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Just a Little Touch

 Title:  Just a Little Touch  (In two parts again, sorry)
Author: l57371
Pairing: House/Wilson
Wordcount: 4655
Rating: NC17
Warning: Sex and over-salted fries
Spoilers: Slight for "Words and Deeds"
Summary: Touch should be avoided.  Shouldn't it?
Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, don't sue.
Beta: The over-stressed and in need of a hug starlingthefool

Cuddy thinks she’s so clever.

 

House sat in his lounge chair in his office, eyes closed, and the dulcet tones of Al Green blaring from his iPod.

 

Making me touch people, thinking I’d gain something from it.

 

He shifted a little, straightening his bad leg and rolling his head to the other side.  He opened his eyes and glanced briefly out his office window to the hall.  Empty.  It was early in the evening though, so not so odd that it would be all but deserted.

 

Touching to bring about humanity.  Seriously, what am I if not human?

 

His eyes drooped closed again, and he coasted on the waves of the Vicodin high, brain foggy and light, body relaxing into the warmth of painlessness.  Or at least as close as he ever got these days.

 

You’re inhuman, House.

 

Wilson’s voice sliced through his buzz and his eyes snapped open again, taking in the empty office, the conference room next door, the barren hallway.  When exactly did his conscience take on Wilson’s voice, anyway?

 

You could certainly stand to gain a little humanity.

 

House snorted lightly, his lips curling up into a smile, almost a sneer.  Humanity is over-rated, he answered himself.  Getting all touchy-feely about it isn’t going to change anything.  He felt his mind begin to drift again, and his muscles relaxed into a boneless heap as the drug finally overcame his thoughts.  Nobody I want to touch, anyway.

 

*****

 

It was well after nine before House roused himself from his drugged torpor and made his way down the elevator to the lobby.  The elevator doors opened onto the main hallway and he slowly shuffled his way toward the main doors, glancing into the subdued lighting of the clinic to his right.  Two people, only shadows from House’s point of view, were standing at the main desk, leaning against it and chatting.  He narrowed his eyes and tried to make out who they were.  One was Wilson, there was no mistaking his posture, the way he moved his hands as he spoke, the shaking of his shoulders as he laughed at something the other one said.  He would know Wilson anywhere; he didn’t have to see his face.  Who the other man was, though, he couldn’t make out.

 

House moved to the shadows beside the door and continued watching them, Wilson and the mystery man.  Maybe if he waited long enough he could corral Wilson and make him buy dinner.  After a few minutes Wilson bent to pick up his briefcase and the other man swung his overcoat over his shoulders, preparing to leave.  House shrunk back a little further.  The unknown man took two steps past Wilson, then turned back and put a hand on Wilson’s shoulder, rubbing it back and forth as he spoke what looked like a question into Wilson’s ear.  Wilson shook his head, patted the other man’s hand that was still on his shoulder, leaning into the touch, then turned to leave as well.  They came through the door of the clinic together.

 

“Dr. Warren,” House intoned softly.  “Working a little late, aren’t you?  There generally aren’t that many late night emergencies for you Ear-Nose-Throat guys.”

 

“Dr. House,” the other man returned with a half smile.  “I presume I’m doing the same thing you’re doing, seeing to the care of my patients.  Oh, sorry,” the man’s mouth curved into a sneer, “patient.”  He enunciated the “t” loudly, with little pop. 

 

“From what I hear, Dr. Warren,” House growled, “You’re seeing more to the care of your secretary than your patients these days.”  He cocked his head to the side.  “Oh, sorry, secretaries.”  He drew out the “s” like a long zed sound, enunciating just as carefully.

 

Warren paled and frowned, then nodded briefly at Wilson and stalked quickly to the door, through it before anyone could say goodnight.

 

Wilson turned back to House.  “You just can’t leave anyone alone, can you?” he asked, frustration tingeing his voice.

 

House quirked an eyebrow at the other man. “Have you ever met me?  Of course I can’t, especially not a hypocrite like that.”  He turned to the door, gratified to find Wilson turning with him.  “Come on.  Buy me dinner.”  He turned to look at the Wilson’s face but he was too far away to see.  Further away than he usually was.  Usually he was right at House’s shoulder, but tonight he was distant and removed.  What did that mean?  “You coming?” he asked instead.

 

Wilson looked briefly back at the clinic and then followed House out.  “Yeah, I guess so.”  He wrapped his arms around his torso as they walked, chin tucked tightly into his chest.

 

House eyed him carefully.  “So are you going to tell me what he wanted?”

 

“What who wanted?  Warren?  Oh … nothing.”  Wilson was uncharacteristically unforthcoming.

 

“Then what was the little shoulder-hugging scene about then?” House asked, still watching for a reaction.

 

“There was no hugging, House.  He just rubbed my shoulder, that’s all.”  Wilson brought one hand up to the same shoulder, holding it.

