Foreman poured himself a glass of wine and sat down by his console to work. It was late, but his husband was out of town for a week and the nights were lonely without him. It was a good time to catch up on his reading. There was never enough time to keep up with all the new medical advances, and he had determined early on that he wasn't going to be one of those administrators who forgot how to be a doctor as well. He had just hooked himself up to the reader when he was interrupted by an impatient knocking on his front door. The knocking sounded loud, as if something other than a hand was being used. He felt a flare of annoyance, he had a perfectly good door signaller, there was no need to try and destroy the door to get his attention.
The small screen set beside the door revealed his visitor, or rather visitors, one of whom was staring straight at the camera, an old fashioned wooden cane raised in mid strike. Foreman swallowed heavily. It couldn't be. It had been thirty years since he'd last seen them. He'd thought they were dead, long ago. His fingers were shaking as he pressed the code to open the door.
"Everybody lies, Foreman," House pushed his way past him and into the house. He stopped and stared at his surroundings before passing judgement,” Swanky place, usual boring decoration. Nice to see you haven't changed. Come on, Wilson, you don't need to stand on ceremony with Foreman. His house is our house."
Foreman's attention turned to the man still standing on his doorstep. Wilson looked terrible, his face lined with pain and exhaustion, his body trembling. He coughed, tried to suppress it and then coughed again; they were wracking coughs that shook his body. Suddenly House was there, shoving Foreman out of the way and going to Wilson's side. He put an arm under Wilson's shoulders to support him.
"Get some oxygen," he ordered Foreman as he helped Wilson into the house. "He needs some pain killers but we have to get his breathing under control first." House hobbled with Wilson over to the couch and then eased him down on it. "Get some cushions to prop him up, and that oxygen, stat!" House glared at him. "That means now, Foreman. Sorry to have interrupted your evening polishing your silverware collection but help a couple of dead guys out. Wilson has cancer in case you have forgotten."
"This is my home, not the local hospital; I don't keep oxygen here, or morphine or whatever you're going to demand next. I'll call an ambulance." Foreman put his hand up to his ear to start the call but House stopped him with a shake of his head.
"Wilson has this thing about fluorescent lights. No ambulance, no hospitals. Not yet anyway."
"It's okay... “Wilson wheezed, one hand coming up feebly in what was obviously meant to be a gesture of reassurance. “I’m okay House; I just need to get my breath." He relaxed back onto the couch cushions, obviously trying to steady his breathing. Foreman disappeared and came back with some pillows which he arranged behind Wilson. Gradually Wilson's breathing evened out and Foreman took his attention away to survey House.
"I know you didn't die in that fire, I found the ID card you left for me. But it's been thirty years, House. Wilson couldn't possibly have survived that long," Foreman said bluntly, glancing at Wilson. He focused on the cancer, avoiding the elephant in the room - that both House and Wilson looked exactly like the last day he'd seen them; they apparently hadn't aged in thirty years. What was going on here?
House had moved from Wilson's side, apparently satisfied that he wasn't going to die in the next few minutes, and was now wandering the room, picking up everything that was movable so that he could examine it. His eyes lit on a picture of Foreman and his partner, Nathan, their arms draped around each other. It was Foreman's favourite picture of the two of them and he twitched as he watched House eyeing it where it sat on the wall.
"Foreman! You sly dog, I didn't know you swung both ways - though that would explain a lot of things, your taste in furniture for one." House grabbed the holo off the wall and peered at it. "He looks a bit young for you."
Foreman gritted his teeth, Nathan was only eight years younger than him, and stalked over and took the holo out of House's hands, carefully hanging it back on the wall. Thirty years without House had dulled his ability to withstand the guy's assholeness.
"House, you need to tell me what's going on. Where the hell have you and Wilson been for thirty years?"
House shrugged and fiddled with his cane. "There was this guy with a DeLorean, said he could travel forwards in time, he gave us a lift here." House said it casually, like he had travelled to the corner store. "One minute we're in 2012, then a bit of speed, a few thousand volts of electricity and here we are, in 2042."
Foreman turned to the saner one of the pair, seeking help. "Time travel? Really? That's the best you can do?"
Wilson gave an identical shrug. "It's true, we travelled for a couple of months after House 'died', things were starting to get difficult," he waved his hand in such a fashion that Foreman realised he was referring to his medical condition, "we met the guy, he said he could bring us forward in time. There wasn't much to lose so we did. Here we are. I'm as shocked as you are that it worked."
Foreman had sometimes thought, in the early days, that life had become a little dull without House around, and then gradually he'd become used to a quieter, more stable, work environment. Now it was hitting him again, just how much chaos House brought to everything he touched. And now Wilson had apparently given in to the craziness. Time travel. Great. He shook his head, decided to forget it; whatever the truth was this story was all he was going to get. And he had House & Wilson in his living room. Thirty years of managing a hospital had taught him to deal with the immediate problem in front of him first.
"So ... “Foreman looked from one to the other, "so, what is the plan now you're here?"
"Give Wilson some of those new cancer curing pills you guys have developed over the last thirty years and we'll be on our way. All that coughing and wheezing is harshing our mellow big time"
Oh. So that was what this was about. House was looking at him, his words light and mocking as always, but his expression deadly serious. Foreman looked at Wilson, who was a little less pale, but was sitting very still, and was obviously in pain. Wilson looked back at him, a question in his eyes. Foreman wished he could put his hand in his pocket and pull out a pill for him.
