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Son of Mine

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James Wilson stood in the doorway in a crumpled blue t-shirt and stripy pajama pants, peering into the dim light of the living room. He ran a hand through his hair, which was standing up in strange little tufts on his head.

He could just about make out House, sitting at the organ Wilson was currently seriously regretting having bought for him. He could feel his head starting to pound in time with the cacophony filling the air.

“House,” he yelled, to no effect. “House!” He increased the volume to try to make himself heard over the din. Was that Wagner? “House!”

House paused, his fingers hovering over the keyboard. “What?” he snapped, without bothering to turn around.

“What?” Wilson repeated, incredulous. “What do you mean, what? House, it’s 2am.”

“Couldn’t sleep,” House grumbled as he finally looked over in Wilson’s direction.

Wilson sighed and rubbed his eyes. “And you thought it would be nice to share this experience with the entire building?”

House reached for the cane that was leaning against the stool he was sitting on and stood up. “No,” he answered. “Just you.” He limped across the room and sat on the couch.

“Now I feel privileged,” Wilson said dryly, stifling a yawn as he walked over to sit down next to House. “Is your leg bothering you?” he asked.

House threw a glare in his direction. “Of course not,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “Being in constant pain with no nasty drugs to help me through it, and having to listen to moronic questions like that, doesn’t bother me at all.”

Wilson let his head fall against the back of the couch. “So what, then?” he asked, refusing to rise to the bait.

House remained silent, and Wilson shifted to look at him, frowning at the expression on his face. It seemed almost like trepidation.

“House?” he questioned again, worried now. “What’s wrong?”

House grabbed his cane and pulled himself upright, the look on his face gone as quickly as it had arrived, leaving Wilson wondering if he’d imagined it.

“Told you,” House muttered, “can’t sleep.”

Wilson closed his eyes briefly. “And you woke me up, so you might as well tell me why now.”

“I’m going back to bed,” House said, starting to walk across the room. “And you should too,” he added. “God knows, you need the beauty sleep if you’re gonna keep peeling the panties off all those pretty young nurses at your age.” He paused as he got to the doorway. “Oh, and you might want to get some extra milk and stuff,” he said without turning around. “My son and his friend are arriving for a visit tomorrow.”

Wilson’s mouth fell open as the door shut behind House. “Your, your…what?!” he yelled at the empty room.

****

Wilson pushed the bedroom door open and glared as House grimaced at the intrusion. It was so typical of House to walk out of a room after dropping a bombshell like that, and then have the gall to act as though Wilson was the one being annoying.

“Son?” Wilson managed to splutter as he stared at the figure lying on the bed. “What do you mean, son?”

House lifted himself up on his elbows. “The same as people usually mean when they say son.” he said. “Come on, Wilson, you of all people should know how it works. Get down and dirty, have some fun…nine months later the fruit of your over-active loins puts in an appearance.” He dipped his head to one side and fixed the other doctor with a wide-eyed look. “Or did little Jimmy miss that class at med school?”

Wilson shook his head. “You’re just messing with me.”

House flopped back on the bed, expelling a breath of air. “Yeah,” he said, waving his hand in Wilson’s direction. “You’re right. I made up a kid and invited him to come stay, just for kicks.”

Wilson peered suspiciously at him. It wasn’t beyond House to have actually done that.

“You really have a kid?” he asked.

House shrugged. “Sort of.”

“How can you sort of have a kid?” Wilson was starting to get really pissed now.

Why couldn’t House ever just come out and say something? He might trip out lurid and embellished details of his sex life like other people commented on the weather, but trying to get to him to spill the things that actually mattered to him was like prising limpets off a rock. House thought admitting he was only human was too much vulnerability to allow.

“He’s 32,” House clarified, just when Wilson was gearing up to shout some more. “My kid, but not someone you could really describe as a kid.”

Wilson frowned. “So you were, what? Nineteen? Twenty?” he asked.

“Yeah,” House said. “His mom was older. She was married. It was best if I wasn’t around.”

The words came out quickly, and Wilson stared at him. He could tell when House was on edge, when something was important to him. And he could tell when House was trying to hide those things. He could also tell the difference between House being truthful and House bluffing. He moved across the room and sat on the edge of the bed.

“You never mentioned him,” he said softly, a little hurt. “We’ve known each other for all these years, and you never mentioned you have a son?”

House met his eyes, then immediately looked away again. He stilled for a moment, and Wilson could see him considering something.

House reached over to the nightstand next to the bed and pulled open a drawer. He picked a piece of paper out and held it toward Wilson, studiously avoiding looking at him.

“Here,” he said.

Wilson reached out and took it. He looked down at the image, something that seemed to have been printed from a website. He stared at the young man’s face, his high cheekbones, soft-looking curls and those intelligent blue eyes that, even looking out from a photograph, seemed to somehow see right inside you.

He looked over at House, who was lying back on the bed, staring at the ceiling. He reached to nudge his arm, and held the photograph out. “Seems like he got his mother’s good looks,” he commented.

House snorted in response as he plucked the picture from Wilson’s hand.

Wilson smiled at him as he stood and yawned.

“Okay,” he said, as if this happened every day. You got used to surprises when you spent any length of time around Gregory House. “Son and friend coming to visit tomorrow. What time do they get here?”

“Around five in the afternoon,” House told him. “Plenty of time for you to go get groceries. You should get tea,” he added as an afterthought.

Wilson paused on his route to the bedroom door and turned back toward House.

“Tea?” he frowned. The workings of his friend’s mind were difficult to follow at the best of times, but more so in the middle of the night. Had he missed something somewhere? “Why do we need tea?”

House stared at him. “British people drink tea,” he said, as though this was an obvious train of thought that Wilson should really be able to follow.

Wilson frowned. “British people?” he echoed.

“British people,” House said again, enunciating each syllable, as if talking to someone who was a little on the slow side. “Are you going to repeat everything I say?”

“Your son’s friend is British?” Wilson hazarded a guess.

House threw him an exasperated look. “Yes. And him. My son is British. Although,” he added. “Half American. Obviously. But that probably won’t show.”

“And you think he drinks tea?” Wilson asked, feeling quite exhausted.

“Tea,” House mimicked with a smirk.

Wilson glowered. “Okay, House,” he said with weary resignation as he headed through the door toward his own bedroom. “I’ll get some tea.”

****

John Watson turned the key in the door of 221B Baker Street and pushed it open awkwardly, the bags of shopping in his hands banging against the polished wood.

The room he stepped into was deserted, but there were items strewn in places they shouldn’t be, as if someone had been searching for something. John sighed as he moved to put the carrier bags on the kitchen counter.

“Sherlock?” he called, as he started picking things out of the bags and putting them away.

There was a crash from upstairs and John lifted his eyes in the direction of the sound.

“Sherlock?” he yelled again, a little louder this time.

Another crash was followed by the sound of running footsteps on the stairs.

“Ah, John,” Sherlock swept into the room. “You’re back. Good. We have a plane to catch.”

John stared at him. “A plane? Sherlock, what? Where?…Sherlock!” he shouted as his flatmate disappeared again.

John dropped the bag of pasta he was holding onto the table and followed Sherlock out of the room. He found him in the bedroom, throwing a seemingly random selection of clothing into a holdall.

John held up his hands. “Slow down,” he pleaded. “Where are we supposed to be going?”

“Gatwick,” Sherlock informed him. “And you’d better pack quickly because the taxi will be here in about half an hour. You do have a current passport?”

“Yes, but,” John closed his eyes and took a deep breath. This was peculiar, even for Sherlock. He seemed, if it were possible, even more restive than he usually was.

“Okay,” John sat on the bed among the discarded clothing and folded his arms across his chest. “I’m not moving until you tell me what’s going on.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes in exasperation, but stopped what he was doing. “We’re going to meet my father. He lives in America, Princeton to be precise, which requires us to undertake some air travel. Clear enough?”

John stared at him. “Um, I thought…I mean, I thought your dad was dead?”

“So did I,” Sherlock informed him. “But it seems Mummy was rather less than truthful when it came to exactly who my father was.” He resumed his version of packing. “Mycroft let it slip.”

Mycroft let something slip?” John said, disbelievingly.

Sherlock pondered that statement. “Or he was being nasty,” he allowed. “That is a distinct possibility.”

John wiped a hand across his brow. It had already been a long day and it looked as though it wasn’t going to end any time soon. He sighed as his hopes of sitting down in front of some mindless TV with a nice, cold beer died a final death.

