A Peck Of Trouble
What happens when House doesn't meet Wilson's special needs? Will their relationship fall apart or will they get it back on track?
House rubbed his eyes tiredly. The last week had been hell. His patient had crashed several times and it had almost been too late to save him. It had been a very close call and House felt exhausted, physically as well as emotionally.
Before his current case there had been two other cases, which had kept him quite busy. In fact, he had been busier in the last month than he had been during the quarter before that. He also hadn't seen much of Wilson lately. There might have been a time when he would have been surprised by how much he missed his lover but those times were long gone.
He tried to remember when was the last time they had breakfast together or more importantly sex but came up empty. House frowned and steepled his fingers. The sudden feeling of something going horribly wrong flashed up in his mind. Chase entering his office drew him out of his thoughts.
“Hey, why are you still here?”
House shrugged. “Just thinking.”
“About the patient?”
House bestowed Chase with a flat look. “Is this your business? What do you want?”
Chase dropped into the chair opposite to House's desk, stretched out his legs and crossed his ankles. “How are things going with Wilson?”
“None of your business.”
“Maybe I should make him my business since you're not doing a very good job at the moment,” Chase declared, with a sharp edge to his voice.
“Don't stick your nose into our relationship. Just because you know more about it than is appropriate doesn't mean that you get to tell us how we should proceed.”
“See, there's that – you're not proceeding. You've been engrossed in your cases and therefore totally oblivious to what went on. Did you know that your partner is here 14 to 16 hours per day? Did you see that he looks like death warmed over? Did you recognize that he has lost a visible amount of weight? Did you?” Chase's voice was quiet but sliced through House's indifferent haze like a sharp-edged blade.
“He's not here for 16 hours! He has a rule about going home at a reasonable hour!” House replied hotly. Wilson wouldn't defy him like that, he just wouldn't!
“Did you enforce this rule in the last weeks?”
House straightened up in his chair, uneasiness and anger battling inside him. “I didn't have to. I asked him if he was following this rule even if I wasn't controlling it. He said he was.”
Chase snorted and shook his head, clearly showing how ridiculous House's answer sounded to him. “And you believed him? For Christ's sake! House! He's your brat, of course he won't admit that he's not playing by the rules.”
“But I asked him! He wouldn't lie to me …,” House trailed off. After locking eyes with Chase for a while House sighed. “He would lie to me if he's spiraling out of control.”
“He would and he did. He's also way out of his depths. House, if you want this type of relationship to work you have to keep his needs in focus. You can't only be his top when it's convenient for you,” Chase said bluntly.
“I was busy, damn it! Wilson is actually an adult and knows how to cope, he doesn't need me to babysit him!” House snarled.
“You offered him this kind of relationship but now you can't keep up with it?”
Anger, concern and confusion - House experienced all these emotions at once. It didn't help that Chase told him off, especially not when guilt about letting Wilson down was already setting in. He stared at the ceiling for a brief moment then gathered his thoughts. Exhaustion took its toll on him. “Damn, wombat, I didn't see it. Not any of it and I know I should have seen it. Maybe we're not made for this kind of relationship. Maybe Wilson was right in the beginning, that we wouldn't be able to go through with it.”
“Self-pity won't get you anywhere. Get your guy, take him home, sleep in and then think about what you want.”
House blinked at those harsh words. “You're not the kindest person to be around. How come I didn't figure that out years ago?”
Chase grinned and shrugged. “Beats me. You have a very kind person in your life. Go and get him.”
“Will he trust me enough to guide us back on track?”
“That's not really the question here and you know that.”
“What is the real question?” House asked wearily.
“Will you be able to commit to this relationship? Will you be able to rearrange your priorities? Wilson will fight you when you start reigning him back in. He won't trust you for some time that much is obvious, isn't it?” Chase asked bluntly but with a great deal of compassion and understanding.
House swallowed hard. The feeling of guilt partnered up with the feeling of hurt. He had damaged their relationship profoundly without even noticing it. How could he ever be the partner Wilson needed?
Chase's voice was softer, more kindly when he added, “You're his top but still human. You're allowed to make mistakes. It doesn't mean your relationship is bound to fall apart. Talk to him, enforce your rules, assure him you are able to handle him.”
“I already showed him that I can't handle him if I'm stressed out myself.”
“I disagree. It's the first time you're under that much pressure since you started this relationship. You're not used to looking after him while you're busy. I know you – you will figure this out. You always do when you set your mind on something.” Chase glanced at his watch and concluded, “Now get going.”
A wry smile appeared on House's face. “Yes, sir.”
House barged into Wilson's office, not bothering to knock and found his partner behind his desk. Wilson had his head pillowed on his arms and was sound asleep. House stopped to catalog Wilson's appearance. Chase had been right – he looked ghastly. His face was pale, blue veins stood out on his temples and the skin had an almost translucent shine to it.
House walked over to Wilson, wincing at how awkward his lover was bent at the waist. He'd be stiff and uncomfortable, that much was certain. House saved the file on the computer then powered it down. Gently he brushed some strands off Wilson's forehead and whispered, “James, wake up, we're going home.”
Wilson's body twitched slightly in response but his eyes stayed closed. House shook his shoulders and repeated more loudly, “James, time to go home.”
Wilson blinked his eyes open. He sat up stiffly and rubbed his eyes with his fists. House had to smile at this gesture. It was such a childlike gesture that he always waited for Wilson to reach out for House, demanding to be picked up.
House ruffled Wilson's hair who looked at him startled and a tad apprehensive. In a sleep-hoarse voice he said, “I must have fallen asleep. What time is it?”
“Past your bedtime.”
House expected Wilson to do a lot of things. He didn't expect Wilson to fold his arms around House's waist and bury his face against House's abdomen. Wilson's apology was a muffled, “I'm sorry.”
