Summary: The entire staff of PPTH seems determined to get Wilson laid. They succeed...just not quite the way any of them had expected.
"Huh?" House didn't look up from his reading material. He was on duty, using his powers for good: healing the sick and berating the stupid. And he'd cleverly disguised his Soap Opera Digest inside a patient record. He knew no one who knew him would be fooled, but he'd made the effort to appear gainfully employed during his clinic hours. That ought to count for something.
"House," Wilson said more insistently.
House made a shooing motion. He'd given Wilson his Gameboy so he wouldn't get bored and interrupt House's important research. Leave it to Wilson to ignore House's clearly defined priorities.
Suddenly the Gameboy tumbled across the magazine and landed in House's lap.
"What the hell?" House looked up just as Cuddy burst through the door. Wilson sat on the exam table, swinging his legs and looking innocent now that he'd rid himself of the evidence.
Wilson looked over his shoulder at Cuddy, a frown on his face. House frowned too, because normally when he and Wilson were goofing off, it was House's name Cuddy was most likely to call.
"James?" Cuddy repeated when she didn't get a response.
"You still play tennis, right?"
"Not regularly," Wilson said.
"Doesn't matter." Cuddy rubbed her hands in anticipation. "There's a tournament this weekend at my club...."
"Her club," House said in a la de da voice. He stuck his nose back in his magazine.
"Shut up," Cuddy said. She turned back to Wilson. "Strictly amateur hourjust a little friendly competitionand I need someone for a mixed doubles team."
"I don't know," Wilson said, shaking his head.
"It'll be fun," Cuddy wheedled.
"Fun," Wilson repeated. His expression was one of frank disbelief.
"It will," Cuddy insisted. "Look, I wouldn't ask but Gary Andrews pulled out at the last minute and...."
"Not bouncing back from that hemorrhoid surgery like he should?" House asked.
"How do you know...?" Cuddy threw her hands up. "Never mind."
"You going to wear that hot little miniskirt?" House looked up long enough to gauge Cuddy's reaction.
"It's a tennis skirt, and I don't know what possible difference my wardrobe would make to you."
"I want pictures," House told Wilson.
"All right," Wilson said just as Cuddy opened her mouth to respond. House snorted in amusement. Wilson was such a soft touch. "If you need a partner that badly...."
"Oh, not me," Cuddy said quickly. "It's my friend, Marcy."
"Marcy," House said in a mocking tone.
"Shut up," Wilson and Cuddy said.
"Bet she's a dog," House said as he turned the page of his magazine.
"She's not a dog," Cuddy snapped. She controlled her anger with visible effort, then turned to Wilson with a smile fixed on her face.
"Despite what Dr. House thinks, this is not a set up. It's just a tennis match," Cuddy said. "However, for the record, Marcy happens to be a very sweet person."
"Is she going to wear a miniskirt?" House asked. He was pointedly ignored.
"Just tennis," Wilson insisted, still wary of Cuddy's motives.
"Absolutely." Cuddy smiled again, more genuine this time. "You won't regret it. Marcy has a terrific sense of humor."
House relaxed as Cuddy left, apparently so desperate to fix Wilson up that she'd forgotten to harangue him. As the door clicked shut, Wilson turned to House, a slightly dazed expression on his face.
"I can't believe I just agreed to that."
"But Marcy has a terrific sense of humor," House mocked.
"She's a dog," Wilson agreed with a resigned sigh.
"I know this really hot number," Chase confided as he and Wilson stood at the inpatient pharmacy window.
They were both waiting for prescriptions to be filled, and Wilson was quietly kicking himself for being too ethical to abuse his underlings the way House did. If he could only get past that little 'do unto others' thing he wouldn't be stuck here listening to Chase. He could've ordered one of his own underlings to fetch the prescription.
"Legs that don't quit," Chase continued, either unaware of Wilson's disinterest or bull-headedly ignoring it. "Long, curly hair. And best of all, she's just divorced, too."
"Great. Double the emotional baggage, double the fun," Wilson said dryly. He glared at the pharmacist's back, hoping to make the man move a little faster through sheer force of will.
"Who cares? It's not like you're interested in a relationship, is it?"
"My point is that she's vulnerable," Chase said. He leaned on the counter, a sly gleam in his eye.
The pharmacist's ears perked up at that and he finally turned around. Wilson couldn't decide who he was most irritated with. Wait, yes, he couldit was definitely the pharmacist. He made an abrupt 'give me' gesture, demanding his prescription. The pharmacist rolled his eyes and pulled another bottle of pills from the shelf.
"All you have to do is show a little interest," Chase said. "Buy her a drink. Ask about her pet ferret. Hell, just smile at her."
"Pet ferret?" Wilson asked.
Chase dismissed the rodent with an impatient wave of his hand. "It's a guaranteed score."
"So either she's incredibly needy or she's a slut," Wilson said.
Chase gave him a puzzled look. "Like you have room to talk."