“Are you sure he wasn’t just winding you up?” he asked.

“Yes,” Sherlock said, shortly. “I called him.”

“Mycroft?”

“No,” Sherlock near yelped. “My father. Do try to keep up, John.”

He dashed out of the bedroom, a pair of socks in one hand and a book on poisons in the other.

John got up off the bed and peered into Sherlock’s bag. It contained three shirts, one pair of trousers, two packs of cigarettes, five packets of nicotine patches and a small stuffed bear. It did not contain any underwear, a passport, or anything that could possibly be acting as a wash bag.

John picked up the bear and frowned at it as Sherlock hurtled back into the room. He appeared to have dropped the socks somewhere, but was still clutching the copy of Doctor Donald Davidson’s Practical Guide to Detecting Poisons.

Sherlock stared at the soft toy in John’s hand.

“What on earth are you doing with that?” he demanded.

“It’s yours,” John protested. “It was in your bag.”

Sherlock regarded him with much the same look he might bestow on an escapee from a lunatic asylum. “Don’t be ridiculous, John,” he said. “Why would I own a stuffed bear?”

“I don’t know!” John let out, and threw the thing back in the bag. “Look, just let me do the packing, all right?” He made a shooing motion with his hands. “Go away.”

Sherlock moved toward the door, then stopped and turned around. “John?”

“What?” John snapped, then caught the vulnerable look on Sherlock’s face, the one he hardly ever let show. “Sorry,” he said. “What is it?”

“You will come with me?” Sherlock asked.

John sighed and fished his phone out of the back pocket of his trousers. “Yeah, of course I will,” he told him. “Just let me call work and arrange some cover.”

“Right,” Sherlock nodded, as if it had just occurred to him that John might have other things he needed to do, which it probably had. “Good,” he continued awkwardly. “Thank you, John.”

John grinned at him. “You’re welcome,” he said, pleased at the uncommon show of gratitude.

Sherlock turned to resume his passage out of the room.

“Sherlock,” John called after him, as a thought occurred to him. “Do you know where your passport is?”

“Biscuit barrel,” came the shouted response from the disappearing figure. “Or maybe the fridge.”

John paused, phone in hand, and stared at the doorway through which Sherlock had exited.

“Why the hell would it be in the biscuit barrel?” he muttered to himself.

He’d just put a new packet of the chocolate digestives Sherlock liked so much in the biscuit barrel. He strode out of the room.

“Sherlock! It’s not in the biscuit barrel; there are biscuits in the biscuit barrel.”

****

John closed his eyes as he rested his head against the back of the aeroplane seat. After the frantic hunt for Sherlock’s passport - which actually did turn out to be in the biscuit barrel, but the one Sherlock unaccountably kept at the back of the airing cupboard, not the one that lived next to the kettle in the kitchen - followed by an equally frantic dash across London to get to Gatwick, it was a relief to finally be on the plane.

Sherlock stared out of the window, violin in its case on his lap, as the aircraft taxied across the runway.

John turned his head and opened his eyes enough to view his companion. He could practically feel the nervous tension coming off him. The knuckles of the hands clutching the violin like a security blanket were white.

He sighed. “Sherlock?” he questioned. “You all right?” he added as the detective turned to look at him.

“Fine,” Sherlock said, the tightness in his voice indicating he was anything but.

“Okay,” John said slowly. “You want to tell me what you know about this bloke?”

Sherlock made a face. “He’s a doctor, he lives in Princeton, and he’s my father.”

“Come on,” John prodded. “I know you. As soon as you found out about this, you’d have gathered up every bit of information about him you could possibly find.”

Sherlock didn’t say anything for a moment then gave a quick shrug of his bony shoulders. “His name is Doctor Gregory House. He met my mother while he was on an exchange programme in England when he was 20 years old. She got pregnant. He left.”

John frowned. “He just left?”

“From what Mycroft said, it was more a case of Mummy telling him to stay away.”

John nodded. It wasn’t hard to figure out why Sherlock’s mother wouldn’t be too keen on having her presumably much younger lover hanging around while she passed off her second son as being her husband’s.

“Your dad never suspected?” he asked.

Sherlock stared at him. “He didn’t suspect,” he said. “He knew.”

John frowned. “He knew you weren’t his?”

Sherlock nodded sharply. “It explains some things,” he said cryptically.

John opened his mouth to question him further but Sherlock held up a hand to still him.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said, warningly.

“All right,” John agreed slowly. He’d long suspected that Sherlock’s childhood hadn’t been a particularly happy one, but it was a subject he’d learned not to push him on. It was a sure fire way to shut him down completely.

“So, this Dr House,” he changed the angle of the conversation. “He asked you to come and see him?”

“He knew all about me,” Sherlock said quietly, not answering the question he’d been asked.

John stayed quiet, waiting for him to continue. He didn’t think Sherlock meant just that his father knew of his existence.

Sherlock threw him a look partway between puzzled and amazed. “He knew about my work and where I live. He knew…things.”

John smiled. Sherlock was far more easily hurt than most people imagined. John couldn’t bear it if he’d found his father only to be rebuffed by someone who didn’t give a shit.

“He’s been keeping tabs on you?” he asked.

“It seems that way,” Sherlock said quietly. “He reads your blog. He’s a diagnostician,” he added.

“A what?” John frowned at the term.

“A diagnostician,” Sherlock repeated. “They created a department for him at the hospital where he works. He takes on, and solves, the cases that no one else can.”

John shook his head slowly. “He’s a mad genius who people go to when no one else can work out what’s going on, isn’t he?”

Sherlock’s mouth quirked into a half smile.

John let out a loud groan as he rubbed his eyes. “Oh god,” he said. “I’m not sure I can cope with two of you.”

****

House sat at the table, spooning up Cocoa Puffs as Wilson buzzed around him, dishcloth in hand. “You already cleaned there,” he pointed out.

Wilson glared at him. “If you’d quit splashing milk all over the place, I wouldn’t have to do it again,” he accused. “And dinner will be ready in an hour so I don’t know why you’re even eating those.” He’d long since given up pointing out the lack of nutritional value in House’s choice of food. “Cereal is for breakfast,” he finished.

House grinned at him with his mouth full. “I’m hungry now,” he said. “And will you quit fussing like a prissy old woman? They’re not going to care if you’ve polished every last spoon we own.”

Wilson planted his hands on his hips. “I care,” he said, unnecessarily, since caring was practically his trademark.

House shook his head and got to his feet to wander over and put his bowl in the sink. He lifted his arm to frown at his watch. “They’ll be here any minute.”

Wilson moved past him and turned on the faucet to rinse out the cereal bowl. He turned his head to peer at his friend. “You’re nervous,” he observed.

“I am not,” House retorted.

“Yes, you are,” Wilson said, knowingly. “You’re eating to distract yourself because you’re nervous.”

House grimaced. “You are so annoying,” he said, but he didn’t deny it a second time.

Wilson shook his head at House. “It’ll be fine,” he said, “just try not to act like a total ass.”

“If that’s you attempting to be reassuring, you need to work on it some more,” House told him, then looked down at his feet and chewed on his lower lip. “I don’t know how to be a dad, Wilson,” he admitted quietly.

Wilson quickly schooled his features to hide his surprise at the uncharacteristic admission. He knew what House meant, and where that particular statement had come from. The older doctor rarely talked about the man who’d raised him, but Wilson had gathered enough over the years to hate the guy as much as House did.

He’d been there when House had tied himself in knots trying to avoid seeing his parents. He’d been the one to drug and kidnap his friend because he mistakenly thought he might get some sort of closure at his father’s funeral. He’d heard it when House cried out in his sleep; nightmares when his little boy voice begged for someone long gone to stop hurting him.

They didn’t talk about it, but Wilson knew, and House knew that he knew.

He reached out to squeeze his friend’s arm. “You’re a good guy, House,” he said. “I think your kid will realize that.”

House nodded once, briefly, but enough to let Wilson know he appreciated the sentiment, then pulled away, breaking the moment. “I need to sit down,” he said, his voice back to its usual waspishness as he rubbed his thigh. “Isn’t there something you need to disinfect?”

Wilson let him change the subject, and walked over to pull open the refrigerator door. As he’d expected, the milk had been put on the shelf in the door. He pulled it out and put it in the main part, where it was cooler, before turning around.

“I know, I know,” House said, waving an arm in Wilson’s direction as he limped off toward the couch. “You don’t have to say it. It gets too warm when you put it in the door.”

