Gigi Sinclair

The Meaning of Marriage

Title: The Meaning of Marriage

Author: Gigi Sinclair


Web site:

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: House

Pairing: House/Wilson

Rating: PG

Summary: House develops new empathy for Wilson's wives.

It was hell being married to James Wilson. House had only been doing it for three days, and he already knew why those first two wives had left.

"Not only do you leave your towels on the floor and your dishes in the sink, but you don't even have dinner on the table when I get home," House said, leaning his cane against the wall to take off his jacket.

"We drove back together," Wilson pointed out, handing House a hanger from the closet.

"And I don't think that's a point we've fully explored. Why are you here again?"

"Because Julie's away," Wilson repeated, for the fourth or fifth time since he'd showed up on House's doorstep, bag in hand.

"Ah, yes. And, what, she's strictly forbidden you to use the stove without supervision, so given the choice of living on cafeteria food or starving, you decided to throw yourself on my famous mercy." House had a lot more to say, as he always did, but this time he was cut off by a knock on the door.

"Pizza," Wilson explained and reached for his wallet. "I ordered it before we left the hospital. Actually," he glanced at his watch, "They're five minutes late."

"I take it back," House said, as Wilson opened the door. "You're the husband I've always dreamed of. Stay with me forever." The pizza delivery guy looked between them, handed Wilson the box, and left quickly enough to get a half-smile out of House.


They watched the end of a B-movie on the Science-Fiction channel, then Wilson, further proving his usefulness on the domestic front, found a repeat of "Melrose Place" on one of the cable channels House rarely surfed by. Michael Mancini and Lexi Cooper and Amanda Burns had seen House through his worst hospital stays, and while he didn't miss the patient food and the yelling at nurses, he had missed them. House watched happily for the hour, with Wilson sitting beside him and not making a single derisive comment House would have had to parry, and thereby miss potentially crucial dialogue. When the episode finished, Wilson patted House on his good leg, said: "I guess that wasn't too bad."

"That was brilliance," House countered. "They don't make TV like that any more. It's all this reality crap. Fake boobs on fake deserted islands and people whoring themselves on national TV."

"Now, that would make an interesting show," Wilson stood up and stretched, his untucked shirt riding up a little. House looked back at the TV, which was changing to "The Dukes of Hazzard", which he couldn't recall ever caring about. "I'm going to get ready for bed."

"Remember to put out the 'do not disturb' sign or housekeeping will wake you up," House advised.

Wilson laughed. "I can make my own bed. But if housekeeping wanted to do bacon and eggs for breakfast, I wouldn't complain."

"I take it housekeeping isn't worried about the state of your arteries, then? Not to mention your religious conviction."

"No. Julie's worried about that, which is why I get rabbit food at home and real food here."

"I hadn't realized this was such a high-class establishment," House replied, even as he wondered if he had any bacon in the house.

"Wasn't that how it got its Michelin star?" Wilson asked, as he headed into the bathroom. "Gourmet food, friendly proprietor, reasonable rates?"

"Reasonable as in non-existent?" House called back, but Wilson had already closed the door.

House would never have admitted it, even to Wilson, but it wasn't that bad having him around. House had never liked sharing his space with people, but with Wilson, it wasn't entirely unbearable, at the hospital or here at home.

When Wilson came back from the bathroom, House helped him make up a bed on the couch, then limped into his bedroom. As soon as he was out of Wilson's sight, he popped another couple of Vicodin and got into bed.

It didn't help. He woke up two hours later, sweat on his forehead and the familiar, excruciating pain in his leg.

He reached out blindly for the vial on his bedside table, but succeeded only in knocking it onto the carpet. Swearing, House flicked on the lamp and squinted as the light flooded over the bed, the floor, and the scattered pills. Just as he was wondering how, exactly, he was going to grab at least a few of them without passing out or throwing up, the door opened and Wilson said: "What are you doing in here?"

"Masturbating, of course," House grunted, his innate need for sarcasm overriding, as always, all physical concerns. "I have to take it where I can get it."

