun talking. About what this meant, about what to do in public, how to run this 'black ops mission' as House jokingly called it. There was sex before the talk. Lots of sex. Good sex. Healthy sex. And empathic sex. House loved to watch Wilson open up under his touches, loved to see the passion in those dark brown eyes rise, and he loved to hear his name on James' lips when he climaxed.
And the cuddling wasn't too bad either.

"I have your report from the clinic," Wilson said as sat next to his lover, leaning in, House's hand on the left thigh, stroking. "You still experience the pain, you still need painkillers, but your dosage is back to forty milligrams."
That sounded logical.
"I still sign the prescriptions, but what you will swallow now and then to uphold the image, are sugar pills. They look exactly the same."
House smirked. "Where did you get them?"
"Secret," Wilson teased.
"At the hospital?"
"No, at a pharmacy."
He nodded, still caressing the lean thigh. House didn't like the lines in his lover's face, the signs of sleepless nights and worry.
"We'll have you down to a lot less within the next six months."
"Solid cover?"
"Very solid. Whatever Cuddy does, wherever she asks, everything will be confirmed. From your rehab time to the prescriptions to the reports in your file. Even the MRIs."
House leaned over and kissed him, feeling the tension in the muscles he touched. Sunkeeper had touched the topic of James Wilson a few times. The Healer suspected that the empath in Wilson had anchored himself to House, pouring all his ability into smoothing the waters and helping the other man. Wilson reacted strongly to House's emotional upheaval and the sudden emptiness that House's rehab time had left in Wilson's life hadn't been easily compensated.
"I'm not his crutch!" he had argued.
"No. Neither is he yours. You are simply relying on one another. It's a good thing, but it also makes him vulnerable."
Seeing James now, he knew what that meant. Subconsciously, Wilson had reached out and found nothing, so he had poured himself into work. It had taken its toll.
The kiss grew into more and House pulled back, looking into the flushed face, reading the need there.
"Wanna make out?" he teased.
Wilson laughed. "Aren't we already?"
"Oh, that's just foreplay for the foreplay. I wanna try out the leg."
"It's not a new toy, House."
He grinned devilishly. "But it's new. And I want to try it. Fun for all the family."
"You're impossible."
"But professionally so."
He pinned his lover against the couch and continued the assault, kissing him, stroking, teasing, making him shudder and moan.
"You sound starved," House murmured and lightly bit the exposed neck.
Wilson gasped. "You've been gone for a while."
"Hookers too expensive?"
That got him a grimace, but he quickly claimed the lips and kissed Wilson again.
"Hand not working?" he teased when he finally let Wilson up for air.
"Want yours."
"Pet names now? Jimmy, you are getting horny." Wilson arched into his touch. "Hm, yeah, you are."
The younger man bit back a curse, hissing as House manipulated him skillfully.
"Next time, I'll hire a callboy," House murmured.
"Shut up and just do something!"
His smile was almost malicious and House pushed his hand into the dark pants, making Wilson cry out with need. He would take the edge off now, then take his time to really love the man as he wanted; without pain, without a paralyzed leg, and without the knowledge that he would pay for exertions with cramping muscles afterwards.
Getting back to work meant getting back into the spotlight of his three underlings. House limped into the clinic, whistling to himself, feeling quite chipper. Three months and four days without pain. It did change moods, even if he would forever deny it, and when he gave Cuddy a bright smile and a jovial 'Good morning, lovely!', he knew she would have him in his office in no time flat.
It took her ten seconds to get a grip on herself and shout his name. Within another minute he was in the office and Cuddy was staring at him like he was a new addition to her cabinet of curiosities.
"You look... good," she said, looking him up and down.
"I hope so. Beach, surf, hot babes." He grinned. "Does the soul good."
Cuddy still gazed at him like he was an alien. "You fight rehab for years, now you go and come back... in a good mood? What happened?"
He shrugged. "Cute doctor, even cuter nurses."
She looked at the clinic papers. "And they got you back to your original dosage of Vicodin."
"I do dig cute, haven't I told you? Hot bikinis help so much in the recovery process." House leaned forward on his cane. If he could, he would be bouncing on his feet. "Soooo," he drawled, "new case for me? Anything? I'm ready to go!"
The maniacal grin probably did it. Cuddy snapped the folder shut and sighed.
"Well, whatever they did, it worked. Let's hope it keeps a while. You have a case at the moment."
"Foreman's running it?"
He grimaced. "Let's do some damage control then," House announced and started to leave the office.
"House!" Cuddy's voice held him back.
When he turned, she smiled more.
"Welcome back."
There was a smart remark on his lips, but he kept it to himself. Instead he gave her a little smile in return, nodding.
There was no 'Welcome Home' banner, no party hats, no cakes and, sadly, no beer either. House only mourned the beer, but he didn't mourn the missing party equipment. Parties and House didn't mix; they actually clashed quite fiercely.