"There's no pill, House. Sorry, Wilson - they haven't found a magic cure."
"But treatment must have progressed," Wilson said, "they were working on a lot of things thirty years ago." His keen gaze pierced Foreman, and Foreman was reminded again not to take Wilson at face value, there was far more to him than most people realised, blinded as they were by House's excesses.
"Yes, there's been a lot of progress made, both in detection and treatment. Better chemotherapy drugs for chemo-resistant tumours, much fewer side effects of treatment now that we can target the treatment only at the cancerous cells. Prognosis for all cancers, even late stage, is a lot better than it was thirty years ago. "
"Good. Get Wilson into whatever programme he needs at the hospital. You've been chief paper pusher there for thirty years now, I'm sure you could pull a few strings. Oncology will be happy to help out; I bet you even named a wing after Wilson."
"Not a whole wing," Foreman protested, "just one of the labs."
"I'm assuming there's no House Memorial Diagnostic office," House grumped. "After all I did for you."
"No, but there is a House Memorial Bathroom, with reinforced floors and ceilings, and tamper proof plumbing."
House looked at him for a second and then grinned, and despite himself Foreman couldn't help smiling back. He turned to Wilson. "I'll see what I can do, Wilson, it will take some creative paperwork - I doubt your insurance is still valid. The prognosis will depend on how far the cancer has progressed of course. I know you said before that you didn't want treatment... "
"I didn't want treatment that would prolong my life for a few months and make me miserable the whole time. If you have something better to offer... well, I don't have a death wish."
No, you just went off with a 'dead' man and then tried out some experimental time travel machine to come thirty years into the future , Foreman thought. No death wish there .
House had gone back to fiddling with Foreman's electronic equipment, nearly dropping his cane when three dimensional images started playing in front of his eyes in what appeared to be mid-air.
"Cool..." he said, his eyes scanning the hardware.
Foreman smiled smugly. "There have been a lot of changes in thirty years, House." He wondered how House was going to cope with not knowing everything there was to know about this new world.
"No flying cars, though." House said dismissively, although his eyes were still scanning the room. His attention came back to Wilson who now had his eyes closed. "You're not much of a host, Foreman. No offer of a drink, or dinner? Or a bed?"
Foreman rolled his eyes; of course they were staying here. "House..." he trailed off, it wasn't like he could kick them out really, and he did want to hear more about the time travel thing, "I've got a couple of spare rooms, I'll have to make up the beds though."
"We'll only need one," Wilson said, opening his eyes again. "Er... we've made some changes too." He smiled, almost shyly.
About time , Foreman thought. "Congratulations," was all he said. "I'll make the bed up; maybe you should get some rest, Doctor Wilson?"
Wilson nodded. "I could use some. House, play nicely."
House spread his arms wide, looking innocent and making Foreman want to put a leash on him to stop him roaming. Instead he just went with Wilson to make the bed up and get him settled. On the way out the door he spared a wary glance for the dead man in his living room.
House had managed to get the holo working while Foreman was gone and he was engrossed in the three dimensional images. Foreman groaned as he realised that House had also managed to find the pay-per-view porn channel with no problems. As entertaining as it could be sometimes he had no desire to sit around watching a... he squinted but still couldn't work out what was going on, there seemed to be arms and legs everywhere... anyway, he didn't want to watch that with House.
"You got old," House said, in his usual pleasant way of starting a conversation.
Foreman flicked the holo off with a wave of his hand and sat down on the couch.
"People tend to do that when they don't skip over thirty years of their lives."
House didn't say anything, just fiddled with his cane and stared at the blank space where the porn had been playing. Then he looked back at Foreman, his expression bleak.
"Can you do anything for him?"
Foreman was tempted to point out that he hadn't even had a chance to examine Wilson yet, let alone come up with a treatment plan but he held his tongue. House had faked his own death so he could be with Wilson, and then somehow, improbably, dragged him thirty years into the future. Now he was sleeping with Wilson. If Foreman hadn't been aware of how much House loved Wilson before this there was no doubt now.
"We can prolong his life, I'm pretty sure of that, and it will be a life worth living. Anything else will have to wait until we can get him fully checked out. It would be better if the cancer hadn't gone untreated for a few months before you came here."
"Yeah, if only time travelling dude had pulled up outside the hospital on the day he was diagnosed I would have been there. We just travelled thirty years into the future and you're bitching that we took so long to do it?"
Foreman shrugged. "Hey, it's a miracle. Just pointing out the facts, House. Cold, hard, facts, that's what you used to want. I'll get him into a clinic tomorrow - it would be better if we avoid the hospital - and they'll run the tests and we'll see what we're dealing with."
House fiddled with his cane some more and then nodded. "Okay." He looked around the apartment. "So, do you guys from the future still eat? How about some food?"
House slipped quietly into the bedroom he was to share with Wilson, his breath catching at the sight of Wilson's still form, underneath the sheets and quilt. As always he watched for a sign of life and then breathed out in relief when it came. He laid down beside Wilson on top of the covers. Wilson opened his eyes and looked at him sleepily.
"Trust Foreman to have silk sheets," House said, looking at them with distaste.