“So why do you keep on putting it in the door?” Wilson let the exasperation run through his words.

“Because you’re cute when you’re all OCD?” House offered.

Wilson slammed the refrigerator door shut, grumbling under his breath.

“I heard that,” House said, in an irritating, singsong tone.

“Bat ears,” Wilson accused.

“Neat freak,” House shot back.

There was a knock on the door, and both men froze.

“He’s here,” House said, rather redundantly, pulling self-consciously on the hem of his t-shirt, which, Wilson had noticed, was probably one of the least scruffy in his retro-rock themed wardrobe. He must be really nervous if he’d dressed for the occasion.

Wilson threw House a last glance as he went to open the door. He took a deep breath as he reached for the handle. He hoped with all his heart that this didn’t go badly. House had had more to deal with in his life than anyone should rightly have to. Wilson tried to fix whatever he could but, try as he might, he couldn’t fix everything. He couldn’t wave a magic wand and make his friend happy. Just for once, he wished something would turn out right for him.

****

John shifted his feet and smiled cautiously into the silence. Sherlock and the man who must be his long lost father had been standing there, staring at each other across the room, for what seemed like an age. He gave Sherlock a shove to get him through the doorway, and moved in after him. He held out his hand to the man who’d opened the door.

“Dr John Watson,” he introduced himself.

Wilson grasped the hand offered to him. “Dr James Wilson.” He smiled and turned to indicate House. “And this is Dr Gregory House.”

Sherlock ignored them both, dropping his bag on the floor and walking towards House.

John smiled apologetically at Wilson. “He’s, um, a bit preoccupied,” he offered.

“Yeah,” Wilson replied, nervously watching the younger man’s approach to House.

“Tea,” Wilson said suddenly, too loudly. He coughed and deliberately lowered his voice as he backed toward the kitchen area, keeping a wary eye on the situation. “I’ll get us some tea.”

Sherlock stopped just in front of House and peered at him as if he were a specimen under a microscope.

“You were raised on army bases,” he said. “Your father was a marine; you don’t have many friends because you’re obsessive and abrasive; you’ve recently spent time in a psychiatric facility, mainly due to an addiction to the opiate-based painkillers you used to treat the high level of chronic pain caused by the infarction you suffered in your right leg. You have a genius level IQ; you like computer games and soap operas; and you play piano and guitar.”

House stared back at Sherlock and grinned widely as he tapped his cane on the floor.

“And you,” he said, “were raised in the home counties of England; educated in the public school system and at Cambridge University. The man you never noticed wasn’t your biological father worked for the government, as your brother does now. You smoke, but you’re trying to quit; and you’re not so clean on the drugs front yourself. You also have a genius level IQ; and you play violin and piano. And,” he added, “you don’t have many friends because you’re arrogant and rude.”

Wilson drew up next to John, a tray of teacups in his hands, and the two of them looked over at their friends.

“I think they should get on just fine,” John observed wryly.

“Hey, Wilson,” House exclaimed, gesturing between himself and Sherlock. “The nature versus nurture dudes would love this one!”

“Yeah, House,” Wilson smiled back, relief seeping into his tone, “your block is well and truly chipped.” He bent to put the tray on the table, then straightened up.

“How about I show you guys your room so you can dump your stuff?” he asked. “You’ll have to share, I’m afraid.”

“We always sleep together,” Sherlock told him.

“Oh,” Wilson said, wrong footed. “Oh, um, absolutely, that’s fine. Yeah, fine,” he nodded. “Fine,” he said again.

House let out a guffaw of laughter at Wilson’s dithering. “You’re gay?” he asked Sherlock.

Sherlock nodded his assent and House rubbed his hands in glee.

“Excellent!” he said. “Maybe you can give Wilson here a kick out of the closet.” He pointed at his friend. “He’s so far in there, he’s gonna start befriending fauns any time now.”

“House!” Wilson told him off. “I’m not gay,” he said to John, then turned to Sherlock. “I’m not gay,” he repeated.

Sherlock looked him up and down, from the shiny French leather shoes to the perfectly coiffed hair.

“You’ve been married twice. No, three times. You’ve had many relationships with women, all of which have ended as disastrously as your marriages. You blow dry your hair, get regular manicures, and the most important relationship in your life is with Dr House.”

House slung his arm around Sherlock’s shoulders. “I like this kid,” he announced.

Sherlock tilted his head to look at his father. “And you…” he started, then stopped and frowned.

John raised his eyebrows at the pause. It was unlike Sherlock to censor whatever observation he’d been about to make. Perhaps he was more disconcerted by this meeting than he would like to admit.

House gave a wide grin. “I tell people I’m gay all the time,” he said cheerily, “but no one ever believes me.”

Wilson glared at him. “That’s because you’d tell people you were a cross-dressing hooker if you thought it would get a reaction out of them,” he accused, crossly.

House’s grin extended as he flicked a camp hand through his hair and blew a kiss in Wilson’s direction. “Oh, you wish,” he said.

Wilson snorted. “Whatever, House. Now can we please show our visitors around, then sit down and have some tea and a nice, civilised conversation, like normal people do?”

John picked up the bags and trailed after Wilson as he headed toward the bedroom. He was already feeling a certain kinship with the other doctor. It was sort of nice to know that he wasn’t the only person in the world putting up with Holmes-brand madness.

****

John reached out to grab Sherlock’s hand as they wandered down Nassau Street, enjoying the pleasant sunshine. Wilson and House had gone to work with the expectation of having some free time over the coming weekend, so he and Sherlock had decided to go and have a look around Princeton. It was nice to be somewhere it wasn’t raining for once.

“How about we pick up a couple of guidebooks, then grab a coffee to drink while we decide where to go?” he suggested.

Sherlock smiled at him. “Missing your morning coffee?”

“Yeah,” John laughed. “What is it with Americans thinking we drink tea and only tea? And gallons of the stuff at that.”

“The British do, in general, drink a lot of tea,” Sherlock pointed out. “Mrs Hudson, for example, thinks coffee is the work of the devil.”

John laughed. “James welcomed two total strangers into his home, moved out of his room for us and went to all that trouble to buy every kind of tea he could find,” he said. “The least we can do is drink it.”

Sherlock nodded. “What do you think of him, John?”

“James?” John questioned. “Seems like a nice guy…”

“No,” Sherlock interrupted. “My father.”

“Oh, right. Well, he seems…like you, I suppose.”

“I can’t figure out why I didn’t see it.”

“See what?” John was confused.

“That my father wasn’t my father. Did you know House realised that about his own father when he was 12 years old?”

“He didn’t mention it, no,” John frowned. Sherlock and House had stayed up talking long after he and Wilson had gone to bed, Wilson apparently bunking with House for the duration of their stay. They must have got to talking about their families. He quashed a brief stab of jealousy. Sherlock so rarely opened up about the past, and never before with anyone other than John.

“Maybe you just didn’t want to see it?” he suggested.

Sherlock raised his expressive eyebrows. “I hardly think that’s likely,” he scoffed at the idea that his mind could have deceived itself in that way.

“Hmm,” John said, distracted by a bookshop. “Come on,” he said, pulling on Sherlock’s hand. “Let’s get that guidebook. I’m desperate for a coffee.”

****

Wilson ignored the sound of his balcony door opening and kept his head bent over his paperwork.

“I’m bored,” House announced with no preamble.

Wilson sighed and looked up at him. “And I’m busy,” he returned. “I do have things to do other than entertain you, you know.”

House flopped down on the couch where Wilson generally sat to talk to his patients. “What could you possibly have to do that’s more important than entertaining me?” he pondered.

The head of Princeton-Plainsboro teaching hospital’s oncology department let out a huff of exasperated air. “Don’t you have a case?” he asked. “I swear Taub said you had a case.”

House rolled his eyes. “Yeah. A first year med student with half a brain wouldn’t have wanted what Taub dragged up. I sent him back to get someone better.” He looked thoughtful. “Or hotter,” he added. “Hotter would be good.”

“You could always try making up some of your clinic hours?” Wilson suggested.

House snorted at that. “Oh, you! There you go again, confusing me with someone who cares. Besides,” he added, with an exaggerated shudder, “there are sick people there. I might catch something.”

“Hmm,” Wilson agreed. “You’ll happily expose yourself to bubonic plague but heaven forbid you should catch something mundane. Imagine,” he added, wiggling his fingers in the air, “the great Dr. House laid low by the common cold. The horror of it.”

“You could buy me lunch?” House suggested.