House cupped Wilson's head in his hands for a while, just anchoring him against his body. When he felt the tension seeping out of Wilson's shoulders he carded his fingers through Wilson's hair several times. Wilson shivered and tightened his hold around House's waist.
Now wasn't the time for discussions, nor was it the time to talk at all. Softly House said, “Let's go home, baby.”
The drive home was uneventful and neither man spoke much. House was aware of Wilson throwing apprehensive glances towards him but every time he looked back inquiringly Wilson dropped his eyes hastily. House hustled Wilson through the bathroom routine then ushered him into bed. He spooned up behind Wilson, holding him very tightly until the younger man fell asleep in his arms. House laid awake for some time even though he was dead tired. Eventually though Wilson's steady breathing lulled House into sleep as well.
The next morning started with a panicked yelp from Wilson. “Shit! Greg, we overslept! Oh, damn!”
Before House had time to process Wilson's words his lover jumped out of bed and scrambled towards the phone. How Wilson could have that much energy right after waking up was beyond House's understanding. He listened to Wilson rambling on the phone, obviously re-scheduling some of his appointments and apologizing profoundly to his secretary. When he assured her he'd be at work in about an hour House interrupted by saying, “No, you're not going in today.”
Wilson bestowed House with a startled look then made a hushing gesture towards him. House raised his voice and repeated, “You're not going in today, tell her to cancel all your appointments for today.”
“Hang on a second,” Wilson said calmly into the phone. He pressed a button to keep his secretary from listening in on their conversation and turned to House. Wilson's face showed all the signs of utter humiliation when he said curtly, “Stop this shit right now.”
House blinked – as much about the tone as about Wilson's blunt disregard. Wilson shook his head with an exasperated sigh, making it very clear that he thought House was acting like a complete moron.
House took in a deep breath. Today wasn't going to be an easy day and the next days and probably weeks wouldn't be easy ones either. House could only blame himself for that, a fact he didn't like at all. Inwardly arming himself for the upcoming battle he crawled towards the phone and disconnected the call. Wilson's reaction was imminent.
“What the fuck do you think you're doing?”
“I told you that you're going to stay at home today. Since you weren't inclined to obey I thought it'd be in the best of our interest to end this call.”
Wilson sputtered incoherently for a few seconds before he squeezed out, “I'm not going to stay at home today! I have work to do. You stay at home if you want.”
“James, that's not the point. I told you how today will be going and you will do as you're told. Do you understand?”
House kept his voice calm but firm and could see Wilson reacting to it whether he consciously wanted it or not. He watched Wilson struggling with himself, hoping that he'd give in easily. House's hope crumbled when Wilson visibly pulled himself together and stood his ground. Even Wilson seemed to be surprised by the venom in his voice as he replied, “Oh now you want to be the one who decides how things go around here? Tell you what, that's not going to work.”
House pushed himself to the edge of the bed and simply stared at Wilson for a long time. The younger man glared at him at first then started to fidget. He didn't run away though for which House was grateful. House collected his thoughts and deliberately quietly talked to his partner. “James, I know that you're angry with me. You've got all reason to be angry with me because I let you down. I apologize for that. It won't happen again.”
House took in Wilson's surprised facial expression and tugged at his sleep pants. He pulled until Wilson got the hint and sat down next to him. His gaze swerved through the room, never settling on anything for long, but also avoiding eye contact like the plague. It was almost amusing to watch.
The amusement evaporated as soon as Wilson spat, “So, now that you've apologized you think everything will go on as usual? Why don't you have any consequences to fear for your shitty behavior?”
“Firstly: don't speak to me in that go-to-hell-voice and secondly: look at me properly.”
Wilson lifted up his head in one swift, furious motion. He glared daggers at House as he asked, “That better, your majesty?”
“Want to try that again?”
Wilson's whole body radiated defiance when he answered in a willfully polite voice, “No, thank you.”
“All right, it's your choice.”
House's next move was too quick for Wilson to even give a sound of protest. He was draped over House's lap, his pants around his ankles when he finally squeaked, “Greg! No!”
The first swat landed on Wilson's bare behind, stinging like all hell and Wilson struggled against the hold around his waist. House lost no time and delivered a dozen swats, causing Wilson to squirm and yelp. “Do you want to try talking to me again? Or would you prefer this position?”
Wilson gulped in air in huge breaths before he answered, “I'd like to sit up.”
House briskly put Wilson on his feet and helped him dress again. Wilson grimaced when the soft cotton came into contact with his butt and stifled a moan as he sat down next to House again. Swallowing hard he forced himself into lifting his head and making eye contact. Embarrassment showed clearly in Wilson's eyes and House felt himself soften at the sight of his chastised lover.
He bent forward to press a gentle kiss on Wilson's lips. At first Wilson didn't respond but when House's tongue insisted on entrance into his mouth he gave in mere seconds later. While House explored Wilson's mouth he cupped the back of Wilson's head in his hands securely. As he ended the kiss Wilson looked at him out of glazed eyes for a brief moment then dropped his forehead on House's shoulder.
“It's not fair that you can do whatever you want without having to fear any consequences and I get swatted although I didn't do anything.”
House smiled upon hearing Wilson's muffled complaint. “Did I get that right? You got swatted for nothing?”
“All right, all right, not for nothing. It's still not fair,” Wilson grumbled. One of House's hands strayed to Wilson's hip and patted there. “All right! I got swatted for bad attitude and disobeying you. Are you happy now?”
House peeled Wilson off his shoulder, curled a finger under Wilson's chin and forced him to look at him. “Do I look happy right now?”
“Want to make me look more unhappy?”
“We need to talk and we can't do that if we're at work. And you could use more than one day to recuperate from working too much.”
“I didn't --”
“Do not lie to me,” House said forcefully. “Or at least don't add to the lies you already told me.”
