October 22nd, 2006

house and wilson bros before hos

Three Months

Title: Three Months
Word Count: 2,833 (approx.)
Characters/Pairings: House/Wilson friendship, mentions of Julie (why do I always think of her as evil?)
Disclaimer: I do not own them.
Warnings: Soppiness, major soppiness, possibly (most likely) OOC. Wilson also has a dog, and I can't remember if he does in canon.

Three Months

It was raining, Wilson thought idly as he leaned against the wall of his office, staring out the glass door which led to the balcony. It was raining, and the sky was gray, and the trees trembled in the wind, and the water poured down, and it was oddly appropriate.

He'd gotten the divorce papers that morning.

Looking back, he supposed he'd known it would happen for quite awhile, ever since she started coming home late, wearing that perfume he knew wasn't for him, attending meetings of a book club that didn't exist. But she hadn't even left him a note. He'd woken up, stretched, and reached down to greet Charlie, and Charlie hadn't been there. He'd combed the house as he called Charlie's name, stumbling half-aware through the hallways in his boxers and praying desperately that Mrs. Coxey, the doddering old maid from next door, wasn't looking through the window. He'd had no luck, and it was when he'd completed his third circuit that the news sank in.

She'd taken his dog.

He'd spun around and headed back to the kitchen, and there on the table, easier to see when he was more awake, strangely incongruous amid the cluster of ridiculously elegant place settings, was the familiar manila folder.

The first thing he did was have a drink, a nice, tall shot of whiskey, and once he downed that one he figured if someone was going to have as a bad a day as he was why not start it off right, and he had another. And, after a moment, another. And then he thought, well, the day hadn't improved yet, and topped things off with one more.

They hadn't touched in three months, two days, four hours, and--he turned and studied the wall clock--twenty-six seconds. Sex? He'd stopped keeping time for that ages ago. Sad really.

As a matter of fact, no one had touched him in three months, two days, four hours, and--thirty-one seconds now. Not so much as a brush of hands when the bagger passed him his groceries.

It was stupid for him to care, he knew, but there were moments, days, weeks, when he simply needed touch. He was tired of walking around pretending that everything was okay, that his marriage was wonderful, that his job couldn't be better, aching. And he did ache. The need for human contact was so strong in him that it often became a sort of physical pain, a burning sensation just under the surface of his skin. He wanted--he needed--someone to care for him. But there was no one, because a job was a job, and House was--well, House was House. If it came to personal matters, the job was more of a comfort. X-rays and cancer patients didn't tend to talk back to him.

Admittedly, the first marriage had been his fault. House had told him that he'd been young, a mere pup, it was acceptable that he'd cheated--House said actually that he wouldn't have been considered "cool" if he hadn't and the Gods of Marriage wouldn't have let him turn thirty otherwise--and tried to reassure him in his own demented way, generally by making sure he was completely wasted and abandoning him at the nearest bus stop, but Wilson knew House was lying, and Wilson knew the truth. If he'd been strong, if he'd resisted the urge when he knew what he was about to do was wrong, his marriage might have lasted. He might have had a shot.

Yes, the first marriage was undeniably his fault. Only his fault.

The second marriage had been her fault.

That one he was okay with accepting.

That time it'd been the pool boy, and House was busy with a particularly hard case. Wilson didn't tell him, didn't bother to tell him--what was the use really; he didn't need another hangover and irate, fat bus driver at six A.M.--until House found him sleeping in his office one morning and gave him the Houseian version of a chew-out. That lasted two minutes before Wilson fell off the couch and beaned him with the Zen garden. There was no drunken sympathy because Wilson said he'd been the one who cheated.

He wasn't surprised, not really, that House believed him.

And now the third marriage--okay, the third marriage was her fault, too, but hadn't he had a hand in things? Was he cursed with infidelity? Maybe if he'd been a little more caring, a little more considerate, a little warmer, a little something, she might not have found someone else. She might have stuck around.

She might have left the dog. Damn it, she might have left the dog.

And that hadn't been the worst part of his day. He'd had to inform three people of their impending deaths, and two others had died. That was five patients dying or dead, five he hadn't been able to fix--and four were under the age of ten.

Kids were always harder.

Wilson sighed. The rational part of his mind knew that he was an oncologist and he had to expect death, had to come to terms with the fact that he wouldn't be able to save everybody, that it was a waste of time, energy, and spirit to even try. The rational part of his mind glared at him and said, in a voice which sounded remarkably like House's, "You are a damnable idiot, you know that? You and your need to be needed. If you don't like dying people, why are you a fucking oncologist? That's what oncology is, you know, dying people--well, that and bald people, but if I knew you had that kink I would've shaved my head months ago...."