"Dr. Wilson, a moment of your time?"
"Why certainly, Ms. Warner," Wilson said. He slowed to a more casual pace as Stacy fell in step with him.
"Don't worryit's not professional," Stacy said when she saw him eyeing the stack of files she carried in one arm. "Believe it or not, these are all complaints about House."
"Ouch," Wilson said, giving the stack another look. That was an impressive amount, even for House.
"It's mostly nuisance stuff, much like House himself."
"He does so love to give of himself," Wilson said. Stacy gave a knowing laugh. "So if it's not professional...?"
"Just wanted to say hi," Stacy said. "I wondered how things were going, what you've been up to."
"Because of the divorce," Wilson said.
"I remember the first one," Stacy reminded him.
"Ah." Wilson grimaced. Well, that explained the sudden solicitude. The first divorce hadn't been pretty from any angle. Stacy clearly remembered just how not pretty it had been. He shrugged, an attempt to reassure her. "It gets easier. Well, maybe not 'easier' exactly, but with enough practice you learn to cope."
"If there's anything I can do," Stacy offered.
"Thanks, but not necessary," Wilson said. "It's been over for some time now. The divorce was just a formality."
"Well, in that case...."
"What?" Wilson asked. The change in the tone of Stacy's voice made the hairs on the back of his neck go up.
"There's a junior partner at my old firm, Karen, and...."
"No," Wilson said immediately. "No, no, and no."
"You have something against lawyers?" Stacy asked.
"Only because they're usually trying to take half of everything I have."
"Karen's not a divorce lawyer. She specializes in personal injury."
"An ambulance chaser? Great," Wilson said. "And wouldn't that constitute some kind of conflict of interest?"
"You've been spending too much time with Greg," Stacy said, disgusted.
"No, I managed to develop a loathing for lawyers all by myself," Wilson said.
"All lawyers?" Stacy asked, one eyebrow pointedly arched.
"Lawyers as friendsnot a problem," Wilson said. "Lawyers as loversnot a chance."
"You'd like her," Stacy insisted.
"Sure, I'd like her. I'd love her. I'd marry her. Then she'd divorce me and take half of everything I have," Wilson said. "Which at this point consists of the clothes on my back, my collection of baseball cards, and a toaster oven. And the toaster oven is House's."
"Actually," Stacy said thoughtfully. "I think the toaster oven is mine."
"Please tell me we had plans this weekend."
House leaned back in his chair and studied Wilson. With a sigh he shut down the game of solitaire he'd been playing on the computer.
"Any plans. I'm not picky," Wilson added. He sank into the chair opposite House and reached for his lacrosse ball.
"Your desperation is flattering," House said sarcastically. "But what brought on this sudden desire for my company?"
"In the last two days Cuddy, Chase and Stacy have all tried to fix me up."
"Just say no," House advised.
"I did." Wilson gave a bewildered shrug. He started tossing the ball from hand to hand. "Maybe I didn't say it in English."
"Maybe you didn't sound like you meant it."
"I meant it."
"Lie," House said.
"Chase is probably gullible enough, but Cuddy and Stacy know me too well," Wilson said. "They'll ignore anything I say that isn't yes."
"Then you need to bypass the middleman and go directly for the target," House said. "Call the lucky contestant up, tell her you've heard wonderful things about her, tell her how delighted you'd be to go out then remind the prospective Mrs. Wilson that the work release program requires you to be back in your cell by six every evening."
"What if she's a prison groupie?"
"Then you might want to invite Chase along. I hear he likes handcuffs."
Wilson rolled the ball between his palms, thinking. "I could say I'm contagious."
"With what?" House asked.
"Does it matter?"
"Might," House said. "There are disease groupies, too."
"That explains how you've been getting laid," Wilson said.
"Tell them Julie got your dick in the divorce settlement," House said.
Wilson scowled. "My dick is right where it should be, thank you very much."
"Than act like it," House said. "Stop going limp every time you get within ten feet of a pretty girl."
"You know, you've damn near convinced me I should go on a date," Wilson said. He tossed the ball at House and headed for the door. House frowned.
That hadn't gone quite like he'd intended.
"She lives just upstairs from me," Cameron said.
Wilson gritted his teeth and tried to focus on his lunch. He was committed to hearing Cameron's glowing description of her available neighbor, when he really should just be committed period. He'd considered taking House's advice for all of five seconds. He didn't mind the lying, but he found he couldn't tell a pretty girl, any pretty girl, that he was incapable of performing in the bedroom. He just...couldn't.
"Older?" Wilson tuned back into Cameron's sales job with a jolt.
"Oh, I didn't mean...." Cameron gave an embarrassed little laugh. "I mean she's older than me, but she's the perfect age for you."
"Just how old do you think I am?"
"Well, older than me."
"House is older than me," Wilson said.
"That's...not the point." Cameron gave him a frustrated look.
