House can’t find Wilson anywhere.

He can ignore it and go home on his own, but there’s an image burnt into his mind, and it won’t leave him alone. Every time House closes his eyes, it’s back, multi-colored and moving but without sound, so really, more like a silent movie than an image.

He sees Wilson’s face crumble when House yells at him to get out, that it’s over, that they’re finished. He yells that he doesn’t want Wilson anymore.

He can’t even remember what they were fighting about. Vicodin, probably. Wilson pushes hard, and it hasn’t lessened since they got together, more together, than they were before. Wilson hates being the enabler, but he can’t not do it, because then House will do incredibly stupid stuff, like steal Oxycodone and overdose on it with alcohol. House knows it’s destroying Wilson, that he’s the one who’s slowly killing his best friend, his lover, his—House doesn’t know what they are to each other, what they should call one another.

Either way, House can’t find him.

He’s looked in all the usual spots – Wilson’s office, the oncology doctors’ lounge, the cafeteria, Cuddy’s office, and half a dozen other places where Wilson isn’t hiding.

He wouldn’t call it worrying, what he’s doing. House doesn’t worry; it’s not the kind of person he is. He decides to call the nagging at the back of his mind ‘curiosity’ instead, which he knows is a lie, but then everybody lies, right? He does too – he’s lied to Wilson, and Stacy, and of course the ducklings, usually about little things, but once he lied and said he had a brain tumor, and apparently, that was bad. This time, the lie is only to himself – no one else even needs to know that he’s looking for Wilson.

Except perhaps for Cuddy, who seems to have a way to sniff him out whenever he’d done something bad, lately especially where Wilson is concerned.

“Where’s Wilson?” she asks.

“Don’t know, but if you close your eyes and count to one hundred, you can go look for him,” House says.

She glares at him, and he deliberately looks down her cleavage instead of look her in the eye. “House—”

“Wow, that’s a nice shirt,” House says.

“House! Where’s Wilson?”

“Probably off crying somewhere—” House mutters, and regrets it immediately.

What did you do?” Cuddy asks.

“Nothing that you need to know,” House snaps. “I’m going to find him.”

Cuddy places her hands on her hips in an attempt to look menacing. She rarely manages, because she rarely has something that House is afraid to lose, and today is one of those days when she doesn’t manage.

“See that you do,” she says icily.

She storms off, never uttering a threat of what will happen if House doesn’t patch things up with Wilson. House can hear the words anyway – If he resigns because of you, I’ll fire you, or something along those lines.

He puts her out of his mind; she’s not the reason he wants to find Wilson anyway. He ponders instead, why Wilson fled the scene after House’s words – usually, he stays and shouts at House, until they are drawn together like magnets, meshing in a flurry of kisses and touching, with great make-up sex afterwards. It has happened on more occasions than House has fingers, and Wilson has never turned and run away before.

He heads outside, deciding that Wilson is not hiding in the hospital. Fall has turned the leaves of the trees orange and red, and they look a bit like fire when the wind moves them back and forth. It’s cold, and the sun hides behind large, dark gray clouds that fill the sky. It will start raining soon, and House glares up at it, daring it to start as he rides his motorcycle home.

Wilson’s cell phone and pager are both off. House doesn’t leave messages; there is no use.

He checks at home to be sure, although he’s fairly certain Wilson won’t be hiding there. On the few occasions when Wilson’s mood is dampened for various reasons – usually, they have to do with House, but sometimes, he gets depressed about his work or a particular patient, House knows – he rarely finds his peace in their apartment. Too much of you, he once said to House, and House can almost understand it.

He heads out again, and the rain that has now started pouring down makes him grab his car keys instead of the keys to the bike. He gets wet during the short walk to the car. Once inside, he tries to think like Wilson. House knows Wilson isn’t at home or at the hospital, which leaves a great deal of other places where he could be. Any of the hundred bars in Princeton, or simply out walking. If he’s upset enough, he won’t even notice the rain.

House drives up and down the streets of Princeton, in the area where most of the bars are. It takes him half an hour to locate Wilson’s car, and when he does, he parks his own car and gets out. It isn’t a good neighborhood, and House’s heart lurches a little at the thought of finding Wilson mugged or beaten in one of the alleys.

He hobbles along down the street, umbrella in one hand and cane in the other. He knows he’s an easy target if someone decides to try anything, and he scowls as threateningly as possible to keep the idiots away. He only wants one idiot, and he can’t seem to find him.

Only, after fifteen minutes of walking, House does find him.