“It’s 10am, Gregory. Go away.”

“Spoilsport,” House grumbled as he levered himself up off the couch and headed toward the door.

“I’ll come by your office at one o’clock,” Wilson called after him.

****

Wilson accompanied House back to his office after lunch. He’d pretty much caught up on his paperwork and had a half hour before his next appointment, a kid whose parents were trying to come to terms with his terminal diagnosis. He wouldn’t admit it if asked, but sitting in on House’s differentials gave him a break from what could sometimes be unremitting misery in his own department. And he liked watching House’s mind at work, although he’d never admit that either.

“Hello, kiddies,” House announced as Wilson joined his team at the conference room table. “What have you got for me?” He threw Taub a look. “And don’t tell me it’s another fat chick with diabetes. That is so last season.”

Taub met House’s gaze with his usual put upon expression, then pointed at the whiteboard propped up behind him. “The patient is suffering from confusion, joint pain and swelling, blurred vision, and failing hearing.”

House frowned. “Old age. You got me a patient with old age?”

“She’s 14 years old,” Taub informed him, looking decidedly smug.

House raised his eyebrows. “Cool,” he let out. “That’s weird. Ideas?” he threw to the table.

“It could be environmental?” Thirteen offered. “A toxin could cause all of those symptoms, except the hearing problems.”

“What would cause all of the symptoms including the hearing problems?” House challenged.

“Nothing,” Chase said. “This has to be more than one thing to affect so many different systems. I’m betting there’s something autoimmune in the mix, though.”

House rolled his eyes and sat down at the table, planting his cane between his feet.

“What are the chances of this kid getting two or more illnesses at the same time?”

Chase shrugged. “Pretty low,” he admitted. “But it wouldn’t be the first time.”

House rested his chin on his cane. “Go get a full patient history,” he told his team. “Draw some blood, do a tox screen, and test her for lupus.”

Three sets of eyes fixed him with disbelieving stares.

“What?” House said, innocently. “One day it will be lupus.”

His team filed out of the office and House looked over at Wilson.

“It isn’t lupus,” Wilson sighed.

“Of course not,” House agreed.

****

Sherlock and John arrived home in the late afternoon, both of them tired from their day-long hike around the city. John had picked up a few souvenirs, and they’d wandered around looking at the sights before Sherlock got fed up and dragged John to the university.

John had made himself scarce and gone to have a look around the campus while Sherlock got into a heated discussion with a chemist about a new method of identifying types of smoke residue, which Sherlock seemed to think was the height of stupidity.

When John went to find him, Sherlock announced loudly that he couldn’t see why Princeton had the reputation it had when it employed such ‘brainless imbeciles’ and that he’d be going over to the Institute of Advanced Study as soon as he could to see what they knew.

“Where?” John had huffed as he broke into a jog to catch up with Sherlock’s long strides.

“It’s a theoretical research centre,” Sherlock had told him. “At least there, they might be able to follow what I’m saying.”

John had glanced heavenwards. He wouldn’t bet on it.

He was glad to get back to the apartment, kicking off his shoes and sitting down heavily on the couch. Sherlock came and sat down next to him, still looking a little cross after his earlier confrontation.

John reached over and put a hand on his leg.

“What are you doing?” Sherlock said slowly.

“Putting my hand on your leg,” John said.

“John, we’re in my father’s apartment.”

“So?” John asked. He looked down at his watch. “They won’t be home from work for a couple of hours. We’ve got plenty of time,” he scooted closer to Sherlock.

“John,” Sherlock warned, looking nervously around him.

John chuckled. Sherlock was so without shame in some ways. He was perfectly prepared to stride around Buckingham Palace in the nude to prove a point, but when it came to sex he could be endearingly shy until they got going. John loved that side of him.

“How about we go have a lie down, then?” he suggested, running his hand further up Sherlock’s leg, smiling when his actions produced a light flush on the pale skin of Sherlock’s face. “No one’s going to just walk in to the bedroom.”

Sherlock hesitated as John carried on stroking his leg.

John decided a little more encouragement was in order and leaned over to kiss the soft skin behind Sherlock’s ear, a sensitive spot that never failed to produce a reaction. Sure enough, a fine shiver went through Sherlock’s body at the touch of John’s lips.

Sherlock leaped to his feet so suddenly that John jumped.

“Come on,” Sherlock demanded. “Bedroom.” He was a man of few words when the mood took him.

John grinned as he got to his feet.

No sooner had they shut the bedroom door behind them, then Sherlock tackled John to the bed, landing on him heavily enough to knock the breath out of him.

“Steady,” John started, but then Sherlock was kissing him, and he decided this was a singularly bad time to be talking.

Sherlock’s tongue dipped eagerly past John’s lips, swirling around his teeth and gums as if trying to map every inch of the inside of his mouth. John arched his body upwards into Sherlock’s, relishing the solid weight of him. Sherlock wriggled in response, then grabbed John’s hands and forced them above his head.

John groaned. Much as he loved shy Sherlock, he loved this dominant side that came out once they were in bed even more. It was one more ingredient in the mass of contradictions and unexpected idiosyncrasies that made Sherlock so exciting to be around. He pushed against the restraining hands and Sherlock moved to hold both his wrists with one surprisingly strong hand while the other went between them to make short work of the buttons on John’s shirt. He ran his hand over John’s chest as he moved his head to nuzzle at his neck.

John threw his head back and bit his lip when Sherlock’s hand wandered lower to pull at the belt on his jeans. He hitched in a breath as Sherlock pulled his head back to stare into his eyes as he popped open the buttons on the confining denim.

The jeans and the boxers underneath were pushed down out of the way and John’s breath caught in his throat as Sherlock gave one quick thrust against him, all the while looking into his eyes as if they were the most mesmerising sight in the world. Sherlock was just as focussed and dedicated to the task at hand when he was making love as he was when he was trying to solve a case, and John didn’t think he would ever tire of being at the centre of that rapt attention.

“Sherlock,” he breathed.

“John,” Sherlock replied softly, as he took John’s cock in his hand.

John’s hips lifted involuntarily off the bed. “Oh, mmm,” was all he managed.

Sherlock’s hand was moving slowly on him, the gentleness as enticing as it was frustrating.

John thrust upwards again. “Sherlock, please,” he begged, not caring how desperate he sounded. Sherlock tightened his hand in a little squeeze then let go of John’s wrists as he moved down his body. John’s breathing got faster as Sherlock headed southwards, taking his time as he lapped at John’s chest and stomach on the way. When his head was level with John’s cock, he held still for a moment, then softly blew on the head. John yelled at the unexpected sensation, bucking up off the bed. Sherlock took John in his mouth, and swallowed.

“Ah!” John cried out, reaching down to tangle his fingers in Sherlock’s dark curls. “Jesus, Sherlock.”

Sherlock’s head began to bob up and down, alternating hard licks of his tongue with messy sucks, the sound of which got to John nearly as much as the feeling of what Sherlock was doing with his mouth. He tipped his head back again, closing his eyes, no longer bothering to try to utter anything other than the odd moan.

John felt the warning pressure in his spine and started groaning more loudly. “Oh, I’m gonna… Sherlock, oh…” Then his world exploded in coloured stars as he thrust up into Sherlock’s mouth.

Sherlock held still as John emptied himself down his throat, swallowing down every drop. John finally slumped back on the bed, panting heavily. Sherlock moved up and kissed him deeply.

John could taste himself in Sherlock’s mouth. “Wow,” he finally managed to say.

Sherlock smiled and kissed him again, still fully dressed as he moved gently against John, his hardness pushing against John’s hip.

John reached down to Sherlock’s trousers and undid them, pushing them and his underwear down over his narrow hips. Sherlock closed his eyes and started moving more purposefully against the body below his. John grabbed his bum and pulled him closer, and Sherlock let out a low moan as his forehead fell against John’s shoulder.

“That’s it,” John whispered in his ear. “I’ve got you.”
Sherlock made little keening noises in the back of his throat as his hips began to move erratically. John swiped his tongue along the shell of Sherlock’s ear as he kneaded his buttocks, then bit his neck. Sherlock yelped and John felt wetness spread between them.

Sherlock slumped against him and John wrapped his arms around his back, placing kisses on whatever patches of skin he could reach with his lips. He reached over to grab one of the towels left on the bedside table, presumably by James, and used it to wipe them clean before pulling Sherlock to him.

Holding each other close, they drifted off into sleep.

****

John started awake, sitting up in the bed.

