Notes: Written for semielliptical. Thanks go to barely_bean for her patient handholding.
Wilson moved quickly to close the web page he'd been looking at the moment he saw House entering his office, but that proved counterproductive. Naturally, House registered his haste and Wilson felt himself caught in that analytical gaze.
"Surfing 'big girl' porn at work again, are we?" House tsked and shook his head at him.
"Yeah. You caught me."
"Well come on, let me see." House perched himself on the edge of Wilson's desk and twisted the monitor to face him.
"No," Wilson pulled it back and made sure the mouse was out of House's reach as well. "I don't think you'd like it."
"You're right." The smirk warring to break free on House's face warned Wilson that something House considered clever was coming. "Visa requirements for Sudan aren't really all that sexy."
"Wait. How did you—" Wilson cut himself off as realization and indignation dawned. "You read my email."
House only shrugged. "With a password as easy as 'Roberto Clemente' half this hospital's probably read your email."
"Privacy, boundaries, respect. Any of those words mean something to you? Anything at all? I'm just curious."
"Oh come on." House turned one of the patient chairs sideways so he could flop down in it, his long legs extending out alongside the desk. "Like you'd expect anything different from me. You're not that mad, really. You just think you should be."
"Don't tell me what I am," Wilson wanted to say. He had every right to be mad. He was mad. But House had a way of ignoring Wilson's anger until the effort didn't seem worth it anymore.
"So when is it official?" House asked.
"Nothing is official yet. I still have to complete the application, and then there's the interview."
"No. When is the divorce official?"
"Who said anything about divorce?"
Wilson didn't feel like making confidences to someone so ready to steal them, but of course his stonewalling had no effect on House. He just rolled his eyes and said, "Every time your marriage is on the rocks you start having fantasies of running away to join the Médecins Sans Frontières," House pronounced the French words in an exaggeratedly bad American accent, "and going to cure all the little big-bellied dying children in the Congo."
"Sudan," Wilson corrected.
"Whatever. This time it's Sudan. Last time it was Honduras. Next time it'll be Botswana or, or," House waved a hand dismissively in the air, "or Burma."
"I think they go by Myanmar now."
"Your marriage fails and suddenly even people with stage four cancer aren't desperate and needy enough for you."
"You're right. My desire to help the sick and indigent is really so contemptible."
"Oh don't be ridiculous," House scolded. "You're an oncologist. Those are measles vaccines they're handing out not interferon. They don't need you. They need a cute twenty year old who's passed a basic first aid course and thinks it'd be romantic to live in a one room-hut in the bush."
Wilson was somewhat taken aback by the bitterness in House's tone. Granted, he was always bitter, but there was an intensity here that surpassed his usual misanthropy. "Why does this bother you so much?"
House looked away and fidgeted with his cane. "Pointless sacrifice always bothers me."
They sat there, House staring out the window and Wilson staring at House. A silence full of possibilities opened up between them, and Wilson resolved that this time he wouldn't be the coward who steered them back on to safer ground.
"And that's it?" He asked. "There's nothing else going on?"
"You won't go, anyway." Wilson wished House would turn back towards him so he could see his expression. "It's just part of your divorce cycle, like screwing a resident and throwing up on my couch."
"So it's my predictability that bothers you?"
House turned back to him now. He looked Wilson right in the eye. "Yes."
"What if this time is different? What would you say then?"
House continued to hold his eyes. "I would say make sure you take your malaria medication and stay out of the way of the big scary guys with semi-automatics."
Wilson's shoulders slumped. He rested his elbows on his desk and cradled his forehead in his palms, suddenly so very tired. Wilson pushed and House pushed back but in the wrong direction. That was their pattern, and he was weary of it, but he didn't know how to change it.
"Okay. Thanks for the tip," he said to his desktop. He expected to hear House get up and leave the room then, but several moments passed and neither of them moved.
"Or did you want me to beg you to stay?"
Wilson raised his head slowly. "Even if I did, you wouldn't."
"What if I would? What would you say then?"
A few startled butterflies rumbled around in Wilson's stomach. His voice was not as steady as House's. "I don't know. I'd have to see."
House's eyes were all over his face, scanning it as if there were actual printed words he could read there. "Okay," he said, nodding. "I guess you will." He repeated it, more serious the second time, "I guess you will."
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