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22 May 2010 @ 03:56 am
Coming Home  
Title: Coming Home
Author: taer_sagheer
Rating: T
Words: 2654
Disc.: Uncreative explanation of how I don't own any of the characters, yada yada.
Summary:  “Well," House says, shifting his weight to his good leg. "This is turning out to be an awkward reunion."
// My take on what we didn't see immediately following House's release. Posted to: [info]house_wilson
ATTENTION: if you're having trouble reading, you might want to CTRL+. Mac users hit command+ to enlarge font.



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

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

“House!” Wilson blurts out, blinking rapidly.

So much for a warm welcome home.

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

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

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

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

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

“No, I mean—why aren’t you…”

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

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

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

 “What?” Wilson’s head shoots up.

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

“You didn’t really, did you?”

“Relax."  While it would be hilarious to have Wilson under the impression that he did in fact escape, he doesn’t want to risk the police showing up  later, stuffing him in the back of a squad car with intentions of readmitting him. “I was just released. I came for my keys.”

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

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

From what he can see the front room is of decent size. The furniture isn't horrible but it's nothing he's contemplating on stealing, either. He has a sinking suspicion not even the smallest thing has been moved a fraction of an inch since Amber's death. The curtains are drawn shut; the television is off. The room is depressingly dim. On the coffee table is a half-folded crossword puzzle and a mug of something that looks suspiciously like coffee. House frowns. There are no other signs of Wilson in the room. This bothers him.

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

House shrugs. “Took the bus.”

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

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

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

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

“Yep.”

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

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

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

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

"I know."

"Well, what do you need mine for?"

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

"Dare I ask again: why?"

 "Because you're gonna give me a ride home."
 * * *
 
They exchange awkward small talk, mostly initiated by Wilson, and House can't help but wonder if Wilson is making up for lost time, or if he's trying to hide something. Or avoid something.

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

Wilson seems to sense the building tension.

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

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

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

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

“House…”

House takes this opportunity to turn to him.

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

“Okay,” he says plainly.

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

Wilson continues driving.
 * * *

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

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

"What?" Wilson asks.

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

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

Wilson snorts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sure," he says.

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

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

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

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

House pauses. The muscles in his thigh spasm slightly. He frowns, trying to focus on what Wilson says next.

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

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

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

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

"What did you do to his face?"

"Let's just say it wasn't pretty."

They exchange smirks, and House fills him in on how he thought Nolan was seeing a mystery woman, and how Alvie willingly sacrificed his face so House could cheek the Haldol and trade them for phone privileges. Phone privileges that were wasted because Nolan had warned Wilson that House would be eventually call and ask him for something, and that if he truly cared about him, and wanted him to get better, he'd hang up.

He winces, trying to push the awkwardness away. That was Mayfield. This is not. Out here, he and Wilson are equals. Well, almost. It feels like just yesterday that he arrived at that hellhole, with a sour attitude and content to leave after the dryheaves left.

He frowns, suddenly thinking of Alvie, wondering if his new roommate is asking for a room transfer already.

He sighs as the conversation slows, and lumbers to his feet, grabbing his cane.

"Where're you going?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

On his way back to the front room, he pauses to investigate his closet. Nothing. He's taken far too much time, and decides to only check one more hiding spot before heading back. Bingo. He wraps his fingers around the pill bottle tightly, swallowing thickly as he brings it up and rattles it, watching a handful of little white pills dance around. It feels strange to flex his arm, consciously aware that he cannot pop the top off and toss back two, or three, or six.

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

  * * *

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

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

"Thanks," he says under his breath.

Wilson looks at him, confused. "Huh?"

House shoots him an icy glare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Wilson," House warns.

"House—"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I wanted to."

"But you didn't."

"I was going to," House admits sullenly.

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

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

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

He suddenly realizes how quiet it is.

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

It's going to be a long night.

 
 
 
 
rivercrossing2rivercrossing2 on May 23rd, 2010 03:08 am (UTC)
Oh, this is beautiful...so much love, it's hard to express it in words (and I'm a writer!)! *mems* So many brilliant lines, but I love this one in particular as it sums up their friendship nicely, from House's POV: "He feels as though their entire friendship has just been one long meal, but isn't sure where else to go from here."

You are an incredibly talented writer and I don't say that to just anyone. This is as about as good as a House/Wilson friendship fic gets.

