Author’s notes: This one was a hard one to birth. I started it on March 30th, after watching “Don’t Ever Change”, but stopped after the first chapter, having no idea of where to go with it. After a month or so, I picked it up again, dropped it again, picked it up again—and so on. It was finally finished on July 1st, and I am very proud of it; this turned out much better than I could have hoped. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I, despite the hardships, have enjoyed writing it.



Chapter One


Pregnancy did not suit Cutthroat Bitch.

James Wilson, however, hand on her back and being every bit the caring, gentle dad-to-be, did not seem to notice. Even as she growled at him, not even bothering to blame it on pregnancy hormones, Wilson stayed by her side. He understood, he blamed it on pregnancy hormones, even as she appeared to want to throttle him.

House smiled grimly – her wish to throttle him was in his favor, because if she hurt him, she would pay, but then again, the hellish brat growing in her uterus turned things around again. He watched them through the blinds, as his team went on behind him about their latest patient, Thirteen suggesting cancer and that perhaps they should get a consult. House didn’t reply, but Kutner did, refusing to believe it could be cancer.

“House?” asked Thirteen.

“He’s watching Wilson,” Foreman said, bored, reading a newspaper and not looking up.

“Seems to be doing that a lot,” Kutner muttered, probably thinking House couldn’t hear him.

But while House had a problem with his leg, he had never had any problems with his ears. On the other hand, he found it impossible to care either way about Kutner’s words. Puzzles in every shape and form had always, always been his thing, but lately—Wilson-watching took up most of his time. Then again, that could be constituted a puzzle.

Said Wilson had just left the corridor, leading Cutthroat Bitch into his office, and somehow, he seemed to have missed the impatience and anger on her face.

“Schedule an MRI, and then get that consult,” House said. “Not you, Kutner.”

Kutner stopped, and looked at House with fearful expectance.

“Enjoy my clinic duty,” House said. “I hear the flu’s going around.”

“But what—”

“It’s not nice to talk about the other children when they’re in the room,” House said, and Kutner paled and scurried out of the room, after Thirteen and Taub.

“You do watch him a lot,” Foreman said calmly, taking a sip of his coffee and barely sparing a glance at House.

“I could pretend I had no idea what you’re talking about, but that seems stupid and I don’t do stupid,” House said, “so I’ll go with, ‘haven’t you realized I’m like totally and completely in love with him, like?’ instead.”

One of Foreman’s eyebrows rose, clearly unimpressed. “Whatever you say. But if you want to solve this case, you’ve got to get your head in the game.”

“’Head in the game’?” scoffed House. “What are we, watching bad football?”

Foreman shook his head, rose and headed for the door, newspaper in hand. “I’d suggest you go talk to him, but that involves getting in touch with your feelings, which you clearly aren’t, so—just focus on the case.”

He left, before House could come with a witty retort.

Go talk to him? Yeah, as if. They had exchanged ridiculously few words since House had realized Cutthroat Bitch was pregnant – House seemed unable to do anything but spew nastiness all over Wilson, Wilson’s choice in girlfriend, and the coming baby. And he could see the hurt on Wilson’s face each time he referred to the baby as ‘the bitch’s spawn’, and for some reason, it made his heart hurt. He pretended not to notice, because he did not care. Really, he didn’t. The image of the now clearly visible bump of the spawn did not make House physically ill – it didn’t, really – and even if it might have, Wilson was the very last person he would ever tell.

Besides, Wilson was happy. Even as the Bitch whined, bitched and fought her way through the months, trying to make Wilson as unhappy as she was, Wilson’s contentment didn’t lessen. He was – and even House from a distance could see this – over the moon about having a child. There was a light in his eyes, a spring in his step; every one of those silly ways to describe a happy person could be attributed to Wilson. Really, it was one of the things that had made House suspect to begin with, though for once, he hadn’t dared confront Wilson about it until after a few weeks.