“I did not --”
Wilson swallowed against the lump in his throat and kept his mouth shut. His eyes traveled upwards slightly and hefted on House's eyebrows. House pressed his thumb against Wilson's chin, a private sign which Wilson understood immediately. With effort he focused on House's blue eyes again. His voice cracked when he said contritely, “I'm sorry.”
“I know. We'll deal with everything after a shower and breakfast.”
Wilson cringed. “I don't want to.”
House pulled Wilson into his arms, mostly to avoid Wilson seeing that he was grinning wildly. A pouting Wilson was hard to resist. Add big pleading eyes and a defeated posture to that and House was a goner. Wilson's arms snaked around House's waist and House reciprocated in kind. He felt Wilson's chest expand when he breathed in and how it constricted when he breathed out. Slowly he became aware that he could feel each of Wilson's ribs. A pang of guilt and also anger rushed through him.
“How much weight did you lose in the last four weeks?” House couldn't hide the disappointment in his voice and knowing that Wilson would hear it as well he tightened his hold around his lover. Not surprisingly Wilson made an attempt at squirming out of House's embrace. “Stop that now.”
Wilson slumped back against House with his fingers clutching at the fabric of House's shirt. House was taken aback by the bitterness he detected when Wilson's replied, “I don't care. You're unfair and this whole thing isn't working.”
“Too bad because I care and I--”
Wilson freed himself in a vigorous struggle and glared at House. “Oh cut the crap! You don't care; you've shown that much for the past few weeks. You're a selfish, arrogant piece of --”
House clamped a hand over Wilson's mouth to stop him from getting himself deeper into trouble. “You have all reason to be angry with me but you will not call me names. You will not put our relationship into question every time you fear the consequences.”
He released Wilson's mouth who jerked his head backwards angrily. “It's not fair! You've got nothing to fear even though you gave a shit about anything else but your cases in the last month!”
“I'm new to this, remember? I'm not impeccable. I can only assure you that it won't happen again. And by the way, I fear that I've damaged our relationship past the point of return and I don't want that. We both know that we can't go back to a normal kind of relationship, it wouldn't work. We agreed on this and I promise that you'll always be my priority,” House replied soothingly.
“I don't believe you.” Wilson's answer hurt more than a punch in the gut could have done.
“You will in time.” House's voice held way more confidence than he felt. “Do you want to call your secretary or shall I?”
“You're … you're not serious about us staying at home, are you?” Wilson stammered out.
“What gave you the impression I was joking?”
“But she heard you while I talked to her! If I call her now she'll know that I'm simply doing what you say, I'll be a laughing stock! Please, Greg, let me go in today. We can talk later and … and I think I could arrange to take off tomorrow,” Wilson's voice rose higher the longer he talked. “May I?”
“Aw, shucks. Your sad puppy expression will be the death of me. You know what Chase would make out of me allowing you to go to work right now? Especially after showing me how riled up you are, that you lied to me several times and also disobeyed me several times?”
“You're not Chase. See it … see it as you making amends.”
“Making amends? What for?”
“For, uh, for being a very bad top during the last month?”
House recovered from a sudden bout of speechlessness quickly. Wryly he asked, “Do you seriously believe it's a good idea to call me a bad top when you want my permission for something?”
“I'm just stating the truth,” Wilson averred stubbornly.
“You're such a brat,” House chuckled.
Wilson smiled tentatively. “So, may I go to work, please?”
House heaved a heavy sigh. “I'll regret giving you permission, won't I?”
“So, why should I do it?”
“Because you love me and don't want me to lose face at work?”
Wilson tilted his head sideways, with that move dislocating several strands of hair that fell onto his forehead, giving his face a boyish appearance. House brushed the curls aside and cupped Wilson's face in his hands. “I do and you may but we will have a decent breakfast together. Tonight we will have a nice dinner. After that we're going to talk and deal with what happened.”
Wilson's expression changed from victory to distinct apprehension during House's little speech. “I'm right there with you except for your last point.”
“I wonder why.”
“Haha, very funny.”
“That's me, fun personified. Now hop under the shower while I prepare breakfast.”
Wilson snatched a kiss before he collected his clothes and ventured into the bathroom.
House hassled Wilson through an opulent breakfast and then showed him to the door. After kissing him firmly on the lips he laid his hands around Wilson's face. “I expect you to be here at five o'clock.”
Wilson opened his mouth in protest but was cut short when House went on, “Yes, I said five o'clock not six. We need to have dinner and then talk and no, this point is not up for discussion.”
Wilson's eyebrows knitted together dangerously close, a telltale sign of Wilson being short of an explosion. House straightened up to full height, his hands still around Wilson's face. “Don't even think about playing me. You do not want me to come and pick you up at the hospital.”
“You wouldn't dare humiliate me in front of our co-workers,” Wilson hissed.
“You know what? Your attitude is a hint that you better stay at home today. Come back inside.”
Wilson's eyes widened in shocked surprise. Hastily he assured his lover, “No, no, that's not necessary. I'll be here at five o'clock. Maybe I can even manage to be here earlier?”
“You're giving me no reason to let you out of my sight.”
Wilson's face heated up from pure embarrassment. Meekly he pleaded, “Please, Greg? Maybe ... maybe we both could take off the next two days? How about that?”
“Does it make me a bad top if I say this sounds great?”
“Absolutely,” Wilson grinned then added quickly, “but I won't tell anyone.”
“Five o'clock and I'll check in on you so you better carry your cell phone with you.”
“You don't have to –,” Wilson broke off and corrected himself, “uh, all right. That's fine, I'll carry it with me.”
House pressed another kiss on Wilson's lips then on his forehead. He released Wilson's head and nodded curtly. “See you at five.”
House kept himself occupied with cleaning the kitchen and soaking in the tub for a while. When he emerged he called Wilson on his cell. The phone rang and eventually House's call went to voice-mail. House took in a deep breath as he spoke, “You got five minutes to call me back with a very good explanation why you're not picking up the phone or I'll get into the car. Believe me, you do not want me to do that.”
