The Banquet


A part of him was certain House would never show, so when he finally did enter the foyer of the hotel where the banquet was held, Wilson couldn’t help but stare. House hadn’t shaved, hadn’t fixed his hair, hadn’t done much of anything – except put on a suit, and a blue button-down shirt beneath it, and that made all the difference to House’s usual jeans and scruffy t-shirt routine.

He looked breathtaking.

House headed in Wilson’s direction immediately, eyes seeking him out and finding their target within two seconds of entering.

“I showed up,” he said. “Can I leave now?”

“You only just arrived,” Wilson said, rolling his eyes.

“And now I can only just go,” House said. “This isn’t really my scene.”

“What is your scene – a piano and a bottle of Vicodin?”

“Oh, testy,” House said, smirking. “Is Cuddy having you pull double-duty on the ass kissing tonight?”

“Yeah, she gave me your load too, seeing how she wouldn’t dare to leave you close to any of the donors without supervision and a gag.”

“Aw, that hurts,” House said, the look on his face telling Wilson that it did no such thing.

The two headed further into the hotel. The entire lower floor had been rented for the night’s banquet, and there were poker tables set up here and there, waiters and waitresses scurrying around with plates. An attractive young waitress came up to them, offering them each a glass of champagne. She smiled invitingly at Wilson.

House grabbed Wilson’s arm and pulled him away before he could strike up conversation with the young woman.

“I was just going to say thanks,” Wilson muttered.

“That’s what you always say,” House said. “And then suddenly, I’m invited to your wedding.”

“It must be great to always have that punch-line to lean back on,” Wilson said with a glare.

“It is,” House said. Then he stole the glass of champagne Wilson had taken, and downed it in a single gulp.

“There was a glass for you too, you know,” Wilson said, wondering why he even bothered.

“Can’t save you from the women and hold the cane and a glass at the same time,” House said. “Cripple, remember?”

“How could I forget?” Wilson muttered.

Still, he smiled, because House seemed to be in a good mood tonight. It was a nice change to all of House’s usual grumpiness and general misery. Wilson wondered what had brought the mood on, but decided to not try to analyze it at the moment.

Cuddy came over, wearing a low-cut dress that showed off every curve on her body. Wilson looked at House, and wondered why House felt entitled to drag him away whenever he wanted to speak to a female, while House was allowed to let his eyes roam freely over Cuddy’s – or any other hot woman’s – body.

“Feeling particularly voyeuristic today?” House asked Cuddy.

“You could just tell me you like the dress, House,” Cuddy said, rolling her eyes at him.

“I like what’s in the dress,” House said. “Or rather, I’d like it out of the dress—”

“House, be quiet,” Cuddy said. “There are a few donors who’d like to see you. Could you possibly try to be not yourself for just a little while?”

“Where’s the fun in that?” House asked. “They should know what they’re donating to.”

“I’ll give you a week off clinic duty if you play nice with them for five minutes,” Cuddy said.

Wilson watched the two interact with interest. House’s relationship with Cuddy was one of constant struggle and give and take – usually Cuddy giving and House taking, but that was the way it was with House – and listening to the two banter was always a good deal of fun.

On top of that, simply listening to House speaking seemed to make Wilson lose interest in everything on these days. It had taken him a while to realize it for what it was – and when he did realize, he had no idea what to do with the knowledge. Having a crush on House was a Bad Idea, with capital letters.

“Five minutes with Mr. and Mrs. Boring, and you give me one week off clinic duty,” House said, pondering the offer.

“Five pleasant minutes with Mr. and Mrs. Bennett,” Cuddy said, eyes narrowing.

“Fine,” House said after a moment, shrugging. “I’ve dressed up like a monkey in a suit; I might as well play the part.”

Cuddy turned to Wilson. “Can I trust you to drag him out of there if he goes off on a tangent?”

Wilson smiled slightly, and nodded.