Wilson knew that look. It was the same look Cameron gave House every time he confounded her efforts to initiate a relationship. Clearly Cameron didn't like it when men refused to fall in line with her romantic ideals.
"What is the point?" Aside from making him feel like the Ancient Mariner, that is.
"I think the two of you might hit it off."
"Why is it that no one can accept that I'm not interested in dating right now?" Wilson said. He tossed his napkin on what remained of his meatloaf and shoved the tray to the side.
"You've been married three times," Cameron said, as if he needed reminding of that fact. "Obviously you like being in a relationship."
"Obviously I suck at being in a relationship," Wilson countered.
"I'd hate to see you lonely," Cameron said. The expression on her face was so earnest, so concerned, that Wilson almost caved just to make her smile. Then he remembered that kind of urge, among others, had helped land him in three bad marriages to begin with.
"I'm not lonely, Cameron," Wilson assured her. "There's a big difference between alone and lonely. Right now I'm merely alone, and I'm perfectly okay with that."
Wilson scowled in response to the knock on his door and kept his eyes fixed on his paperwork. He'd retreated to his office for a reason, that reason being that his secretary could keep all the matchmakers away. It had worked, right up until his secretary had decided she had a cousin who'd be perfect for him.
"Not interested," Wilson said when the knock was repeated.
"I thought House said you were waiting for these."
Chagrined, Wilson looked up from his desk to see Foreman standing in the doorway, a confused look on his face.
"No, sorrymy fault," Wilson said, waving Foreman into the office. "I thought it was.... I'll take those."
Foreman stepped forward and handed the research articles to Wilson. "Who are you trying to avoid?"
"Forget it. It's stupid," Wilson said. He shuffled through the print outs before setting them aside.
"I'm used to stupid."
"You're used to insane," Wilson corrected. "Stupid isn't allowed."
"Sure it is. What would House have to bitch about if stupidity were eliminated?" Foreman asked.
"Good point," Wilson said. "Although I bet House could find something."
"That's a sucker bet," Foreman said. He studied the trophies on the shelves for a moment then glanced over at Wilson. "So reallywho did you think I was?"
"I thought it was someone wanting to fix me up," Wilson admitted reluctantly.
"That happen a lot?"
"The last few days...almost constantly."
"But you just got divorced, right?"
"Signed the papers a week ago," Wilson said. And he tried not to think about the look on Julie's face when she scrawled her signature at the bottom of the decree. Tried not to think about how this was the third time he'd put that look on a woman's face.
"That's cold," Foreman said with genuine sympathy.
"Either there are a lot of desperate women out there, or people think I'm that desperate."
"You're a good catch," Foreman said. Wilson winced; he hated that phrase with a passion. Foreman laughed at Wilson's expression. "Hey, I know what it's like. You think it's hard being the nice Jewish doctor? Try being the nice black doctor."
"Does your own mother try to fix you up?" Wilson asked. He set his work aside and leaned back in his chair.
"Every time I go home," Foreman said. The exasperated look on his face made Wilson smile.
"At least you've managed to avoid marriage so far," Wilson said.
"Thought about it once. Thought about it seriously, I mean."
"It came down to a question of location. She wanted to stay in California, I wanted to do a fellowship with Dr. House," Foreman explained. "And I don't believe in long distance relationships."
"It's only another year. Maybe she'll still be available when your fellowship is up."
"Nah, she's already engaged to someone else," Foreman said.
"Don't be. If it had been the real deal we would've found a way to make it work," Foreman said with an easy shrug. "Besides, I'm in no hurry to get married."
"Wise man," Wilson said dryly.
"You know, we should get together for a round of golf," Foreman said as he gave Wilson's trophies one last look before heading toward the door.
"You play?" Wilson asked. He hadn't played much himself since House had had to give up the sport. He missed it.
"Any time I can," Foreman said.
"Great. Let me know when and I'll dust off my clubs," Wilson said.
"I'll put a foursome together." Foreman paused in the doorway and looked back at Wilson with a sly smile. "I know a woman at Abbott Pharmaceuticals. I think you'd like her."
"Argh." Wilson dropped his head to his desk.
"You called for a consult?" Wilson asked as he leaned through the exam room door.
"Check out Sam here. Specifically, check out his hand." House leaned back in his chair.
Wilson threw him a suspicious glance, but turned to face the thin, unkempt man sitting on the exam table. Sam offered his left hand and Wilson took it in his own. He turned the hand over, noting the pale color and poor circulation.
"What did Cameron want?" House asked.
Wilson glanced over. "Cameron?"
"Yesterday in the cafeteria."
"Oh." Wilson gave an exasperated laugh. "Same thing everyone else wantsto fix me up."
"Beats me." Wilson released Sam's hand and turned to House. "Clearly it's ischemic. Admit him, get an angio, and start him on I.V. heparin."
"So close," House said in a disappointed tone.
"I take it it's not a blood clot?"