House paced in the living room with his eyes riveted to the clock on the wall. Four minutes had passed when House went to the closet to retrieve his shoes. All the while he practiced to breathe deeply and calm himself down. He jumped when his own cell phone gave a short beep, indicating that he received an SMS. It read: Sorry, can't pick up now. Having an appointment right now. Will call you back as soon as possible.
House grunted and replied: Ok.
He didn't leave it at that though. He called Wilson's secretary and demanded to talk to his lover. The secretary politely and slightly exasperated told him that Dr. Wilson was talking to someone and would call back later. House ended the call, very well aware that Wilson was going to have a fit when he found out about House snooping around. House shrugged the light feeling of guilt off – after all he was the top in their relationship and entitled to check up on his partner. Especially after said partner had shown how much out of control he was right now.
He sat down on the sofa and aimlessly zapped through the channels. Half an hour later he still wasn't distracted enough and switched off the TV. What would they talk about in the evening? How could House convince Wilson of trusting him again? Because that much was clear – Wilson didn't believe he was House's top priority and partly he was right. Damn it! House punched his fists into the sofa cushions then tiredly rubbed his eyes. The ringing of the phone drew him out of his troubled thoughts. Gruffly he said, “About time that you call!”
“Really? I didn't know that you wanted to talk to me,” Chase's amused voice replied. “I take it that you're waiting for Wilson to call you?”
House was too dumbfounded to come up with a sarcastic remark so he settled for honesty. “Yes.”
“He started doing his rounds about five minutes ago.”
“I take it that he's not supposed to do that before calling you back?”
“No,” House answered tersely. “And you're calling me to tell me that he's not doing what I said?”
“Actually I was calling to tell you what an idiot you are to let him come to work today but then I figured you'd be interested in that info too.” As an explanation he added, “I heard Wilson's secretary talking to you on the phone.”
“Thanks for the idiot-bit. Damn it, I knew it was a mistake to let him go in!”
“So come and get him.”
“And do what? Grab him and drag him out of there? He's department head of oncology, he'd lose his face if I'd do that.”
“Since when do you care that much about how someone else views your actions? House, he's pushing. You've got a brat out of control. If you don't reign him in now you might as well give up,” Chase said.
“He doesn't trust me anymore.” House listened to his own voice, which sounded hollow and utterly defeated. “I don't know how to fix it.”
A short silence greeted House then Chase cleared his throat. His voice sounded self-assured when he said, “Go and get him home. Talk and show him that you can handle him, no matter how hard he pushes. I'm sure he'll try to play the guilt-card with you; he's good at that kind of thing. Yes, you made a mistake. Apologize for it and then let him face the consequences for his behavior. He lied to you, House. There's no room for lies in a disciplinary relationship. It's all or nothing.”
“I already apologized to him. Do you know what he asked me? Why doesn't I have to face consequences for my shabby behavior and--”
“And you feel guilty and allowed him to wrap you around his little finger. He deliberately lied to you, House. There's a difference,” Chase interrupted him fiercely.
“He doesn't see it that way. Neither do I.”
“All right, I can understand that you're having trouble with that. Still, you're the disciplinarian in your relationship and have to go through with disciplining him. I remember that you wrote down rules for him?”
“How about you write down rules for yourself too? If you get too wrapped up in a case he can remind you of your rules. Hell, I can do that if you want.”
“What would be the consequences for me?” House asked, genuinely curious.
“That's up for you to decide. Maybe doing house chores you usually don't do or making it up to him with doing something he likes but you don't.”
“Like going to the theater and stuff like that?” House asked, though it was mostly directed at himself. “Okay, I think I can do that.”
“Fine. Now that we've solved this problem get your ass over here and pick up your brat.”
“You seriously suck at tactfully giving advice,” House chuckled. “Thanks, Chase. Again.”
“No problem. Sorting out other people's problems is way more fun than sorting out my own problems and no, I'm not telling you about that. Bye!”
Chase ended the call before House had a chance to get another word in. He got up from the sofa, glanced at his cell phone one more time and retrieved his keys. Inwardly steeling himself for the upcoming confrontation he drove to the hospital.
Instead of confronting Wilson right in front of co-workers and friends House let himself into Wilson's office and waited there. It was two o'clock in the afternoon when Wilson entered his office with a frown directed at the doorknob in his hands. To his secretary he said, “I could have sworn I locked the door.”
“Oh, you did,” House quipped. Wilson jumped a mile at House's words.
“House,” he croaked, “what … what are you doing here?”
“Aw, honey bun, I thought I'd look how things are going over here.” Despite the teasing tone in House's voice Wilson shifted nervously from one foot to the other.
“Dr. Wilson, are you okay? You look a bit pale. Do you want me to re-schedule your afternoon appointments?” Wilson's secretary asked with open concern.
Wilson's body stiffened in alarm before he threw a cautious glance over his shoulder. House gave an almost imperceptible nod. Reluctantly Wilson tore his gaze away and said, “Yeah, that would be good. Could you clear my schedule for tomorrow too? I think I'm coming down with something.”
“Of course, you just go and rest. Maybe Dr. House can convince you of eating something.” She spared House with a meaningful glance and totally missed Wilson flinching as if he had been slapped.
“You mean he hasn't had lunch yet?”
“No, there's not enough time left in his schedule for such ordinary things like eating lunch. You're the only one who's persistent enough to get him going to the cafeteria,” she snorted. “Have a good day.”
Wilson remained standing at the door, his back to House after his secretary had left. His shoulders were tense and almost up to his ears. House thumped his cane on the floor, which caused Wilson to start and turn around with a wildly guilty look on his face.
“James, close the door and come here.”
