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Air Conditioner

Chapter Text

Foreman sighed, standing in front of the door to House's apartment.

Dammit.

This was stupid.

Why was he encouraging House with the notion that he would be at the older doctor's beck and call just because he could barely stand up?

Oh.

Right.

Because he had said he would be, at least within reason.

He sighed, pulled out the key House had given him, and unlocked the door.

House was sprawled out on the couch, wearing only a pair of boxers, a fan blowing over his sweaty chest.

Foreman had seen his scar before, so it wasn't a big deal, and he personally had no objections to seeing House mostly naked. Or completely naked, if it came to that.

"Dude. Brain-damaged cripple dying of heat exhaustion here. What took you so long?"

"Nothing, I just wanted you to suffer."

House snorted.

He really did look miserable though.

"Where is it?"

House jerked his thumb towards the closet.

The first real heat wave of the summer, and House needed help with his air conditioner.

Foreman grunted, lifting it.

"Damn, how old is this thing?"

"Like ten years. Still works though."

Foreman grunted again, setting it down and opening the window House had indicated.

It slammed shut as soon as he let go.

He sighed, looking at House, who shrugged.

"The rope holding the weight rotted. I've been meaning to fish it out with a magnet, but you have to take the whole window apart to do that."

Foreman shook his head, looking around.

He couldn't see anything the right height to prop the sash open.

"Gimme a hand with the window?" he asked, uncertain.

House considered for a moment, then slowly started working his way to his feet, grabbing one of the elbow crutches resting beside on the floor beside the couch, and staggering his way over to the younger doctor.

Stupid brain damage.

Stupid bus crash.

He leaned heavily against the wall, holding the window open with his free hand as he untangled himself from the crutch so he could hold it with both.

Foreman got the metal case out of the closet, screwed it into the window.

Then he picked up the actual unit, shoving it in.

It slipped, he fell, and it landed on top of him.

When he regained awareness of the world beyond the pain, House was leaning over him, skillful right hand and unhelpful left carefully checking his ribs for breaks.

He pushed House off, shaking his head.

House sighed, sitting back on his heels.

"Moron."

Foreman rolled his eyes, climbing painfully to his feet.

He leaned against the wall, holding his side.

House looked around, reached for the crutch, fell over onto his back.

Foreman watched him, frowning.

"House?"

House looked at him.

"Can you get up?"

House shrugged.

"Ok."

House struggled upwards, breathing heavily.

He fell again, grunting.

Foreman sighed painfully, walking over and extending his hand downwards.

House gripped it, dragging himself upwa--Foreman fell on top of him with a loud yell of pain.

House grunted again, trying to shove him off with limited success--his good arm was trapped beneath the younger doctor.

After a while Foreman seemed to come around again, groaning quietly.

"Hit your head?"

"Yeah," he mumbled, still disoriented, "but I just got a little stunned."

"Good. Now get the hell off me."

Foreman looked down at him.

House looked up at him.

They both snorted.

"We're pathetic."

"You're pathetic. I'm brain-damaged and crippled. You're just a clumsy moron."

"You're the one whose air conditioner is impossible to lift."

"I managed it just fine for the last seven years, and I only had one good leg."

Foreman looked at him, blinking.

"How did you do that?" he asked, genuinely curious, "you couldn't have walked with it...."

House shrugged underneath him.

"There's a folding wheelchair in my closet. Lifted it onto that, pushed it over, lifted it into the window. The frame held the window sash open."

"That's... why didn't you just ask Wilson?"

A long silence, House had his eyes closed.

"I asked him to do it the first summer after my infarction."

Foreman blinked. House usually called it the infarction. My infarction sounded somehow more personal.

"What happened?"

"He put it in."

Foreman blinked down at him.

"Isn't that what you wanted him to do?"

"Yes and no. I wanted the air conditioner in the window, but I didn't want him to put it in. I wanted him to help me carry it over, but he just assumed.... whatever. That was like eight years ago."

"Oh."

A long silence.

"You gonna get off me? You're kinda making me hot."

Foreman looked at him.

House rolled his eyes.

"It's like a hundred degrees in here, and you're a big heavy heating blanket."

"Oh."

Foreman scooted off him, sitting up with a wince.

House sat up with some difficulty, looking around the room.

"Can you bring that bench over?"

Foreman nodded, dragging the piano bench over next to House.