Wilson had been called for a consult on a patient House doubted had cancer, but he wanted an excuse to watch Wilson, and barging into his office like he usually did didn’t fulfill that particular need.

“What do you need?” Wilson asked as soon as he came in the door, hair combed perfectly in place and his pens in neat order in his breast pocket.

And then he smiled, in a way House had never seen Wilson smile about a consult. It was just there, impossibly bright and ridiculously beautiful. None of the others seemed to have noticed – Thirteen shot Wilson a look, but it lasted only a second and then it vanished, and the three other men didn’t move a muscle. But House saw, and when their eyes met a minute later, House knew that something had changed. This wasn’t about Cutthroat Bitch, although he seemed happy enough with her. This was something different.

When Wilson left, House hurried after him, ignoring the questions from the fellows about what to do next.

“House,” said Wilson calmly, as House fell into step next to him. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“You’re happy,” House said.

Wilson glanced at him, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Is that a crime?”

“You were on anti-depressants a few months ago – now you’re smiling at—everything,” House said.

“So?” asked Wilson, and he unlocked the door to his office, holding it open to House because he knew House wouldn’t leave him alone.

“So, either you’ve finally dumped Cutthroat Bitch and decided that freedom is wonderful, which you haven’t, because I saw her drop you off just this morning, or something else’s happened,” House said. “And it can’t be your cancer kiddies all finding a cure, because I’m sure it’d be one of those things they’d report in the news—apparently, cancer is rather wide-spread and a cure would be a good thing.”

Wilson had sat down calmly during House’s speech, and he was going through his mail.

“So it’s a personal thing, whatever it is,” House said. “And the Bitch doesn’t seem to be nearly as happy, so whatever it is, it’s a better thing for you than her.” He paused for a moment. “She finally agreed to take it up the ass?”

Wilson looked up and regarded House, some amusement in his eyes, rather than the annoyance House had expected. “Yes, of course – that’s my dream, that’s what makes me happy all day long.”

“Ah! So you admit it – you are happy,” House said.

“I never said I wasn’t,” Wilson said. “I only asked if it was a crime. And it doesn’t seem to be, so perhaps you should try it sometime.”

“No thanks,” House said.

He thought of Cutthroat Bitch, and then of Wilson’s happiness. She had seemed more sullen lately, rather than happier. Wilson had taken extra care of her – he came in late often, with some lame excuse or other, and either they were screwing like bunnies every morning, or there was something else. It had to be something else, because Wilson had had sex with his wives in the previous years, and he still hadn’t come in late and been inexplicably happy. And Cutthroat Bitch had been unhappier, snapping and growling, catty remarks flying all over the place.

And then something clicked, as it usually did, and he’d blurted it out before he even had time to censor himself, not that he ever did anyway.

“She’s pregnant.”

Wilson looked up then, his eyes no longer amused but shocked, his stance frozen. His silence was far more than enough confirmation to House.

He stood, feeling shaky. “Cutthroat Bitch is pregnant.”

He stared at Wilson, who averted his gaze to the desk. “Yes.”

For once, House was at a loss for words; he had no witty retort, no cutting remark falling from his wicked tongue. He could only stare in shock at his best friend, who continued to avoid his gaze.

“How long?” asked House.

Wilson looked up. “Three months. I’ve been planning on telling you, but I didn’t know how—”

“So you just didn’t instead,” House sneered. “Great choice.”

“I knew you’d react like this!” Wilson said.

“And how is ‘this’?” House said coldly.

“Angry!” Wilson exclaimed. “As though my having a baby with Amber is an insult to you, as though it’s not a wonderful thing, as though I don’t deserve happiness.”

“Not with her,” House said. “She’s using you.”

“She’s having our baby!” Wilson said. “How is that using me?”

House had no idea, though if he thought about it for a minute, he was certain he would have an answer. Unfortunately, his brain seemed to have melted into a puddle of useless goo, his thoughts having come to a stand-still, and the only thing repeating itself was, Wilson, Bitch, brat, Wilson, Bitch, brat—

“I’m thrilled, House,” Wilson said. “Can’t you just be happy for me?”