Wilson hesitated then closed the door very slowly. He shrugged out of his lab coat and hung it up next to the door. Without lifting his eyes from the carpet he trudged over to House. He stopped short of House's reach where he finally plucked up enough courage to look at his partner. House watched the rapid pulsing of Wilson's carotid, the tightly clenched fists and simply beckoned him to come closer. Wilson didn't comply, only the pinched facial expression gave away that he'd understood House's gesture.
“James, you're in deep shit as it is. Do you seriously want to add to it by defying me? Again?”
“I didn't defy you!”
“You didn't? Want to rethink that statement?”
“I …,” Wilson trailed off miserably.
His shoulders slumped and tentatively he took a step towards House, then another. As soon as he was in reach House grabbed his hands and pulled him next to him on the sofa; although not without swatting him twice – soundly. Wilson yelped and hastily sat down.
House slung an arm around Wilson's shoulders and squeezed. Wordlessly he kept on rubbing soothing circles on Wilson's shoulder and upper arm until he felt part of the tension seeping out. Wilson rested his head on House's shoulders and one of his hands laid atop of House's thigh, not doing anything there.
“I'm sorry,” he mumbled eventually.
“You know for what,” Wilson replied, irritation clearly showing in his voice.
“Can the attitude, right now. I think I have an idea about what you're sorry for but we'll discuss this in detail when we're back home. I shouldn't have let you go this morning.” House shook his head ruefully.
“Another point on your bad-top card,” Wilson replied acidly.
“You want to start the discussion right now and here?” House asked conversationally. To emphasize his point he applied a solid swat to Wilson's hip.
“No. Thank you.”
“I thought so. Get your stuff so we can go home.”
“I swear to God you are this close,” House held his fingers which where apart merely an inch, up in front of Wilson's eyes, “to getting a thorough spanking here in your office. Move.”
Wilson moved but not without spatting, “It wouldn't be the first time you spanked me in my own office.”
House got up too swiftly for Wilson to react. Within seconds House had him bent over his hip and brought his hand down hard half a dozen times on Wilson's ass. He pulled him in an upright position again and firmly planted a kiss on Wilson's lips. Wilson was breathlessly staring out of watering eyes at House while he rubbed his acutely stinging behind.
“That's my last warning, James.”
Wilson retreated into subdued silence during the car ride. Sometimes he threw worried glances to House who seemed to be unperturbed by them. At home House ordered Wilson to change clothes while he started on preparing a hot meal. He chose to make a casserole with macaroni and cheese because it would give them time to talk during its baking time. Wilson swallowed heavily, “Is this going to be an early dinner?”
“Early dinner or late lunch, whatever you prefer. It will definitely give us some time to straighten out a few issues,” House stated matter-of-factly.
“There are no issues.”
“Come here, James.”
An alarmed look settled on Wilson's face though he still evaded direct eye contact with his partner. Sullenly he asked, “Why?”
“Because I said so. Do you need a better reason?”
Wilson's head snapped up and he glared at House. “Yes, actually I do.”
“Come here to me, look me in the eye and tell me again that there are no issues to be talked about.”
“Why? You're just going to swat me as soon as I'm within reach.”
“James, I'm waiting.”
“And I don't care!” Wilson spat out.
House raised his eyebrows questioningly then started counting, “One. Two. Th--”
“All right, all right! I'm coming. There's no need for you to go ballistic!” Wilson threw his hands up in exasperation. Upon detecting that he couldn't hide how badly his hands were shaking he quickly stuffed them into his pockets then trudged over to his lover. “Better?”
House laid a hand on Wilson's neck where he rubbed his thumb up and down in a soothing manner. Softly he demanded, “Now tell me again that we've got nothing to talk about.”
Wilson opened his mouth to answer, his eyes hefted to the kitchen clock at the left side of House's head.
“Uh-uh. No. Look at me properly.” House waggled his forefinger in front of Wilson's eyes to gain his attention.
“I … I don't … we … shit!”
“It's way harder to lie to me when you have to look at me, huh?”
Wilson winced; there wasn't anything reasonable to say without incriminating himself further. His hope of House letting go of the subject easily was shattered when the older man prompted, “James? Is it or not?”
Reluctantly Wilson replied, “Yes, it is. But … but I didn't mean to lie to you!”
“I asked you several times if you were following our rules for eating and being home at a reasonable time, didn't I? No, your eyes stay right where they are now.”
“I had work to do! You weren't at home anyway so what's the big deal? I don't like being home by myself. And for your information – I did sleep.”
“On your desk? How many hours of sleep did you get the last month?”
“I didn't count! I'm an adult, I'm capable of calculating how much sleep I need and --”
“You have a rule about being home at a decent hour. You also have another rule of telling me when you want to stay longer. This is not about what you're capable of or not. You willfully disobeyed me. You willfully defied and lied to me,” House broke in.
Wilson's blanched during House's blunt speech. It took him almost a full minute to blurt, “But you didn't care! You were occupied with work and you didn't even recognize what was going on with me. I bet it was Chase who enlightened you. No way would you have found out that something was wrong. You're too self-absorbed and arro—”
“Stop it right there!” House snarled. “You're not going to shout at me. We'll discuss this calmly. Go and pick a corner while I finish preparing dinner.”
Wilson's cheeks heated up in utter embarrassment. “Pick a corner? Are you nuts? I already told you that I won't stand in a stupid corner, contemplating what I did wrong!”
“Excuse me? I thought I was pretty clear in my declaration?”
Panic overrode everything else and caused Wilson to push House away from him. Turning on his heels he rushed out of the kitchen, every fiber of his being intent on fleeing to a secure place when House boomed, “James Evan Wilson! Don't you dare move another inch!”