 

“Well, it certainly looked cozy from where I was standing,” House shot back.

 

Wilson whirled around and faced him, suddenly angrier than House had seen him for a very long time.  “It’s called comfort, House!  A little human contact!  Offering of support!  It’s something us HUMANS do for each other!  Not that you would know anything about that, I know.”  He pulled his overcoat more tightly around himself and marched off toward his car.

 

“Suddenly I’m not very hungry.”  The words came floating back to House over Wilson’s shoulder as he wrenched open the car door and flung himself inside, slamming the door after himself.  The belt from his overcoat was trapped outside, between the door and the body of the car, and it was a testament to how angry Wilson really was that he did not open the door and retrieve it, he merely started the car and roared out of the parking lot, tires squealing a little as he turned onto the ramp.

 

House watched him go.

 

*****

 

He lay in bed that night, after a dinner of peanut butter sandwiches on stale bread and way too much scotch, replaying over and over the scene in the clinic.  Warren had put his hand on Wilson’s shoulder, and Wilson, damn him anyway, looked like he liked it.  Like he appreciated it.  Like he wanted it.

 

Was that what Wilson wanted?

 

*****

 

House spent the next day in observation.  He watched Wilson, wherever he went, whomever he talked to, whatever he did, House watched.  From office to cafeteria to hallways to clinic duty, House followed him.  Wilson was of course aware of the scrutiny, and every once in a while cast an inquiring eye to wherever it was that House was ineffectually hiding, then turning away with a faint sigh.

 

What he saw was Wilson seemingly craving the small touches and caresses of normal, everyday interaction.  When he shook hands, he held on for just a little too long.  When he touched his patients, a rub on the shoulder or elbow, a casual arm slung around the neck, he held on just a little bit too tight.  The cashier in the cafeteria had to snatch her fingers back after giving Wilson his change from lunch

 

By mid-afternoon House had seen enough.  He sequestered himself in his office, bouncing his oversized ball lightly off the windows of his balcony as he thought.  Touch was foreign, something to be avoided at all costs, and here Wilson was seeking it out.  House spent most of his life lately shying away from contact – verbal, physical, what have you – that could lead to any form of intimacy.  The last time intimate touch had invaded his life, he’d paid for it with his leg, his mobility.  Therefore it was to be shunned.  No touch meant no harm, no hurt.  Which was why hookers were perfect, of course.  Private touch, yes, but definitely not intimate.

 

This touching that Wilson seemed so intent on getting just screamed of intimacy, even though it was nowhere near private.  So why seek it out from people he was not intimate with?  Patients, colleagues, none of these people could be considered close to him.  Did he prefer to be touched by strangers?

 

A knock came from the glass door and a second later the man in question stepped through.

 

House raised an eyebrow at him.  “Need something?” he began.

 

“No, not really.”  Wilson sauntered past the desk and stood, looking out the windows and across the parking lot in front of the hospital.

 

“So you’re here because…?” House trailed off.

 

Wilson ignored the question and asked his own.  “Are you finished watching yet?”  He didn’t turn away from the windows.  “I have no idea what it is you’re looking for, but I sure as hell hope you’ve found it.  Not only is it disconcerting to have you hovering all damned day but you’re scaring my patients.”  He dropped his chin a little, looking down toward the floor of the balcony.

 

House rose from his desk and moved carefully to stand behind him.  He lifted his left hand, the one that wasn’t currently clenched, white-knuckled, around the handle of his cane, and stretched it out toward Wilson’s slumped shoulder.  He glanced at the window, thankful it was still too light to see their reflections in it, then looked to Wilson’s shoulder, hunched under his too-white lab coat, tension radiating.  He watched his hand, slowly moving toward that shoulder, and noticed his fingers trembling.  He made a fist, willing his hand to stop shaking.  Again he stretched his fingers out and again bunched them up, but the trembling continued.  Finally he dropped his hand.

 

“A little egotistical of you to assume I was watching you.  I could have been stalking that new nurse, you know.”  He turned and limped quickly to the door.  “See you tomorrow.”

 

Wilson turned from the window in time to see him disappear through the door and down the hallway.  House heard him call after him, “It’s only the middle of the afternoon!”  He didn’t turn back.

 

*****

 

After a night of alternately steeling himself to accomplish the task and throwing all his plans away and calling it bad rubbish, House stalked into work in the morning.  His shoulders were set, his face a mask of grim determination.

 

He spotted Wilson’s distinctive camel-colored overcoat at the coffee kiosk and changed course, fighting down a mild panic attack.  He decided on joviality to cover the nerves.

 

“Good MORNING, Dr. Wilson!” he boomed as he made his way over.  He chuckled slightly when he saw Wilson’s shoulders jump and hunch over.  He stopped just behind Wilson and waited while he finished paying for the coffee.