"Bluish-purple skin rash?" House read out loud as he limped into the meeting room with a flourish.
He startled three juniors, which gave him the same perverse pleasure as always. Cameron shot up, staring at him like a giant goldfish, mouth open.
"Dr. House?" she stuttered.
Chase was scrambling to get up, looking a bit run over, and even Foreman had this pleasing-to-the-eye expression of shock.
"Since when are you back?" Cameron asked.
"Just now."
He dumped his backpack and headed over to the kitchen to check out the coffee stash and animal crackers. Luckily - for the three Scoobies - there was a half full box of crackers and hot coffee.
House turned to find himself the object of intense study.
"What? I got it, too? The rash?"
He looked down at himself, patting his clothes.
"No. Of course not." Cameron was drawn between annoyance and speechlessness.
"How was rehab?" Foreman inquired.
"Fun. Nice topless beaches, too. Close to Mexico. Lots of fiesta after siesta." He grinned suggestively.
Chase chuckled. "Yeah, right."
"You should see my tan-line. Or lack thereof." The grin was even more suggestive now.
Cameron rolled her eyes.
House twirled his cane and hung it on the whiteboard, studying the writing on it. His mind was already firing up with the new problem. Three months had left his brain yearning for some intricate problem to spin his wheels on. He needed the mystery, the puzzle, or House didn't feel alive.
"So... was rehab successful?" Cameron's careful question interrupted his thought process.
"What? Oh yeah," he drawled. "I'm so at peace with me and my inner cripple, I'll start teaching courses on finding your balanced center and make a dollar on the side."
"I just want to know how you are!" she shot back angrily.
House drew a breath and pushed away the sarcasm for a moment. "I'm fine. Really fine. I'm back to forty milligrams, I had physical therapy, and I promise to continue my daily rehab sessions even outside the clinic."
Foreman studied him. "You went through detox?" he queried.
"Yes. No fun the second time around either. So!" he announced loudly, startling them, "tell me what I missed the last three months!"
And it was back to normal. Almost normal. He knew he would be under close scrutiny for the next few days until the newness wore off and routine settled in. He would play along, he would swallow the sugar pills, and he would quietly observe the team dynamics. He wanted to know what had changed in the three months he hadn't been here.
Wilson's batteries were recharging. House's presence back home was a great help. While he tried not to be too obvious about it, Wilson knew he was failing on all fronts. He was hanging around Diagnostics too often not get noticed, and the looks House was shooting were... tell-tale. He never said anything, but that was obvious, too.
His color was coming back, he no longer looked like he hadn't slept at all, and while House suddenly had a much cuddle-intense lover, he didn't complain. Actually, he liked it. Not that he would ever tell anyone. Not even Wilson.
Having the other man so close, feeling him breathe and move, seeking his presence, was a reassuring and warming sensation. He had missed James, too. The weeks had been hard enough without missing his lover, but without the catalyst that was James Wilson, his moods had swung wildly.

What hadn't come back were his abilities. For all the time in San Diego, House had waited. He knew what it felt like, what to expect, but nothing had happened. Eight years of abuse on his body had taken its toll. Sunkeeper had told that while he was a Healer, he couldn't tell whether or not the damage to the paranormal inside him was permanent or not.
On the outside, House didn't let it show. He deflected anything coming too close to the Diagnostic topic with a snark, a bark or a growl. Wilson just gave him space, the occasional look, and kept his tongue.
Maybe the abilities would come back.
Maybe he would forever be neutered.
And it bugged him. For the first time in years it bugged him.
"Hey," a voice jolted him out of his thoughts and he looked up.
Wilson was leaning in the door, wearing his habitual white coat, and he was carrying a paper bag.
"I brought bagels," his lover announced.
"Cream cheese?"
"Of course."
Wilson walked into the office and flopped down in the visitor chair. He put the bag on the desk. His eyes were on House, silently asking. House just grabbed the bag, chose a raisin bagel and began to smother it in cream cheese.
"It's not back," he said softly, eyes on the second half of the bagel he was drowning in cream cheese.
"You were without your abilities for eight years, House," Wilson said quietly. "It might just need time."
"It might be gone."
"We don't know that."
Blue eyes rose from the bagel and glared at Wilson. "You have no evidence that it might come back either."
Wilson weathered the storm silently. "Why is it so important to you, Greg? You didn't miss it in the years it's been gone. Why now?"
He tore his eyes away from the chocolate brown gaze, refusing to answer.
"You're a great doctor. You're a famous diagnostician. You don't need the abilities to give you the extra edge," Wilson told him calmly.
"No, but they are a part of me," he said calmly.
"And you want them back?"
"I don't know." He dropped the bagel onto the desk. "I just thought... with the Vicodin wearing off... and all the stuff they did to me... they would restart."
"It might take a while."
"Might never happen."
"You won't be worth any less because of it." Wilson smiled.