Wilson's brief hesitation destroyed the momentum he had. Seconds later he was face-to-face with a glowering House. The older man simply interlaced their hands and towed Wilson back into the kitchen. There, he positioned Wilson face forward in a corner and delivered a solid swat to Wilson's butt. House's voice was almost a growl when he said, “Stay put. Don't force me to get you. We already played that game today and I'm sick and tired of it.”
Wilson whirled around, his fists clenched at his side. Feeling his control slipping even further he allowed himself to stamp his foot on the floor. “This is stupid! I won't do that!”
House took in a deep breath, then released it slowly to calm himself down. The effect this display had on Wilson was imminent. His eyes went wide as he clenched and unclenched his fists. He became unpleasantly aware of tears pooling in his eyes and dropped them to the floor. House curled a forefinger under Wilson's chin and tipped his lover's head up.
“But Greeeeg, this is humiliating. I don't want to stand in a corner!” Wilson whined.
“Is this about what you want?” Wilson kept his mouth shut though his glare told House everything. More sharply he added, “Is it?”
Grudgingly Wilson mumbled, “No.”
“Turn around and keep your nose in that corner until I tell you to come out.”
Wilson stared at House dumbfounded then changed gears and put on his best pleading expression. “Greeeeg!”
House shook his head, pressed a series of gentle kisses all over Wilson's face before he turned him around. Wilson's body stiffened immediately but House embraced him from behind, trapping him in his arms. “No, James. You'll do as you're told, no more arguing.”
After pressing a firm kiss on Wilson's neck House released his lover and went back to the ingredients he needed for his meal. Out of the corner of his eyes he observed Wilson; how he stood there completely rigid at first, then fidgeted hard until he finally started to calm down. His whole posture changed from a tense alertness to a more relaxed stance. When House put the casserole into the oven he called out for his lover. “James, come here.”
Wilson turned around slowly, uneasiness clearly visible in his body language. House held out his arms, a warm smile spread out on his face as he said, “Come on now, baby.”
Swallowing down a teary response Wilson followed House's invitation and snuggled into the other man's arms. They stood there for a while; Wilson merely clinging to House while House ran his hand up and down Wilson's spine repetitively. Meekly Wilson trailed after House when he beckoned him over to the sofa in the living room.
“I apologize again for not keeping your needs in my mind and letting you down. It hasn't been right and I understand that you have a problem with trusting me now. We're both responsible for the damage we did and I can assure you I'll keep a very close eye on you from now on.”
“That doesn't sound very promising.”
“It does and it's exactly what you want – me promising you that it won't happen again, that is,” House replied mildly.
Wilson blushed profusely and muttered something unintelligible. He tucked up his legs and leaned with his full weight against House's side. House slipped his arm around Wilson's shoulder, squeezed lightly and then tucked Wilson's head right under his chin. A shudder racked Wilson's body. Very quietly he said, “I want this promise. It's frightening how much I want this.”
“I promise,” House declared solemnly. “But I might need your help. If you feel neglected or dismissed or whatever you're obliged to tell me. In case I start getting involved into one of my cases too deep again and you need to remind me of taking care of you, you're allowed to punish me.”
“What?” Wilson pushed himself free from House's arms and stared at his lover incredulously. “I … I … that's, uh, nice of you to offer but … but I don't … I can't … Greeeg.”
House grinned at his partner's obvious distress. “Chill out, James. Though it's nice to know that you wouldn't like spanking me.”
The grimace that appeared on Wilson's face showed his reluctance at that thought openly. “That's just wrong.”
“You're still allowed to punish me and it'll be one of the rules I have to follow. You can for example assign me to do the laundry for two weeks or to cook a whole week or whatever.”
Slowly a delighted smile spread over Wilson's face. “Now that sounds awesome. Will you write down your rules?”
“Yes, I will. That only leaves us to deal with your recent behavior.”
Wilson's smile became replaced by a distinctly apprehensive look. “My ...my recent behavior? Hey, how about we just start new from … from tomorrow on? You know, then we both would have our set of rules and know what to expect from the other. That would make much more sense to me.”
“Of course it would. How many rules did you break during the last month?”
“Greg! This is not fair!”
“James, we're not in a fairness competition! Answer my question. Now,” House bit out.
“I can't believe you're acting this … this iniquitously!”
“Iniquitously? Okay, guess we get to do the talking in a different position.”
House grabbed Wilson's wrist even though the younger man scrabbled backwards on the sofa in a vain attempt at fleeing. How House found the time to stuff a cushion on top of his thighs before he put him over his lap was beyond Wilson's understanding. How he ended up with his ass bared and tipped up high in the air was completely incomprehensible.
“Greg!” he screeched. “Wait! I'll tell you, I'll tell you!”
“Damn sure, you will.”
The first resounding slap smacked down hard on Wilson's exposed butt, leaving him out of breath instantly. House covered every part of Wilson's cheeks and ended the first swift round of smacks with a slap to the back of Wilson's thighs. Wilson jerked on House's lap, trying to get away from the punishing hand.
House rested one hand on the small of Wilson's back and the other one on the curve where thigh met buttock. He felt the heat under his hands and listened to Wilson's hitched breathing. When he was sure that Wilson was capable of speech he asked, “What did you want to tell me?”
“May I get up to tell you?”
“No, you're fine where you are.”
“I'm not fine where I am you bloody sonof-- ow!” Two heavy smacks landed on Wilson's ass and cut his rant off effectively.
“Are you inclined to answer my question in a civilized manner now?”
Wilson swallowed another acid reply and tried again in a very polite voice, “Greg, may I please get up to talk to you?”
“No, James, you may stay where you are,” House repeated. Even though he had just reprimanded his lover his voice held compassion. Rubbing circles with his thumb on the small of Wilson's back he prompted, “Tell me which rules you broke, James.”
“I will but I don't want to! I broke so many rules that I don't think I'll be able to sit down comfortably any time soon,” Wilson choked out.
“Just get it out.”