Wilson abruptly shut the rational part of his mind in a closet and padlocked the door. He knew why he was an oncologist--not because he suffered under the conceited delusion that he could save everyone, but because, if the timing was right, if he did the right thing, if he was there, he could save someone. Because of him, a person who would die otherwise, one more casualty, might live to see their next birthday. Might live to see their child graduate from high school. Might even be cured. And, ordinarily, that was what kept him going. It was hard--it was always hard when his patients died. But it was the most wonderful feeling in the world when they lived. The most wonderful feeling in the world.

The sound of cane hitting wood came from Wilson's mental closet; he abruptly pulled open the door, removed said cane, and threw it out the nearest (mental) window.

Speaking of House, House was a diagnostician.

Wilson thought he knew why that was too.

Being a diagnostician meant that House didn't have to get too close to patients. House loved puzzles--he didn't love people. He'd been through too much to go that route again. That was why House couldn't understand Wilson's reasons for going into oncology--because there was no way Wilson could completely shield himself from feeling when his patients died (though House couldn't either), because when you were an oncologist you had to be a little bit closer, because House believed the profession was useless; most of the people would die anyway. He didn't understand the rush that came with knowing you gave someone an extra day to live. That was okay--that was why you had diagnosticians, and you had oncologists, and you had immunologists, and you had--well, you had Cuddy. Different strokes for different folks.

Wilson shrugged to himself. He shifted position, pressing his forehead to the cold glass of the window. Drops of rain slid down the panes less than an inch away from his nose, and something throbbed in his chest, once, but tightly, painfully, a knot that should've been loosened ages ago. For some reason, he wanted to be outside. There was a strange urge growing in him, a thought that the sensation of water falling, thudding minute bombshells on his flesh, might mean things would be all right again. He needed the contact--the acknowledgement that someone, something, knew he was alive. Wilson wasn't stupid. He knew he was feeling depressed, and he half-heartedly hoped that he wouldn't do anything crazy, like jump off the balcony--but he needed to be in the rain so badly he thought he might take the risk. After all, he was a professional, and professionals didn't jump off balconies in rainstorms because their wives left them.

So he opened the door and stepped outside.

The city was drenched; the air was so thick he couldn't see more than ten feet without encountering a cloudy gray bank of fog. They were having quite a storm. The skies were pouring and the ground was already puddled. Wilson was soaked within seconds. He took a few steps forward, stood by the edge of the twelve-foot drop, and stared contemplatively down. Not that far really. Not when you thought about it. Not altogether far.

Four children, three marriages, and one Wilson, he thought.

One Wilson, standing alone. The cheese stood alone, didn't it? That was perfect. Jimmy Wilson, Boy Wonder, Cheese. It was a more interesting title than M.D. anyway.

But they'd thanked him. That was the worst part. He could not stand it when people thanked him for telling them they were going to die. He felt like screaming. Asking them why. He didn't do anything. He didn't fix it. They had no reason to thank him.

Shit, Wilson thought, trying to fix his eyes on the sidewalk, searching for a landmark in the sea of pea soup. He was going to do it. He was going to jump and break his stupid neck. Something was building up inside, some rage--sorrow, desperation perhaps. He needed to step away, go back inside before he did something he wouldn't live to regret.

"Hey, there are better places to stand than in a downpour. Like under Niagara Falls, if you're really looking for thrills."

Wilson knew who it was. He didn't turn around. Of course not. He didn't have to. It was the voice of the bastard know-it-all currently pounding on the door of his mental closet. It was House.

Great, Wilson thought.

"Four today," he said quietly, without turning around. He kept staring down at the parking lot he couldn't see. If he squinted, he could just make out his car.

"Four what?"

"Kids," said Wilson. He was ashamed of his voice--it was betraying him. He hadn't thought he was that depressed, but suddenly, now that he was speaking aloud, it seemed maybe he was. If there was one thing House hated, it was sadness. Tears. He hadn't seen House shed a tear since the infarction, and they never spoke of that because Wilson had been the one to wipe it away--harshly, of course, as if it meant nothing, but a moment of weakness regardless. Crying was something Wilson did only when severely drunk, and, last time he checked, four shots of whiskey at six A.M. wasn't drunk enough.

House stepped forward.

"Going to beat yourself up over this, too?" he said. "If so, can you at least do it inside? I don't want to get any more wet than necessary. This third leg of mine doesn't do too hot on soggy cement."

"I can't do this any more." The moment the last word slipped from his lips, Wilson knew what was coming next.

"You know, this sounds familiar," House snapped. "I've had enough of the drunken reruns. You may be PPTH's Wonder Boy Oncologist, you may be Cuddy's whore, but you can't save everyone, and you have to learn to stop trying."

Now Wilson spun around, with more anger than he believed himself capable of, and maybe the water on his face wasn't all rain. He met House's eyes and thought, in that moment, that he hated him.

"Wait a minute. That's not all this is about, is it?" The pieces began to fit together. Real intelligent, aren't you, Wilson thought.


"Who was it this time? TV repairman? That hot nurse down in the ICU? What's her name... Mandy?"