"You're proud of him," Wilson said. "He's done well for himself."
"He went over to the dark side and became an administrator, after all that time I spent teaching him to be a halfway decent doctor. He was a pain in the ass as a Fellow, a pain in the ass as my boss and now he's a senior citizen he's bound to be an even bigger pain in the ass."
"Oh yeah, you're proud of him," Wilson confirmed. House just made a scoffing sound which Wilson chose to ignore. "He's still at PPTH?"
"Yep. Thirty-eight years in the same hospital, setting a new standard for dull and boring. Chase is gone though, he went back to kangaroo land a few years ago - must have run out of women here. The rest are all scattered."
"It's been thirty years House; you have to expect some changes."
"It hasn't been thirty years for us."
There was silence for a while and then House said quietly, "Thirteen is dead, of course. Foreman got word about five years after we 'left'."
"I'm sorry, House. She was a good friend at the end - to both of us."
House shrugged in a casual looking manner that he was sure wouldn't fool Wilson. "Saved me from having to kill her." He didn't want to talk about Thirteen, she'd been dead ever since she'd had the positive result on her Huntington's test - hopefully she had found someone to substitute for him when the time came.
House got up, stripped off his clothing and climbed into bed, spooning up behind Wilson who was lying on his side. They exchanged gentle kisses; House knew that Wilson wouldn't be up to anything more vigorous tonight, after the tiring events of the day.
When they broke apart House said with quiet conviction, "This is going to work, Wilson. It has to."
There was hope in Wilson's tired eyes, but House knew that Wilson wasn't totally convinced, he'd had a certain fatalistic attitude about his cancer from the start.
"Well, either way at least I got to see the future beyond five months. There must be a lot of changes, new inventions, technological change - it's a whole new world. What do you think of it so far?"
House considered for a minute. "Well, the porn is good."
Wilson didn't know what Foreman did behind the scenes to get him into the cancer clinic but he was given the VIP treatment all the way. Nobody asked for any identification or medical records, or even a last name - they all called him James. He was escorted through the process effortlessly, and with a complete lack of any apparent curiosity on the behalf of the attentive staff.
Against his protests House had been left behind at Foreman's place. There had been a brisk argument with Foreman about it but Foreman pointed out that as House and Wilson weren't doing anything without his help, House could just sit down and shut up. He'd won the argument but House had a gleam in his eye as they left which Wilson thought didn't bode well for Foreman's home. He hoped House wouldn't create too much trouble. He suspected that House was quite proud of the fact that Foreman had stood up to him, but that wouldn't stop him creating havoc as a method of evening up the score.
Foreman had taken him to the front desk to start the process and then he had left to check in at PPTH. Wilson had watched him go with trepidation, Foreman wasn't exactly the warmest guy in the world but he was a familiar face in a suddenly very unfamiliar world.
Much of the equipment the clinic used was new to Wilson and he did his best not to gawk at it like a tourist. Luckily these people didn't know he was a doctor so they patiently explained all the procedures and weren't surprised at his ignorance. When all the tests were finished Wilson was given a cup of coffee and some cake and then within minutes ushered into an office where he was to meet with his new doctor.
A couple of hours later he left the clinic, and went outside to wait for Foreman to pick him up. The clinic staff had called Foreman for Wilson, pointedly not asking why Wilson wasn't fitted out with the ubiquitous behind the ear phone that everyone else he'd seen so far was wearing.
As he sat in the bright afternoon sunshine, he began to allow himself some hope. The tumour had grown, as he had known it must have, looking at it on the scan (which had been much more detailed and clear than any scan he'd had before) had shaken Wilson. It was one thing to know that there was a tumour growing in your chest, another thing to see it so starkly displayed.
Doctor Shinjay didn't seem concerned with the scan; he'd smiled at him confidently and said there was still time to treat it. Wilson was to have six weeks of targeted chemotherapy with the new drugs that had been developed, chemotherapy that Shinjay said would have very few side effects. Shinjay was confident that would be enough to stop the cancer growing, and very likely to start shrinking it. There was a more aggressive chemo option available, but Shinjay had refused to be talked into it - unnecessary at this stage, he'd said. It would be foolhardy to try. Wilson had tried to argue for the more aggressive treatment but Shinjay had looked at him like he had two heads and assured him that he didn't believe that would ever be necessary.
Wilson was beginning to see a future for himself again.
"So you're going to do the chemo now?" House asked, studying the test results that the clinic had given Wilson. They were alone, Foreman having gone back to the hospital. The test results were on a small memory card, which he'd inserted into a phone and the scans had instantly projected in three dimensional clarity in the air. Foreman had picked them both up phones while Wilson was in the clinic. They were small, and light, and as far as House could work out they did just out about anything you could possibly want them to. They also responded to voice commands, gestures and even the subtle movements of a person's eyes. House was itching to try out their full range but for now he needed to find out exactly what had gone on with Wilson. "What happened to your fluorescent light allergy?" He was pleased of course, but he also wanted to know just how this would go. Wilson had never wanted to spend most of his remaining time in a hospital, being sick and in pain.