“That's easy for you to say! Why can't I get up? A few minutes ago you told me it's much harder to lie to you when I look at you and now you're--”
“Are you seriously telling me that you're going to lie to me right now?” House asked, his voice loaded with incredulity.
Wilson froze while his thoughts whirled around in a panicked attempt to get out of this particular tight spot. Nothing came to his mind. “Nooo! I don't … that's not … I can't think clearly when I'm in this shitty position! I want to get up!”
A breathtaking swat cracked down on Wilson's ass. “Tell me the rules you broke, James, and don't make it any worse by trying to play me.”
Wilson's eyes were stinging as much as his behind and he had trouble breathing from the sheer effort of holding back tears of remorse. It seemed to be impossible to find words, not to mention getting those hardly found words out. Eventually they escaped his mouth when House lifted his hand to deliver another swat.
“No! Wait! I'm sorry! I broke all of them, all of them!”
“You did what?”
“I broke all the rules,” Wilson hiccupped. “I never slept more than 6 hours per night. Most nights I wasn't even here for six hours. I … I just drove by to pick up fresh clothes and do the laundry and stuff like that so … so you wouldn't get suspicious in case you came home unexpectedly. I also stopped eating regularly. At first I didn't feel like eating and then it, uh, developed into something else.”
House breathed in and out deeply until he was sure to have some kind of control over his voice. “What about keeping me informed about your whereabouts? What about telling me when you don't feel well? What about carrying your cell phone with you? Geez, James, I can't believe you told me so many lies during the last weeks.”
House pushed Wilson off his lap, wordlessly helped him re-adjusting his clothes then stared at his lover blankly. Wilson fidgeted on the edge of the sofa and nervously twisted his hands in his lap. Very quietly he said, “I'm sorry, really sorry.”
“Yeah, me too.” House kept staring at Wilson wordlessly, his own mind in turmoil. Wilson faltered under the intense stare. House felt compelled to add, “I'd love to get this dealt and done with before we eat but I don't think I can do that. Right now I'm too angry. The casserole should be ready by now, so how about we eat and get us back on track afterwards?”
“I'm not hungry.”
“You're still going to eat. You will learn to eat regularly again even if it's only because you'll be embarrassed about me bringing you lunch, dinner, snacks, whatever and then sitting with you to make sure you'll eat.”
House didn't wait for Wilson's response; instead he got up and walked into the kitchen. He heard Wilson's sharp intake of breath, followed by hasty footsteps. “You don't have to do that, Greg. I swear I'll eat regularly.”
“That's nice to hear. Still, it's me who makes the decisions here and you just heard how the next weeks will be going.”
“The next weeks?” Wilson's voice cracked on the word weeks.
“Maybe months, I'll tell you when I trust you to take care of your body's basic needs again,” House answered calmly. He passed Wilson a bottle of wine and said, “Here, put that on the table, please.”
Wilson took the bottle but sputtered indignantly. “Months? Why don't you sling a sign around my neck?”
“What would the sign say?” House asked as he bent to retrieve the casserole out of the oven. From the corner of his eyes he was distinctly aware of his lover's tense body posture, how hard he gripped the bottle in his hands.
“My top is in his I'm-almighty-mood,” Wilson replied icily.
“We could also put brat-in-trouble on it.”
Wilson's patience snapped like a cord stretched too firm. With a grunt he threw the bottle through the air. House pulled his head swiftly out of range of the sailing weapon. The bottle splintered into thousands of pieces of glass and the content splashed all over the oven, the stove and House.
A horrified gasp escaped Wilson's mouth and the murderous look House bestowed on him, caused his eyes to widen to what should have been an impossible size. White wine dripped from House's face as he slowly lifted his forefinger. Wilson cringed and took one step backwards; only his partner's booming voice stopped him from bolting in panic.
“You are going to clear this mess up while I change and take a shower. Put the casserole in the oven and then you'll plant your nose back into the corner until I get you. Did I make myself perfectly clear, James?”
“Yes, sir. Greg, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to--”
“Do as you're told and don't give me another reason to tan your hide even worse than I intend to do.”
When House came back forty minutes later, freshly showered and feeling calm enough to deal with his partner he found the kitchen immaculate. Wilson stood rigidly in the corner; his hands hung at his sides but were clenched into fists. House frowned when he discovered that the oven was off and asked, “What did you do with the casserole? I remember telling you to keep it warm.”
Wilson cleared his throat before he answered in a very small voice, “There were splinters of glass in it and … and it was drenched in wine. I threw it away. It's my fault and I'm sorry, Greg, I--”
“Stop with the self-flagellation right now. You're lucky that I promised you in the beginning of our relationship to never use a paddle on you because otherwise you'd be in for it now.”
Wilson swallowed audibly as House walked over to him and turned him around. He cupped Wilson's face in his hands and lifted it until their eyes were on par with each other. Wilson's eyes crossed before he blinked and focused on a point at the wall on the left side of him.
“James, I do know that it's hard to maintain eye contact directly after throwing such an impressive temper tantrum,” House said mildly. Wilson flinched and ducked his head when House went on, “please, look at me and tell me why you were so scared that you resorted to throwing the bottle.”
“I was not scared!”
“Yes, you were. You only ever throw bottles when you're scared of …,” House trailed off.
Wilson tried to squirm free of House's hands but House pulled him into his arms and held on tightly. Wilson crumpled the fabric of House's shirt in his hands, his breath came in shallow gasps and House merely stroked his trembling back. Eventually Wilson relaxed and leaned against House with his head on House's shoulder. His voice sounded muffled when he replied, “You know why I was scared.”
“Did you really think there's the tiniest possibility of me leaving you?”
“You were too angry to deal with me. That means I'm too much to handle for you,” Wilson choked out.
“I never said I couldn't handle you. I needed time to calm down because I won't ever hand out a punishment if I'm too angry with you. You deceived me and you endangered your health which will earn you a very thorough session over my knees,” House stated.