The older doctor lifted his bad arm with his right hand, dropped it over the padded seat, held on to the rim around the bottom with his other hand, and heaved.

Ten seconds later, he slid back onto the floor with a grunt.

Foreman was standing over him, holding his side and looking amused.

"You didn't grab me."

Foreman looked at him, "what?"

"When I was sliding off, you didn't grab me and keep me on."

"Why would I have?"

"Because that's what people always do. Gotta help the poor cripple."

"Dude, I don't wanna touch your sweaty ass."

"Didn't have a problem with lying on top of me."

"I was getting my breath back!" said Foreman defensively.

House snorted, rolling onto his stomach to repeat the process of pulling himself up onto the bench.

"Do you want me to catch you?"

House looked at him, expression thoughtful.

"Maybe."

"Why?"

House shrugged, then lifted his arm again.

"You were smirking."

"Huh?"

"When I slid off, you were smirking. You thought it was funny."

"Don't tell me you're offended. I won't believe you."

"Exactly. You thought it was funny, you don't feel bad about that, you don't feel you have to defend the fact you thought it was funny. It was funny. It was also a brain-damaged cripple falling off a bench while trying desperately to get up."

"Sooo.... you don't mind me helping you because I don't wanna help you?"

"Yes."

Foreman looked at him.

"I've been spending way too much time around you. That actually made sense."

House snorted, heaving himself upwards.

He started to slide off again, Foreman grabbed him around the stomach and heaved him up, so he was lying across the bench.

Foreman also happened to have lost his balance, so he was lying on top of the older doctor--again.

The room was silent for a while, while they both caught their breath.

"You're doing that on purpose," accused House.

Another while of silence.

"What if I am?" asked Foreman, smirking.

A second later, he was landing hard on the floor of House's apartment, blinking, House having elbowed him hard in the shoulder, shoving him off.

"What? It was a joke."

"Why did you say it?"

"It was a joke."

"Freud would say--"

"Screw Freud, you hate psychology. You're just horny."

House, still lying across the bench, smirked.

"What if I am?"

Foreman blinked.

Then he smirked as well.

"Get your ass up, and we'll go from there."

House looked at him over his shoulder.

"Seriously?" asked House, the funny look that meant he wasn't completely sure what was going on firmly planted on his face.

"Dude, you have any idea how long it's been since I got any?"

"Yes," replied House, laughing.

Foreman snorted, watching House work his way towards standing.

Eventually he made it, and Foreman ducked under his bad arm, holding him up as he got situated with the crutches. That was ok to do without discussion; House just plain had too much trouble with that step to be annoyed.

Ten minutes later they were on House's bed, Foreman watching House struggle with the buttons on the younger doctor's shirt.

He seemed to be determined to undo them himself.

"Screw that," House muttered, going for Foreman's mouth instead, which needed no removal of clothing to get to.

The phone rang.

House grunted, tried to grab it with his bad arm, failed completely, and dropped his head on Foreman's chest in frustration.

Foreman went to pick it up, accidentally hit the speakerphone.

"House? This is Wilson."

....

"House?"

House froze.

"Yeah, I'm here," he said, voice low and slightly hollow.

"I started your patent on chemo."

House swallowed.

"Yeah. Thanks. Good."

Foreman tentatively touched his cheek, he slapped the hand away.

"Right. Um... bye, I guess."

"Yeah," said House, voice cracking, "bye."

A click from the other end.

The room was silent for a while, House looking at the phone.

Then he turned back to Foreman.

Foreman shrugged, waiting for him to make a decision.

It came in the form of House grabbing the two sides of Foreman's collar and yanking them apart, buttons or no buttons.

The next hour or so was spent in a desperate struggle for both parties to get the most pleasure possible for themselves, House paying no attention to Foreman's bruised ribs.


Foreman sighed, lying next to House on the bed.

House was still panting.

"Dude, you are so out of shape."

House looked at him.

"You're not."

Foreman blinked.

He had expected House to respond with something along the lines of, "brain-damaged cripple here," but he hadn't. He had actually said something vaguely resembling a complement.

"Since when do you say stuff like that?"

"Since I just had sex."

Foreman laughed.

"Want a beer?"

Foreman looked at him.

House was... there was no other word for it... smiling.

Not grinning, not smirking, smiling.

Foreman nodded, reaching down for his pants--his shirt was going to need some work before it stayed closed again.