Wilson is sitting on the curb, soaking wet, his hair plastered down the sides of his face. He is shaking, and for a second, House wonders if Wilson is crying. There is no way to tell; rain has soaked his face as well, mixing with any tears that may or may not have been there. House hopes Wilson isn’t crying, because he doesn’t think he’s equipped to handle such a situation.

“This seat taken?” he asks, poking Wilson’s arm with his cane.

Wilson looks up, eyes wide and red, and House thinks that yes, he’s probably been crying.

“House?” he asks disbelievingly.

“The one and only,” House says.

“What are you doing here?”

“Rescuing the damsel in distress,” House says. He holds out his cane. “This is my stallion.”

Wilson stares at him, no hint of a smile on his lips. There is emptiness in his eyes, and his voice is hollow when he speaks.

“Go away.”

House shakes his head, and, with great difficulty, he sits down next to Wilson. The umbrella isn’t helping much, especially in the wind, but he still keeps it and tries to hold it over the both of them. It doesn’t matter, because sitting down on the curb has his pants soaked through in seconds, and Wilson is already as wet as he can get.

“Can’t go away,” House says. “I need my damsel with me.”

“I’m not your damsel,” Wilson snaps, and moves to get up.

House is faster, grabbing Wilson’s wrist and holding it tight. Wilson stares at him, slightly shocked, perhaps surprised that House has initiated touch, or that it’s a grip so tight it’s almost painful.

“I – can’t – let – you – go,” House says slowly.

Wilson’s eyes are wide, and emotions flash through them, so quickly House can’t label them all, but there’s hurt, love, pain, longing—

Wilson slumps down with a sigh. They aren’t touching, except where House is still holding onto Wilson’s wrist, because he’s afraid that if he lets go, Wilson will run again – and House doesn’t have the speed that Wilson does when it comes to running.

“Why are you being nice?” Wilson asks softly.

“I might be an alien,” House says. “I’m not sure.”

Wilson smiles slightly, a pained smile, but he leans against House. They’re both wet enough that it looks like they’ve taken a bath in their regular clothes, but Wilson doesn’t seem to care. House likes the feeling of Wilson against him, even when it’s a very wet Wilson.

“It wasn’t you,” Wilson says, although House hasn’t asked. “Today. It—well, it was you, but—not.”

“You’re making perfect sense, as always,” House says.

Wilson doesn’t react to his baiting. “He’d’ve been forty today. Or maybe he is forty today. I don’t know.”

It takes House a moment to understand what Wilson is talking about, but he realizes that Wilson is talking about Michael. The lost brother. The one Wilson hasn’t seen in nearly a decade.

“I just—I remembered when he turned twenty,” Wilson says. “We had a party for him and he—I made him angry. I don’t know what I did, but I made him mad. And he told me—”

He trails off, but House has no trouble hearing what Wilson isn’t saying.

Get out! I don’t want you here. I don’t want you near me ever again.

House hates Wilson’s brother. If he ever runs into him, he knows he will kill Michael for hurting Wilson so badly.

It makes him feel ill, when he realizes that he and Michael are the same, both hurting Wilson.

“I didn’t mean it,” House says, though he isn’t quite sure if it’s true or not. He might have meant it when he said it.

Wilson calls him on it, looking up at him with beautiful brown eyes. “You did.”

“Not anymore,” House says, and it’s true.

“You’re not him, House,” Wilson says softly.

House places his arm around Wilson, rain dripping from his fingers.

“I hurt you,” House says, the closest he will come to an apology. He doesn’t like to apologize; it’s a weakness, and he hates being weak. The cane is more than enough weakness.

“You came back,” Wilson says. “He never did. He still isn’t coming back.”

House doubts Michael Wilson will ever come back; it seems likely that he’s dead and has been dead for a while. A part of him hopes he is, so that Wilson won’t have to face him and be disappointed, but another part of him hopes he’s alive, so that Wilson can—well, he doesn’t know what Wilson’s supposed to do, but something that makes him feel better.

It’s not up to him, either way. House can’t bring Michael to Wilson, whether he wants to or not. He’s glad it’s not his choice.

“Can we go home now?” he asks. “Before we turn into water too?”

Wilson smiles slightly. “I like rain.”

“Yeah, well, we can sit inside and look at it,” House says.

Wilson stands, and helps House up silently. The rain keeps falling, but since they can’t possibly get any wetter, House grabs Wilson and pulls him in for a kiss. It’s wet, of course, and there’s a hint of salt on Wilson’s lips, but neither man minds.

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