"Look," Wilson snapped, swiping at his face with the back of one sopping hand,wishing he could brush the hair out of his eyes and resisting the urge to say that the woman's name was Susan damn it Susan. "I didn't ask you to come find me. I didn't ask you for anything, and I sure as hell didn't ask you for advice." He stepped forward and brushed by House, grasping the knob of his balcony door, jerking it shut behind him. "I gotta go."

"Oh, no you don't!" House said, pulling the door open the instant Wilson shut it and following him inside. "No way, Jose, you aren't getting off that easy. When are you gonna learn they won't stay with you if you cheat on them? When are you gonna learn not to tell them?"

Wilson didn't even stop. He walked straight into his office, sat down on the couch, removed his shoes, lifted his feet to the opposite armrest, and lay with his face to the wall. This was his way of letting House know the subject was closed. Of course, House didn't give a damn. House never gave a damn.

"Staying here again, I see. Has she filed yet?"

"I didn't cheat," he said, exhausted, quiet. He hadn't felt drained before, but the emotions of the past twelve hours were taking effect. He squeezed his eyes shut and prayed fervently for House to leave. He just wanted to be alone. Was that too much to ask?

House sighed. He didn't do compassionate, and he wasn't about to start. "At least you still have Charlie, right, playboy?" he said, after a moment.

There was a strange noise from the couch. It wasn't as undignified as a sniffle--no, it was more of a choked inhalation, and the sound was destroyed, torn apart, unspeakably sad. House began, for the first time in over a year, to feel a bit of sympathy. It was an odd sensation, one he almost didn't recognize. He realized that he did not much like it. He limped across the room and harshly poked Wilson's shoulder.

Wilson didn't move.

House sighed again. So he was going to have to do things the hard way. He might've just left if it had been anyone else, but it wasn't anyone else--it was Wilson, and his conscience just wouldn't let him leave, even if he tried. And oh, did he want to try. Instead, he grasped Wilson in the nearest accessible spot and pulled until Wilson rolled over to face him. Wilson's face was contorted with sorrow, his eyes shut as though he might block out the world, and as House watched a sole fat tear slid down his right cheek. As House held his shoulder, Wilson breathed.

Three months.

Wilson didn't want to, he really didn't want to, but he savored the touch of House's calloused hand against his skin (well, through his shirt and Julie's favorite tie) as he would have the priciest diamonds.

His wife wouldn't come near him. Wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole (probably because he wasn't a twenty-five-year-old pool boy, probably because he wasn't enough for her).

But House would. And House didn't touch anybody.

"Hey, cat got your tongue?" House said, hoping to piss Wilson off and elicit some kind of a response--emotions were not his friends.

There was no further noise from Wilson, but a second tear crept in the path of the first. Wilson didn't budge. House did, though, hesitantly reaching out a thumb and brushing away the salty drop, because Wilson never cried, hardly even when he was drunk. And he wasn't drunk. And Wilson made that noise again, a sound originating perhaps from the depths of his soul, a sound filled with so much pain that House frowned and tried to forget that he didn't do compassion, tried to forget how stupid and embarrassed he felt. Because no one ever needed him and he didn't want them to, but now someone might and it wasn't altogether so bad. He thought he understood, finally, Wilson's strange need.

After about five minutes, House said, "Wilson...." He was surprised by the sound of his voice--the sound of Wilson's name when he spoke it, unusual and common at the same time. Rough, but soft--almost as if he cared. Like a normal person.

That was weird.

"No," Wilson said, "I'm not all right. Know something, House?"

House waited. Wilson opened his right eye and glanced at the wall, by the Hitchcock film poster House gave him for Christmas two years ago, even though House hated Hitchcock and Wilson was a Jew. "Three months," he said. "Three months since anyone's--" And Wilson's voice trailed away. He knew House didn't go for that kind of thing, and it was a ridiculous admission under the best of circumstances.

House stood silent, tapped his cane on the floor once, twice. The clock Wilson had been looking at ticked and struck the hour. Six o' clock.

"Since anyone's touched me," Wilson finished shamefully. His voice cracked and he began quietly sobbing, tears leaking down his cheeks, falling damply onto the pressed collar of his shirt. His heart squeezed violently in sorrow, pain. Fear. He didn't want another blow--it'd be too much for that evening. You weren't vulnerable around House.

House hadn't expected that. There was a rather sharp jab somewhere in the area of his chest. He wasn't used to seeing Wilson cry, but he already knew he didn't like it.

"Thanks," Wilson said brokenly; he'd already jumped and was falling, hoping he'd land on something soft so he could get back up and the next day would be normal. For some reason, he felt a kinship with the patients he spoke to daily, the ones who were grateful when he sentenced them to death.

"You're welcome," House said gruffly, because he finally realized that he had to say something, and tapped a finger to another of Wilson's tears. The droplet glistened quietly against his skin, a trillion beautiful watery facets, and he wondered when he'd last seen someone crying, or cared remotely about the fact that they were. He paused.

"I guess now you can stop counting."