Cuddy disappeared into the crowd, and Wilson made his way over to the Bennetts. He had spoken to them on an earlier occasion or two, on other banquets. The couple was ridiculously wealthy – Mr. Bennett owned several large companies – and they gave millions to Princeton Plainsboro every year. Wilson didn’t know what they wanted with House, and he could only hope that House would behave himself.

The Bennetts were sipping on champagne and speaking quietly to one another when Wilson and House came over.

“Mr. and Mrs. Bennett,” Wilson said, assuming the role of introducer. “This is Dr. House; Dr. Cuddy tells me you wanted to speak to him?”

“Ah, yes,” Mr. Bennett said. He held out a hand to House, who looked as though he was going to ignore it until Wilson elbowed him in the side.

“Greg House,” he said, rather gruffly, as though it pained him to be brought down to the level of actually speaking nicely to donors – or simply speaking nicely to other human beings, period.

“John Bennett,” Mr. Bennet said. “This is my wife Charlotte.”

“We just wanted to meet you,” Mrs. Bennett said. “You treated my nephew a few years ago, and he always tells us how brilliant you were.”

“Are,” House corrected her. “I’m still brilliant.”

“And modest,” Wilson said with a smile, which made the Bennetts laugh. “Dr. House is the head of our Diagnostics department, as I’m sure you know.”

“Yes,” Mr. Bennett said. “I hadn’t heard of that kind of department before.”

“No, it’s not very common,” Wilson said. “It takes a certain kind of doctor to take on the cases Dr. House is assigned.”

“I’m sure it does,” Mrs. Bennett said. For some odd reason, she seemed charmed by House – perhaps she thought his demeanor was shy rather than bored, as Wilson knew House already was.

“So,” said Mr. Bennett, “What’s the strangest case you’ve ever had?”

House seemed to think about it for a moment, and Wilson was fairly certain that whatever would come out of House’s mouth would not be the most interesting, but the most gross.

He was correct.

“There were these two kids – married –who came in and started showing the same symptoms, and we knew it was a genetic disease. Turns out they were half siblings,” House said ponderingly. “And then there was this HIV-positive kid who turned out to have parasitic cysts, and when they broke because I—”

Wilson elbowed him again, and House stopped, glaring with great annoyance at him. Donors did not need to know that House had shoved the patient and that that was the reason why the cysts broke and he went into anaphylactic shock.

Mrs. Bennett looked rather shocked, and Mr. Bennett didn’t seem to know what to make of House.

Wilson took House by the arm. “Perhaps something less—over the top?”

“They asked for the strangest,” House said, shrugging.

He looked at his watch, which he’d been continuously doing during the conversation with the Bennetts. Wilson suddenly realized why – he was waiting for the five minutes to be over, so that he could start being rude and still have his week free of clinic duty.

“Well, it’s been nice seeing you,” Wilson said quickly, shaking the Bennetts’ hands. “We need to continue on – lots of people here who want to meet Dr. House.”

“I’m sure,” Mrs. Bennett said. “Thank you.”

Wilson smiled, and then dragged House away before he could say anything. He suspected the five minutes were just about up.

When out of earshot, House confirmed it. “I was just about to start having some fun.”

“Cuddy wouldn’t have given you your free clinic week if you did,” Wilson said.

“Yes, she would have,” House said. “I was nice to them. She didn’t specify what was to happen after the five minutes.”

“Do I have to monitor you all night now, to keep you from harassing them?” Wilson asked.

“Nah, I’m bored,” House said.

“That’s what worries me.”

“You worry too much.”

“Yeah, well, one of us has to,” Wilson said.

House looked around. “I’m going to the bar. It’s free bar all night, right?”

“Don’t drink yourself to oblivion,” Wilson said, although his mind supplied him with images of what he could do with a severely drunk House, preferably one who wouldn’t remember what had happened, come morning.

“Why not?”

“Just don’t,” Wilson said.


“Yeah, that’s me,” Wilson said. “James Bore Wilson.”

“Not as fun initials,” House said.