He waited for House to put his boxers back on, then helped him stand up while he got his arms into the crutches.

House grunted, crutching out into the kitchen, digging in the fridge, and pulling out two beers.

Foreman took one before the awkward way House was forced to hold them caused them both to hit the floor, popped it open with a bottle-opener out of his pocket, took the other one, and carried them out to the living-room, plopping down on the couch and waiting for House to catch up with him.

House sighed, untangling himself awkwardly and carefully lowering his body onto the couch.

Foreman watched him, frowning.

"Are you ok? You look pale?"

House nodded, swallowing.

"Just a little dizzy. I was being stupid."

Foreman sighed.

"I'd say sorry, but I know you wouldn't want me to."

"Got that right."

Foreman watched him for a while longer.

"Seriously, are you gonna be ok?"

House had his eyes closed now, head pressed back into the couch, hand on his thigh.

He saw the older doctor's Adam's apple jump.

"House?"

"Yeah," he muttered, "just gimme a...."

Foreman put his fingers on House's carotid, looking at his watch.

"Damn House, that's way too high."

No answer.

"House?"

House grunted.

"House, you're hyperventilating. Calm down."

Nothing.

"Ok, look. If you don't calm down, I'm taking you to the hospital. In your boxers."

House shook his head.

"It'll... get better. Just... hang on...."

Foreman sighed, shaking his head, and got up to finish putting in the air conditioner, thinking that if House wasn't doing better by the time he finished, he would do something, at least.

He screwed it into the metal frame, ignoring the pain in his side, then turned back to House.

Leaning forward, rubbing his hand back and forth, still breathing quickly.

Foreman sighed, came back over, sat down close by him, and touched his shoulder.

House leaned into the contact slightly, trembling.

"You gonna be ok?" asked Foreman, more quietly than before.

"Yeah."

"For real?"

House nodded, eyes still closed.

"Kay."

Foreman left his hand where it was, resting on House's shoulder. The older doctor seemed to need the anchor.

House finally was able to let go of his leg, still panting, and curl up on the couch, utterly exhausted.

His head ended up on Foreman's hip, and the younger doctor smirked slightly, placing his hand on House's side.

A soft grunt and tiny shift in position was the only response.

House was asleep within a minute.

Foreman didn't really know when this thing between them had started, or even what it was. It had resulted in the agreement that if House actually, really needed help, or wanted help with something reasonable, Foreman would come. It had started well after the other, much more fun, thing between them had started going on.

House's phone rang, House didn't wake up.

The message came on, 'House, you're late.'

Foreman blinked. House was still on sick leave, since he could barely make it from one end of a room to the other.

The message continued, 'you said you'd come for a checkup today. House, I know you're home. I'll give you a ride, but you really do need to have a checkup. House, seriously, if you don't pick u--'

"Hi Cuddy."

Foreman's voice.

The hell?

"Foreman, what are you doing at House's apartment?" asked Cuddy, frowning at her desk.

'I was helping him with his air conditioner. He fell, pain got bad, fell asleep. That's why he's not answering.'

"Oh. Well, when he wakes up, can you drive him in here?"

'Sure.'


A while later, House lifted his head a little bit, looking around hazily.

"What happened?" he mumbled, "I fall asleep, or pass out?"

"Fell asleep."

"Oh. Good."

"Cuddy called. Wants you to know you absolutely have to come in for a checkup today."

"She's been telling me that for the last week."

"And you haven't done it because....?"

House looked quietly at him.

"Because I want to go back to work."

Foreman sighed.

"And why won't she let you if she does a physical?"

House sighed.

"The dizziness. She's gonna think it's from brain injury."

"You're still dizzy? How bad?"

"Irritating unless I move too fast."

"But...that's not a neurological presentation. That means the tubes in your inner ear are damaged."

"Duh. But Cuddy's not gonna go with that. She's gonna make me have an MRI, and a CT, and if that doesn't find the problem she's probably going to run a hundred blood tests, and...."

Foreman was looking at him oddly.

"What?"

"How many times have you been through this?"

"Not this this specifically, but.... she always worries that it's the worst."

House didn't mention that she worried because nine years ago, it had been the worst, and it had been brushed aside.

"What if I do the exam?"

House looked at him.

"What? It's not like I haven't seen you naked before."

House thought about it.

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because I didn't think of it."

Foreman rolled his eyes.