"With the lights on?" Wilson asked, coming in and kneeling beside the bed. "I always knew you were a narcissist, but that's a little much." He handed two of the pills to House and put the rest back in the plastic vial, screwing the lid on. House swallowed them and waited for the kick. When it came, he was so relieved, he didn't even notice Wilson sitting on the bed, looking at him.

"You OK?" Wilson finally asked.

"I think I'll survive this time." House lay back. He expected Wilson to go back to the couch, but instead, he shifted further up the bed, resting his back against House's headboard and stretching out his legs.

"Want me to sit with you for a while?"


Wilson shrugged. He was wearing a baggy old T-shirt, and his boxer shorts had slid up, revealing a long stretch of hairy white thigh that House wished he hadn't noticed. He closed his eyes determinedly as Wilson said: "To keep you company. We could talk about your TV shows. Or," Wilson suggested, "We could rate the people we work with in descending order of attractiveness."

House snorted in spite of himself. "There would only be one person on my list."

"Mine, too." Wilson smiled at him, and, for a brief second, House wondered if he'd just given something away. But then Wilson said: "So, I guess we'll have to fight for Cameron." And that was nearly enough to make House nauseous again.


House was in his office the next afternoon, flipping through a two-week old "People" and avoiding everybody, when Wilson came in and said: "Let's go out for dinner tonight."

House could see Cuddy on the other side of the glass, but it was too late to hide. Since the last line of defence was always ignoring her, he concentrated on Wilson as he stepped aside to let Cuddy into the office.

"Where do you want to go?"

Wilson shook his head. "You pick, I'll buy. I owe you for those terrific eggs this morning." Cuddy's eyebrows disappeared into her executive hair. And this, House thought with interest, was a possibility for fun that he'd never considered.

"Don't mention it," House smiled, which was enough even by itself to get Cuddy's eyes blinking like she thought she'd slipped down a rabbit hole on the way over. "Thanks for loading the dishwasher before we left."

"It was my turn. Anyway, think about it, OK? I'll pick you up later." Wilson smiled and left. House hoped Cuddy would follow him, but she didn't.

"Yes? What is it?"

Cuddy opened her mouth, closed it again, and then, with clear determination on her face, said: "I'm here to see why you're hiding from the patients again. I thought we'd been through this."

"We have been. As soon as there's a patient worth seeing, I'm going to be the first one paged."

"There's a forty-minute wait in the clinic now."

"Ah, but they're not forty minutes' worth of people worth seeing. That's the key, Dr. Cuddy."

She scowled. "Just get down there." She turned and headed for the door. House counted to six before she turned back and said: "Are you and Dr. Wilson living together?"

"Is that any of your business?" House replied, after contriving to look slightly guilty.

Cuddy's eyes narrowed. "I just wasn't aware that we paid you so little you needed to take on roommates to make ends meet."

"Oh, it has nothing to do with money," House replied, airily.

"Isn't Dr. Wilson still married?"

House shrugged, deciding not to comment on the "still" part, which she'd said like even she didn't expect it to last forever. "I guess he prefers my...eggs to his wife's." The look on Cuddy's face was enough to sustain him through a sprained ankle, a nosebleed and most of a "mysterious" rash that turned out to be poison oak.


"So Cuddy thinks we're living together. Biblical sense."

"I'm not that familiar with the Bible," House said, not looking away from the TV, "But I was disappointed by the lack of sex in 'The Ten Commandments.'"

Wilson shook his head. "Can I ask how she came to this misconception?" He didn't sound particularly upset about it, which House took as a good sign.

"Probably the same way she came to all her misdiagnoses. There has to be a reason they got her into management and away from patients."

"It wasn't something you told her, then?"

"I'm devastated that you could think that." House glanced at him. "Of course, if you're worried she might spread it around, I could set her straight." Although that would rob House of the only significant portion of fun he'd had with Cuddy since she'd arrived.