Wilson chuckled despite himself. He had a hard time these days, to keep from smiling in House’s company. It would probably give him away sooner rather than later – House was a bloodhound when it came to finding out Wilson’s secrets – but he couldn’t help himself. House was funny and exciting to be around. He’d always thought so – it was just a little more these days.

“Are you coming?” House asked. “I’m not drinking by myself.”

Wilson hadn’t thought House would ask him to come along, and with another slight smile, he shrugged. “Fine. But I’m having a soda.”

“I could spike your soda,” House said.

Wilson decided that he needed to keep close track on his drink, whatever he ordered.

“It’s a banquet,” he said, “a Thanksgiving banquet. We’re not supposed to get drunk.”

“No, we’re supposed to be eating some weird kind of turkey and be thankful for stuff,” House said. “I’m doing neither.”

“How unusual, you ignoring a holiday,” Wilson said.

“Hey, I’ve celebrated Christmas with you several times,” House said.

They made their way through the crowd. Wilson said hello to people this way and that, somehow knowing most of the guests by name.

“Your definition of celebrating Christmas is to sit by the piano, drink Scotch, eat takeout, and have me give you presents,” Wilson said.

“Works for me,” House said. “And you haven’t whined before.”

He hadn’t; Wilson liked their Christmases. They were always much calmer and much more serene than the Christmases he’d spent with his wives or, many years ago, the holidays spent with his family. His family had fought and screamed, his older brother running off, and his younger brother crying in a corner. His Christmases with his wives hadn’t been quite so bad, but they’d all been full of the knowledge that the marriages weren’t going to last, that both he and the wife in question were there simply because they were supposed to be there, not because they wanted to.

“I’m not whining,” Wilson said.

“Really? It sounds a lot like it,” House said.

They reached the bar, and House ordered for both of them. When he didn’t get Wilson a soda, but an Appletini, Wilson looked at House with raised eyebrows.

“Gay drink for the gay doctor,” House said, glint of evil in his eyes.

Wilson choked on his own tongue. What had House just said?

House looked amused as Wilson gasped for breath. “Anything you want to tell me?”

“W-what? No,” Wilson spluttered.

Had House already figured it out? He had shown no signs up until now that he knew about Wilson’s recently developed feelings, but he knew that House tended to instinctively know everything about Wilson.

“You sure?”

“Yes!” Wilson said.

“The man doth protest too much, methinks,” House said innocently.

“What are you on about?” Wilson asked, finally finding his voice and lacing it with the disbelieving tone he often spoke to House in. He hoped it sounded real.

House smiled. “Will you mind terribly if I kiss you now, then?”

Wilson’s thoughts came to a full stop once again. He worked hard to try and form a coherent word, but he couldn’t.

House’s smirk was firmly in place as he leaned forward, gaze meeting Wilson’s steadily. Wilson felt his heart beating faster, the sound of it pounding in his ears.

It was over before he had time to truly register it; a chaste, quick peck on the lips that left him tingling.

House leaned back, looking smug.

Wilson glanced around, and found that a few people were looking at him, whispering to the person standing next to them. It seemed quieter than it had a moment ago, but Wilson wasn’t sure if that was just his imagination.

“If you close your mouth and stop looking like a goldfish, maybe they’ll stop staring,” House suggested.

Wilson blinked, focusing on House. The fact that he looked absurdly hot, leaning against the counter, one hand lazily holding onto his drink and blue eyes completely focused on Wilson, didn’t fail to register in Wilson’s mind, and he felt his own body respond to the image.

He swallowed, finally closing his mouth.

“There you go,” House said. “Wasn’t so hard.”

“You—” Wilson started, but had no idea of where he was going. The word ‘hard’ registered a bit too thoroughly in his mind-

“Me,” House said smugly.

“You kissed me,” Wilson said.


In public.”


Wilson didn’t appreciate the calmness House was emitting. His own head felt as though it was going to explode from all the questions, thoughts and feelings, and he didn’t like having House look as though he casually kissed his friends on an everyday basis.

Why?” he finally asked.