"Okay, you're half right. Clot, no blood." House smiled at Wilson's puzzled expression. "See, our friend Sam has been shooting up."
"I never said nothing about shooting up," Sam protested.
"No, you didn't," House agreed. "You never said anything about it either, but that puncture mark on your wrist spoke volumes. The real problem is that you've been injecting something that wasn't meant to be injected. So what was it? Percocet? Viagra? Jujubes?"
"I have back pain," Sam insisted.
"And you got some pills from your friendly neighborhood pusher, which would explain the lack of instructions on the bottle. Forget the fact that even a moron knows what to do with a pill," House said. He rolled his chair over to the counter and opened Sam's file. "I'm almost afraid to ask what you'd do with a suppository."
"I crushed it into little bitty pieces," Sam said.
"And injected it into little bitty arteries," House mocked.
"So what are you going to do?" Sam asked.
"What?" Sam jumped from the exam table. House mentally noted a clear lack of back pain.
"That's a little extreme," Wilson said in a calming tone. He placed a hand against Sam's chest to prevent him from running off, then turned to look at House. "We should still try heparin. It won't dissolve the pills, but it'll help clear out any secondary clotting that may be contributing to the problem."
"Be easier to amputate," House said as he made a notation in Sam's chart.
"Obviously," Wilson said in a dry tone. "But given that he probably wants to keep his fingers, and that he most likely has enough collateral circulation to make amputation unnecessary, I still think we should go with heparin."
"You are so lucky I consulted Dr. Wilson. And that Dr. Wilson is a wuss who faints at the sight of blood," House said to Sam. Wilson rolled his eyes as House got to his feet and walked toward the door.
"Wait here until a nurse comes to get you," Wilson told Sam before following House out the door.
House walked to the desk and tossed the chart to one of the nurses. "Call vascular and tell them they've got an admit in Exam 2."
"What's the diagnosis?" the nurse asked.
"Stupidity," House said.
"I can't put that on his chart," the nurse said. She held her pen over a consult form, waiting.
"Hey, if the label fits...," House muttered.
"Peripheral artery embolism and drug abuse," Wilson told the nurse and she quickly noted it on the form. House made a disdainful little snort and walked away. Wilson shook his head. "And Dr. House is checking out for the day."
"He just got here," the nurse complained.
"You want to argue the point with him?" Wilson asked. The nurse stared after House's departing back for a moment, then looked at Wilson as if he'd gone nuts.
"I don't get paid enough for that."
"Why do you insist on giving patients the worst case scenario?" Wilson asked when he caught up to House at the elevator.
"I happen to believe a patient has the right to know the full scope of the problem."
"You just like scaring people."
"That's merely a bonus," House said. He turned to Wilson as they waited for the elevator to return to the first floor. "What did you tell Cameron?"
"Same thing I've told everyone elsenot interested." Wilson gave a frustrated sigh. "I don't understand. Do I look desperate?"
"That's not it," House said. He jabbed the call button again with his cane. "I look desperate and no one's trying to fix me up."
"In your case there are mitigating factors."
"I was going to say it's because you're such a nice guy, but you just blew that theory," House said.
Wilson groaned at the sound of Cuddy's voice. His steps faltered as he contemplated his options. They appeared to be severely limited by the crowded hallway and House's lack of mobility.
"You make a break for the roof," House said in a stage whisper. "I'll throw myself in front of her to slow her down."
"She'll walk right over you," Wilson said. He stopped at the side of the hall and waited for Cuddy to catch up.
"Not if I whack her in the kneecap." House adjusted his grip on his cane and took a couple of practice swings.
"I heard that."
"My god, you have the ears of a bat," House said as he turned to face Cuddy.
"And you have the personality of a pit bull," Cuddy said in a matter of fact tone. "You do realize Princeton has leash laws?"
"Promise you'll make me wear the studded leather collar," House said with a leer.
"I'll just leave you two alone," Wilson said. He turned to make his escape, but Cuddy brought him to heel.
"Not so fast. You're the one I wanted," Cuddy said.
"Big mistakehe'll never wear the collar." House reached over and tugged on Wilson's tie. "Wilson prefers silk."
"I'll be sure to pass that on to Marcy," Cuddy said dryly.
"You said that wasn't a date," Wilson protested. He slapped House's hand away from his tie.
"Oh, grow up. Of course it's date," Cuddy said. Wilson bristled but Cuddy dismissed his resentment with a wave of her hand. "So what? Like you've got something better to do?"
"I might have plans," Wilson said.
"With him?" Cuddy jerked her thumb in House's direction.
"Please. I'm offering you an intelligent, warm, funny woman and you'd rather spend your time with Mr. Personality Disorder?"
"What is it with you people? Wilson has said repeatedly he's not interested in dating," House said. "If you want to do something nice for him, get him a hooker."
"I don't want a hooker either," Wilson said.