"House... “Wilson trailed off and then pushed up the sleeve of his shirt to reveal a small patch on his upper arm. “I'm on chemo now. It's delivered through this patch. I need to wear it for another two hours and then I'm done for three days." He covered the patch again and shook his head. "I've been having chemo for a couple of hours now, and I haven't felt a thing. No nausea, no dizziness, absolutely nothing. Shinjay says that chemotherapy now is no more traumatic than getting your teeth cleaned, a mild inconvenience at the most. The toxins are more powerful than anything we used to have, but they are targeted straight at the cancer cells, and only those cells. Oncologists now don't have to make people sick to save their lives. Can you imagine the difference that makes?"
House studied him, Wilson should have been deliriously happy that the cancer was no longer a confirmed death sentence for him. Instead he looked somber.
"In case you're confused Wilson, this is good news. Not dying and all that."
"What are we going to do, House? So far it's all just been... like some sort of insane movie plot. Travelling thirty years into the future in a car, to find a cure. Now, it's... “Wilson rubbed at the patch on his arm. “It's real. I might live and we're here, and you're supposed to be dead, and I guess I am as well. I'm sure my family got me declared dead long ago." He trailed off and then stared at House, his eyes wide. House could have a good guess at what he'd just thought about. "House, my family - my brother... brothers, and my parents. I need to find out how they are, whether they're okay. I need to tell them I'm not dead."
House had been busy while Wilson was at the clinic. Now he grabbed hold of Wilson's arm and made him sit down on one of Foreman's expensive designer couches.
"Wilson, your parents were in their seventies when we left. I checked up - they're dead. Both your brothers are still alive. Danny is doing well, some of the new drugs they developed means he's not in the loony bin anymore. He has a wife, a couple of kids." House gestured to a wall and video appeared in mid-air. "I pulled up some images from the 'net earlier. Apparently Facebook swallowed the world - everybody puts every detail of their life online now. You can't sneeze without someone knowing about it."
House watched Wilson watch the images, a dopey look on his face as he saw his brothers, and his nephew and nieces, and their spawn. House had checked his own Mom - long dead of course and a few other people, some dead, some not. He had no intention of trying to meet up with any of them. As far as he was concerned he'd left everything behind when he faked his own death, all that thirty years added was some more distance.
He saw the instant that dopey changed to sad. Wilson had always been on good, polite, Wilson-distant terms with his parents. Although he must have realised that they would be dead by now, House knew that he would still mourn their actual loss.
He grasped Wilson around the shoulders from behind, turning him to lie with his back against House's chest. One of the things he liked best about the change in their relationship from BFFs to lovers was that he could do this now. He could touch Wilson whenever he wanted.
They'd rarely touched at all before Wilson's cancer diagnosis, and then House had looked after Wilson while he underwent the ultimately futile chemotherapy treatment in House's apartment. House had touched him then, cleaning him up, supporting when he moved, giving him pain killers and helping him with his most intimate bodily functions. For those few days they'd been as close as two people could be without being lovers. It had been impossible to go back to the old 'hands off' relationship after that, and neither of them had wanted to. It had only been a matter of time before casual touching had become something more. Leaving the hospital and going on the road together had been freeing in more than one way. When they'd made love for the first time it had seemed the natural consequence of over twenty years of friendship, of sharing their lives with each other. House had known, then, that this was it for both of them, there would never be anyone else. It had seemed that their relationship would only last for months, now there was a possibility of more, so much more, and he wanted that for them.
He held Wilson tight, feeling him tremble beneath his hands. Wilson's emotions were always very close to the surface now, after years of repression. With his cancer had come the desire to shed the persona he'd so carefully built, the shell he presented to the world. It hadn't been easy for him to shake off the years of carefully managing every aspect of his appearance and behaviour to please others, but House thought the results were well worth the occasional instability that came with it. And now it looked like it may not have come at the cost of Wilson's life.
"They thought I was dead, didn't they?"
House nodded, although Wilson couldn't see him. "They held a memorial service, had you declared dead after a few years. With the cancer diagnosis... well they must have been able to persuade someone that you'd dropped dead somewhere."
"What have we done, House? Everything we knew, it's all changed. My parents are dead; my brothers are now a generation older than I am. Even the people we knew who are still alive have moved on with their lives. There's nothing here for us."
"Except for the fact that you're alive, you moron." House turned him around so that Wilson was looking at him. "If we'd stayed in our time you'd be dead, or had you forgotten that? Another couple of months - that would have been it . For both of us, you must have known that. Now.... now we have a future, maybe a long one. Don’t tell me that's not worth it."
Wilson had been steadily going downhill the whole time they were on the road, his symptoms increasing with every day. They had both known that it wouldn't be long before the decline accelerated rapidly. Even if Wilson was forgetting that, House would never do so - without this little jaunt into the future Wilson would have had no future, and neither would House. This could be a new start for both of them.
Wilson looked back at him. "I've been living with the idea that I'm going to die for months. Now, suddenly, I'm not. I'm not sure I know what to do with that."
House had some ideas and bent his head to show him. Wilson met him eagerly in a kiss, his hands going around House's back and his body pressing into House's.
"Maybe we should move this into the bedroom," Wilson said when he came up for air. His hands were pulling at House's shirt even as he spoke.
"I'm comfortable here," House said, his fingers on the fastenings of Wilson's pants. Foreman had given him a pair of 'future' pants, saying that Wilson's were out of date and would draw attention to him. House found out that they opened with a touch of a finger along a seam; there were no buttons, and no zips. He could have all sorts of fun with these in public. Now he opened them and pushed them off Wilson's hips, revealing his white boxers and the interesting bulge in them. He ran his fingers over the material, teasing the package inside.
