The next phase begins when the hamburgers stop. House brings twelve of them, great juicy artery-clogging things, over a three-week period—and then he quits. Wilson sits behind his desk for fifteen minutes before he realizes that he isn't doing anything; he expects House to show up, swinging a greasy paper bag and disregarding napkins entirely like the inferior things they are.
Wilson laughs. He's being an idiot. It's not like he ate most of those sandwiches anyway.
After awhile, he leans over to toy with his latest acquisition, a disturbingly happy china bear that a patient, bald as a cue ball, gave him when he told her family that she was in remission. She'd said that a doctor bear—there was a red cross of some sort on its hat, about the size of a rat dropping—was perfect for her favorite doctor. House would've gagged, but she was so damn cute. He looks at his Zen garden, too. He replaced it because he thought it was a pretty handy thing to have around. Didn't actually help with stress much—looked great on his desk, though.
Then, before he can stop himself, he's dropping the bear in the sand, raking a desert over its black button nose.
If that's symbolic of something, he doesn't want to know.
He leaves the bear there once he's finished burying it. The nose sticks up, but he can't see the stupid white hat anymore.
Somebody knocks on the door. Can't be House—House wouldn't knock on an unlocked door unless he was beat to death and his assailant ripped his hand off at the wrist and rapped with his lifeless knuckles. If the door was locked he'd stand out there pounding away and making himself as obnoxious as humanly possible until (a) the occupant let him in, (b) the hinges broke, or (c) he dropped dead on his feet. So it definitely can't be House.
"Come in," Wilson says politely, glancing at what remains of the bear, and in walks House.
"Don't just sit there," House says, more than a little pissed. "I called you for a consult an hour ago."
"I was with a patient an hour ago," Wilson says, and then, "You knocked."
"Are you coming or what?" House is already out the door. Wilson follows him. He looks back to the Zen graveyard once. Maybe he'll dig it out later.
House has tells. He doesn't think he does, but, oh, he does, and Wilson knows them all.
Right now, for instance, he's hiding something.
"I know there's a steak under there," Wilson says, eyeing House's tray, "if that's what you're so guilty about."
"I am never guilty." House smirks. "You Jews, on the other hand, you are the kings of guilt. You practically invented guilt. They should've named it after you." Suddenly he drops his fork and bends over to pick it up. He takes a very long time about this retrieval, and Wilson begins to wonder what, exactly, he's doing down there.
"Taking a long time," he says, glancing around the room.
"You weren't complaining last night." House wiggles his butt.
Okay, Wilson's blushing. Well, it doesn't look like anyone heard. He bends over too. They've both got their heads under the table now.
"Seriously. What are you doing?"
"Ever notice how much chewed gum people stick here? It's a germ-fest. Germ bash. Germ fiesta, baby."
Wilson doesn't say anything, and House looks at him. "Don't you know anything about being inconspicuous?"
"Only what I've learned from the master."
"Then I must be a piss-poor master. I bet you always got caught in school."
"Why," Wilson says impatiently, "are you under the table?"
"Because everyone else is above their tables. It's about being different, dawg." House twists his head to the side and glances around—then he sits up with a jerk and rubs his leg.
Wilson sits up too. A nurse is staring at him. She looks… mildly curious.
"Just… looking for something," he mutters, and she turns away.
"Now that I can't show my face here again," Wilson says, "are you going to explain yourself?"
"Can't." And again House's buzzer goes off at the most inappropriate time, as if on cue. Wilson is beginning to believe that he's setting it off himself.
"What is it this time? Anaphylactic?"
"No—Foreman's next job interview." House grins real widely, so widely Wilson can just about count his teeth. He hasn't touched the salad, or the steak that he hid in the lettuce, or the bag of potato chips, or Wilson's bag of potato chips, but when he stands he manages to snag both bags of chips and slide the rest of his food into the trash in one fluid motion.
"I was going to eat those."
"And now you're not. Funny how these things work."
Wilson looks at his own tray after House is gone. Why does he even bother? He glances around—to the left, to the right, at the nurse who may go to her grave believing that he's gay (and she was hot, too)—lifts the lid of his cup, and pulls out another bag of chips.
Maybe he's learned something from the master after all.
Before the whole embarrassing-himself-in-House's-house deal—Wilson has always privately thought the phrase "House's house" is very amusing—he hadn't had a panic attack for awhile, and he was even beginning to hope they were gone forever. Okay, he knows better. Things like that aren't content to vanish when your back is turned. Probably too much stress, and then House's being more of an asshole than usual, and running on less sleep than he was accustomed to and not taking his antidepressants.
He's not planning on admitting it to House any time soon—ever, if possible—but the antidepressants do make him a little hazy. Happier, definitely, but kind of hazy, too. Not like he went into it blind. He knows the side-effects. Worth the risk. He was tired of feeling shitty, and when you felt shitty and knew you felt shitty and were willing to admit that you needed help in order to not feel shitty and had two brain cells to rub together, you did something about it.
House had looked happier with those drugs in his system. Maybe he hadn't been happier—Wilson couldn't know that for sure—but he'd looked happier.
If he would just—
Oh, forget it.
Wilson sits on the foot of the bed. Hotel room again. Why doesn't he rent another apartment? You only want to spend so long in a hotel room, with a lumpy mattress and that damn traffic outside the window and a thermostat that never really seems to do what you ask. And he hates the bedspread.
Friday he'll probably show up at House's. They're back on more even terms again, thank God. Case of beer'll get him inside. Watch TV, grab a bite to eat, fight with House about something—there's always something to bicker about.
The teddy bear is in his pocket. Wilson takes it out and looks at it; he rubs his thumb over the red cross. Remission.
He wonders how long it'll last.