"The hooker's actually for me," House told Wilson. "That way everyone's happy. Cuddy thinks she did something nice for you, you get to be the nice guy and say yes to Cuddy's gift, and I get laid."
"A truly masterful solution," Wilson said. "Especially the part about you getting laid."
"Hey, that's the kind of friend I am," House said.
"I've got an idea," Cuddy said in a pseudo-sweet tone. "Why don't you just tattoo 'Property of Gregory House' on Wilson's forehead?"
"And ruin this pretty face?" House said. He grabbed Wilson's jaw and squeezed his mouth into an exaggerated pout. Wilson pushed him away again. "Besides, the shock value would be much higher if I tattooed it on his ass."
"Nobody's tattooing anything anywhere," Wilson said. He gave House a dirty look as he rubbed his cheek.
"Just a little one," House said.
"No, none." Wilson was adamant.
"Just a little G.H. plus J.W. Maybe a little heart?" House teased.
"Only if you get a matching one, and in a location of my choosing."
"Why didn't you just tell me you're gay?" Cuddy said. House and Wilson looked at her with matching expressions of shock: eyes wide and mouths hanging open. "I could've saved myself a lot of time and trouble if I'd known."
"Me?" House and Wilson asked in unison.
"Yes, you. Both of you. One of you." Cuddy threw up her hands in frustration. "Now I have to find another date for Marcy."
House turned to Wilson with a bemused expression as Cuddy stomped away.
"I'm gay?" he asked. "How could I not know that?"
"Oh, I don't know. There's the last five years wallowing in self pity, the five years before that trying to prove you had the balls to take on Stacy. Not to mention a lifetime of borderline anti-social personality disorder." Wilson shrugged. "You've been busy. It could've slipped your mind."
"I think being gay would be hard to overlook." House waited for a break in the foot traffic. As it turned out it was more a question of creating a break in the foot traffic but House wasn't going to quibble over details. He simply forged ahead, innocent bystanders be damned.
"You're not a man given much to introspection and self awareness," Wilson observed. He drifted along in House's wake, mumbling apologies to those who hadn't been nimble enough to avoid the cane.
"And you are?"
"God, no," Wilson said. "Why would I want to get to know the real me? What if he's a jerk?"
"Could be a problem," House agreed. He nudged Wilson toward the hall that led to their offices. "On the other hand, you could blame him every time you drank milk straight from the carton or left the toilet seat up."
"Wonder if I could get him to write the alimony checks, too," Wilson said ruefully.
"He's probably not dumb enough to get married three times." House got a thoughtful look on his face. "He could be my new best friend."
"What if he's gay?" Wilson asked.
"That would make the whole toilet seat issue moot," House said.
"A definite point in his favor," Wilson agreed.
"Hey, don't let Cuddy rattle you," House said, grabbing the handle to his office door. "If I didn't notice the gay thing, and you didn't notice the gay thing...."
"Actually, I noticed the gay thing."
"You're gay and you didn't tell me?" House asked with genuine surprise.
"That's not what I said," Wilson said. "I meant that I noticed that you're gay."
House was left standing frozen in place as Wilson walked away.
"You look lost in thought," Foreman said. He'd been standing in the office for several minutes, observing House. House blinked a couple of times before he finally focused on Foreman.
"I was just pondering the immense capacity of the human race to deceive itself."
"A corollary to the First Law of House: everyone lies...to themselves." Foreman set his mug on the corner of House's desk. "What lie is humanity telling itself today?"
"Do you think it's actually possible for a person to be so ignorant of themselves as to misinterpret, or just flat out miss, something as fundamental as sexual orientation?"
"I get it now," Foreman said, nodding. He sat down across the desk from House. "Cameron."
"Cameron?" House repeated in surprise. He'd been talking about himself, but this could be interesting. Sure had to be more fun than trying to figure out how he and Wilson had ended up gay without any warning.
"You should know Cameron well enough by now to know where her head is at," Foreman said.
"Assume I have no idea where Cameron's head is at."
"She set her sights on you practically the moment she walked through that door," Foreman said, nodding at the conference room. "We're talking tunnel of love vision here. By the time she got a clue about you and Wilson she'd already decided to stake her claim. Gay didn't fit in her little fantasy."
"You're assuming that Wilson and I are, in fact, gay."
"Come on, subtle you are not," Foreman said, laughing. His chuckling trailed off when he saw House's expectant expression. "Okay, admittedly Wilson's not so obvious. He has been married."
"Three times," House pointed out.
"I didn't say he was good at it."
"And I've been a relationship, too."
"With a female version of yourself," Foreman said. "That's not love, that's narcissism."
"Technically, that would make it self love."
"A subject I'm sure you're familiar with," Foreman agreed.
"Hey, at least I know where I've been," House said. "And none of this answers the question: what makes you think we're gay?"
"Because you don't function without Wilson."
"That is such a load of crap," House said.
