“Hey, if it’ll make you feel better, we could always have sex.”
It was the sort of sarcastic remark that could have come out in any of a thousand different conversations they’d shared on House’s couch over the years. Yet it never had happened until this specific moment, when reality bifurcated because House realized that two opposing positions existed simultaneously:
First, he hadn’t known until the moment the words escaped his mouth that such an idea was even conceivable, let alone desirable, let alone this desirable that he could feel his palms sweating, awaiting Wilson’s response.
Second, he’d been strategizing, setting up this moment since he and Wilson had first met. Five divorces now of carefully prodding the wounds of Wilson’s psyche until he’d finally come back with the answer that he wanted: that this time, Wilson was ready, would at last make that final commitment, and whoever claimed him now would have him for life.
In a way, he’d just proven that complete contradictions were possible. It was kind of cool. He’d have to tell Wilson, as soon as they sorted out his latest outrageous statement.
Wilson sighed and rubbed at the nape of his neck where the hairs were just starting to grey – but in a handsome, dignified way, unlike House’s own decay into something resembling a street bum – and took another sip of his beer like he was really considering the option. After what felt like an eternity, he finally shrugged and said, “It would probably be a lot easier.”
It wasn’t a no. Without spontaneously developing vaginas, that was about as close to a deep relationship talk as they were going to get. “Yeah, I get that a lot. On my performance review every year: ‘easy to work with’.” Fighting the urge to gulp, House closed those final six inches that had always been between them on the couch until their thighs were brushing.
Wilson looked at him askance, head resting on the couch back, almost out of focus he was so close, but his lips still felt like they were miles away. He didn’t pull away, though. “I must be out of my mind,” he sighed, resigned to his fate.
“Actually, you passed insane with Wife #3 and have been officially masochistic since you proposed to #5. Speaking of which, when you inevitably ask: The answer is no.”
Wilson squinted in a failed effort at raising just one eyebrow as he considered that statement. “I don’t think I’m even legally allowed to ask.”
“And marrying Jill wasn’t masochistic. This is masochistic.” And Wilson leaned in and kissed him, which was good considering the fact that House probably would have kept up the banter indefinitely rather than make that leap himself.
All in all, it was a pretty mediocre kiss. It wasn’t horrible, and House appreciated the touch of tongue Wilson put in at the end, but it wasn’t like the world fell away and it was only them or anything cutesy and romantic like that. It didn’t matter, though; House wasn’t in this for the sex, and Wilson probably wasn’t either.
Wilson finally pulled back, sighed a little, and commented half to himself, “Well, okay then…”
“Yeah.” House flicked on the TV. He also flung his arm over the back of the couch so that his knuckles could brush those grey hairs at the back of Wilson’s neck that he’d been studying for far too long. Their thighs continued to press together. House hated to admit it, but it was all very…nice.
“I’m not gay, you know.”
And given that Wilson had just had his tongue in House’s mouth, that statement seemed absolutely hilarious. House fought his instinctive smile and kept his attention riveted to the TV.
Wilson paused, considered, and reached for his cell phone. “Mexican or chili dogs tonight?”
Wilson had all of their favorite take-out places on speed-dial. “You’re a manipulative bastard, you know,” he announced casually as he waited for the phone to ring.
It was like nothing had changed and everything had changed, all at the same time. Yet another contradiction. “You love me for it,” House retorted.
Wilson didn’t bother to acknowledge or agree or anything else trite. Instead, he bullied Taco Plaza into putting extra cheese on their nachos. House thought he was in love.
“What are you smiling at?” Wilson demanded suspiciously after he’d made the employee at the other end repeat their order.
“Free food. What’s not to smile about?” House retorted and took a swig of his own beer.
“You’re making me pay…” It wasn’t a question, of course. Wilson hadn’t made that statement a question for almost twenty years now. It was more of a scheming, treacherous sort of tone instead.
House turned narrowed eyes in Wilson’s direction.
“Wouldn’t that make you the girl?” Wilson concluded maliciously, snapping his phone shut with finality.
“Just for that, you’re sleeping on the couch tonight,” House sulked.
“I sleep on the couch anyway.”
House just shrugged. There was nothing on TV. He flicked back through to the Soap Network, put the old ‘Days of Our Lives’ rerun on mute, and turned to kiss Wilson again.
This time was much better. He got his fingers tangled deep in Wilson’s hair, and Wilson let out a little groan and twisted so that he was straddling House’s left thigh. A side advantage was that House now had unfettered access to the curve of Wilson’s ass. Middle age had taken enough of Wilson’s youthful build that he was now getting squishy around the middle, but that ass had remained in pure and pristine condition for House’s own personal enjoyment.
It seemed that, while sex wasn’t the point, it certainly wasn’t going to be any difficulty.
“Why, James,” House snarked when evidence of Wilson’s lack of difficulty brushed his stomach, “I thought you said you weren’t gay.”
“Shut up,” Wilson retorted good-naturedly, and his teeth twisted House’s earlobe hard enough to elicit a yelp. “I’m a walking contradiction.”
“No fair,” House pouted. “You stole my analogy for us.”
Wilson laughed and, with a sigh, fell back to the couch beside House, their arms still loosely looped around each other. “You’re not a contradiction, House; you’re a contrary.”
“Close enough.” House watched Belle pull away from Shawn’s latest advances. “We’re ridiculous old men who should know better by now.”
“But we don’t,” Wilson retorted with impeccable logic. “That’s sort of the point.”
House grunted in agreement and turned off the muting. Belle was overacting so much that nothing short of a truly melodramatic speech could be coming forth. He leaned forward, elbows on knees, to absorb every word of mediocre writing.
Wilson, now that he’d been given permission, didn’t seem to be able to keep his hands to himself. His fingertips trailed up and down House’s spine over the fabric of his t-shirt in a tantalizing way.
“What?” House demanded, turning his head to see Wilson staring at him with an almost unholy gleam in his eyes.
“Just to be clear: Tonight?” Wilson sounded like a kicked puppy, all hopeful and unsure of himself.
House smacked his hand away. “Sure, whatever. Now, shut up. I want to watch this.” It was best not to let the romantic goop start or Wilson might be incapable of stopping.
Behind him, Wilson started to chuckle to himself in a downright infuriating way.
House gave him the evil eye when he missed Belle’s latest outbreak of tears due to Wilson’s inexplicable guffaws. “Okay, now I really mean it: You’re sleeping on the couch tonight.”
“Your loss,” Wilson retorted, sounding supremely disinterested.
“Oh, no, you don’t,” House glared at him. “You’re never sleeping on the couch again.”
Wilson just smiled at how little sense those two statements made when taken together, like House’s inherent insanity didn’t bother him at all.
Maybe House didn’t know anything. Maybe they were meant to be.
It was the one time when it didn’t bother him when the universe tried to contradict him.