"You just want to be able to tell Foreman you had sex on his designer couch." Wilson said, returning his touches.
"Thank you for everything you've done for us, Foreman," Wilson said while they were having dinner. Foreman had produced a meal in very little time and with little apparent effort. Wilson was intrigued by some of the food and appliances he'd glimpsed in the kitchen. Like House he was voraciously curious about the future but unlike House he was trying to be a good guest and not poke around Foreman's stuff too much.
"You're welcome, Wilson," Foreman said, his emphasis on 'you're' obvious. He'd been less than pleased with the state of his apartment when he got back from wherever he'd been. House had made himself at home in more than one way and had apparently done something that wrecked some part of Foreman's extensive entertainment system. House had insisted that it was merely an accident. The subject of their having had sex on Foreman's couch hadn't as yet come up and Wilson hoped that House would have the good sense to keep his mouth shut about that for now; they needed Foreman's help for a while yet. He'd done a lot for them, but they needed more.
Wilson was feeling better than he had in a couple of months, despite, or maybe because of, their afternoon exercise. He knew that the chemo wouldn't have had chance to work yet, so maybe it was psychological, knowing that something was being done to halt the growth of the tumour which had grown unchecked since the initial failed attempt at shrinking it. He rubbed his upper arm again - he'd taken the patch off as instructed a couple of hours ago. He'd seen so many patients through chemo, and had witnessed just how it could wreck a person's body, and spirit - it was something he'd experienced himself - this new chemo was revolutionary. He'd been in the oncology field since the very beginning of his medical career and that simple patch on his arm represented a complete change in everything he'd known.
He played with the food on his plate - he still didn't have much of an appetite - and listened to Foreman and House snipe at each other. Despite their sometimes harsh words there was an undercurrent of fond tolerance there. Both men had come a long way since Foreman had resigned from the fellowship because he 'didn't want to become like House'. Wilson knew that House had a grudging respect for Foreman, and it seemed that Foreman, having spent thirty years thinking House was dead, or disappeared without trace, was still in the honeymoon phase of being glad that he was, in fact, alive.
It was odd to spend time with a Foreman who was now older than both of them. The years had been good to him, he seemed more relaxed, more certain than he had back in what Wilson was beginning to think of as 'the old days'. He smiled quicker, and angered less easily. Time, and maybe love, had matured him.
Wilson looked back up to see House taking a Vicodin. He knew that all the bike riding, and travelling around, had been hard on House's leg, although House denied any problems. They had enough Vicodin for a couple of months but then they'd have to find some more. Maybe Foreman could prescribe for him while they were here, although... Wilson frowned to himself, maybe there was something better now that House could take? He'd been focusing on his own illness and hadn't considered that before. He'd have to ask Foreman when he was by himself; House had never been fond of any discussion of his pain, or his meds, in front of anyone else. He'd never wanted to talk about it, even with Wilson.
He was spared the effort by Foreman bringing up the subject himself.
"There's been a lot of advancement in muscle regrowth, House."
House looked up sharply, the Vicodin bottle still in his hand. He didn't say anything but his gaze was fixed on Foreman.
"I think we can do something about your leg. The hospital has a specialist that deals with it, one of the top men in the field."
House flicked a glance at Wilson and then looked back at Foreman.
Foreman shook his head. "No, a series of injections that will stimulate growth there. Much like the drug you prescribed for yourself."
"The one that killed half the rat population of New Jersey? No, thanks. Tumours are so sexy - just ask Wilson - but I think I'd rather rely on old trusty here." He waved his cane around, narrowly missing knocking his wine glass onto the ground.
"No, not the experimental, only used on rats, medicine that you stole . This one has full FDA approval and has been a mainstream treatment for over ten years. Of course there is also extensive rehabilitative therapy required."
"Are you're forgetting the fact that I'm supposed to be dead?"
"No, I know a man. He can help."
"You can trust him?" Wilson asked sharply. His own situation was different to House's. Although awkward questions would be asked if he was discovered alive and well and living in New Jersey thirty years after when he should have died, House would have serious legal charges to face. They couldn't take any risks with that.
Foreman smiled and glanced at the wall where there was a picture from his wedding day.
"Nathan, besides being my husband, is PPTH's specialist in muscle regeneration, and has an international reputation for his work. He's at a conference right now, giving talks on his techniques. He can help you. I contacted him today and explained the situation and he's agreed. He's coming home in three days and he can examine you then."
House was sitting very still, a closed, unreadable, expression on his face. Wilson wanted to reach over the table and hug him but he knew House wouldn't appreciate it with Foreman being there.
House had looked for an answer to his pain and mobility problems for many years, sometimes seeking extreme solutions. Wilson still found it hard to believe that House had been so reckless as to use unproven, experimental, medication on himself, and then, when it had all gone wrong and tumours had developed in his leg, that he had actually attempted to operate on himself. He thought then that House had been driven to that extreme by his depression over the breakup with Cuddy. House had been hurting then, almost beyond anyone's help.