“I didn’t know you wanted to be a father,” House said. “Why so eager, suddenly, to raise the Bitch’s spawn?”

“I didn’t know I wanted it,” Wilson said. “I didn’t think I wanted it. But then she told me and it just—felt so right.”

“So eager to have a kid and watch him grow up – how fucked up do you think he’ll be, with her as the mother and you as the father? She, with nothing before her eyes but herself, and you—have you started lactating yet? Considering she’s the one with the balls, I’m assuming you’ll be breastfeeding?”

“God, why do you have to be such an ass?” Wilson exclaimed. “Why can’t you just be happy for me?  You’re supposed to be my friend – my best friend!”

“Should’ve thought about that before you knocked her up.”

“What’s wrong with you?” Wilson asked, aghast. “I’m not replacing you. You said you were fine with me dating her.”

“Dating and having babies do have a lot in common, don’t they? One ends with sex, the other one starts with it,” House snarled, blood boiling though he could not quite say why.


“Wilson,” he imitated childishly.

“What changed? Why’s it so wrong for me to want the child Amber’s carrying?” Wilson asked.

“She’s not—”

“Not what? Not you?”

House clamped his mouth shut, unwilling to say more. You’re sleeping with me. The words came unbidden to his mind, the words he had uttered just a few months ago. Three months – she must have gotten pregnant soon after that. Proof that she was not him – he never wanted children, would never give anyone children, would never give Wilson a child, would never be enough for Wilson. He had thought he still had time, because Wilson had yet to pop the question, but obviously—

“It’s not even about her anymore,” Wilson said. “I love her, I do, but it’s—it’s a child, House. My child. Just—try. Be happy for me.”

His eyes pleaded with him, brown eyes still alight with joy even as they talked, and House couldn’t stay in the room with him. The walls felt as though they were closing in on him, suffocating him slowly, and all he could see was Wilson’s face, the warm brown eyes asking him to be happy for him, when he’d found love and meaning with someone else.

He slammed the door after him as he left, pain wracking his body, although he did not recognize it as heartbreak.

Now five months had passed, and he had recognized it, though he refused to admit it – he couldn’t say it out loud, because who could he admit it to, and he didn’t want to admit it to himself, because that led him to dangerous grounds. And falling for your best, male, straight friend, who had a pregnant bitch for a girlfriend, was definitely dangerous grounds – not to mention monumentally stupid.

Cutthroat Bitch, who had taken up a job at a Princeton General, seemed to be around quite a lot these days, and House wondered sometimes if she did it for him, if she was there just to show off what she and Wilson had together, the thing that House would never, ever have with Wilson. Knowing her as he did, it was entirely possible. In fact, he could see her keeping the baby just to fuck with House’s head – what he really could not picture, was the image of her as a mother. Sometimes, when he allowed himself to feel, that made him angry, because despite what he might or might not have said in the last few months about Wilson’s abilities to be a good father, he did think Wilson would do a good job. He didn’t deserve a girlfriend, a wife, who would so dislike the chores a baby brought. And House knew she would hate it, because she was like him, and he wasn’t parent material.

A knock on the door distracted him of his thoughts, and Wilson stuck his head inside. House arranged his face in a scowl, because Wilson couldn’t know what he’d just been thinking.

“Got a minute?” Wilson asked.

“Did you bring me anything?” House asked.

Wilson rolled his eyes, smiling slightly and producing two paper cups, presumably filled with coffee.

“Will this do?”

House made a non-committing sound and Wilson came inside. His hair fell gently down the sides of his face, and he looked relaxed and well. Though House hated the reason for this look with a passion, he couldn’t hate the look itself. Wilson looked good.

Wilson placed the coffee cup in front of House, and he let it sit there, regarding Wilson instead.

“Was there something you needed?” he asked.

“I just—I thought,” started Wilson, “We haven’t talked in a while.”