"No, it's not," Foreman said, undaunted by House's skepticism. "You need Wilson like you need vicodin."
"You've been watching Dr. Phil again," House said. He started looking for a patient file. Any file. Any patient. It didn't matter as long as it made him look busy and made Foreman go away.
"And you don't want to admit that you love Wilson."
"I have no problem admitting that. He's my best friend." House gave up looking. Despite all the sick people loitering around the halls he didn't have a single file on his desk. He grabbed a copy of the departmental meeting minutes instead. The fact that he had a copy of the minutes came as something of a revelation, because he wasn't aware that they'd had any departmental meetings.
"He's your only friend."
"All the more reason to love him," House said. "That doesn't mean we're having a romantic or sexual relationship."
"Okay, if that's the way you want to play it," Foreman said good-naturedly.
"I'm not playing anything. It's the truth."
"Everybody lies," Foreman said. He got up and grabbed his coffee mug. "I understand, believe me. I meanwho needs the hassle, right? But don't think you're kidding anyone."
"You know, Cuddy is never going to buy this as a consult," Wilson said as he joined House on the balcony.
"Oh, but it is a consult," House said. He leaned forward in one of the folding chairs he and Wilson had smuggled in several weeks ago. House had really wanted a hammock, but he hadn't been able to con the maintenance guys into installing the necessary hardware. Turned out the maintenance guys were more afraid of Cuddy than of House. He was a little insulted.
"I happen to know you don't have any patients at the moment," Wilson said.
"Patientspffft. I've got bigger concerns." House waved at the area between their office doors. "What do you think about putting the hot tub there?"
"Because no one would notice a hot tub on the balcony outside your office," Wilson said.
"Not if we keep the blinds in the conference room closed." House leaned back. "I'm thinking one of those tabletop grills, too. And a keg. Gotta have a keg."
"Hire a couple of hookers and it's the perfect evening," Wilson said dryly. He leaned back against the balcony wall next to House.
"I think we can dispense with the heterosexual smokescreen now," House said.
"The gay thing."
"You're admitting to the gay thing?" Wilson asked with an expression of mild surprise.
"I guess so," House said. "Everyone says I am, and they can't all be wrong, can they?"
"Generally you work on the assumption that they are all wrong," Wilson said. "Besides, Cuddy isn't everyone."
"Foreman was pretty definite, too. Cameron, evidently, is in deep denial."
"She would be."
"Although, that's sort of a confirmation," House continued. "You can't be in denial if there's nothing to deny."
"What about Chase?"
"You could try making a pass at him," Wilson said. "My guess is they'll hear the panicked squeal all the way to Tasmania."
House got up from the chair and stood facing Wilson. "You knew."
"Yeah, well...long term exposure," Wilson said. "Even you can't hide something like that forever."
House leaned forward just as Wilson straightened up. He grabbed Wilson by the lapel of his lab coat and kissed him. Hard. For a moment, a mere few seconds, he felt Wilson relax into him. Then Wilson tensed and pushed away. He took a step backwards, bumping into the wall, and stared at House.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Someone had to go first. I figured it might as well be me."
"You're confused," Wilson said.
"You're curious," House said.
"Then why are your cheeks flushed and your pupils dilated?"
"I'm angry," Wilson insisted.
"Because I went first?"
"Look, I know you and the word no are not exactly on speaking terms, but no." Wilson started to step to the side and House grabbed him by the lapel again. Wilson grabbed his wrist and they froze, staring at each other.
"I can understand if you're having a hard time with this," House began.
"I'm not having a hard time with anything except your ego," Wilson said. He peeled House's fingers from his coat. "I'm glad you've developed a greater understanding of yourself. I'm glad you're able to embrace this new aspect of your sexuality. But I don't know how to say this any other way except I'm not interested."
"No?" House asked. He was confused. A moment ago it had seemed so obvious. If House was gay, then Wilson must be gay. Except that apparently he wasn't. He gave himself a hard shake. He couldn't be wrong. "You're the one who noticed I was gay in the first place."
"And whatit takes one to know one?" Wilson shot back.
"Sorry, House, but I noticed that the same way I noticed that you're a selfish, sarcastic and very deliberate bastard," Wilson said. "It's there for anyone who cares to look."
"So why were you looking?" House asked, certain that he'd caught Wilson with his own words.
"I wasn't looking for that specifically. I just noticed it when I was looking for other things." Wilson's voice was kind, even sympathetic. House suddenly knew how it felt to be one of his cancer patients. "Sorry, but that's just not the way things are."
"It's almost happy hour," House said, which was not as much of a non sequitur as it seemed. He needed a more appropriate ambiance for this conversation. He needed to get Wilson loosened up and out of that damn tie.
"So let's go get happy," House said. He started toward the door.
"For a guy who's been married three times you sure say no a lot."
"I don't think it's a good idea for us to socialize tonight," Wilson said.
"It's Friday. We always hang out on Friday night."