Since his return from prison, and through everything that had happened since, House hadn't returned to his quest to solve his own medical problems. Despite their being thirty years in the future and seeking a medical solution for Wilson, he hadn't once mentioned seeking help for himself. Wilson wondered if he'd finally given up on the idea of his own physical health ever being improved.
"House?" he prompted softly, reaching out a hand but not touching House.
House looked at him, and then back at Foreman.
"Boy wonder is working for you? Surprised you haven't fired him yet." Wilson winced at this not very subtle dig about Foreman's disastrous romance with Thirteen. The crudeness of the jab was a sure sign that House was feeling threatened and ill at ease. Foreman started to say something and then stopped, probably recognising the same signs as Wilson.
"He'll be home Thursday," was all he said and then he glanced at Wilson, with that same significant glance that Wilson had seen from people in the last twenty years. Fix this , the glance said; make him do what he needs to do .
House was waiting for Wilson when he left the clinic three days later, with another chemo patch on his arm. Shinjay had met with him, and after ascertaining that Wilson had experienced no ill effects from the previous dose had ordered an increase to full strength. He didn't expect Wilson to experience any side effects from this dose either but had suggested that someone stay with him for twenty four hours as a precaution. Wilson was sure that House would be willing to volunteer for that duty.
There was a park next to the clinic and that was where he found House, sitting on a bench and staring out at the people around them. Wilson took a look around but nobody seemed to be paying them any attention. He kept expecting people to identify them as being out of place, and out of time, but so far nothing alarming had happened. Foreman had supplied them with a few clothes that were less dated than their own but Wilson thought that with the bizarre array of outfits he'd seen in the few days they'd been here that very little would stand out. He pulled at the tight fitting, body hugging, shirt he was wearing and wondered who had decided that men's clothing should become less, rather than more, comfortable. At least ties had apparently been discarded some time in the last thirty years, Wilson hadn't seen a single person wearing one.
He sat down on the bench next to House and followed his gaze to a scantily clad couple, a man and woman, who were jogging around the outside of the park.
"I didn't think it was possible for shorts to get any shorter," Wilson remarked, his eyes never leaving their target.
"The future is an amazing place. We should get you a pair of those." House agreed. The couple ran out of sight and House sighed and tore his gaze away. His eyes quickly scanned Wilson and fixed on his shirt, the patch could just be seen underneath the short sleeves. "More chemo?"
"Full dose this time, Shinjay said he'll do a scan the next time and see what's happening."
"Yes, he's hoping to see some change. Two doses of chemo and he thinks it might have shrunk. Medicine's changed, House."
"We've got thirty years of Continuing Medical Education to catch up on. Not to mention thirty years of soaps. I'll do the soaps; you can do the CME hours."
Wilson shook his head, he didn't know how they were going to make a new life here but there was one thing he was sure about. "No, I'm done with oncology, whatever happens. When you've been there yourself... it changes things, I couldn't do it any more. And... I think I'm done with medicine, even if we could somehow get licensed again."
"Yeah, me too." House said softly. He thought about the burning building and the decisions he'd made there, he was done with making his life all about medical puzzles, he had something better now. He thumped his cane on the grass and looked sideways at Wilson, "So you and I can be two aging bikers travelling around the country together. I'll play the piano and you can sell your body wherever we stop."
"The only one who's buying my body from now on is you, House. And I'm not going cheap."
"Good thing I've got all that money hidden away then."
" We've got all that money." Wilson corrected. They'd had a day's notice of this jaunt into the future and had converted the money from the sale of both their apartments into some safe very long term investments, well hidden under House's false identity. Wilson had left enough money in nicely organised accounts and shares to keep his family happy and unlikely to look any further. House had left everything to Wilson in his will (written long before his supposed death) so there was no-one looking for his estate. As long as House's identity still held he should be able to access enough money to keep them happy for a long time to come.
They'd also brought some of the actual folding stuff along with them for the trip. Foreman had laughed when he'd seen it. Apparently no-one had used paper money in years. Everybody had a card which had instant access to their account and that card was used for everything. Some of the younger generation were now having a small chip implanted in their wrist which could be scanned rather than the bother of taking out a card.
Foreman had taken their paper money to a broker who still dealt with such things and given them both a card with access to a second account he'd set up in his own name. Wilson was impressed by how willing Foreman was to help with everything and how resourceful he was. The future would have been a scary and confusing place without his help. House, of course, was repaying this generosity of spirit by being as difficult as possible. Luckily Foreman seemed to find it more amusing than irritating at the moment.
House was staring at more joggers, this time his focus didn't seem to be on the outfits they were wearing, or weren't wearing, but on the way they were moving. When he glanced down at his own leg Wilson could easily follow his thoughts.
"Nathan will be back by now. We should get back to Foreman's so he can examine you."
"Foreman's boy toy can wait."
"If he can help you.... "
House rose to his feet, leaning on his cane. He started limping away from Wilson. Wilson rolled his eyes and chased after him.
"You know if Nathan works on your leg you might really be able to run away from me one day, if that's what you want."
House went another couple of steps at top pace and then stopped. His head hung slightly. "I haven't been able to get away from you in fifty years." He looked down at his cane. "When I was doing the CS-804 the leg started to improve. I thought it was working. I thought that the pain would finally end. Then I saw the dead rats. Two days. That's how long it lasted. Two months after the ketamine, a couple of weeks on methadone. There's always a downside."
