No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous--
Almost, at times, the Fool.
Wilson comes over to find House wearing what looks like a gallon of spilled liquor, rinsing out a whiskey glass, and in the possession of a kitten.
The door snicks shut behind him, his arms coming to cross over his chest automatically. "Well, this is a little frightening."
House's head lolls toward him, eyes bleary. "Look. I like kittens. I do my own dishes. There is nothing more lovable than that, damn it."
Mutely, Wilson raises a brow and scratches the fluffy little thing behind its soft gray ears.
And House lines up for his turn, professing an itch he can't reach without giving himself a hernia. Never could stand to be upstaged, even by a feline. Wilson's other brow ascends and his hand does, too, up and up and up to settle over the faded gray fabric between House's shoulder blades.
"You know what?" And God knows where any kind of statement starting that way out of House is going to go. "I wish you had nails." His own hands are palm-up, scrunched into claws. "Like... real nails."
That just has Wilson picturing the kind curled over with the seeming weight of their own rhinestones as he's scratching his less-than-adequate thumbnail in a long arch down House's scapulae. "Long, scary, acrylic-type nails?"
"Maybe not long and scary, but-- nngh," caught between arching away and pushing in, "a good back-scratch is like a natural high." Wilson's about to ask what in the world House knows about natural highs, especially now, but he doesn't get a chance before House continues with, "You need good, strong nails for it, though." A wistful sort of sigh, which is not like him at all. But, then again, neither are kittens.
And that's when the neighbor girl comes over, cooing, thanking House absently, scooping up her kitten and slipping Wilson a bill before drifting out again. And House just goes ho-humming his way into the kitchen, professing thirst and not guilt in the least.
Wilson sighs. "I'll pick up a backscratcher for you." Now he's recalling a scene from Rear Window. Pushy protagonist with a bum leg and a backscratcher. "Scratch and a flea bath," he amends, staring significantly at that damp-blotched shirt.
"A bath… I have no fleas." House gives him a blank, flat stare.
"I suppose I can accommodate that."
House is probably in the running for Least Kittenish Person on the Planet, but he does have his moments. Very infrequently. Probably when he's most medicated, Wilson believes. And it's selfish, really, because he knows it's not good for House's health as a whole... but he can afford to be selfish now and again. Not like he could talk him out of it, and he enjoys it so much, he really does. What kind of person does that make him?
He always did like to play doctor as a kid, getting to be in charge and "fix" everyone else. House, smashed off his ass on pills or bourbon, is just a more complicated cut-and-paste of the same. "I'm running a bath. Flea powder optional." House doesn't acknowledge him.
Wilson takes charge, filling said bath and practically having to wrestle House's way-too-quiescent form into the tub when it's ready. Squeezing out a washcloth to dab away at sweat and spilled liquor. Not a flea bath, but definitely a drugged-into-Saturn bath.
And House, of course, has the audacity to titter about it—as if it's all so very funny.
"Stop that." Not so much an admonition as an excuse to say something in that calming, not-quite patronizing tone House normally can't stand. When he can process it.
House, whose head is rolling lazily along the lip of the tub, not particularly comfortably to Wilson's eyes, but if he's lucky that'll be the least of House's worries in the morning.
Blue eyes cutting to him, and thin lips stretching—and when it reaches him, Wilson gets the most ridiculous flutter, of all things. Nothing for it but to scoff. With House smiling at him that way, as if they're sharing a private joke. And maybe they are, in a way. You wouldn't think it, but when House smiles... when he really smiles... well...
Then he's doodling with a fingertip in the skin of soapsuds and looking with glazed, fascinated, unfocused eyes when the patterns instantly disappear. "So."
It starts out in a near-innocent tone, which causes Wilson worry, but... "Mm?"
"Do you know what I would do without you?"
And he'd laugh, but House suddenly sounds very serious about the whole matter.
"You don't mean that."
"Yeah, well, you don't know anything at all." And sometimes, Wilson feels he really doesn't.
Don't be an idiot, that's what's on the tip of his tongue, but House is nodding at him--once, solemnly--before dropping his chin back down to his chest and breathing out long and slow. "Duck your head," is what he says instead. Clasping the back of House's skull in his own hand to make sure he comes back up, hair straightened and streaming.
"Don't tickle me," on a half-smile, when Wilson's fingers go straying too close to the backs of House's ears.
"You're not ticklish."
"Am." Wilson just dunks him, but not without warning.
Alcohol-breath in his face, wrapped around a laugh. He'll have to make sure House brushes his teeth, too. Eyes several shades too bright, blue and feverish, fluttering closed with seeming contentment when Wilson squeezes a dollop of shampoo into his palm and starts kneading along House's scalp. He knows, has caught himself in the act of this before in these situations, but can't help the answering leap low in his middle when House's mouth falls open a little bit and he sighs. He likes that—and Wilson does too, he confesses, if just to himself. Applying his nails to the scalp, just lightly... lightly. And House curves, leaning like some skinny tree, ever growing toward the light. But Wilson isn't any kind of light to lean into, he knows that. And House definitely knows that. When he's in his right mind, anyway. Still, he makes a sound and Wilson palms back the threat of suds from his brow.