He looked at the man lounging so comfortably in the chair, the man he loved and the man who had been through so much good stuff and even more bad stuff with him. Now House stuck out his lower lip, eyes taking on a pleading expression.
"Will you still love me without my abilities?" he begged.
Wilson chuckled and licked some cream cheese off his fingers. "I love you despite being the bastard you are. I don't think this will change it."
House gave him a silly, over the top smile.
The glass door was pushed open from the outside and Cameron walked, followed by Chase.
"Hey, bagels," Chase called cheerfully.
Wilson grabbed the bag and tossed it at his younger colleague, who caught it deftly. "Sesame, plain and cinnamon," he just said.
"Hey," House protested. "I thought they were for me."
"They are for all of you." Wilson gave him a pointed look. "And they need food more than you do."
"You saying I'm fat?" was the outraged call.
"No, I'm saying that their nerves need as much comfort food as you need something to put some weight on your stick figure," Wilson shot back good-naturedly.
House threw a wadded-up napkin at him. Wilson laughed and deflected it. The oncologist got up, eyes still sparkling, and left them with a little wave of good-bye. House smiled, then turned to his team. Well, the team sans Foreman, who, if he remembered correctly, was covering clinic hours.
"Eat up, children, we have work to do."
"Welcome to Sundance, Wyoming," House announced like a tour operator to a load of tourists. "Unparalleled scenery, adventure and history abound."
Wilson chuckled as he parked the rental car in front of his parents' home. It wasn't in the middle of town but several miles outside and had a large parcel of land around it. His mother had fallen in love with the town when she and his father had driven through Sundance on their way to Mount Rushmore, and they had come back and looked for a place to live. For the past five years, Rose and Arthur Wilson had now been residents of Sundance, and he had flown in from New York a few times before.
House grabbed his duffel and limped after Wilson, grumbling at the three steps leading up to the porch of the ranch style home.
And James Wilson was enveloped in a bear hug from his mother, who beamed at him. She was dressed in what looked like a batik tunic, all summer colors, and wide, airy black pants.
"Hey, Mom."
Rose gave him a little kiss and turned toward House, who held up a hand.
"No kissing!"
"Oh, you big baby!" And he was hugged.
House suffered through it and rolled his eyes at Wilson over Rose's head.
"Come in, kids. I'm about to take the pie out of the oven."
Wilson smiled at his lover and they followed her inside. House dumped his duffel near the stairs and limped into the kitchen, following the unmistakable smell of berry pie. Within five minutes both men had a cup of coffee, the pie was out and cooling, and Rose was firing questions at House.
He humored her, told her what she wanted to know. Rose was watching him like a hawk and he knew he was talking to the ally and not the mother. Right now there was an ally needing to know about the paranormal she would protect if there was the need for it.
"You're done with your cross-examination?" House finally asked.
Rose smiled. "Yes, dear, I am. Pie?"
Without waiting for his answer she rose and went over to the still cooling cake, cutting out two very large helpings and a third, smaller one. A tub of vanilla ice cream was added and House eyed it like a lab specimen.
"Is this a conspiracy?" He gave her an accusing look, then gestured at Wilson. "Your son claims I'm a stick and need fattening up, you want to feed me calories with a shovel! I just got detoxed of all my poisons, too."
"So you need a refill," Rose quipped good-naturedly. "You had a long flight and you are a bit thin, Greg. Dig in."
He sighed and glared at Wilson, who was unsuccessfully trying to bite back on his smile.
"I'll prepare the guest house for you two," Rose continued. "You know where to put things when you're done. Don't be shy about eating more ice cream."
House watched her go and sighed. "I swear it's a conspiracy." But he was eating the ice cream and pie.
"Of course it is." Wilson licked his spoon clean and House drew his brows down.
"Go on like this and you'll pay for it, Jimmy," he threatened.
Wilson grinned. "Right."
House flicked some half-molten ice cream at him and Wilson gave a cry of protest. House's expression was devilish and he brandished the spoon again.
"You," Wilson declared, "are gonna pay."
"Bring it on, big guy!"
And Wilson did.
They lay in bed together that night. There were no city noises, just crickets and the occasional hoot of an owl.
Nature, House thought. Huh. Figure that.
He lay stretched out next to his lover. Wilson was turned onto his side, dozing, and House played over the t-shirt covering the strong back.
It was nice here.
And he'd never say it out loud.
He liked being away from it all, though Wilson argued he wouldn't survive longer than a week. Then his mind would go on overdrive like a doped up hamster in its wheel. He would need to release that excess energy, and not just with great sex.
House knew -- somewhere deep down inside he knew -- that Wilson was right. He needed the challenge, he needed the puzzle, the mystery, the lying patients and the nagging relatives. It completed the mess that was his miserable life. This miserable, pain-free, miserable, happy-with-Wilson... not really that much miserable-any-more life.
Crazy, crazy world.
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