Wilson shrugged, the picture of casual unconcern. "It's not like she's going to tell my wife." No, House supposed that was unlikely. Unless House did something to really get on Cuddy's nerves, which wasn't beyond the realm of theoretical possibility. "Let her think what she wants. You want a beer?" Wilson stood up.

Dinner had been medium-rare beef and fries the size of femurs at a steakhouse House had chosen expressly because it was the kind of place fine-dining Julie probably didn't frequent. Wilson had seemed happy enough, putting away the steak like a guy who wasn't nearly that thin, and when they got home, he even handed House the remote control without comment. Definite good husband material, House thought, on so many levels.

He got House a beer from the kitchen and sat back down beside him. He waited until the commercial to say: "Julie called me this afternoon. She's coming home tomorrow."

"Cool. Think she'll notice if you don't go back?"

"I would imagine so. Eventually." Wilson swigged from his beer. "Anyway, I thought you didn't want me hanging around here."

"Oh, you're not so bad," House replied, just as casually. "You're mostly housebroken and you don't chew on the furniture much."

"I love you too, Greg." Wilson's hand felt unusually heavy on House's shoulder, but House put that down to the beer.


They were supposed to go for dinner after work, back to that steakhouse that Wilson had enjoyed the first time when Julie had been away and he'd been camping out, uninvited and entirely wanted, on House's couch. Wilson had suggested it, and House had been looking forward to it. Very much so. When Wilson stopped by his office an hour before the end of the shift and said: "I'll have to take a rain check on tonight. Julie wants to put some new tiles in the downstairs bathroom," House snapped:

"And she expects you to put them in? I didn't realize you moonlighted as a labourer. When you're done there, I really need a cripple bar installed in my shower."

"I'm sorry." Wilson looked vaguely sincere, which only made House angrier. When he'd gone, he snapped more viciously than usual at Chase, earning a trademarked pugnacious glare from Foreman, then said something---he wasn't sure what, which was too bad because if he knew, he'd be sure to use it again---that made Cameron look like someone had run over her puppy. It also made all three of them leave him alone, which was just what he wanted. He was still there, alone in his office with his Gameboy and his Ipod, at seven-thirty when Cuddy came in and raised an eyebrow.

"I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were trapped in here. Do you need someone to help you downstairs?"

"You wound me, doctor, really." His electronic avatar failed to make it over a bridge, and fell into a hole. Just like real life, House thought bitterly.

"It must be the shock at seeing you here after five o'clock. Or ten-to five, more usually." Her expression changed. "Where's Dr. Wilson?"

"Possibly Home Depot, unless they decided to go for the upmarket bathroom tiles. Why don't you page him and ask?"

"I wouldn't want to disturb such important work." Cuddy looked like she was about to say more. House was trying to come up with something guaranteed to get rid of her, maybe along the lines of "You know, that outfit makes you look like that crippled bitch from ER" which it didn't, but that hardly mattered, when she said: "I'll leave you to it, then," and left of her own accord.

Well, House thought, as he turned off the Gameboy and tossed it onto the desk, maybe she wasn't all bad. She'd make someone a great wife someday. A modern-day Caligula, maybe. Or perhaps the reincarnation of Pol Pot.

When House finally got home, limping into the apartment and reaching automatically for the Vicodin, he saw a package on the coffee table. It was wrapped in a plastic bag, and House contemplated it for a moment. Finally, he decided that if someone wanted to send him anthrax or a bomb, they'd send it to the hospital. The only people who could get in to put something on the table were Wilson and the landlady. Since House hadn't done anything out of the ordinary to annoy her lately, and since hadn't used his cane around any of the building children in a good three weeks, he took a chance and opened the bag.

It was a boxed set of "Melrose Place" DVDs. The first season, no less, with Heather Locklear episodes House hadn't seen. He didn't need to read the note to know who it was from---the landlady was glad he'd stopped hitting the kids, but not that glad---but he read it anyway.

"Sorry I couldn't make it tonight. Let me know when I can make it up to you!"

House dropped the DVDs on the couch and took the Vicodin he'd been waiting for. He'd been right. It was hell being married to James Wilson.

It was even worse when he started cheating.

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