He doesn't duck further to take a look into House's face; he just hums quietly and gets on with it. That is, until House's next question takes him completely by surprise.
"Do you regret not having kids?" Like, somehow, this far into his life, they're not probable anymore. An opportunity missed or something.
"I've got you, don't I?" Which is the expected answer, the one that comes the most naturally. "Besides, you're high-maintenance and you'd get jealous." Tipping House's head back underwater briefly, it really is uncannily childlike the way his eyes squeeze shut.
House is huffing in an almost eerily juvenile way, trying not to get water in his mouth when he comes back up and—even more eerily—knuckles his eye sockets. "I would." Though he doesn't sound very happy about it.
"You're the one who's taking in kittens," trying for a smile, but finding he doesn't much feel like it. Wilson's wet fingers are idly massaging at the base of House's neck.
He doesn't have time for pets, for offspring, no room for anything but House and work.
House's head on a loose hinge, shoulders jerking, an aborted giggle. "You were almost..." as if searching for the right word, and House never has trouble with that—not unless it's times like these, "convinced."
Kneeling on a bath mat with his best friend drunk and naked in the tub, shrugging off the assertion the way House is shrugging off beads of lukewarm water. Because he was, really. Almost convinced. Once. Thought he could have it all.
And House is sighing a deep sort of sigh—from somewhere dark, somewhere further than the chest. "I'm done with this." Flat, sounding moody suddenly.
"This—get me out." Like that. Without hesitation. Waving his hand rather majestically for someone who's smashed and slumped in a tub. The only time he'll come this close to admitting he needs help, too, and Wilson can't do anything but give it—he gets one of House's hands on the safety bar, gets his shirt soaked working an arm of his own around House, gets him somehow back on his feet again. Slings a towel around him before he steps out and soaks the floor.
And House just stands there as if he'd be perfectly content to sleep on his feet. Hard for anyone to believe, if he'd tell anyone, this almost infantile behavior-- not that it matters. Not to Wilson, anyway. Hands in wet hair; dripping, streaming skin; House warm and leaning against him and making everything sticky-wet. He thinks, at one time or other, he's seen House in a robe. "C'mon, then," murmuring into fragrant hair. He smells good.
"You're too loud," House sniffs at him, and makes no effort to walk on his own.
From childlike to the habits of a little old man—only House, really. Wilson's the one who fills the space between, the sensible middle-aged stick in the mud separating the two as he goes toting his kitten-sitting friend over the bathroom threshold with a half-drag, half-heft that makes him think they're acting out some marital parody. House's arm loose at his side, the arm draped over Wilson's shoulder twitching as he gets the rim of his ear traced by a lazy finger.
The bridge of House's nose rubs against the line of Wilson's jaw when he lifts his head. Half in the hall, half in the bedroom, Wilson gets, to his surprise, a clumsy sort of kiss on the corner of his mouth. Wet, but not for those reasons, merely for the reason that House is wet. And that is all.
And because that's all, just another House-related quirk that shouldn't have him faltering in his steps, even though it does, Wilson moves on. Keeps on steering him into his room, shirt soaked through and House mumbling something incomprehensible. "Let's just get you to bed."
Again, that all-over flutter; he'd be ashamed if House could look into his thoughts. He would. He doesn't know how House would act, knowing what these little sensations, little thoughts, indicate... and he's sure he doesn't wish to know. Fingers in his shirt, warm and damp and slender, curled into fists, after he's got him sitting on the bed; just at the hem, latched there, and it's just odd-- from that to... this. It makes him feel kind of... well, perverted, really. No, really. As if maybe House is acting out the kind of doting goodnight ritual he never got from his own father. Only he wouldn't have been drunk as a kid. Wilson just needs to stop trying to make sense of this and accept that it's happening.
House, the old bastard who never really grew up. It's tender and affectionate, in a sort of creepy—yeah, paternal reenactment—way.
Even more so when he heard his name in a small, tired voice once House is divested of the towel and arranged on top of the covers like a corpse. Only his hands aren't settled on his chest in a macabre image of death; no, they're fluttering and reaching and House is smiling that stupid (so very stupid, stupid) smile at him and Wilson falters all over again. In a different way. Naked, yeah; nothing he hasn't seen, but... this. "Where're you going?"
"Have to...guard your couch. Y'know." Surveying the exhausted grayscale of House's profile, and if he can...he can. Can just lean in, just over the damp hair of one temple, and press his mouth there. Comes a thread-thin breath from doing it, but then his eyes falling shut in his own face as if he's absorbed some of House's fatigue through the proximity of his lips. He really should get something on him.
House doesn't notice. House is drunk and half-asleep and laughing softly to himself about something that probably wouldn't make any sense to Wilson anyway. House's not quite coordinated fingers are at the back of his neck—not tugging, but curling and curling, releasing and curling. He's seen babies do that, in reflex, with the edges of their blankets. "You... y'hate the couch." Nose scrunching, dispelling the serenity that was starting to rest there.
