Fandom: House MD
Notes/Warnings/Spoilers: The zillionth post Wilson's Heart fic, but I thought my bunny was unique enough to follow up on, even thought it's totally Gen and Totally Slash-free so WTF?
Completely spoileriffic for the 4th Season.
Thanks to beta_goddess who makes all my fic that much shinier.
Summary: Bonnie gets a surprise. Wilson gets a bigger one.
Hector came running to the door to greet him, barking maniacally, even though Wilson had never been to the condo before.
Wilson bent down to pat the white hair and have his face licked. He’d missed having a dog around, but Julie had been a cat person and then he’d been in the hotel and…he stopped the thoughts right there.
“He still misses you,” said Bonnie, who stood watching the scene. She didn’t have to say, so do I for Wilson to hear it. Or maybe he was just kidding himself. Things were cordial now, maybe even affectionate, but despite Bonnie’s sweet nature, the end of that marriage had been the most painful of all three. Yet here they were.
Seeing the dog had been an excuse. Amber wasn’t Jewish, so he wasn’t sitting shiva. It had been two weeks since the funeral. He needed to talk to someone, and found himself facing the reality of how short his list of friends had become. There was no point asking how that had happened, because there was only one answer.
“Bonnie,” he began, and then didn’t know what came after. That was the problem. His life had become divided between what he needed women for and what he needed House for and it had left him with silent marriages that disintegrated when he wasn’t paying attention.
“I appreciate you going to the service. You didn’t have to. It must have been…”
Anyone who’d ever seen him in action during those times when he’d actually been the James Wilson of scabrous lore, usually spread by House, wouldn’t believe how ridiculously awkward he could look or feel in the presence of a woman he’d once worked his charms on until she practically dragged him into bed. Right now he could hear the crack in his own voice as he attempted to string a whole sentence together.
“Come on in. You want some lemonade? Or coffee? Maybe something stronger?”
It was three in the afternoon. Was it assumed that he’d become an alcoholic since the…accident?
“I just want to talk.”
She was too good a person to actually say anything along the lines of how that was a refreshing change. There was still something fragile around the edges, and of course she must feel edgy having him this close right now. He’d seen how people reacted to him, as though his grief was a symptom of something they might catch.
Instead of words, he reached out to hug her, needing some kind of human contact. Maybe he was squeezing too hard and shouldn’t be touching her hair at all. He’d always liked her hair. And her skin. And the nervous smile.
If he weren’t careful, this could go somewhere it shouldn’t. Not because he wanted her, but because it would be easier than talking. Or thinking. Or going through another day alone. He’d been alone so long, and then gotten used to having someone again.
His lips were within kissing distance of her neck when she firmly pushed him back.
“That’s not talking.”
“Sit down. I’ll get you some lemonade.”
Same couch they’d had in the house on Parker Drive. He’d hated it, but agreed because she wanted it and…he tried not to think about mattresses and waterbeds.
How had she ended up knowing him so well when he hardly knew himself?
Hector had jumped up onto the couch, placing his head on Wilson’s lap and looking up into his eyes, seeming to sense the darkness in Wilson’s mood. He reached out absently, stroking the dog’s head.
“How’s he doing?” asked Bonnie, handing him the glass and a coaster as she sat down on the couch next to him. Once seated, she alternated between smoothing her skirt and rolling up the cuffs of her oversized sweater, only to roll them down again.
He’d heard that House’s recovery was slow going. Too much abuse over too many years. Vicodin chickens coming home to roost. Cuddy kept trying to get him to visit, which hurt. For all the compassion she’d shown, it was clear where her priorities lay. House first. House last. House always. Either she was still trying to expiate her guilt about the surgery, or she’d joined the list of fools who thought they could love House and not get their hearts trampled in the process. Regardless, she’d made a choice and Wilson wasn’t inclined to forgive her, which left him with one less friend to lean on.
“I’m sorry,” he said again, although this was actually a different sorry, one he felt he owed her.
“It’s OK. You’ve been through so much…”
“I don’t mean that.”
She gave up the cuff rolling and switched to playing with her hair. Rolling a curl around her finger over and over.
“No. I mean, I’m sorry that happened and I put you through it, but…”
“James. That’s history. You confessed. You broke my heart. You gave me a lot of money. I’m over it.”
“I mean about House.”
The nervous tics stopped cold. Bonnie looked at him as though he’d just confessed to hiding weapons of mass destruction in the trunk of his car. Wilson had never apologized to any of his wives for spending time with House. Ever. He’d been in utter thrall to House’s pain. Apologizing would have been a betrayal. He held the party line through three divorces, with House’s sofa always waiting to cushion the landing when he got thrown out, for yet another dalliance.
Only Amber had been able to show him exactly how he’d been manipulated. Too late.
“She was special, wasn’t she?”
Wilson nodded. “But you would have hated her. Or she would have hated you. She could be…abrasive.”
“It’s OK, Bonnie. I know you don’t want to speak ill of the…but really. She was…tough.”
“I know. But we got along fine.”
Now it was Wilson’s turn to have his reality toyed with.
“You met her?”
Bonnie smiled, looking strangely not like sweet, shy Bonnie at all.
“She called me up. Said she wanted to look at condos. Apparently you two were shopping for a place together.”
“No. We weren’t…I was staying at her place and…oh.”
“This time I saw it coming. I asked if she was trying to get information about you and that she should just say so and not waste both our times schlepping around half of New Jersey.”
Good for you, Bon-bon, he thought, meaning it.
“And we ate lunch, and I told her what a great guy you were and what a bastard House was and that you’d eventually make the same choice you had before. And she said, ‘Not this time.’ Oh god, James, I’m so sorry!”
“It’s okay, Bonnie. I’m okay.”
He wasn’t, not by a long shot, and knowing that Amber was even more like House than he’d wanted to believe wasn’t helping. Hector reacted to Bonnie’s outburst by jumping onto Wilson’s lap and barking, leaving Wilson to try and soothe his former wife and pet. For a moment, maybe even two, it felt right. Like he could actually fix something again, but then the reality came back. Amber was gone and there was nothing to be gained from revisiting the past. It might not even be fair to Bonnie, who actually seemed to have grown past him. She deserved the chance to keep doing so.
As if trying to prove the point, his cell phone went off. How many times had he and Bonnie played out this scene? He was still on bereavement leave, so there was absolutely no reason for him to even look at the phone. Nobody needed him to do anything or be anywhere. He wondered if that was what it was like to be Nathan, if he was still alive. Was it easier to fall off the radar altogether and never have to answer a page again? What was the point of being a responsible member of society when anything you loved could be taken away just because your so-called friend didn’t want to deal with his misery?
“You should answer it.”
Wilson reached into his jacket pocket, trying to shake off the fear that his own thoughts had brought out.
It was Cuddy. Pretending to ask how he was doing, voice full of concern. It took all of two minutes to ask if he was coming by the hospital. His colleagues were worried. Had she always been this transparent? He was becoming as cynical as House. None of this was good.
Hector had calmed down again. Bonnie was thumbing through a copy of the New Yorker, looking for an article she thought he’d be interested in. Wilson took off his jacket, and let himself be lulled by her voice.
He wasn’t going to turn into his brother and walk away into the night. He had responsibilities and he’d face them.
Just not today.