"What if there isn't one this time? What if it works? Permanently."
House looked at him angrily, "You think I don't want it to work? I thought you had this theory that I thought that if I could fix my leg I could fix my life?"
"I was wrong, “Wilson said simply. He'd lived with House for the last two months, he'd slept with him. He knew now why House had gone to such extremes to 'fix' his leg. He was in pain.
"Your life doesn't need fixing now.... does it?" Wilson stepped closer, one hand resting lightly on House's forearm. "If you don't want to do this after you talk to Nathan, then don't. But don't close your eyes to the possibility. You dragged me thirty years into the future to find some hope for me. Thank you for that, for the first time in months I can start thinking about what I will do next year, and the year after. I can see a future." Wilson smiled, the wonder of that was still new. Nothing was certain but there was hope there, and that was enough for now. They might have a future together, and he wanted it to be the best one it could possibly be. He wanted House's pain to end.
"I'm not a happy endings kind of guy, Wilson."
Wilson almost groaned, he loved House with everything he had but House's need to turn everything into a battle sometimes left him exhausted.
He was taken by surprise by House leaning in and pressing close against him.
"You could give me a happy ending if you wanted," he growled into Wilson's ear. Wilson returned the contact for a moment and then laughed.
"After you see Nathan I'll give you as many happy endings as you want, or as many times as you can get it up, which should be a lot less."
"Jerk." Wilson returned, relief sweeping through him. House was going to do it.
House moved away and resumed his determined limp away. "Come on then, toy boy is waiting. Foreman's husband. Can't wait to see who nailed that ass."
Foreman lay on their bed and admired Nate as he got undressed. It had been a long, and very strange week and he was glad to have some sanity come back into it.
"I am never leaving you alone to go to a conference again," Nathan said as he took note of Foreman's gaze on him. "You've turned our house into a bed and breakfast for stray people from the past."
Nathan had spent a couple of hours alone with House that afternoon, examining him and talking about strategies for dealing with the damage to his thigh. Foreman and Wilson had been excluded but Wilson had been noticeably on edge the whole time. Foreman had always vaguely thought that Wilson was a somewhat pathetic figure, hanging around House, and trying in vain to control his behaviour. Now, seeing them together, and after his own experiences with Nathan, he understood the relationship better. Wilson was every bit as anxious about House's prognosis as House had been about Wilson's.
"Your mentor is a first class jerk, with a big mouth" Nathan said, "but I can see what you saw in him."
"Oh, not like that. But I know he meant a lot to you, whether you like to admit it or not. You would never have come to that panel on muscle regeneration if you hadn't been thinking of him would you?"
Foreman had wandered into the panel on a quiet afternoon in a multi-disciplinary conference. The conference was winding down - most of the doctors having gone off for early flights or celebratory drinks, or both - and the panel had been poorly attended. There'd been a question and answer session and Foreman's attention had been captured by the vibrant young doctor who was on the verge of a major breakthrough with his research. Foreman had only seen House's leg once - when he'd been shot and they'd stripped his clothes off in the E.R. - but his mind had immediately made the connection between Nathan's research and his former boss's injury. He'd thought then that it was too bad that House had completely disappeared from sight. He'd assumed that House had really died, for real this time, sometime after Wilson had.
"... he said that he assumed that we'd gossip like school girls over his prognosis so I could tell you if I wanted," Nathan was continuing as he got into bed besides Foreman. "The degeneration of his thigh muscle is some of the worst I've seen, there's a lot of muscle missing, it's a wonder he's been walking on it for so long. He would have ended up in a wheelchair eventually. We're going to start the injections after I've done some scans. He'll need a lot of physical therapy but he should eventually regrow most of the muscle, he'll probably always limp slightly but it will be much less severe, and his pain levels should drop considerably."
"At least six months of treatment and therapy." Nate gestured with his hand and the bedside light went out. He moved closer to Foreman, running a hand over the sparse hair on his chest. "So I guess we've got house guests for a while."
Foreman moaned as Nate tweaked one of his nipples, trying to keep quiet in deference to their guests down the hallway. "You don't mind?"
"They travelled thirty years in time and found you, Eric. We can hardly turf them out on the street. Besides, Wilson is cute." His hands continued to roam over Foreman's body, belying his teasing words.
Suddenly Foreman had had enough of talking, and thinking, about House and Wilson. His mouth closed over Nathan's, effectively silencing any further conversation. Both of them forgot about their unexpected guests for the rest of the night.
"Think they're having sex in there?" House asked, staring down the hallway at the closed door to Foreman's bedroom.
"Why? Do you want to suggest a foursome?" Wilson asked.
House made a disgusted face. "With Foreman ?"
"Nathan looked good."
"You didn't have him poking and prodding at you. He's a moron."
"Because he thinks he can help you? Yeah, I can see that."
House scowled and moved away from the doorway.
"He says I'll need a series of injections over three months, and a lot of physical therapy. We'll be stuck here."
"We need to stay anyway for my treatment," Wilson pointed out mildly, as if House was not aware of that. "While we're here we can get our bearings, get some paperwork in order. And there are still plenty of pieces of Foreman's furniture we haven't had sex on yet. We could do that."
House smirked but still seemed unsettled, moving around the room restlessly, fiddling with the various decorative objects scattered around.