“Kids?” came a shout from the voice that had probably awakened him.

“Wha..?” John frowned sleepily, disorientated by the unfamiliar surroundings.

“They’re home,” Sherlock’s voice drifted up from under the covers.

John stared at him for a moment, then realised three things as his brain dragged itself unwillingly from sleep: a) they were in Sherlock’s dad’s apartment, b) they were both half naked, c) House and Wilson were home and about to catch them in full post-coital glow.

He leaped out of the bed and looked frantically around for the jeans he seemed to have kicked off as he slept.

“We’ll be right there,” he yelled at the closed door.

Sherlock sat up and started laughing, and John looked at him in amazement.

“You were the one worried about doing it in his apartment,” John accused.

“Your hair looks very entertaining,” came the response.

“Oh, shut up,” John said crossly, finally finding his jeans and pulling them on. “And get dressed.”

Sherlock got out of the bed and reached for his own discarded garments.

Once they’d got themselves in some order they exited the bedroom and went to find their hosts.

“Sorry,” John said sheepishly when House and Wilson looked up from the couch. “We went sight-seeing and we, um, we were resting.” The words sounded implausible even to his own ears, especially when combined with the redness he could feel making its way across his face.

House snorted. “Resting?” he said. “Is that what the cool kids are calling it these days?” He smirked at John. “Your bed hair is hilarious.”

“House!” Wilson scolded, as John patted disconsolately at his head. “Stop it.” He smiled at their visitors. “Did you have a good day?”

“Yeah,” John told him. “Until we went to the university and Sherlock called a professor with about 200 letters after his name an imbecile.” He paused. “We had to leave shortly after that.”

Wilson gave House a sidelong glance. “It could have been worse,” he sighed.

House opened his mouth to deliver a retort, then shut it again as his pager went off. He picked it up off the coffee table and muttered under his breath as he looked at the code. “Oh for god’s sake,” he muttered. “Can’t they do anything by themselves?”

He plucked his phone out of his pocket and hit a speed dial button.

“What?” he demanded when the call was answered, then paused as he listened to the response. “You did what?” he yelled.

Wilson got to his feet and went over to retrieve his car keys from where he’d dropped them on the kitchen counter.

House jabbed a button on his phone to end the call, muttering something about morons under his breath.

“I’ll drive, shall I?” Wilson asked, dangling his keys in the air.

House looked over at Sherlock and John. “You two feel like working for your keep?” he asked brightly.

****

“Right,” House said softly as he walked in to the conference room, Wilson, John and Sherlock behind him. “Not that I want to make a scene or anything,” he took a deep breath and bellowed, “but how the hell did you idiots manage to lose the patient?!”

He pointed at a couple of empty chairs. “Please take a seat,” he said politely to Sherlock and John, as if he hadn’t just been yelling at the top of his lungs.

Wilson walked over to the coffee pot on the counter at the side of the room, paying scant regard to House’s histrionics.

John and Sherlock slipped quietly into the seats indicated, and House turned to glare at the three doctors sitting at the table.

“Patients don’t just disappear into thin air,” he carried on shouting, waving his cane in the air to drive the point home. “Not unless the name on the chart says Houdini.” He paused. “Is the girl’s name Houdini?”

“I have a question,” Taub said, glancing over the table. “Who are they?”

“The tall, rakishly good-looking one is my kid,” House barked. “The other one is his boyfriend.”

John gave a sheepish half wave, and reddened as House’s team stared at them with undisguised curiosity.

House pointed at each of his team in turn. “Tiny Taub, Aussie Chase, Swings-Both-Ways Thirteen,” he identified them, then pointed at the two Englishmen.

“Long-Lost-Son Sherlock and Sidekick John. Okay, now we’ve all been introduced, can we possibly get back to the whereabouts of the patient?”

“She must be somewhere,” Chase said, reasonably.

Taub was still frowning in Sherlock and John’s direction. “But what are they doing here?” he asked.

Wilson joined them at the table and resisted pulling a face. Taub’s one track mind could be very useful when it came to doggedly tracking down the answers to a puzzle, but the rest of the time it was just plain annoying.

“Sherlock is a detective,” House said. “Any idea why we might need one of those? Could it possibly be because you. Lost. The. Patient.”

“We didn’t lose her,” Chase protested. “Last time we saw her she was in her room, wired up to the monitors, with her mum and dad sitting right there. Half an hour later, she was gone.”

“No one saw anyone go in there or leave,” Thirteen put in. “And there’s nothing on the security cameras. Her parents were right outside the room and they swear no one could have gotten past without them noticing.”

“And there’s no way that kid could have walked out of there in her condition,” Chase added.

Sherlock leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table, his hands steepled in front of him. “The hospital has been thoroughly searched, I take it?” he asked, his eyes narrowed.

Thirteen nodded. “Yes. We called House as soon as they lifted the lockdown. You’re British,” she added, looking curiously from Sherlock to her boss.

“Yeah, yeah, he’s got a cute British accent,” House chipped in. “Sherlock?” he looked at his son. “What are you thinking?”

Sherlock leaped to his feet, frowned at thin air, then raced out of the room without a word of explanation.

House stared after him, and Wilson let out a delighted laugh. He laughed even harder as House turned a confused look on him. “Now you know what that feels like,” he managed to get out. “Do you know how long I’ve been waiting to see someone do that to you?”

****

Wilson ran after Sherlock, John close behind him, catching up with the detective in the room recently occupied by the now vanished patient. House had dispatched them to find his son while he remained behind to berate his team some more.

Sherlock was standing on the bed, turning slowly around, eyes narrowed as he ignored several nurses trying to talk him down, seemingly under the impression he was an escapee from another floor in the hospital who was having some sort of mental crisis.

When they spotted Wilson standing in the doorway, they immediately rushed over.

“Dr. Wilson!” Nurse Anderson exclaimed, waving an arm in Sherlock’s direction. “He just ran in here and he’s not paying any attention to us. Do you know where he’s supposed to be?”

“He can’t just go around jumping on hospital property,” Nurse Bryant added snippily.

“He’s House’s son,” Wilson told them.

The nurses immediately quelled their flapping indignation.

“Oh,” said Nurse Bryant, throwing a look of new comprehension toward the man standing on the bed, “that explains it.”

Wilson gave them an apologetic smile as they filed past him, apparently deciding that, as Wilson was there, his expertise in dealing with the madness of House might just as well be extended to any member of the diagnostician’s family who turned out to be as crazy as he was.

John moved into the room. “Um, Sherlock?” he questioned, as the detective peered at the wall behind the bed. “What exactly are you looking for?”

“Clues,” Sherlock said, lifting a hand to wipe his fingers across the wall before looking at them as if they might hold the key to whatever had happened to House’s patient.

John frowned up at him. “I know that,” he grumbled. “I meant is there something in particular you’re looking for?”

Sherlock grinned at him and jumped down off the bed. “How does a sick teenage girl disappear from a room guarded by her parents, and surrounded by particularly bossy nurses?”

John moved toward the room’s window. “Out this way?” he suggested.

Wilson frowned as he walked over to join him. “She’s seriously ill. I don’t think she was likely to try climbing out of a window. Especially not a third floor window.”

“No one climbed out of that window,” Sherlock said, impatiently. "That means she went out the door and either her parents are singularly unobservant, or they’re lying."

Wilson smiled. “No wonder House likes you,” he commented.

John threw him a questioning look.

“Everybody lies,” Wilson intoned in a voice of doom. “That’s practically House’s catchphrase.”

“It’s also perfectly true,” Sherlock frowned, as though he couldn’t see why anyone would ever dispute such a rational pronouncement. He turned and strode out of the room. “Come on, John,” he shouted over his shoulder. “There are parents we need to speak to.”

Wilson frowned after the retreating backs for a moment, then widened his eyes as he caught Sherlock’s floating last words. “Wait,” he shouted, moving after them. “Sherlock! You can’t just go around interrogating…Sherlock!”

He stopped and sighed as Sherlock’s long strides took him speedily down the hospital corridor, John pausing to throw a ‘what can you do?’ look of apology back at Wilson before hurrying after his friend.

“Cuddy is going to freak out,” Wilson muttered, wondering what heinous crime he may have committed in a previous life to deserve being landed with yet another irritating bastard who kept having brainstorms and flying off down corridors in mid-conversation. He sighed resignedly to himself and set off to find House before Cuddy did.

****

“Who the hell are these people?” Cuddy yelled as she stormed into House’s office, John and Sherlock trailing behind her, the former looking sheepish, the latter indignant.