“You’ve been a bit preoccupied,” House said, although he was perfectly aware that whilst Wilson had been busy with Cutthroat Bitch, House had also been avoiding Wilson.

“Yeah, and I’m sorry about that,” Wilson said. “Amber’s been—well, I suppose she’s worried about being a mom and all. And her pregnancy hormones are just going crazy, so I’ve been—”

“At her beck and call, twenty-four/seven,” House said.

Wilson winced. “I wouldn’t put it that way, but—yeah.”

“Does it seem like I care?” House asked.

“You haven’t—uh, pestered me much lately,” Wilson said. “I thought perhaps the whole baby-thing made you uncomfortable. You—uh, didn’t seem too happy about it before.”

So Wilson remembered their first fight about the spawn, and he had also noted that House had been more absent than usual – House had started to think Wilson hadn’t noticed at all.

“Oh, I’m happy for you,” House said in a tone that said the opposite. “I’m simply a bit worried about what kind of havoc the devil’s brat will wreck upon the world once it’s been birthed from the flames of—”

Wilson held up his hand, eyes darkening. “House. Don’t.”

House snapped his mouth shut. He wanted to continue, wanted to ask, ‘so, should I post a warning on the religious sites about the devil walking the earth?’, but he couldn’t, because Wilson looked angry and hurt all at once.

“I know you don’t like her,” Wilson said, “and I know you don’t like children. But it’s my child – can’t you even try to be civil about it? I’m not asking you to be the godfather – you don’t really ever have to see him or her, if it’s so repulsive to you. I’m just asking you to be my friend.”

House glared. “You chose her, not me.”

“And I can’t have both? What happened to that self-sacrificing person I talked to?” Wilson asked. “Why does it bother you so much?”

“It doesn’t,” House said, rather loudly. “I don’t care either way – go have the bitch’s baby, get tied down for the rest of your life, be with her, marry her – fourth time’s the charm, right? – but don’t expect me to be there for you to cry on my shoulder when you come home and realize she’s cooked the baby for dinner.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Wilson exclaimed angrily, his eyes blazing. “We’re not having this baby to spite you! We’re having it because we want it – I want a child!”

“Of course you do – you’ll be hard pressed to find any needier creature than a baby,” House snarled.

Wilson stood, nostrils flaring. He opened his mouth to say something, but bit his lips together. He turned, crossing the room. As he pulled open the glass door, he spun around and faced House once more.

“It must be hard to care so little,” he said, and House could not decide if there was pity in his voice, or anger or sadness. Or perhaps it was recognition, perhaps Wilson had seen his rant for what it really was – a statement about how much House cared about Wilson, how much he needed Wilson. In his attempt to dissect the statement, House missed his chance to reply, and Wilson disappeared out the door. Both cups of coffee stood untouched.

In the weeks following, Wilson said greeted House on the occasions when their paths crossed – House hardly ever responded – but other than that, the two didn’t exchange a single word.

House found that he had never felt quite so lonely before. He had always chosen solitude over the company of others, but it had never led to the sense of loneliness. Perhaps that was because Wilson had always been there, a safe, sturdy fixture, year after year and even after House tested the relationship over and over again. House could fight with Vogler and indirectly get Wilson fired, and he could piss of Tritter and thereby force Wilson to close down his practice, and he could steal a dead patient’s drugs and overdose, but they had always come back to each other. Wilson had always forgiven him.

But this time there was something more important on the line for Wilson – his child. Wilson’s priorities had changed and where House had been at the top of the list before, the unborn baby had now taken his place, pushing House down to the second. Perhaps even third, considering Cutthroat Bitch, although House wasn’t entirely sure about what Wilson felt for her, no matter what he said.

Cases came and passed, House solving them, yelling at the fellows and scaring the patients, his mood fouler than ever. When he had brought the latest patient, a teenage girl, to tears, Lisa Cuddy showed up in his office.

“You made her cry!” Cuddy exclaimed.

