So this is how it ends, thought House. The empty prescription bottle was next to his head, the medicinal smell mocking him and the sound of his door closing quietly echoed impossibly loud. So this is how it ends. He closed his eyes and hoped that it would come with less vomiting.
The sound of keys in the lock pulled him out of his fog. How long had he been on the floor? Why had Wilson come back?
Wilson dropped a duffel bag on the sofa and sat down, his feet inches from House's head.
"Are you happy now?"
House had to swallow several times before he could speak. "No." The word hurt. He closed his eyes again.
He heard Wilson sigh and knew he was probably scrubbing his face with his hands, trying to decide what to do. The sigh conveyed more than any words Wilson could have spoken. "I'm disappointed in you. I'm worried about you. You're impossible. What am I going to do with you? What would I do without you? I love you."
"Help me up," House ordered. Wilson obliged, getting House into a sitting position, then helping him lift enough to be able to sit on the sofa. House sagged against the cushions while Wilson disappeared into the kitchen.
He came back with a damp cloth and a glass of water. "Clean yourself up. You're disgusting." Wilson handed the cloth and the glass to House, then went back into the kitchen.
House watched his best friend make tea. He watched Wilson clean up vomit, pick up papers and books that had been knocked from the coffee table, and hang House's jacket on the coat hook by the door.
This is how it ends, thought House. "I need a favor."
"I'm not getting you any more pills." Wilson couldn't make eye contact.
"I need a ride. I'm taking the deal."
Wilson waited in the car, pushing buttons on the radio, trying to find any station that wasn't playing Christmas music. He turned off the radio and hummed instead.
House slid into the passenger seat a few minutes later, saving James the trouble of trying to remember all the words to "Copa Cabana". "Dating a showgirl named Lola, or just finally coming out as a Barry Manilow fan?"
"Well he does write the songs that make the whole world sing," Wilson said as he put the car in drive. "So? Did you take the deal? What happens now?"
"Neil Diamond writes the songs that make the whole world sing."
"Not according to Barry. What happens now?"
"'Sweet Caroline' trumps 'Mandy' any day of the week."
"House. What. Happens. Now."
"On the boats and on the planes. They're coming to America!" House sang loudly, eyes squeezed shut and head thrown back in a parody of Neil Diamond.
Wilson wasn't going to admit that House was actually quite good. He wasn't going to be outdone, either. "Oh Mandy well, you came and you gave without taking, but I sent you away, oh Mandy!" He sang over top of House's rendition of "America" until they both started laughing.
Wilson parked near House's apartment and glanced sideways at him. "House? What's next?"
"You coming in?"
"Someone's got to keep an eye on you."
"Then let's talk about it later. Nothing's going to happen tonight."
Wilson shrugged and unbuckled his seatbelt. "Fair enough."
Wilson followed House into the apartment, picked up House's jacket from the floor again, and put it on the hook. He made a circuit of the apartment, locking doors and turning off lights, then picked his bag up from the sofa and went into House's bedroom. He could hear House in the bathroom, singing something barely audible over the sound of running water. Sit down to eggs and bacon with? Wilson changed into a tee-shirt and pajama pants and sat down on the end of the bed.
House shuffled in, similarly dressed, and collapsed on the bed, nudging Wilson with his foot. "Hit the couch."
"Yes. Sure. I just need to close my eyes for a minute." Wilson looked back at House. "Do you mind?"
"Like that'd stop you?"
Wilson stretched out next to House, careful to maintain the space between them. "Is it over now? Do we get our lives back now?"
House pretended to be asleep. Now wasn't the right time to tell him there was no deal.