Wilson held up his hands placatingly, but House, as usual, got in first.

“Visiting tie experts,” he told her. “Wilson decided his own collection isn’t quite hideous enough, and he had to call in the professionals.”

“House,” Cuddy snapped. “I caught them speaking to Lianne’s parents. As if they aren’t upset enough already!”

“Lianne?” House questioned.

“Patient,” Wilson supplied under his breath.

“Ah, Houdini,” House said. “Did you find out anything from the parents?” he asked John and Sherlock, ignoring Cuddy.

“Enough,” Sherlock said, calmly, “before that woman dragged them away,” he waved a dismissive hand in Cuddy’s direction.

Cuddy put her hand on her hip, the anger coming off her in palpable waves. Wilson flinched; this wasn’t going to be pretty.

That woman,” Cuddy roared at Sherlock, her eyes shooting daggers of fury, “is in charge of this hospital.” She turned to House. “Have you been hiring private detectives behind my back again?” she demanded.

House smirked at that. “The last one worked out pretty well for you, I’d say,” he leered at her. “Or is he not putting out?” He fixed a look of sympathy on his face that was, frankly, disturbing. “Is that why you’re in such a bad mood? Not been getting any?”

Wilson groaned. “House, will you shut up.” He turned to Cuddy. “Lisa,” he started. “Sherlock and John were only trying to help.”

Cuddy turned the full force of her ire on Wilson. “I expect this sort of thing from House,” she shouted. “But I’d hoped for a little better from you, Dr. Wilson. It’s bad enough that we have a teenage girl who has apparently been abducted from under our noses, without him,” she jabbed a finger in House’s direction, “playing his silly games.”

Sherlock raised an eyebrow. “I can assure you, Dr. Cuddy, that the girl has not been abducted.”

“Oh for…who the hell are you? And how do you know she hasn’t been abducted?”

“Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Sherlock introduced himself, the job description causing Cuddy to roll her eyes. “And it’s a matter of simple deduction,” he continued. “There were no signs of a struggle, the room was left in order, no one saw anyone go in or out, and there’s nothing on the security cameras. The simplest explanation, and therefore the most likely to be correct, is that the girl walked out of the room herself, and her parents are lying.”

Wilson rubbed his temples. “How could she walk out of there? She’s too ill.”

House got that faraway look in his eyes that meant something had clicked in a case. “Because she’s not ill,” he said slowly. “This is a scam.”

“What?” Cuddy let out. “You don’t seriously think…”

Sherlock was nodding at House. “And not a particularly good one,” he concluded.

Cuddy frowned from one to the other of them, some of the wind taken out of her sails. “But didn’t your team run tests?” she asked House.

House shook his head. “They started, then got distracted when the kid vanished. I’ve just sent them back to the lab to try to figure out what’s wrong with her so we didn’t end up with one dead, as well as disappeared, patient.”

“The tests will show there’s nothing wrong with her,” Sherlock stated confidently.

“But why would they do that?” John chipped in.

House tapped his lips with his fingers. “The parents can then say we’re not only so incompetent, we couldn’t find out why their kid’s ill, but we also let her disappear while we were supposed to be looking after her.”

“And by the time they find her, transfer her to another hospital, get more tests run and decide that she’s recovered from whatever it was, this hospital will have paid them off to keep them quiet,” Sherlock finished.

“What about the cameras?” Wilson put in.

Sherlock shrugged. “Cameras are easy to avoid if you know where they are, and if the cops here are anything like the fools we have to deal with at home…”

“Oh, they are,” House put in, enthusiastically.

“…they’ll be so relieved when the girl turns up unharmed, and feeling a lot better, that they’ll ignore what’s staring them in the face,” Sherlock finished.

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” Cuddy said, earning herself two sets of glares.

“I did point out, Dr. Cuddy,” Sherlock said haughtily, “that it was not a particularly good plan.”

“Yeah,” agreed House. “And you take that back,” he affected the tone of an aggrieved eight-year-old as he spoke to Cuddy. “No son of mine is being called stupid.”

Cuddy stared at him, her mouth dropping open. She shook her head and gave a disbelieving laugh. “Good one, House,” she said sarcastically. “But I’m not falling for it. The idea of you reproducing is…is…”

“Alarming?” Wilson supplied.

Cuddy turned to look at him. She obviously saw something on his face because she immediately whipped her head around to take in Sherlock and House before looking over at Wilson again. “It’s not true,” she stated, her eyes wide.

Wilson shrugged. “Well, you’ve met him,” he pointed out. “What do you think House’s kid would be like, if House had a kid?”

Cuddy shook her head again and took a deep breath. “Okay,” she said. “I really don’t have time for this right now. I’m going to talk to the cops and social services. You,” she pointed at Wilson. “Take him and him,” she pointed at Sherlock and John in turn, then indicated House, “and especially, him, somewhere - anywhere - that isn’t my hospital.”

House rubbed his hands together gleefully as Cuddy departed. “How about dinner?” he said to Sherlock and John. “Wilson’s buying.”

****

“So how long have you two known each other?” John made polite conversation as they waited for someone to come and take their order in the busy restaurant.

“It feels like about 20 years,” Wilson sighed. “Or longer.”

“Aw shucks,” House fluttered his eyelashes. “Flattery will get you everywhere.”

“How did you meet?” John asked, genuinely curious.

House and Wilson seemed like such an odd couple to be friends. Although, he supposed, an outside observer might say the same about him and Sherlock. And they’d be wrong. He’d never been happier than he had been since meeting the detective, despite the whirlwind of weirdness he now often found himself caught up in. Maybe even because of it, he admitted to himself. He might complain about Sherlock’s habits and work and strange ways of doing things, but being around him was never dull.

House chuckled at John’s question. “You wanna tell him, or shall I?” he asked Wilson.

“You may as well,” the younger doctor replied. “You’ll only cut in and make it seem worse than it was, even if I tell it.”

House rested his elbows on the table and leaned over toward Sherlock and John, a gleam in his eye. “Well,” he said, “Wilson here might seem like just a mild-mannered oncologist with terrible taste in ties, but underneath is a hardened criminal, screaming to get free.”

John laughed at the idea of the doctor sitting opposite him being anything of the sort, his grin increasing as Wilson slumped back in his chair with a look of resignation on his face. He had an idea the poor man might have sat through a version of this tale several times before, probably with ever-increasing exaggerations.

He glanced sideways at Sherlock. The detective was looking at House with an expression that John had rarely seen there, one that generally meant he couldn’t immediately figure someone out. He filed that thought away for later consideration as he turned his attention back to House.

“So, once upon a time,” House continued. “Here I was, a sweet, innocent, young thing attending a conference like a good little doctor.”

Wilson snorted at that.

House ignored him. “Minding my own business, when this brawl broke out over Billy Joel.”

John frowned in confusion and glanced over at Sherlock again, finding his friend’s gaze still firmly fixed on House. “Billy Joel…the singer?” John questioned, looking back at House.

“That’s the one,” House confirmed. “And Wilson, seasoned trouble-maker and rabble-rouser that he is, was in the thick of it.”

“Oh, I was not,” Wilson protested.

“Were too,” House shot back. “And who’s telling this story, me or you?”

Wilson sighed, but quieted down.

“So, the cops turn up and Wilson ends up behind bars and needing someone to break him out of the slammer. Enter yours truly.”

John looked over at Wilson with raised eyebrows.

“It wasn’t quite like that,” Wilson told John when he caught his eye. “There was a misunderstanding. The assault charges were dropped, and House didn’t ‘break me out’, he posted bail.”

“Potayto, potahto,” House dismissed Wilson’s explanation.

Sherlock was looking between House and Wilson with that expression on his face that John knew meant he was on to something.

“You posted bail for a complete stranger?” Sherlock asked his father.

House shrugged. “It was a really crappy conference,” he said. “I needed someone to drink with. He was the only one there who wasn’t boring.”

Sherlock’s eyes narrowed. “People don’t post bail for someone they don’t know without wanting something back.”

“I did want something,” House answered. “I wanted Wilson.”

A silence fell over the table and John glanced nervously at his three dining companions. House stared at Wilson as Sherlock watched House. Wilson frowned at the napkin on the table in front of him.

John opened his mouth to introduce a less personal topic of conversation just as Sherlock leaned forward on his elbows. John stifled a groan. He couldn’t imagine Sherlock had failed to notice the tension around the table, but he doubted he’d let go of anything he perceived as a piece of the puzzle that was his newly found father, regardless of the side effects of his questioning.