"I could guess what the problem is, or you could just tell me," Wilson suggested. "And then we can get onto the happy endings that I promised you."
"Things are changing." House said, his attention apparently riveted by an abstract painting he'd found on the wall. "We're thirty years in the future, your cancer is being treated, Nathan is going to turn me into the Bionic man, Foreman is married, you're gay for me... "
"Well, look on the bright side, I might still die." Wilson replied, and then his eyes narrowed. "Okay, so if you're like most patients the last thing on that list is the most significant. Of course, I could point out that you're pretty gay for me as well, if what we did last night is any indication."
"I'd been with men before. You, on the other hand, were exclusively a panty peeler before you thought you were dying."
"Oh," Wilson waggled a finger at House, "so that's what the problem is. You think that having gay sex was just another item on my bucket list? Between skydiving and seeing the Grand Canyon? That now I have some sort of future I might decide to go back to my old ways? Or maybe I'll find some other cute guy to shag, someone like Nathan?"
"You had twenty years to make a move; you only did it when you thought it would last three months."
Wilson threw up his hands. "I didn't know! House, for just about all my adult life I thought that I wanted a wife to make me happy. I thought that was what I needed. I was wrong. It took the cancer to make me see that. All I wanted was you, that was all I needed. When I said I wanted you to tell me that you loved me I meant it. And when you did... “He stopped, remembering that night, in some seedy hotel in a small town in one of the flyover states.” If we have more than three months, if we have years, then that's a good thing. Some change is good, House. This..." he closed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around House. "This change is great."
House bent his head down to meet Wilson in a deep kiss. Then he broke away and rubbed his groin suggestively.
"I believe you said something about giving me a happy ending?"
Wilson grinned and his fingers went to the fastening on House's pants, pressing the invisible line that caused them to open. His hand slipped inside.
"How about we both get happy endings?"
"That works for me." House answered. "But I'm first."
Much later, with House snoring in the bed beside him, Wilson lay awake staring at the ceiling. He'd meant what he said to House, he had a certainty now about what he wanted from his life that he had never had before. He had everything he wanted, everything he needed, here, in this room.
He rubbed his arm where the chemotherapy patch had been and hoped, with everything he had, that it would work. It had to work. For both their sakes.
House stood in the sunshine staring down at the twin bikes in front of him. Much to his disgust they were the new, electricity driven, bikes, not the vintage bikes he'd wanted. Some stupid environmental rule or other had apparently banned all gas powered bikes a few years back. Now it was electric or nothing. Times had changed. Pressing a button and hearing a quiet hum was sadly different to the roar of a normal bike starting up. House missed his old Repsol - now there was a bike.
Still, it would be good to hit the open road again. Six months of living with Foreman and Nathan had been six months too long in his opinion. When the other men had said goodbye this morning there had been sighs of relief all around.
He looked over at Wilson, dressed in his leathers, with the now customary stubble decorating his chin. Wilson's thymoma had responded well to the chemo regime, and had shrunk enough to be removed surgically. Wilson would need yearly scans, and House would be keeping a close eye on him, but his prognosis was excellent. He'd regained his strength, and his health. To House's delight Wilson had shown no signs of relapsing back into his old persona, it was as if the cancer had burned that away for good. He wasn't Kyle Calloway, but he seemed much more comfortable now with who he actually was.
With a nod to Wilson he threw his leg over the bike. His right leg was much stronger now, much of the muscle in his thigh had regrown and healed. There was still a catch in his walk, and a dull ache at times but the difference to before was as night is to day. He'd cut right back on the Vicodin, with the help of some newer medicines, and had a schedule to help wean himself off completely. Nathan had provided him with a list of exercises, and stern instructions on carrying them out. House had promptly deleted the list, but he was pretty sure Wilson had a copy on his own chip. House might do them, or he might adapt them to something more interesting. There were all sorts of exercises he could do in the bedroom after all.
They both had (very expensive) new, completely fake, identity documents, and driver's licenses. They were all set to continue their road adventures, taking up from where they left off over thirty years, - or six months if you looked at it that way - ago. Their first stop was to be a visit to Wilson's family. House figured that Wilson trying to explain time travel to his brothers and their families, not to mention his relationship with House, would be good for some entertainment value at least.
First, though, he had something he had to talk to Wilson about. House fingered a card in his pocket. At one time he would have kept it a secret, afraid of what revealing it might mean. But he'd changed, through all that had happened, through his love for Wilson, now openly acknowledged; he'd changed enough that he wouldn't conceal this.
He held his helmet loosely in his hand and looked over to Wilson, who was sitting astride his bike.
"Doc Brown contacted me. He's heading back to our time; we can go with him if you want."
Back to 2012. House didn't want to, there was nothing there for him anymore; everything he wanted was here. But if Wilson did want to, if Wilson wanted to go back to the past, then House would go too.
Wilson stared at him, and then away, looking around, at everything that was new around them. Then Wilson smiled and put on his helmet, starting his bike with a small purr of power.
“There’s no going back, House. From now on, we're moving forward." Without waiting for an answer he peeled off, riding away down the street.
House grinned and slapped on his helmet as he admired the retreating form. He started his own bike, quickly taking off to catch up to Wilson.
He'd keep Doc Brown's card, and if the Doc ever came through this time again, maybe they'd catch another ride... to the future.