And the laughter, not fully formed, drifts, then lingers and dies. Leaving Wilson swallowing convulsively, though he doesn't know why. Dark lashes over House's cheeks, fluttering (like Wilson's stomach, like his chest-- flutter, flutter, flutter away) and that blue—cloudy and overly bright, but still so blue all the same—peeking at him. All serious now; "Y'leavin'?" Like he'd never expected it at all. Like it was something Wilson was doing to spite him. All melancholy and soft and settling on Wilson's skin in a soft-slippery way.
"And you don't care if I do." Ducking from underneath the hand now starting to knead over his nape, House consciously or unconsciously mimicking Wilson's own treatment of him in the bath. "Remember?" Wilson lets his thumb sweep gently over where he'd nearly brushed his lips, just there on top of warm skin and wet, gray-dappled hair.
"So are you or not?" House grumbles peevishly. Open-hearted and considerate now, at least comparatively speaking, of all times.
"Not till you have pants on." As lightly as he can force his tone into being. "I'm not one of those guys."
He isn't. House waking up naked with a headache and memories of a touchy-feely night--he can imagine the bitching that would follow. "Why are you doing this to me?" Now it's Wilson being serious. Staring.
But House just smiles in return, lids dropping lower but not closing completely. "Me? I'm not doing anything. You are." And House sounds so very sure of that fact.
"Prove me wrong, then," mutters Wilson as he draws open a dresser drawer and pulls out the first pair of pajama bottoms he sees, "and get these on."
"Y'wouldn' like thaaat," sing-song now; narcotics and alcohol. It's not good. It's not. But this is... and Wilson hates himself for it.
"Like you would know."
"I'm bringing pajamas."
"Don't threaten me."
And Wilson chuckles despite himself. Hand to the mattress, leaning over him to stare him straight in the face (flutter, flutter, flutter), an eyebrow quirking.
"Y'should go to bed," only now it's House saying it to him. House's hand-- the one that is rigid and knowing and clever and never wastes a movement-- comes up, surprising him again; soft pad of the thumb over Wilson's arched eyebrow, like it's a smudge on a picture. An imperfection. And he means to fix it by smoothing it away.
"I should go home."
Dark-glittering eyes in the dimmed room, that thumb warm and contemplative on his skin before drawing away again. And House going rolling over onto his stomach, making the putting-on-pants process even more unlikely and at the same time...making room. "Quit being a baby."
It does make him smile, appropriate as it is. "This coming from...yeah, I see."
"Big baby. Get in... c'mere." That same hand spread open on the mattress, where he'd just been lying, darkened with damp spots. "C'mere."
And it's so guileless that it makes Wilson hesitate. "Because." House turns his face into the bedding, rubbing it—nuzzling it (flutter, flutter, flutter.)
No arguing here. He strikes a compromise. "...pants on first?"
House thinks about it for a moment. More than a moment. Wilson thinks perhaps he's falling asleep, but no. "Okay."
His shirt is uncomfortable, sticking wetly against his skin. He could pull it over his head, steal one of House's for the night, and leave without another word. Only House wants company; House is nude and in bed and lifting his head to reveal half-open eyes and a mouth close to pouting. So Wilson leaves the pajama bottoms in House's less than capable hands as he follows through with the first part, at least—strips off the soaked shirt, tossing it over towards House's rarely-utilized laundry basket.
He'll get a clean one. In a moment. House doesn't squirm onto his back again, but at least he doesn't fidget while Wilson is taking those pants and bunching them enough to slip over House's feet. He gets them up partway, then House's hands slip under himself and he wriggles and squirms, and everything seems to work out.
"Where y'going now?" If it's possibly to mumble accusingly, House has the art down cold.
"Nowhere. Borrowing a shirt."
Which apparently isn't a worthy pursuit. "'s stupid."
"Right. Stupid." Wilson finds a clean one and yanks it over his head anyway, then carefully climbs up, on his side, to prop his head in his hand. Elbow to the bed now, eyeing House, who is eyeing him now. Not smiling, but not frowning, and placing a hand to his shoulder. "A shoulder to lean on?"
"Yeah." For all his fumbling, there doesn't seem to be any trouble sliding over. "Wilson?"
And House is looking at him now, really looking at him. "Do you regret not having kids?"
There's a pause. "You just asked me—"
It's wet; House kissing him. And not because he's all wet. He's not anymore. Slip of lips, the tip of House's tongue sneaking into his mouth; brushing his tongue and tickling his teeth and Wilson not reacting at all, just here... with his mouth open, with House kissing him, with House's tongue inside, seeking. For what, he doesn't know—it tastes of alcohol. He doesn't respond, and when he doesn't respond long enough, House pulls back... to gaze at him, peering up into his face, almost squinting.
Wilson's mouth closes, then opens, then closes again; it sounds sort of dry when he can finally say it, "Don't do that."
Only a beat. "Okay." All quiet and soft but Wilson is... swallowing, struggling, battling the thrum-throb-sputter of his heartbeat climbing towards his throat.
Wilson's still-shoed feet to the ground, his open palm to House's open bureau drawer, pushing it quietly shut.
"See you later, House."