“You wanted his friendship?” Sherlock questioned House, returning to the interrupted topic of conversation that had caused the sudden awkwardness in the first place, as John had thought he would. “Or something else?”

House looked at him, then gave a shrug that looked forced in its nonchalance even to someone who hardly knew him. “Either,” he said, his eyes flicking back to Wilson for just a second, “or both.”

Wilson looked up at that, his eyes widening.

“What?” House questioned, his face suddenly a picture of wide-eyed innocence. “I was bored, and horny. And you’re pretty.”

Wilson snorted and shook out his napkin. “Yeah, House,” he said. “Whatever you say.”

John felt a moment’s relief, until Sherlock’s piercing gaze fell on Wilson.

“Why don’t you believe him?” Sherlock asked. “It’s obvious that he finds you attractive. Just as it’s obvious that he’s bisexual.”

John spluttered into his drink. “Sherlock!” he admonished. “You can’t say something like that!”

He looked over at Wilson, who was staring at House with a look of shocked bewilderment on his face.

House stilled for a moment, then his sharp blue eyes looked up to meet Wilson’s confused brown ones. “Why not?” he said quietly in answer to John’s statement. “It’s true.”

Wilson stood abruptly, pushing his chair back behind him. “Um,” he gulped as he fished clumsily in his pocket. He put his wallet down on the table. “Uh, I’m tired,” he said. “I think I’ll just go home. You, uh,” he stuttered at House as he pointed to the wallet. “You can do my signature.”

John watched him go then whirled round to look at Sherlock. “What did you have to say that for?” he hissed.

Sherlock pulled back at the force of his words. “It was obvious,” he said, looking in confusion from John to House, who was still staring after Wilson, despite the fact that the other doctor was already through the door and out of the restaurant.

“Not to everyone, and that doesn’t mean you should have said it in any case,” John hissed. “You say these things as soon as you figure them out and you just don’t think about how it might hurt people.”

****

Wilson lay on House’s bed, going over everything that had been said in the restaurant, trying to piece together what it all meant.

Then he went over other conversations, ones just between him and House. He’d honestly never thought anything of the comments House made about the two of them. It was just House being House. Wasn’t it? His mind started replaying highlights of all those conversations over all those years. Oh, god, maybe it wasn’t. How had he never noticed this?

He’d been there for nearly two hours when the door finally opened. House paused for a moment before he came in and pulled the door shut behind him. He looked as unsure of himself as Wilson had ever seen him.

Wilson jumped off the bed and quickly crossed the room, before he had a chance to second guess himself. He grabbed House’s face with both hands, pulled him in and kissed him. It was short and chaste, a simple peck on the lips. When he moved away, it was to see House glaring balefully at him.

“Don’t,” the older doctor said.

“Don’t what?” Wilson asked.

“Don’t start something you can’t finish,” House continued. “And don’t do it out of pity.”

Wilson frowned. “Pity? Is that what you think this is?”

House pulled off his jacket and moved to the side of the room to sling it over a chair. “What else would it be?” he turned to face Wilson. “You’ve said it often enough. You’re not gay.”

“But you are?” Wilson asked him.

House glared at him. “Sherlock’s a smart guy,” he answered. “You heard what he said.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

House threw him a look of exasperation. “Because you’re not,” he said. “There was no point.” He gestured between himself and Wilson and looked down. “And I didn’t want to lose this,” he said, so quietly that Wilson barely heard it.

Wilson looked at him in amazement. The therapy House had been going to since he got out of Mayfield must really be working if he could make an admission like that about the value he placed on their friendship. Wilson shook his head and started laughing. It was that or cry.

“What?” House demanded, looking hurt. “What’s so funny?”

“You are,” Wilson said, getting up again and moving toward him. “We are,” he expanded. He shook his head as he thought about all the time they’d wasted before getting to this point. “I said I wasn’t gay, House,” he declared, putting his hands on his hips. “I never said I wasn’t bisexual.”

House stared silently at him.

Wilson moved a step forward, trying to remember how to breathe. “I thought it would only give you more to mock me about if I told you,” he admitted. “You know, along with my hair, and my clothes, and my religion, and my bedside manner…”

House stared some more, then moved to close the distance between them. “And your neverending marital dramas,” he murmured, “and the girly moisturizer, and the toenail polish.” He moved until they were standing nearly nose to nose. “And your driving,” he added as he reached out for his friend.

This time the kiss was anything but chaste. Wilson let out an involuntary moan as House’s tongue pushed into his mouth. He clutched at the back of House’s t-shirt, feeling a little dizzy.

House propelled him backwards, not breaking the kiss, until the back of his knees hit the edge of the bed. He let himself fall, pulling House down with him onto the bed.

House broke off the kiss and grinned. “I knew all those hair care products in the bathroom meant you had to be at least a little bit gay,” he announced triumphantly.

Wilson rolled his eyes. Trust House to insist on mocking when there were much better things they could be doing. “No, you didn’t,” he told him. “You couldn’t figure me out, that’s why you’ve been hanging around with me all these years.” Wilson frowned as a thought occurred to him.

“Stop it,” House told him.

“What?”

“Thinking that now I know the answer, I won’t keep on hanging around.” House gave a thrust of his hips and Wilson drew in a breath at the contact. “There are other things we could be finding out,” he leered.

Wilson groaned again, only this time not from pleasure. He reached a hand up to the back of House’s head. “Be quiet,” he ordered, “less talking, more kissing.”

House smiled as his lips met Wilson’s again. “Are you always this demanding in bed?” he asked.

Wilson dipped his tongue into House’s mouth, and wished he’d discovered this method of shutting him up a long time ago.

He slid his hands up under House’s t-shirt. “Yes,” he answered. “Now take your clothes off.”

House rolled off Wilson to lie on the bed beside him, and pulled his t-shirt off over his head. “Not that I’m complaining,” he added, “because it’s kinda hot.”

House’s hand reached to the buckle on his jeans, and he glanced across at Wilson. “You’re a little over-dressed,” he noted.

Wilson turned and reached out for his friend, shifting so he could kiss him again. He tweaked a nipple and House yelped. “And you,” Wilson said, closing his eyes and nuzzling at the side of House’s neck, “are a more than a little annoying.”

House hooked his fingers in the waistband of Wilson’s pants. “Take your clothes off, Jimmy,” he purred. “Pretty please?” He grinned. “And I’ll let you stick little Jimmy someplace where the sun don’t shine.”

Wilson pulled away. “That’s…a lovely turn of phrase.” He paused. “Wait, are you serious?”

House turned on his side and lifted up on his elbow, propping his head on his hand. He looked up and down Wilson’s body before meeting his eyes. “Deadly,” he said. “I’ve waited a long time for this. I want you any way I can get you.” He reached out and stroked Wilson’s cheek with an unexpected tenderness that made the younger doctor close his eyes and draw his bottom lip into his mouth.

House moved his hand down Wilson’s arm and across his chest, running his fingers down his tie. “I want to taste every bit of you,” he continued. “I want to suck you and lick you.” He leaned in so his mouth was right next to Wilson’s ear, and palmed his crotch. “I want to fuck you,” he added, “and I really, really, want you to fuck me.”

Wilson squeaked. It was the most ridiculous sound he’d ever heard, but it was out before he could stop it.

House laughed and moved his hand to pull at Wilson’s tie, loosening it and slipping it over his head before his fingers started on the buttons of Wilson’s dress shirt. “I want to get you so hot you don’t even know where you are any more,” he whispered as he finished unbuttoning the shirt and reached for the pants. “I want you to moan my name as you come all over me, I want to feel your dick moving inside me.”

“Oh fuck,” Wilson muttered as a hand slipped inside his pants. “Oh fucking god, House.”

“Jimmy,” House breathed, and then he was kissing him again, moaning eagerly into his mouth.

Wilson put his hand out toward House’ jeans, and his arm got tangled with the other man’s.

“Do our own,” House pushed him away. “Clothes off,” he said, apparently deciding only to use the necessary words.

Wilson stood and pulled his clothes off with record speed, keeping his eyes on House, who was shrugging out of his own garments. Wilson fell back on the bed and wiggled around to lie full length.

House stared down at him. “You’re so…” he trailed off.

Wilson stared up at him, drinking in the want on his friend’s face, an expression he’d never thought he would get to see, or that House would let him see.

“Get back here,” he said, reaching a hand out toward House.