"Used to be we were both straight on Friday night."
"You won't hang out with me if I'm gay?"
"I think you need to deal with some things first," Wilson said.
"And you're going to make me do it alone?" House asked. Wilson gave a helpless shrug, and he still wasn't making a move to follow House. "Either you go with me or I'll ask Cameron."
"That's a terrible thing to do to her."
"Hey, just because I've discovered alternative path to sex, doesn't mean I stopped liking women," House said. Wilson's expression turned cold. Cold wasn't what House was after. He wanted heat.
"I'm going to ask Cameron."
"Good. Fine. Go."
"I mean it," House said.
"I'm not stopping you," Wilson said. He leaned against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.
"You'll be sorry," House taunted as he grabbed the door handle.
"I'll be at home eating cold pizza and cheating on the crossword puzzle," Wilson said. He actually sounded like he was looking forward to the evening. "However, it's entirely likely that Cameron will be sorry."
House refused to dignify that with a response.
"So why aren't you with Wilson tonight?" Cuddy asked. She grabbed a handful of beer nuts and began tossing them in her mouth one by one. House slid deeper into the booth, deeper into the shadows.
The bar was poorly lit to begin with, but he didn't want to take the chance that someone would see him. If it ever got out that he socialized with Cuddy, his reputation would be damaged. Not as badly as Cuddy's would, but he had more time and energy invested in his.
"He had other plans," House said.
"Hard to believe, I know. How could anything be better than beer and peanuts with me?"
"Can't imagine," Cuddy said dryly.
"Hey, you're here with me." House slid the bowl of peanuts to his side of the table. "And rightly so, since you're the reason Wilson stood me up."
"Me?" Cuddy asked, reaching for the peanuts. House wrapped his arm around the bowl and bared his teeth at her. "What did I do?"
"The gay thing?" House said pointedly. "Were you just messing with our minds? Or do you really believe that, and you were messing with our minds?"
"I don't mess with Wilson's mind," Cuddy said. Her mouth made a guilty little twist when House stared at her. "But in this case I couldn't mess with your mind without messing with his."
"You think I'm gay?"
"I don't think you're gay. I think it's possible." Cuddy tossed a nut at House. "Come on, you live for defying social norms. Someone says you shouldn't do something and that's the first thing you do."
"Do you really think I'd get horizontal with Wilson just to thumb my nose at society?"
"I'm not saying you'd sleep with him just to prove a point," Cuddy admitted. "I'm saying that he's one of the few people you genuinely care about, and I know you don't give a damn about what anyone else thinks."
"I kissed him."
"Wilson?" Cuddy asked, her eyes widening. House scowled at her.
"And how did that go?"
"I'm spending my Friday night with you," House said. Clearly his seduction technique needed improving. Or at the very least some Wilson-specific modifications.
"Okay," Cuddy said. "So Wilson's not interested."
"He's interested," House said. "He says he's not, but he is."
"If he says he's not...."
"And you know this because?"
"Because he kissed me back," House said. He smiled, certain of the truth of his analysis. Wilson was gay. Now House had to figure out what to do about it. Cuddy stole the bowl of peanuts back while House was distracted.
"Maybe he'd respond to anyone who kissed him."
"He's not that desperate."
"Maybe he's attracted to you, but he isn't interested in a relationship," Cuddy said.
"He wants me."
"He says he doesn't."
"It's not what he says, it's the way he kisses," House said.
"I really admire your ability to completely disregard any fact that doesn't fit with your version of reality," Cuddy said sarcastically.
"He's gay, he's interested. I just have to figure out why he'd say he isn't," House said.
"You're not going to leave this alone, are you?" Cuddy asked with a weary sort of acceptance.
"Give me one good reason why I should."
"Because Wilson said no?" Cuddy suggested.
"He didn't mean it," House said. "Although he probably has a few valid reasons to say no."
"Only a few?" Cuddy asked. She knocked back the rest of her whiskey sour. "You use people, House. It's not always malicious, or even intentional, but you do use people."
"Maybe I wouldn't use Wilson," House countered.
"You already have used Wilson," Cuddy said. "Maybe Wilson needs to know this isn't just one more way you can screw him over."
House marched directly into Wilson's office and slammed his pill bottle down on the desk. Wilson raised his head just far enough to see the bottle, then, intrigued, he raised his eyes to meet House's.
"It's all about trust, right?" House said.
Wilson picked up the bottle and rolled it in his fingers. "Trust?"
"I want to take a chance on this," House said. "Admittedly, the odds of either of us having a successful long term relationship are not good. The odds of us having a successful long term relationship with each other are so small as to be invisible to the naked eye."
"Exactly," Wilson agreed. "So why risk it?"
"Because the odds could be wrong. Because whatever we get out of this might be worth the inevitable pain," House said. "Because the sex could be unbelievably good."
"Good enough you're willing to trust me with this?" Wilson asked, shaking the pills.