*friends*

*mems*

& *hugs you*

Thank you *so* much for posting!! It was an incredibly satisfying read, and that's rare in House fandom. :)

PS: Just a friendly suggestion: you might want to change the size of the font; it might make people want to read it more, and it will be easier on the eyes.

~Sara (rivercrossing2)

Edited at 2010-05-23 03:09 am (UTC)
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 03:14 am (UTC)
Thanks, Sara, it's always nice to hear from you. Sorry I haven't been keeping in contact. I spent a while moving my fics from my old journal to here, which took up a lot of time, plus I'm sure you've been busy.

Also, I've edited the font a bit. I was going for something clean looking, I totally forgot that some people might not be able to read it very well. How's it look now?
rivercrossing2rivercrossing2 on May 23rd, 2010 03:16 am (UTC)
Hey! Thought I recognized you; was surprised I hadn't friended you already...now it all makes sense! :P Yeah I have been pretty busy, what with finishing up my second year of Grad school (Education is my field of choice, studying to teach) and finding a boyfriend (his name is Tim).

Erm...not to be a pain in the you-know-what, but...now it's a bit too big. *ducks and hides*

PS: Your new journal looks lovely! And it's great to hear from you again. :)

Edited at 2010-05-23 03:18 am (UTC)
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 03:19 am (UTC)
Yeah, I guess I'm pretty recognizable. I didn't tell anyone about this journal, so don't take it personally. I was going to wait until I had everything stored and organized.

Hmm, about the font. I think that's as big as it goes.

*shakes fist* You pain! Just kidding. Well, I guess I can throw up a warning to ctrl+ if it's too small.
rivercrossing2rivercrossing2 on May 23rd, 2010 03:22 am (UTC)
It's too bad it's not the size of the comments' text, bcause that would be just right...perhaps try a fancy text in the small font? Sorry don't want to mess it up with my suggestions!

And LOL you're funny. :)

PS: Did you ever tell me what your first name was? If you don't feel like it that's fine but I like to know peoples' real names. It makes talking through the computer easier. (Again though I totally understand if you'd rather not the internet can be a scary place.)

Oh, and Dude, you write House and Wilson totally in character---which is no easy feat! <3 <3 <3

Edited at 2010-05-23 03:23 am (UTC)
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
I've been tinkering with the CSS for my journal and 2 other communities all week. I think my brain's broken. I'm sure I could go into the codes and change the font, but that would take soooo much time and I'm sooo lazy. People'll have to deal. CTRL+ works wonders.

Yup, I did, it's Yasi, remember? :]
rivercrossing2rivercrossing2 on May 23rd, 2010 03:33 am (UTC)
Oh Yasi, hey! :D *claps* I knew I recognized your talent! :) I'll get on AIM in a sec, but I can't stay on for too long.
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
You should log on AIM. I'm gunna be fixing font codes and adding warnings in all night, lol.
barefootpuddlesbarefootpuddles on May 23rd, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
Lovely! I enjoyed your different take on the situation. You could feel the internal fight House was having with himself as he decided to trust Wilson and reconnect with him. I love descriptive fics that make you feel like you are seeing what is happening.

One question - did you mean to put Wilson in a hotel on purpose and remove the fact that he was in Amber's apartment at the time? If so, may I ask why?
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 03:51 am (UTC)
You're the first person that's pointed this out to me, and I'm incredibly glad you did, because I didn't realize how bad I flubbed up on that.

The simple answer: because I completely forgot. That's what I get for working on a handful of fics all on a different timeline. *appropriate facepalm*

Hm. Maybe I'll go change that later on. Either way, THANK YOU for pointing it out!
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm changing that right now. It's bugging me too much. *frowns* It's also on FFN. Crap.

Thank you so much for pointing this out. I feel like such a doofus.
Stacey: House/Cuddyivory303 on May 23rd, 2010 07:04 am (UTC)
I really liked this - it feels so genuine of both their characters. You've really captured all the little quirks of their relationship that make it what it is.
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 07:29 am (UTC)
I'm glad it still reads well, even after I had to go in and edit a few mistakes out. :] Thanks for reading! Glad you liked it.
A. M. R.: HMD | H/W | Deer Friendindigo_inferno on May 23rd, 2010 09:41 am (UTC)
This is really lovely. At the time I really wanted to see how House and Wilson first met after Mayfield and was so annoyed when they didn't show us.