 

“House.  And to what do I owe the honor of you nearly giving me a heart attack so early in the morning?”  Wilson pocketed his wallet and bent to retrieve his briefcase.

 

“No reason, really.  Isn’t the heart attack enough?”  House remained standing in front, blocking Wilson’s escape.

 

“For you, I suppose it is, yes.”  Wilson dodged to the right and attempted to go around him.  “See you later, House.”

 

Wilson, wait,” House said, and shot his hand out to grab Wilson’s arm, just below the elbow.  For a moment neither man moved, both of them staring down at House’s hand.  He carefully examined the sensation of Wilson’s solid muscles twitching and playing under the fabric of the coat, squeezing a little harder than he’d originally meant to.  Softly  House said, “Lunch later?”

 

Wilson seemed to shake himself mentally.  “Um, yeah.  Lunch, sure.  Come get me when you’re ready.”  He didn’t make any attempt to retrieve his arm.  “Just make sure it’s somewhere close to lunch time this time, alright?”  He looked up at House with the ghost of a smile playing on his lips.

 

House nodded.  “Okay, noon then.”  He slowly loosened his fingers and removed his hand.  “Well, noon-ish,” His eyes twinkled with an unexpressed smile.

 

Wilson nodded and walked away, heading for the elevators.  For the second time in two days, House watched him as he went.

 

*****

 

Lunch time came and the two men met in the cafeteria lineup.  House declined a tray of his own and just piled what he wanted onto Wilson’s tray, and then conveniently took off with it to reserve a table when they came to the cash register.  The cashier looked askance at Wilson as she carefully dropped the change into his hand.  Wilson grinned disarmingly at her.  She didn’t grin back.

 

When he reached the table, House was busy doling out the food and drinks and utensils, the condiment packages, the straws.  Wilson lifted an eyebrow as he watched but said nothing.

 

“Betcha can’t guess what five stupendously moronic things Foreman did this morning?” House started off, letting his mouth fly and his brain disengage, watching Wilson’s face for silent commentary or reaction.  He nodded in all the right places, making muffled “mm-hm” sounds in the pauses, looking up occasionally.  Finally, House saw an opening:  Wilson had picked up a French fry.

 

“They never salt these things enough, do they?” he complained, reaching for a salt packet and quickly tearing off a corner.  Wilson looked up, startled, fry half way to his mouth.  House grabbed his bare wrist and guided his hand back down to the plate, holding it so that the fry in his hand hovered above the rest on the table.  Quickly, he shook the salt over the fries, sparingly sprinkling the pile while he watched Wilson’s face.

 

Wilson’s eyes were riveted on the hand holding his wrist.  He could feel Wilson’s pulse under his fingers, fluttering quickly and then pounding hard at a rate much too fast for sitting and eating.  He stopped and tossed the rest of the packet aside.  After taking a quick, furtive look around to make sure nobody was watching, he guided Wilson’s hand to his mouth and waited while the man took a bite from the fry.  And forgot to chew.

 

He let go of Wilson’s wrist and the man seemed to come back to himself, resuming eating.   He looked back up into House’s face after his eyes wandered, somewhat unfocused, from House’s hand to his own hand and back again. House couldn’t remember what he was talking about before, and so said nothing to fill in the strange silence.  After a long moment, House pushed his chair back and away from the table.  He picked up his cane and pushed himself to his feet.  As he passed Wilson, he dropped his hand to the man’s shoulder, squeezing lightly.

 

“Coming over tonight?”

 

Wilson was silent as he turned slowly to look up at House’s hand, and then at his face.  House kept still, eyebrow raised in question, hand still gripping Wilson’s shoulder lightly.   He nodded slightly and turned back around, confusion warring in his eyes with something else House couldn’t quite identify.

 

“Good.  See you then.”  House lifted his hand from Wilson’s shoulder and, completely not by accident, brushed his cheek with his knuckles on the way by.  At the door of the cafeteria he stopped and turned to look at Wilson.  He was still sitting, one hand clutching the wrist House had grabbed, the other clutching at the shoulder where House had left his hand.  He sat, motionless, until House turned and left.

 

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
genagirl
Sep. 7th, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC)
OMG. Okay, that was awesome. I can't say how much I loved it, especially the ending and the promise in those small touches.
artura_nemesis
Sep. 8th, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
What can I say? This story rocked my socks! That Wilson is so desperate for touch from a human being, and House taking such glorious advantage of that fact...just superb. BRAVA!
evila_elf
Sep. 8th, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)
LOL!
Everything is an experiment to him *snickers*
feanix
Sep. 8th, 2007 04:56 am (UTC)
well done :) the touch on the cheek was perfect...
(Anonymous)
Apr. 13th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
Hoping to get involved
Hi - I am definitely delighted to discover this. Good job!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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