Then they were tangled on the bed together, both reaching down between their bodies. House’s hand got there first and he anchored them together as he began to jack them off.

Wilson planted a hand on House’s ass, pulling him as close as he could and earning another groan. He buried his face in House’s neck, inhaling the fragance of his skin, soap and musk and a hint of his own stolen shampoo. “House,” he managed to force out the name. “I can’t last much…I’m gonna…”

House tightened his grip and sped up his strokes. “Come on, Jimmy,” he said, his voice rough with desire. “I wanna make you come.”

The words were enough to tip Wilson over the edge and he moaned his release as he spilled over House’s warm hand.

“Yes,” House breathed. “Oh fuck, yes,” then he was coming too, his seed mingling with Wilson’s between their bodies.

They fell apart, lying on their backs and staring at the ceiling. Wilson turned his head to glance at House. “I don’t think I’ve come that quickly since I was a teenager,” he commented, a little embarrassed he’d lost control so easily and so completely.

“Not your fault,” House mumbled, his eyes shut. “I’m pretty awesome.”

Wilson rolled his eyes. “You know, I’m holding you to everything you said you wanted to do, don’t you? So you’re gonna have to prove that point.”

House yawned widely and turned on his side, slinging an arm across Wilson’s middle. “Mmm, counting on it, babe,” he murmured, his voice thick with sleep.

Wilson snorted as he reached over to switch off the lamp on the nightstand. “Babe?” he said gleefully into the darkness. “Oh, I am so getting some mocking in for that one.”

****

John was already up and pottering about in the kitchen when Wilson emerged from the bedroom, leaving House to get some rest. House slept so erratically, both because of his natural night owl inclinations and the pain in his leg, that Wilson was loath to disturb him if he didn’t have to. Besides which, if he ever did have to, the resulting company was akin to that of an angry grizzly bear.

“Hi,” he said as he wandered into the kitchen.

John jumped. “Oh, hi,” he said, sounding guilty.

Wilson frowned at the packet of coffee in John’s hand. “You prefer coffee, don’t you?” He sighed. “And I’ve been practically pouring tea down your throat ever since you got here.”

John gave a rueful smile. “I like tea as well,” he tried.

Wilson laughed at the look on his face. “You know,” he admitted. “I’m rather enjoying all the tea myself.”

John leaned against the kitchen counter. “I’m really sorry about last night,” he said. “Sherlock can be a little…outspoken. He notices something, and he says it. He doesn’t mean to upset anyone.”

Wilson ducked his head and moved to the refrigerator, opening it and grabbing a carton of juice.

“Don’t worry about it,” he mumbled, not meeting the other man’s gaze. “He, uh, he did us a favor, actually.”

John’s eyes widened as Wilson finally looked up at him, his expression sheepish.

“You mean…” John started, then broke off as House clattered into the room, wearing pajama pants and a Rolling Stones t-shirt.

“He does,” the older doctor answered John’s unfinished question. He pulled Wilson into an embrace and planted a smacker right on his lips, then gave an evil grin as Wilson flushed bright red and pushed him away.

“Morning, Sweetums,” House declared loudly.

“Oh my god,” Wilson let out. “I will be forced to kill you if you ever call me that again. And please don’t do that in front of people.”

“Why not?” House said innocently, grabbing the juice from Wilson’s hand and taking a swig straight from the carton. “He’s practically family.” He put on a hurt expression. “You’re not ashamed of our love, Jimmy, are you?”

Wilson drew a hand across his brow. “Right now?” he said. “Yes.” He snatched the juice back. “And that is disgusting, by the way. Do you realize how many germs can be spread through saliva?”

“Of course I do,” House said indignantly. “I am a doctor. Besides,” he leered. “I didn’t hear you complaining last night.”

Wilson glared at him, then turned back to John, who was manfully trying not to giggle. “I’m so sorry,” he said, waving a hand at House. “He has boundary issues.”

John gave up the battle and laughed. “I know how you feel,” he said, the tone heartfelt.

As if on cue, the door to the spare bedroom opened and Sherlock appeared, barefoot but otherwise dressed.

“Good morning, Sunshine,” House chorused as Sherlock made his way toward them.

The detective caught John’s eye before looking from House to Wilson. “I believe,” he started, then cleared his throat. “John says,” he began again, “that I owe you both an apology.”

House waved him off. “Nope,” he said. “Never apologize for telling the truth. And anyway,” he added matter-of-factly, “if you hadn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten laid last night.”

“House!” Wilson yelled, feeling the only just faded redness spreading over his face again.

“What now?” House turned to him. “I’m seriously going to have to be all hurt and sulky if you keep this up. And I don’t want to do that because, obviously, you’re the girl in this relationship.”

Wilson closed his eyes briefly. “I’m going to make some tea,” he said, resigning himself to being embarrassed by House even more often than he generally was from now on. “Does anyone but me actually like the stuff?”

Sherlock moved over to stand by John. “See?” he said, quietly smug. “I was right all along.”

****

House leaned against the doorframe, backpack slung over his shoulder, and looked in on his sleeping son. The boy’s mother had relented when he’d begged to be allowed to see him just once while her husband was away. He knew it was the very fact that he had begged that had swung it for him. Gregory House never begged anyone for anything, and it had taken her by surprise.

He’d flown in as soon as he’d found out Holmes was out of the country. It wasn’t that hard to keep track of him, despite his supposedly secret occupation, not if House put his mind to it.

The afternoon he’d spent in the boy’s company had gone too quickly. Far from being wary of a stranger, as most four-year-olds would be, the kid was inquisitive. He wanted to know all about being a doctor, and how House figured out what was wrong with people. House’s mouth quirked in a half smile. It would be cool if, despite being raised by another man, the boy grew up to follow in his father’s footsteps.

He moved quietly over to stand next to Sherlock’s bed, and looked down at the little face framed by wild, dark curls. Sherlock’s eyes opened, and House smiled down at him.

“Sorry,” he whispered. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Sherlock yawned and sat up. “It’s all right,” he said sleepily. “Did you want something?”

“I just came to say goodbye,” House told him, lowering himself to perch on the side of the bed, and putting the backpack down beside him.

Sherlock frowned. “Are you going back to America?”

“Yes,” House told him. “I have sick people to cure.”

The small face scrunched up. “I want to go to America too.”

“I wish you could,” House told him, meaning it more than the boy could know. “Maybe you could come see me when you’re all grown up?”

Sherlock nodded. “I will if Mummy says I can,” he said seriously.

“Okay,” House agreed, trying not to think about how unlikely that was, then reached down to unzip his backpack. “I’ve got something for you,” he said, reaching into the bag. He pulled out the stuffed bear he’d bought for this moment and held it out to the boy.

Sherlock frowned at it. “I don’t like teddies,” he said with the honesty of childhood. “They’re for babies.”

“Fair enough,” House agreed. He could see the child’s point. He’d never cared for stuffed animals when he was a kid either. “What do you like?” he asked.

“Reading,” Sherlock said firmly. “And finding out stuff.”

“Right,” House said, feeling a hint of pride at the kid’s precociousness. He reached into the bag and pulled out the book he’d bought to read on the airplane, attracted by its outdated, obsolete innocence.

“Here,” he said, handing it to Sherlock.

The boy took it. “Doctor Donald Davidson’s Practical Guide to Detecting Poisons,” he read clearly and proficiently, then smiled up at House. “I like this,” he announced.

House reached out to ruffle the boy’s hair, then paused as the thought occurred to him that this particular book probably wasn’t the most suitable gift for a small child. He gave an internal shrug, and moved to complete the gesture. He had a feeling Sherlock wasn’t your average small child. “Just don’t use it to poison anyone, huh, kid?” he told him.

“I won’t,” Sherlock said solemnly, clutching the book to his chest. He gave a bright smile. “But I can use it to help detect things.”

House grinned at him. “Yeah, that’d be cool,” he said. “Come on,” he added. “Lie back down and go to sleep or your mom will be mad at me.”

Sherlock snuggled down in the sheets, still holding on tightly to his new book. His eyes started to drift shut, the excitement of the day taking its toll.

House looked down at him for a moment more, knowing the boy’s age meant he’d eventually forget he’d ever had an American visitor, then bent to kiss him on the forehead. He put the rejected bear on the bed beside him. The kid might want it later. Or not. It didn’t matter.

“Goodnight, Sherlock,” he said quietly.

He stood and walked to the door, pausing to look back for a moment before he quietly closed it and walked away.

****