"It's mostly a symbolic gesture," House said. He watched as Wilson wrapped his hand firmly around the bottle. "At least, I hope it's mostly symbolic."
"And if I told you I'm not interested in symbolic gestures?" House noted Wilson's resolute expression and started praying that Wilson knew his pill schedule. Not the schedule printed on the bottle, House had always considered that as more of a suggestion than a directive. That schedule was for the faint of heart, the weak of knee; it was for wimps.
House peered at Wilson, but his expression hadn't changed in the intervening seconds. His 'symbolic' gesture was an empty gesture if he wasn't willing to back it up, and Wilson was calling him on it. It was put up or shut up time.
House sighed. "Then I guess I'd better make sure you're never more than a scream away."
Wilson stared at House for a moment, then held out the bottle. House stuck his free hand deep in his pocket so he wouldn't give in to the overwhelming need to reclaim his pills.
"Go ahead," Wilson said. He shook the pills at House again. "Don't worry. I'll have sex with you. Hell, if it's as good as you say it'll be, I might even have a relationship with you."
"Actually, I didn't make any promises," House interrupted.
"Whatever," Wilson said. "I don't need a hostage."
"You sure?" House asked even as he reached for the pills.
"Not really." Wilson dropped the bottle in House's outstretched hand. "But it's all about trust, right?"
"You know, the first time was kind of cute. Even the second time was strangely endearing, but now it's just nauseating."
"No one asked you to watch," House said. Ambushing Wilson on the balcony, stealing kisses, was just about the best idea House had ever had. Even if Wilson wasn't really all that resistant, or even surprised, any more. Unfortunately, Cuddy's voice had a cold shower effect on Wilson's libido that even the promise of balcony sex couldn't overcome.
House released his grip on Wilson with regret, and aimed a glare over his shoulder at Cuddy. She was standing in the open door to House's office, glaring back.
"I can't avoid watching," Cuddy complained. "You're doing it at work."
"Actually, we haven't 'done it' at work," House said.
"Though not for lack of trying on House's part," Wilson said. He took a step away from House and straightened his tie.
"I don't want to know," Cuddy said emphatically.
"I never would've thought that under that exposed bosom beat the heart of a prude," House said.
"I don't care what you do on your own time. But when you're on my time, you work. You, House, are supposed to be in clinic as of twenty minutes ago." Cuddy turned to leave, then paused to stare at a chalk outline on the floor. "And what is this?"
"Nothing," Wilson said immediately.
"Hot tub," House said.
"Hot tub?" Cuddy said, turning on House with an incredulous stare.
"Two-man hot tub to be precise," House said. Cuddy's eyes grew wider. "Two man and one woman hot tub?"
"Not in this lifetime," Cuddy said. She was indignation personified as she pushed through the door. House wasn't fooled for a second.
"You really shouldn't provoke her so much," Wilson said.
"But it's fun. Besides, if she thinks we're trying to put the hot tub here, she won't be looking for it on the roof."
"The roof? You can't put a hot tub on the roof."
"Well, for starters that's where Air Care lands," Wilson said.
"Details," House said. He pushed Wilson back against the balcony wall and resumed what he'd been doing before the Wicked Witch of Princeton so rudely interrupted them. Unfortunately, he hadn't even gotten Wilson back to the "who am I and why haven't I stripped naked for House's viewing pleasure" stage before the sound of a throat clearing interrupted them again.
"For god's sake, I told you if you didn't want to see, you shouldn't watch," House snapped.
"Er...House?" Wilson said. House followed Wilson's gaze. Chase was handing Foreman a roll of bills, a sour expression on his face. Foreman pocketed the money, smiling. Cameron looked at House with regret.
"You could've just told us right from the start," Cameron said.
"We didn't know," Wilson said. Foreman grinned even more broadly and turned to Cameron with his hand out. Cameron gritted her teeth and pulled a couple of bills from her pocket. Foreman added them to the stack he'd collected from Chase.
"You cheated," House said, shaking a finger at Foreman.
"Nope, we made these bets long before you and I talked the other day," Foreman said. He counted out the bills again, just to be annoying.
"You really have known all along?" House asked.
"I didn't know, but I sure as hell wasn't going to bet against the possibility."
"Go away," House said. All three stood and stared. House rolled his eyes. "Seriously. Unless you've got a bet going on who tops, you want to be leaving."
"Actually...," Chase began.
"Going now," Cameron announced loudly. She shoved both Chase and Foreman toward the door.
"That would be me, by the way," House called after them. He turned his head at the soft snort of amusement beside him. "What are you laughing at?"
"Not laughing," Wilson said with a bemused expression. "I was just thinking that Foreman and I had the same approach to this gay thing."
"I know I'm going to regret this but...how so?"
"I didn't know either," Wilson said. He leaned into House and smiled. "But I sure as hell wasn't going to bet against the possibility."
This story was added on 30 NOV 2005