“You have a big ass,” House replied. “And on the next round of ‘State The Obvious’?”

“House,” warned Cuddy. “You’re going to apologize to her.”

“Now why would I do that?”

“They’re threatening to sue the hospital,” Cuddy said.

“And I care because…?”

Cuddy placed her hands on her hips, glaring hotly at House. She tried to look intimidating, but had never succeeded as far as House was concerned.

“What on earth is wrong with you?” Cuddy asked. “You’re threatening to fire your fellows, you’re making the nurses run for their lives, and you’re making patients cry! That’s harsh, even for you.”

“Did Kutner come to weep on mommy’s shoulder?” House asked nastily.

“House,” Cuddy said. “This can’t go on.”

“Why not? It’s fun.”

“Go talk to Wilson,” Cuddy said.

“Have I been mean to him too?” House asked in a childish voice. “Did the big bad House make wittle Wilson pee his—”

“House!” Cuddy said furiously. “Either go talk to Wilson, or I’m sending you home right now.”

“Can’t, I have a case,” House said.

“I don’t care,” Cuddy said.

“I’m telling the patient you don’t care about her,” House said. “I’m sure that’ll get them out of their wish to sue the hospital.”

“House, I mean it. Either you go talk to Wilson and calm down, or you go home. I can have a decision from the Board this afternoon about suspending you if I have to – they’ve been itching for it since your rendez-vous with the electrical socket.”

“That was over a year ago,” House said.

“I don’t think they care,” Cuddy said. “It’s not like you haven’t done harebrained things lately, and that Vicodin addiction of yours is always a safe topic to bring up around the directors.”

House opened his mouth to speak, but Cuddy interrupted him before he could.

“No, no witty retorts or cutting remarks,” she said, holding up her hand. “You’re going to talk to Wilson, or you’re going home. Within the hour.”

She left, stalking of down the corridor with her heels clicking against the floor. House stared moodily after her, angry that she had to interfere with his life yet again. When would they learn? Interfering never ended well.

He popped a Vicodin, because while it didn’t dull the ache in his heart – and he nearly slapped himself for that sentimental thought – it did dull the pain in his leg, which had increased tenfold in the last few weeks. He could almost hear Wilson’s voice, telling him that it was all psychosomatic and in his head, and he pushed the thought away. He was not in emotional pain! He did not miss Wilson! The notion was ridiculous.

Yet he could not bring himself to go talk to him. He knew such a conversation couldn’t end well – they had already had it, several times, and it hadn’t ended well once. So an hour later, Cuddy stood at his door, two guards with her.

“Two guards against a cripple – overkill, much?” House sneered, hobbling past them, glaring hotly at Cuddy all the while.

They followed him to the hospital entrance, and House wondered if he should put up more of a fight. But he had no energy left. He wanted to go home, and then he wanted to get a bottle of whiskey or four out, and he wanted to drink himself to oblivion.

He saw Foreman, Thirteen, Kutner and Taub watching him from the second floor as he stood in the doorway. Thirteen looked sad – she was nearly as easy to read as Cameron – whilst Foreman’s face was neutral, obviously not caring one way or another about what happened. If House was gone, Foreman would run the show. Kutner and Taub watched curiously.

Then House saw a flash of brown hair and brown eyes, standing at the other end of the lobby. Wilson watched him, eyebrows pinched together, and he looked as though he was fighting with himself, perhaps about whether to go talk to House or not. House felt the same way – perhaps they could talk it through, get through everything. But before House had more than a second to contemplate the idea, the image of Cutthroat Bitch entered his mind, and in his mind’s eye, he saw Wilson and her together, Wilson’s hand on her belly, content and happy, a family, and House knew that there was no place for him in that picture.

Best let it be.

He turned, without saying a word, before Cuddy had time to start raving about how he had to leave. The sun shone outside, but House couldn’t feel the warmth – his heart felt as cold as ice, his body wrecked with pain and his soul completely empty.

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