Thank you for this. <3
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
Right?! I was so annoyed we didn't see a reunion episode. I almost couldn't believe they'd skipped something so important to the Wilson/House dynamic, ESPECIALLY after Wilson hung up on him, and you don't see or hear mention of Wilson even visiting him. (Actually we do hear mention of it when they're on the phone, but it doesn't look as though it happens.)

It was just kinda like...what? Awesome dramatic scene for nothing?
A. M. R.: HMD | H/W | The Lookindigo_inferno on May 23rd, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC)
I know right? Exactly what I thought! Then again, I know they can't show us absolutely everything. But ... dang it would have been sweet! <3

I always thought Wilson would do an Alvie and throw himself at House ... {siiigh}
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC)
True. But in the spirit of “not being able to show us everything” I seriously think they should have re-introduced the Huddy thing earlier. They shouldn’t have spent the first few seasons focused on House’s pain so much, done Mayfield sooner, and definitely started the Huddy thing earlier if they wanted it to be received better. That’s just my two cents, anyway. I felt like they expected fans to remember all the random bits of Huddy that were building in the earlier seasons, and then just randomly dropped a bomb in the 6th season. Also, Alvie should’ve stayed. That makes me angry. >:[


/me dictating what TV should should and should not do, lol.
A. M. R.indigo_inferno on May 23rd, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
Oh feel free to rant as much as you like, I couldn't agree more. I think the non serious watchers must be a bit confused where the sudden Huddy is coming from. Seeing as both Cuddy and House had sortof accepted that yeah, as much as they are attracted to each other, they would have a hard time working out. So .. I dunno. Why now. Why that. Ugh. Unbelievable... :(
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC)
Well, like I've been saying- they've still got a whole other season to either end the Huddy thing, or to make it more believable.

Side note: am I the only one who felt that Amber was totally Wilson's one and only match?

A. M. R.: HMD gif | Houseboardingindigo_inferno on May 23rd, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
Yiip, another season to either torture us or make us happy, whoooppie! :D

And. No I don't believe you are the only one reg. Wilson and Amber. But I can't agree on that one. Amber was cool enough but not one of my faves to be honest. I do get her importance as a character though, sometimes I really hate her for it, too. Then I was shocked when she died. And then I was even happy when we saw her again, even if she was only a hallucination lol. Well. No, haven't quite made up my mind about her yet. I do agree, so many do, that she was a House proxy though. For that alone I gotta lover her. :D
(Deleted comment)
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
Hello, and thank you! I love awkwardness and I love humor- and I really love to combine them both, so I'm glad everything stood out on it's own and then (hopefully) kind of blended together without looking too forced/rushed.

As for Mac users... pfft. They're on their own. I am so not going back in to edit all of those probably unnecessary in the first place "ATTENTION"'s. :P

Thanks for reading !
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
... and because I'm extremely OCD I'm going to go add in that Mac users note. Damn. *shakes fist*
(Deleted comment)
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
No! Don't be sorry! It's making me be active and not lazy xD
Gracegraceasaur on May 23rd, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed your take on this, and the last 3 sentences are great. ^-^
knitty_womanknitty_woman on May 23rd, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
This was beautiful and really moving. Very realistic. It really captures House's ambivalence about his experience - his grudging appreciation for Wilson's concern warring with his paranoia and desire for independence.
taer_sagheertaer_sagheer on May 23rd, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
It really makes me happy to hear that you guys are understanding the deeper theme under this. Not that it’s hard to figure out or anything, but my mind works in… strange ways, and sometimes it’s hard to decipher the meaning behind things.

Anyway, glad you enjoyed the story :]
arhh: House Looking Back at Wilsonarhh on May 23rd, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
Beautiful and so them. I love how Wilson left that one stash on purpose. Great job, thanks for sharing :)
sara_tsuzukisara_tsuzuki on May 23rd, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
Great!!! Wilson's voice -and House's, of course- is so in character!!!!!!
Rainbow Tits Mcgeemisdreya on May 24th, 2010 05:00 am (UTC)
Wow, I can't believe I didn't actually comment on this yet. You know how much I love your stuff though, I'll forever to jealous of your H/W skills. (And your Halvie friendshipper skills, for that matter!)

It was a treat to read during it's conception, and it was a treat to read again. ^_^ In fact, I think I'll just mem this so I can read it later on again.

<3
spotandpunkspotandpunk on May 28th, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC)
Very nice! I really wasn't sure what you had planned for House and the pills so I was holding my breath! I loved the ending and your H/W dialogue is really tight, well done!