Wilson's breath hitched upon hearing his lover's statement. “What … what does that mean?”
“That means you'll be very uncomfortable the next few days.”
“The next few days? But Greg, what about work and--”
“No. Stop it right now. You earned yourself this spanking and you pushed the whole day for getting it. You'll also write lines every evening for one week and you'll stay close to me. You're not going to do anything without my explicit permission.”
House didn't hold Wilson who pushed himself out of House's embrace. His face was red; whether it was from anger or embarrassment House couldn't tell. He could, however, see that his brat was hitting crisis mode in a breathtaking tempo.
“I'm department head of oncology, I can't ask you for permission for fucking everything!” Wilson shouted.
“You don't need to shout and you won't have to ask for fucking everything. You will have to obey to come to my office at regular intervals so I can see how you're doing and you will eat when I tell you, is that clear?”
“Crystal clear,” Wilson replied snidely.
Unfazed House went on, “At home it's different, here you're supposed to ask for permission for absolutely fucking everything which also includes trips to the bathroom and so on. Is that clear too?”
“You can fucking kiss my ass!”
“All right, I'll do that later. Now get your ass into the bedroom.”
Wilson gaped at House in silent shock but didn't move one inch. He started when House bellowed, “Move!”
House followed on Wilson's heels and instructed him to lose his pants and underwear while he sat down on the bed. After stuffing a pillow on his thighs he beckoned a shame-faced Wilson over to him. For a brief moment Wilson deliberately made eye contact and said, “I'm sorry, really, I am.”
“I know, now come here.”
Wilson closed the gap and awkwardly placed himself over House's lap. The older man pushed the shirt up and tipped Wilson's ass in a higher position. Slowly he rubbed soothing circles on the small of Wilson's quivering back and said, “I don't lecture, you know that but I want to make it perfectly clear again why you're getting the spanking of your life.”
A shudder ran through Wilson's body and he clutched the pillow under his head more tightly. In a muffled voice he cut in, “This is for lying to you, for endangering my health and … and for breaking every rule we have for me.”
“No, the spanking is for the first two things you mentioned. You're going to write lines for breaking the other rules.” House raked a critical eye over his partner's body. “Care to tell me how much weight you lost?”
Wilson's body tensed up in alarm. Hesitantly he replied, “I don't know?”
The slap came without forewarning and took Wilson completely by surprise. He yelped loudly and amended, “I do know, I do know! I just don't think you'll like my answer.”
House tapped warningly on Wilson's left ass cheek, which caused Wilson to spill the truth rapidly. “17 pounds, okay? It's not that much and I could afford to lose the weight and ow!”
House rested his hand on top of the handprint he had just left on Wilson's ass. “So you lied by omission to me this morning when I asked you about your weight?”
Very quietly Wilson replied, “Yes.”
House didn't comment further on this, merely asked, “Is your weight still in the normal range?” He didn't get a verbal answer but Wilson's clenching buttocks told House everything he needed to know. “How much do you have to gain to be in the normal range again?”
“Only four pounds. It'll be easy.”
“Anything else I should know about?”
“I, um, I'm afraid of the next few minutes?” Wilson said feebly.
“We'll be good when we're done,” House assured his frightened partner.
Wilson nodded reluctantly and then House's right hand descended on Wilson's ass. Instead of covering every patch of skin House concentrated on the same spot until the skin was fiery red. Only then did he move to a new patch. As House finished the third patch to his satisfaction Wilson jumped and yelped involuntarily. His breath came in increasingly shaky gasps and mewls until he couldn't stand it anymore. He flung his hand backwards to protect his vulnerable backside, wheezing, “Greg! That's enough!”
House stopped, shifted Wilson's body to his liking and secured the stray hand. “Who decides when it's enough?”
When Wilson didn't respond, House urged him on. “James, who's decision is it?”
“Yours. But Greeeg! I'm hurting.”
“I know, baby. Everything will be good in the end, promise. I'll take care of you,” House replied soothingly.
Wilson nodded miserably in understanding, then House raised his hand again. Concentrating on another patch of skin he applied swat after swat, which resulted in Wilson kicking uncontrollably. He then went on to administer a series of slaps on the sensitive curve where buttocks meet thighs resulting in squealing sounds from Wilson. A few seconds later Wilson's whole body slumped and shook from the intensity of his shivers and cries. House ended the punishment with one very hard swat on the middle of Wilson's ass and started to make soothing sounds. As soon as Wilson became aware of the end of the spanking he lifted up from House's lap.
House grabbed him before he could set a foot on the floor and kissed him firmly on a wet cheek. “No, you're not going anywhere now. You can lie down with me.”
“I just want to wash my face and pull myself together. Only for a minute, Greg,” Wilson begged.
“You can cry as much as you want. You're hurting, I know that but you're not going out of my sight and trying to hide how you feel.”
Troubled brown eyes skimmed over House's face then Wilson nodded. House propped up a pillow, reclined and took Wilson with him so his head rested on House's chest. Wilson choked on his tears and sobs as he desperately tried to contain them. House tapped Wilson's warm bottom lightly. “I said, you're not allowed to hide how you feel. If I have to say this again I might start to think you didn't get my message.”
“I did get your message! I did! I still don't want to cry anymore.”
“You don't want to or you think you should man up?”
“I don't want to answer that question.”
House grinned and tapped Wilson's bottom more firmly. Wilson let out a shaky breath, gripped House hard around the waist and let the tears flow. House waited until Wilson's even breathing indicated that his lover had fallen into an exhausted sleep. Only then did he let out a long-drawn sigh and reveled in the knowledge that their relationship was back on track. The next weeks would be hard on them, especially because House intended to enforce their rules and keep a very close eye on Wilson.
Oh yeah, the next weeks were going to be interesting!