“Oh, Jimmy, do I need to explain the birds and the bees to you?” House asked, rather dramatically shaking his head.

Wilson glared, starting to come to his senses again. His lips still tingled, which was rather distracting, but House’s irritatingly smug smile brought back the want to strangle him. It was a desire that hit Wilson regularly.

“Are you just playing with me?” Wilson asked.

“Me, playing?” House asked innocently. “Really, Wilson, how little you think of me.”

Wilson was getting fed up with House’s games. It too was a familiar feeling.

Glaring at House, whose arrogant expression didn’t disappear, Wilson hopped off his chair, and stalked away.

His mind was still reeling, questions forming with every second that passed. Had House kissed him just to show that he knew that Wilson was in love with him? Had he kissed him because it meant something? Was it just screwing with Wilson’s head, as House was so fond of doing?

He reached the entrance and pushed the doors open, walking out into the chilly night. He didn’t get far though – about thirty feet outside the hotel, the energy seemed to drain from him, and he dropped down on the small set of stairs that led down to the street.

He ran a hand through his hair.

“You’ll mess up that pretty hairdo of yours.”

House’s voice came from above, and he found House standing a few feet away.

“It’s not the only thing of mine that’s messed up,” Wilson shrugged, rather unhappily.

“What else, then?” House asked.

“Um, let’s see,” Wilson said, pretending to think. “There’s the three ex-wives. There’s the fact that I don’t really have friends. There’s the job that involves telling other people they’re going to die. Oh, and then there’s you.”

He glared at House, who made his way over to him, and sat down awkwardly on the stairs beside Wilson, cane resting between his legs.

“We’re messed up?” House asked.

“You just kissed me!” Wilson said.

“To prove that you’re in love with me,” House said.

“So what if I am? How does that give you the right to kiss me?”

“You didn’t punch me in the face and stalk away,” House said. “Well, you did stalk away, but not until later.”

“That doesn’t mean—oh, this is pointless,” Wilson said, throwing his hands into the air. “You don’t get it.”

House regarded him quietly. “So you’re not in love with me, then?”

“Of course I’m in love with you,” Wilson snapped, and then he wondered if he should have admitted that. He hadn’t said the words out loud before, and they came out sounding both natural and very strange, at the same time.

“Good,” House said. “Ditto.”


House rolled his eyes. “Me,” he said, pointing to himself, “in love with you.” He pointed to Wilson. “Clear enough?”

Wilson simply stared, and then shook his head slowly. “I suddenly get why you’ve had no girlfriends since Stacy. You have no skills whatsoever in romancing another person.”

“I have skills,” House protested. “Mad skills.”

“Yeah, see how I’m falling all over myself for you?” Wilson asked, but he couldn’t help but smile a bit.

“No need for that,” House said. “You’ve already fallen.”

True, Wilson had to admit. He didn’t know when, and he didn’t know why, but he knew he had fallen quite deeply for his best friend.

He sighed softly. “So what now?”

“What do people usually do when they’re—uh—like this?” House asked.

“I usually get married,” Wilson said.

“Then you’re wearing the dress,” House said. “I’m sure you’ll look lovely in frills with a bow on your ass.”

Wilson stared at him, and then chuckled. “You’re insane, you know.”

House looked affronted. “I’m brilliant. Didn’t you hear Mrs. Boring?”

“Bennett,” Wilson corrected automatically.

“Boring suits her better.”

Wilson couldn’t argue with that.

He moved over, closing the distance between them by settling so that their legs were touching, and he leaned his head on House’s shoulder. It was a bit of a risqué move, but he had to serve House with some payback after the stunt with the kiss in the bar.

“These are big stairs and you have to sit on top of me,” House said. “Typical needy Wilson.”

“You’re the needy one, not me,” Wilson said, smiling softly.

“Am not,” House said. “And besides, if I’m needy, it’s only because you need needy.”

Wilson lifted his head off House’s shoulder to look at him. “House, shut up.”

He kissed House, and House finally did shut up.

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